"Subject 13" is probably the best episode of the series so far, and I know that I don't speak prematurely when I say that. We get so much back-story, more than we get in "Peter" (2.15), even, and finally, we get something for which I have been waiting quite some time, and that would be an episode exploring Olivia's childhood. After having seen "Peter," I expected us to see another 80s episode called "Olivia," and although that's not exactly what happened, I'm satisfied all the same. What is ultimately key in this episode is that Olivia and Peter met when they were children, but it really surprises me that that surprises so many people didn't see that coming.Fringe fans, for quite some time now, have been speculating that the two of them met when they were children, because it would be inconceivable that they wouldn't have met, and, in fact, although we don't yet have this information, I think that the Peter that died was given Cortexiphan when he was very young. If Olivia and other children were given Cortexiphan when they were very young, why wouldn't have Walter tried Peter? Maybe he did, and it didn't work? I don't know; it's obviously all speculation, but I love throwing ideas out there; that is, after all, what this website is all about.
When I first saw the sneak peek that showed us Peter walking out on the lake trying to break the ice, I was shocked and horrified; I couldn't believe that he had tried to kill himself, but obviously, we now know that that is not quite what he was trying to do. He thought that that would bring him home, which it obviously would not have done. Now, something that I had not considered (silly me) before listening to the Fringe Podcast's episode regarding "Subject 13" is that this episode takes place six months after "Peter," and we know that for two reasons. Firstly, the episode was originally titled "Six Months Later," a title that I actually prefer (just because the "Subject 13" title implies that the episode is about Olivia, when really, it is about Peter, too), and secondly, Elizabeth explicitly says that it has been six months. Here is the problem, however; the lake is still frozen over, and that is incredibly unlikely. Also (something that I noticed myself), the video footage that Walter documents for Bell is dated April 1, 1985, which would mean that "Peter" takes place in 1984, not 1985, which we know it doesn't. Firstly, we know from "There's More than One of Everything" (1.20) that Peter died in 1985, and secondly, the "Peter" episode tells us that it is 1985.
Let's also not forget the fact that the actor and actress who played young Peter and Olivia were much too old. Peter was born in 1978, and Olivia was born in 1979, which means that they should have been approximately six and seven, when they were clearly pre-teens. I absolutely love this episode, but I almost had to knock it down a bit from my rating of 10 Tormented Tweens (which I ultimately did not) because of all of the annoying continuity errors. As for Peter and Olivia not remembering having met when they were children, however, that is not a continuity error, and it surprises me that people are perceiving it as such. We have had so many clues that Peter's memory has been altered somehow. In "Dream Logic" (2.05), Peter says that when he was about nine years old (if I am getting the age right), Walter conditioned him to stop having nightmares, and he even says in "The Man from the Other Side" (2.18) that being from the Other Side must be why he can't remember his childhood. We also already knew that Olivia doesn't remember much, because in "Jacksonville" (2.14), she says that she usually has a freakishly good memory but that she doesn't remember anything that happened at the Daycare Center. Obviously, their memories were altered.
Additionally, Olivia having set the room on fire is not the same incident that we see happen at the end of Season 1 and in Season 2 on the VHS. In that recording, Olivia was much younger, and she was not in the same room. Additionally, Bell was there; this has obviously happened on different occasions, which I think could account for part of the reason why Walter orchestrated what happened in a locked room (leading to the "Please let me out!" parallel to "Over There, Part 2," of course); he knew he was running the risk of that happening again, and he didn't want anyone to get hurt, but don't get me wrong; I am not defending Walter's actions, because this episode emotionally stirred me beyond words; it disturbed me. Obviously, I knew that what Walter put these children through was terrible (especially her, apparently), but I never knew that it was this bad. I mean, he forced her to run on a treadmill, he locked her in a room and turned the lights off, and then turned the lights back on to show her the "corpse" of Nick Lane. When I first saw this scene, I shrieked, turned away, and cried, because it was that difficult for me to watch, and it's still difficult. Olivia had a difficult life as it was, having to deal with her stepfather beating her, and now, Walter was emotionally tormenting her.
What I'm curious to know, though, is if the trials were simply still continuing or if Walter reopened them to try to get Peter home. It looks like only Olivia's consciousness crosses over, because when she briefly crosses over and sees the zeppelin, her stepfather does not seem to have perceived her having disappeared when she comes back; that is so strange. I don't know how many people caught it, mainly because I have no way of knowing how many Fringe fans areAlias fans, (If you have never seen Alias, I strongly suggest that you do see it, because it's incredible. Both J.J. Abrams and Jeff Pinkner were heavily involved in it.) but we do get a littleAlias nod in this episode, which is the tower that Walter demands that Olivia put together even though she can't figure out how to put it together. It's funny, because I have always said that the Cortexiphan trials remind me of Project: Christmas. There is also a great deal of red and blue in this episode; there are the red and blue bins in which the children keep belongings, there is the painting in the office, and there is the monster that Olivia drew, which is red and blue. Additionally, there is a frog on the desk in the office, which I think may have been a way to confirm the theory that the frog glyph represents Olivia, so there are definitely plenty of Easter Eggs to go around in this episode.
Yet another is the significance of the White Tulip, which was, of course, introduced in the "White Tulip" episode (2.17). In this episode, it represents something a bit different, but, of course, the implication is still there, since this episode is all about the actions that Walter takes that will lead to his seeking forgiveness later in life. In this episode, Elizabeth (May I just say that Orla Brady is a brilliant actress and that she is amazingly beautiful?) tells Peter to imagine the world the way that he wants it to be, and this is definitely a parallel to the Season 1 tagline, "Imagine the Impossibilities." Also, are we to believe that Peanut M&Ms did not exist on the Other Side in 1985? Peter apparently had never had them, and what kid has never had Peanut M&Ms? This is at least the second time that we have seen M&Ms on the series, as the other instance of which I am thinking is in "Inner Child" (1.15), when Olivia tells the Child that she didn't like yellow M&Ms when she was a child because they reminded her of medicine. Is that supposed to mean anything? I just love how Peter, as always, is there for her and helps her emotionally, just like he does now. In Season 1, when Peter tells Olivia that he is there for her and she says that she knows, does she, perhaps, subconsciously remember how he was there for her as children?
This episode plants a lot of seeds, which is another reason why I love it. It, of course, plants the seed for the Polivia relationship, but it also plants the seed that grows up to be Walter's position as Secretary of Defense as well as his anger. In 1985, he was Architect of the Star Wars Defense System, and this is obviously how he later became Secretary of Defense. I think it's also now safe to acknowledge why Walternate chose to use Shapeshifters as soldiers, since Walter went "over there" and pretended to be him. Elizabeth, angry and frustrated, suggests that maybe the man who stole Peter was an alien and/or someone who had the ability to "take on any shape he wanted," which is obviously what planted the seed in his mind. Bishop Dynamic, interestingly enough, was (is?) located exactly where the Daycare Center is located on this side, and I wonder if it is still open. My thought is no, just because Walter, as he says to the other Brandon in "The Plateau" (3.03) that he is still a scientist but that he has a much larger laboratory; he most likely does not need Bishop Dynamic anymore. Additionally, Peter says to Walter in this episode, "I am not your son!" which, as we know, he will say again approximately twenty-five years in the future.
So, Walter now knows that what he did has caused damage, it would appear, since he says as much to Elizabeth. Did Carla finally convince him, or did he realize as much on his own? Did he know before even going "over there" that he would cause damage but didn't care because he was too fixated on saving another version of Peter? Something else that the Fringe Podcast pointed out that I didn't catch (believe it or not) is that near the end of the episode, no one seems to find it odd that it is snowing in Jacksonville, Florida, but I digress. I had a pretty good feeling before having seen this episode but after having seen the promo that Olivia crossed over as a child and met Walternate, because that's why he refers to her as "the girl." I think that that is why Olivia is a member of Fringe Division; I think that after having met this Olivia, he sought out the Olivia "over there" and watched her and then took her under his wing when she was ready. This scene is a bit haunting, just because I came to the realization that Olivia unknowingly helped start the war, that this is what set everything in motion, and it really makes your head spin when you think about that, and if you haven't thought about that, I strongly urge you to watch the episode again.
In a way, it helps me better understand Walternate, because he probably would have assumed that that little girl knew that Peter was taken and that as a woman, she has always been aware of it, too, and that that is why Peter is on her team. Now I understand that when he tells Fringe Division on the Other Side that they are "monsters in our skins" and "cannot be trusted," he probably wasn't lying; he probably believed that. Additionally, since this Walter was aware of his side and since this little girl was reporting to him regarding what she saw "over there," Walternate probably thought that they were planning some kind of war. However, it is still difficult for me to feel much for him, because none of that justifies locking Olivia in total darkness without even a willingness to listen to her side of the story, and it definitely doesn't justify efforts to take out billions of people, nor efforts to use your son (the very son that was stolen from you in the first place, mind you) as a weapon, killing him in the process (as I'm sure we can assume would happen). Yes, the area is definitely grey (or, at least, a lot more grey than it was), but what I'm looking at, primarily, (since Walter himself made some terrible, terrible decisions, as we see in this very episode) is what kinds of men they eventually turned into, because life is all about choosing the right path.
I love how at the end of the episode, this Walter threatens Olivia's stepfather (I guess this is what was meant when we were told that we would be seeing him this season, and if so, then Fringe Bloggers, you were a little misleading.), because she was ultimately his only hope, and it led to Peter having to stay here. This, of course, turned into a disaster, a war, but it showed strength on a level, because he realized that he could not use Olivia for his own means any longer. Was Olivia's experimentation stopped at this point? Yet another seed that this episode plants is Elizabeth beginning to drink, which I'm thinking is probably the beginning of the end for her. This really is a tragic episode, because you know going into it that it's not going to have a happy ending, but as I said, I absolutely love it, and I disagree with Clint of the Fringe Podcast. I think that the child actors (Karley Scott Collins as Olivia and Chandler Canterbury as Peter) did a fantastic job, especially Karley as Olivia, who I felt really captured Olivia's mannerisms. I just wish that they had been younger, and I wish that Quinn Lord had played Peter again. John Noble is once again excellent, and I was really happy to see the "retro intro" again (although I was expecting it to have red in it). Overall, this is a fantastic, memorable episode, for sure.