5. Dream Logic
When I realised that the larger story arc in Fringe had taken a week off, I was a little concerned that the show might go back to an X-Files mode. But, actually, Dream Logic turned out to be more interesting than that.
It starts oddly enough, with an office worker seeing his colleagues as demons before going berserk and assaulting his boss. This isn’t that unusual, I thought, but Fringe seemed to think it’s worth investigating.
The man is subdued and brought to hospital where when, after Walter, Peter and Olivia conveniently arrive, he drops dead of extreme exhaustion.
This segues into a lovely aside where Fringe is helped by FBI agent Kashner, who has never dealt with Walter or Peter before. He agrees to take Walter back from Seattle to Boston, with Peter’s advice that, under no circumstances, should he let him drink alcohol. Kashner asks if he’s a ‘tippler’, and Peter tells him laconically that at any time there is a good chance there are half a dozen psychotropic drugs in Walter’s blood, and so drinking is not a good idea.
Peter notices, in the first victim’s home, that he has a collection of books on sleep disorders, which leads inexorably to the doctor who treated him and implanted chips into each of his patients with this particular problem. Unfortunately, as they arrive someone has stolen all the patient data and work from the computers, leaving clues somewhat thin on the ground.
Not soon after, another body turns up with the same MO: white hair and the signature of total exhaustion. The nature of this pathology becomes apparent when Walter gets the body back to the lab and discovers a computerised implant inside the first victim’s brain. Someone is manipulating these devices, but for what purpose?
As with most shows, the highlight of this episode is Walter, and his fascination for dismantling people to find clues. The scene where he incapacitates the FBI agent to experiment on him was hilarious, especially when Astrid comes back to ask if he’s put anything inside his head. Walter can get her surname right these days, but has taken to calling her Asterix, as in the ‘the Gaul’.
If I had to give one good reason why this show is still on, it’s how John Noble sells us the character of Walter Bishop. He’s inspired, fearful, incisive, confused, desperate and triumphant all within the same line of dialogue. When this show is done and dusted, we’ll all remember Walter Bishop, even if we forget the rest.
The only part of this story I wasn’t so keen on was a sub-plot about Olivia letting go of Charlie through an odd task that Sam Weiss gets her to perform, taking business cards from those she meets and then forming an anagram from their names. It seemed to me much like the hokum that stage psychics perform, although she takes it as a message from beyond the grave. And on exactly that point, she goes to Charlie’s grave; how is that possible? They haven’t got a body, and very possibly don’t even know what happened to him. I thought the point of a gravestone was to mark where somebody lies, not to define where they’re certainly not?
But even with this, overall, Dream Logic was a tight little story that along the way managed to tease out a dark secret about something that Walter did to Peter as a child, something that’s haunted him since. It’s clearly on Walter’s mind, and when something is there it generally doesn’t stay suppressed for long.
I won’t spoil who it is that is manipulating the sleep deprived, and for what purpose as it will ruin the twist, but it’s something Walter can easily relate to.
Fringe takes a short break now, and is due to return in early November with an episode called Earthling, about which I currently know nothing.
Read our review of episode 4 here.