"Of Human Action" (2.07)

Now, this is what Jasika was talking about. This episode was so much better than last week's episode, most notably because it is a very mythological episode, which makes me happy, because I didn't think that it was going to be, based on the promo that we saw at the end of “Earthling” last week. Not only did it look like it was going to be a “stand-alone” episode, but it looked an idea that has been toyed with repeatedly in sci-fi, and even though the latter remains true, as Fringe does sometimes, it took an idea that has already been used before and made it its own. Mind control is definitely not a new concept that Fringe invented, but I'm pretty sure that its explanation is, and even though I am not sure if it has any validity to it (I'm sure that I will find out during the Fringe Podcast, most specifically during its Science of Tomorrow section), it is still pretty cool. This entry will contain spoilers that pertain to this specific episode of the series as well as the series in general, so please don't read any further if you don't want to be spoiled.
The first observation that I would like to make is that earlier this week, I saw a promo photo in which Peter and Walter are standing at a Massive Dynamic window, and this, of course, ended up being the scene in which Walter has a discussion with Peter in which he voices his obvious jealousy regarding William Bell. He reminds Peter that he and Bell used to be lab partners and then says to pay mind to how much Bell has accomplished, obviously in comparison to how much Walter has accomplished. This is one of many scenes that have taken place during the course of this series thus far in which I have felt sorry for Walter. I think that it's quite obvious that he was thinking about his seventeen years having been institutionalized while William Bell has been chairman of Massive Dynamic (which obviously vehemently fascinates him, such as his exclamation which questioned the validity of them having seventy-three labs, a confirmation that astonishes him). He feels as if a good portion of his life has been taken away from him.
My point, however, is that I recall some people speculating as to whether or not that was actually the interior of the Twin Towers, since, admittedly, it does look quite similar, especially since the photo was a bit orange-tinted, as you can see from the photo in question that is pictured below. We know from our time spent on the other side, both at the very end of the first season when we first meet William Bell and also in episode 2.04, “Momentum Deferred,” that the color scheme seems to be a bit different. I'm not sure why or if perhaps that is just because the scene takes place when the sun appears to be rising, but, anyway, I had a pretty good feeling that it was not the Twin Towers but instead Massive Dynamic, and I was right. I could have sworn that Walter has seen Massive Dynamic before, but then, when I got thinking about it, I couldn't think of an example, so I quickly came to the conclusion that he had, in fact, not and that that is why it fascinates him so much.

This episode successfully makes it quite clear that Walter cares deeply for Peter and that he loves him very much. There are a few scenes that clearly exemplify this, starting with the scene in which Walter first realizes that Peter is missing, and he looks like he is going to cry while he pleads with Olivia to help him look for him. Then, there is the scene in which he and Olivia are talking while Olivia urges him to try to think of a way to reverse Tyler's ability. Walter says to her, again appearing to be on the verge of tears, “I can't lose him again. Peter always helps me. I don't know what to do. How do I do this without Peter? He always helps me.” Of course, pertaining to something that I will discuss later, Nina, oddly enough, seems genuinely concerned for Walter here, and even though I have no idea what to make of it, I find it odd how Walter suddenly has an epiphany regarding the EMF scrambler when she comforts him.
There is also the scene during which Walter experiences a breakdown in front of Dr. Carson. In fact, it is because of Dr. Carson. He explains to Dr. Carson what most likely caused Tyler's “ability,” and Walter lectures him, saying that “because of this man's inability to be a proper parent, his son has kidnapped mine.” In a way, this scene was a bit funny, because Walter really isn't one to talk about being a proper parent, but at the same time, it wasn't funny at all, because it is yet another example of how much Walter cares for and loves Peter. Additionally, Walter is right, because leaving pharmaceuticals like that lying around the house for a teenage boy to find is not an action that a “proper parent” would take, and, of course, as we now know, that is because it was no accident. Anyway, as I have already said, Jasika was definitely right about this episode in saying that it was an excellent episode, but she also said that between “Earthling,” “Of Human Action” and “August,” we would see more of a connection between Walter and Astrid, and so far, I don't really think that we have. Perhaps next week, we will. She even said that Astrid's character would have some time outside of the lab and out in the field, even, but, once again, that is not something that we have seen yet. I am really looking forward to next week's episode, though, for multiple reasons, and these “promises” are amongst them.

Something that I do not understand about this episode is the teddybear. A very poor job of explaining
why the teddybear simulated an “in-utero” sound was done and also how exactly this prevented Tyler from being able to control minds. Of course, as Tyler tells Peter, it doesn't work, but Walter thought that it did. The scene in which Walter presents the teddybear to Peter and Astrid did contain a really good line, however, with which this episode is littered. Peter says to Walter, “A teddybear verses mind control spies. Bad guys don't stand a chance.” The look on Walter's face after Peter says this is really quite funny, because, first of all, it has that air of discontent to it that reminds me of that scene during a first season episode in which Walter says to Peter, “Must you be so simple-minded?” Also, I think that, to some extent, Walter is a bit hurt, because here he is showing Peter and Astrid something that he finds to be very exciting, something that he probably hopes Peter will, too, and then, Peter shoots it down.

Yet another great line that this episode has to offer is when Walter asks Peter, “Do you think the FBI will ever give me a gun?” I think that it's pretty safe to assume that the answer to that would be a “no,” but who knows? Maybe that line was used as a foreshadowing mechanism.
Yet another Walterism that left me scratching my head in this episode is the scene in which Walter and Astrid are wearing aluminum caps on their heads, and when Olivia asks them why, Walter says, “I don't trust them here. I think they're trying to read my thoughts,” and then, Astrid says, “Massive Dynamic gives me the creeps, too,” but what doesn't make any sense is the lack of an answer to how it is exactly that aluminum caps are going to prevent that from happening. It is, of course, not important at all, really, but it is just something that made me wonder. I thought that it was funny how, in this scene, Walter explains to Olivia how he will go about interrupting Tyler's ability to control Peter's mind, and he says that Tyler “won't be able to think. He will become severely disoriented. He may even vomit.” He says that as if Tyler vomiting is an essential part of the equation, an important one, in fact, that will be vital to retrieving Peter. That's the type of thing that you would expect Walter to say, though.

The scene in which Peter is driving Walter's car at night with Tyler controlling him had a couple of aspects to it that I'd like to discuss. For starters, a motif that we have repeatedly seen on
Fringe is the colors red and green. A good example of this would be the lights that make people temporarily black-out in episode 1.08, “The Equation.” In this scene, we repeatedly see flashes of red and green on Peter's face, obviously from lights outside, and that's really all there is to that. At this point, it doesn't really have much of a significance except for the fact that it serves as a motif. Also, I thought that Peter's line (“Do you really think that you're the first kid whose father didn't think he was good enough or smart enough? Take a number.”) was very appropriate and perfectly matched, because it was quite obvious what he had on his mind while he was saying it, in that he wasn't talking about Tyler. Josh Jackson's acting, I would like to point out, is superb in this episode, especially at the scene when Tyler first takes control of him; the look on Peter's face is priceless, something that I don't think any other actor could have done better, and the dirt being splattered onto the camera as the car drives off is a nice touch, as well.

Peter's line near the end of the episode when Tyler is forcing him to shoot his mother's new interest is a bit cheesy and unnecessary, and I'm not quite sure why he says it. He says, “Tyler, what are you doing?” My issue with that line is that it is quite obvious what he is doing, and also, what I don't understand is that if Tyler wanted that man dead, then why doesn't Peter shoot him? Why is there seemingly such a gap in time between that scene and the scene in which Olivia and Broyles arrive? I mean, after all, he shot Broyles without much hesitation (which makes me wonder if Broyles meant what he said when he told Peter that he's sure he will make it up to him one day), and it would seem to me that Broyles' offense would be much less whelming to Tyler than that of his mother's new interest (it is unclear as to whether they are married or just living together). When everything was all said and done, however, Walter seems so happy to finally have Peter back, and he tells him, “You always prove to be more resourceful than I give you credit for,” which is a dramatically ironic response to what Peter says to Tyler in the car, and despite Peter's sarcastic reply (“Was that supposed to be some sort of compliment?”), I really do think that it felt good for Peter to hear Walter say that.

During the second to final scene of the episode, Walter mentions Peter's mother for the second time during the episode (the first time being when he mentions her at Massive Dynamic), and that leads me to seriously wonder about Peter's mother. My theory is that Walter has done the same to Peter as Carson did to Tyler, in that he told him that Peter's mother is dead even though she really isn't. Walter tells Peter that when his mother used to make crêpes, Peter called them “creeps” and that this drove her “batty,” and I wonder if, although probably not due to Peter's mispronunciation of crêpes, she did in fact go “batty.” Perhaps she found out what Walter did (stealing alter-Peter from the other side), and this drove her crazy. I definitely think that she either is dead or that Walter has led Peter to believe that she is, because Walter tells Peter that “she was a strong woman.” I do think that Peter is going to find out about what Walter did very soon, possibly even in the next episode, and I am very much dreading this, because Walter and Peter are really starting to establish a strong relationship, and Peter is going to be beyond angry when he discovers the truth. I'm just wondering
how he's going to find out.

Just about the
only fault that I have with this episode is that I think it is a bit predictable in that I think it's easy to tell early on that Tyler is the one orchestrating everything and not the two men. Thursday night, I missed the first fifteen minutes or so of the episode, and so, when I started watching, they were just discovering that Tyler was responsible (By the way, he's not going to jail? That's ridiculous.), so maybe I'm biased here since when I went back to watch the first fifteen minutes, I obviously already knew that it was Tyler who was responsible, but I think that I still would have known. The look on Tyler's face when he is sitting in the back of the car during the very first scene is very sinister and screams that he is exactly where he wants to be. I think that they simply made the clues a bit too obvious. As yet another example, Tyler can be visibly seen at every site, again with a sinister look on his face although not as sinister as the aforementioned one at the beginning of the episode. Other than its predictability, in my opinion, this episode is incredible.

During the final scene, my jaw literally dropped, and I was at a loss for words, which is kind of funny, because I have never really trusted Nina, but I guess that maybe I was just starting to a little bit, especially in this episode when, as I mentioned before, she really seems to be genuinely concerned for and worried about Peter (which could just be because he still owes her a favor). Nina has certainly been a fantastic actress thus far, and I don't mean Blair Brown; I mean Nina. Olivia has never really trusted her, either, but, like me, I think that she was starting to a little bit (of course, if so, then she still is, because the revelation that was made at the end was only made available to us, the viewers, not anyone else), and Nina has been effectively deceiving everyone from the start. It really makes me want to rewatch the first season to see if I can pinpoint any examples in which Nina has been lying. Has she been lying about virtually everything, or does she pick between what she wants to tell Fringe Division and what she doesn't?

Nina does, however, say some very interesting things that leave us guessing. She refers to the “Penrose-Carson” experiments, and from that, can we conclude that Christopher Penrose from 1.02 (“The Same Old Story”) was manufactured by Massive Dynamic, that he was indeed a clone and that Claude Penrose wasn't actually his father but instead his “guardian,” as the files call it? How many clones did they make and why? Are they making supersoldiers to combat the supersoldiers from the other side? Nina tells Bell that “one of the Tylers did, in fact, display a rather dramatic ability for mind control.” What does Nina mean by “ability,” and if we can answer that question, are the clones being given Cortexiphan? Perhaps the pills that Tyler were taking are Cortexiphan? Nina also tells Bell that ultimately, the trails were a success and that “mind control is possible, given the right conditions.” What are these conditions? Are they, in fact, the conditions that make up the “mind control cocktail” that Walter describes, or is it something different altogether? Again, is Cortexiphan involved, and if so, how does Cortexiphan determine who gets what ability?
Lastly, Nina also tells Bell that Tyler “made a misguided attempt to reunite with his surrogate mother.” What does she mean by this? Is his “mother” some type of robot that Massive Dynamic created, or is she an employee of Massive Dynamic who was posing as his mother? How did his attempts to locate his mother interfere with the experiment? Even with that turn of events, it is quite clear that he could control minds. Anyway, that ending was probably the best episode closing we have gotten this scene, even though it comes really close to the ending of “Fracture” (2.03). Next week, expect what is probably going to be the most epic episode of Fringe yet. We're going to get a lot of answers regarding the Observers, something for which I am incredibly excited. Is it just me, or does the promo give a little too much information? It says that they have been observing us for thousands of years, and I feel as if that's a major spoiler, because that, alone, answers some questions. It confirms the theory that they do not age and also probably confirms that they are not from the alternate reality but instead from another dimension of time. Anyway, from the looks of it, we are going to meet a new Observer, August, in this episode, and I'm not just saying that based on the title of the episode. The Observer that we see ask Walter for help in the promo is not Michael Cerveris. Anyway, I would ultimately have to give “Of Human Action” eight and a half steaming pots of coffee, and until next week, stay on the fringe.

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