(Most) Viewers Rejoice! After this episode, Sanford Harris no more!
That man made me want to punch him in the face every time he was on screen, and his demise is a memorable one, as much Olivia's doing as anything else in the history of the show...but more on that later. This episode is the first actual glimpse that we get into the reality of universe-hopping, as well as an expansion on the multiverse theory explained through Deja Vu. The story so far had been referencing all of these concepts, sometimes in ways more obscure than others, until they were finally given a proper mention in Bad Dreams. Here we are shown some of it, present as a plot device for Olivia to solve the mystery of the week, as well as present the fallout of the revelations from the past couple of episodes in preparation for the season 1 finale.
The apparent commitment to pursuing the errant Cortexiphan children from the writers' department is one that I will forever be grateful for, as it is not only one of the bases of the show's mythology, but also reveals so, so much about the inner workings of Olivia and the juxtaposition of who she is versus who she thinks she is. Her outrage at the abuses committed against the trial participants is finally allowed to show up here, in full force, and it is moving in that she doesn't ask "what did you do to me?" she asks, "what did you do to us?." She is forever putting others before her, sacrificing her time and her sanity so that they can get some measure of closure, but more than that, in her mind, in this moment, the anger she feels for herself is justified by the tragedies happening to people like her.
Olivia is a leader of people, subconsciously made a general in a war, regardless of wether or not her soldiers are with her (Nick's "you were always the strong one" as well as some of Walter's comments on the subject cement this). Those children are her unit, and she's supposed to show them what do to, supposed to care for them--nowhere is this more apparent than inside the observation room where Nancy Lewis was being kept, about to be sacrificed. It is Olivia who reassures her, who holds her hand and (at least emotionally) tells Nancy where to aim her fire to save herself.
Some more stuff:
Aside from the episode-wide reference to Stephen King, along with a verbal one, the sound-related science in this episode was refreshingly accurate (its application aside), as yes, that is indeed what record players work like, and we do indeed have the means to scan the vynils. Also, give me the pre-series Peter fic where he works as a DJ for a while.
Here be another Star Trek shoutout, written as a front for another glimpse at the underlying themes of insanity, and the validity of those claims, from someone who is not Walter. Everything Emmanuel Grayson said, aside from being from planet Vulcan and whatnot, turns out to be true.
Also of note is the prototype for the alternate universe that Olivia visits throughout the episode. I am aware that this is probably just speculation, as the writers didn't quite know the specifics of the redverse until later, but I would like to make a case for this proto-universe and the redverse not being the same: regardless of the difference that already existed between the two universes explored in-show before the Zero Event (Peter), which were many and varied, it can be said that Walter's choice of crossing universes at Reiden Lake and stealing Peter was what spawned the redverse into being as we will come to know it. It doesn't seem very far off then, to say that the universe Olivia glimpses in this episode is one much closer to ours, divergent because of a choice made in the very recent past: perhaps as a result of one of the Pattern experiments that could not be contained?
Go forth into the comments section and DISCUSS!!!!
Writer: Jeff Pinkner
Director: Frederick E.O. Toye
Originally aired: 5 May 2009
Reality is challenged as Olivia has vivid visions while at work. During the investigation of a disturbing spontaneous combustion incident, it becomes apparent that individuals have been experimented on as children, and are now reaching their potential as weapons, in adulthood. Sanford Harris, Nina Sharp and The Observer all reveal a new layer to their involvement.
Most Memorable Quote(s):
OLIVIA: They did something to you -- maybe to both of us a long time ago when we were just kids. And right now you're feeling the effects from that. But you can control this, okay? You can control this and I'm gonna help you. I just need you to focus the heat away from us.
NANCY LEWIS: I can't.
OLIVIA: Yes, you can. Just focus. Focus on anything. Just focus, Nancy. You can do this, Nancy.
OLIVIA: (sits down with him) What the hell did you people do to us? (opens a portfolio, removes and displays photos) You and William Bell, Walter. What did you do to me? Susan Pratt and Nancy Lewis are from Jacksonville, Florida. Just like Nick Lane, the guy that you conducted drug trials on when he was a kid. The drug trials that you conducted on me.
WALTER: They were Belly's. They were his trials.
OLIVIA: You knew. Walter, you were there and you knew.
WALTER: We were trying to help. We meant no harm.
OLIVIA: No harm? You were drugging children. Three-year-old children, Walter. Why did you do it?
WALTER: We were trying to prepare you. To make you capable. Able. Something terrible is coming.
WALTER: I don't know.
OLIVIA: Walter, what did you do to us?
WALTER: I don't know.
OLIVIA: Damn it, Walter, you do!