Fringe Breaks on Through to the Other Side

I imagine the conversation in the Fringe writers' room went something like this when cooking up the latest episode, "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide":

Head Writer: Okay guys, we stuck William Bell in Olivia, now we need to figure out how to get him out.

Silence, as writers pretend to take notes and avoid eye contact. Finally, a hand is raised.

Head Writer: Yes you, with the dreadlocks and the 1972 Grateful Dead concert t-shirt that smells like 15-day-old baloney.
Hippie dude: Why don't they all, like, drop a blotter and go into Olivia's mind, man?

"LSD" was a "special" episode of Fringe written by showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman (with a little help from Akiva Goldsman), and it was more of an homage to the show's cousins in the entertainment industry than a necessary step in the show's mythology. But was it a fun trip? Awww yeah.

Borrowing ideas from The Matrix, Inception, A Scanner Darkly, and heck, even Song of the South, "LSD" saw Peter, Walter, and Bellivia being dosed with acid so they could share consciousness and dive into Olivia's mind to put Bell's consciousness into a computer and pull Olivia's to the front. Or something like that. I opted just to roll with it, and it worked.

It even worked halfway through the episode, when everything turned into a living comic book—even though Peter didn't look like Peter and zombies roamed on rooftops. We've seen other shows try animated sequences with less success, and Fringe's attempt fared better than most.

Fringe has changed substantially since its first season, drifting much further away from "fringe science" and more toward pure, theoretical science-fiction where there are almost no boundaries. It's a healthy step for this show, which now relies on characters over technology, scientific experiments, and the slimy parasites that sold the show in the first place. It's also why "LSD" works now, most of the way through Season 3, and why "Brown Betty," the show's musical episode from Season 2, did not. The Fringe universe—not its on-screen canon, but the universe of the series—has expanded enough to allow a risky move like "LSD," and it's fair to assume this won't be the last "special" episode.

Though the goal of "LSD" was to get our Olivia back (and totally blow your mind), the episode ended with a head-scratcher that proves it was more than just a side trip into the bizarre. Olivia's mind manifested a mystery man with an "X" on his shirt—someone who Olivia coolly announced would kill her. Granted, most people who trip something is going to kill them, but I think this one is for real. Who is this man, and how literal was her comment about him killing her? Could it be the man who will kill Fauxlivia? And why did Olivia identify him so matter-of-factly? Like I said, head-scratcher.

The whole experience seems to have changed Olivia, possibly for the better. She's strong again, leaving her debilitating fear behind her not only in Toon Town, but also in real life. This means that ultimately, Olivia could end up with Fauxlivia's strength, thus fortifying her love with Peter and guaranteeing that the Doomsday device will blow up the other universe. LSD: Is there anything it can't do?

And finally, have we seen the last of William Bell? His consciousness was lost like a term paper to a disc-read error, but do you think he's gone forever? Has he slipped into the internet to live a life of spying on people's email and communicating via Chat Roulette? Is he the Ghost in the Machine?

I'm sure some fans will write off "LSD" as a failed attempt at something more, but I don't think it was meant to be anything more than a fun, experimental diversion from what has otherwise been a brilliant, heavy season. Mission accomplished.

Notes from the other side
... Are you glad you never again have to see Anna Torv's Leonard Nimoy impression?

... How great was Lance Reddick (Broyles) in this episode as the comic relief? It's nice to see Reddick get an opportunity to do more than just walk around with his chest puffed out, barking orders.

... When will Astrid get invited to the party? I want to see her frolicking in the strawberry fields!

... Have you read my favorite book, "The Doors of Perception," by Aldous Huxley?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (32)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
This is the only show that redefine weirdness, challenge itself to be original and never feared to be different. And that is what I want to watch in my telly.
Reply
Flag
I'll be very glad to never hear Anna Torv have to do another Leonard Nimoy impression. The episode was a good idea, even though inception was terrible, but it all went south with the cartoons. C'mon. Overall 3 out of 10. Probably worst episode of the season. Broyles was pretty good though, funny.
Reply
Flag
Seeing Broyles with the "bug-eyes" was creepy - episode was fun otherwise.
1
Reply
Flag
This was a great episode! The comic book part was awesome and totally unexpected...Although this episode did not have much to do with the show's mythology, it was entertaining and that's the aim of any show. We can't have a show based 100% on its mythology, sometimes it's good to have a break and, well, try something new, explore.
I loved high Broyles and, I agree with the writer, when will Astrid get invited to the party?! I like her... Well, I'm gonna miss Bellivia =/ uhauhauhauha
Reply
Flag
All I kept thinking when Broyles was tripping was this scene must bring Lance Reddick back to the good old days when he was the drug addict undercover det "Desmond Mobay/Det. John Basil" on "Oz". Speaking of "Oz" why couldn't Kirk Acevdo have been around in the alternate universe? Always good to have "Alvarez" around.
Reply
Flag
@renaldsRAP - I see where you're coming from and how that makes sense but for me it just wouldn't be the same thing. Killing our Olivia and somehow continuing the story with Folivia is just outrageous for me! I truly hope they don't go down that road, and if one Olivia has to die, let it be Folivia. @greasy82 - Me too!!! I think Anna did a fantastic job as Bellivia, but I'm glad he's out so we can have our Olivia back!!! :)
Reply
Flag
Broyles cracked me up and it was an awesome episode
Reply
Flag
Now I'm going to look up that book. Thanks ;)
Reply
Flag
Seeing Broyles smile was THE WEIRDEST thing I have seen on television in a long time. Also, Astrid is important because she's the one who pulls everyone back from the edge of reason. She told Olivia Peter loved her, she's got this sort of quasi-control over Walter that limits his insanity, and she has Broyles trusting her with everything. She's great just the way she is--she's the "mom," the backbone.
Reply
Flag
I am so waiting for Astrid to get into the game! Writers, hello! We already saw a glimpse of what her brain is capable of in that episode were she calculated were all the missing parts to the doomsday machine were buried. But then they just left it at that. And the Astrid on the other side is of course a complete machine. When are we going to see our Astrid take control? We hardly know her yet, which means there is great potential for character development.
Reply
Flag
Hey, I really liked Anna Torv's "Belly" impersonation!
Reply
Flag
Wasn't this on before???
Reply
Flag
Wasn't this on before???
Reply
Flag
good episode, but i'm glad WB is out of Olivia. poor Olivia has barely been herself this season lol
Reply
Flag
I thought this was a great episode. It had a great story, humor, and the animation was done good.
Reply
Flag
@RKron - Good point on Faux-livia actually being in the episode. Don't know how I didn't pick up on that. Well yea I do. I was coming down off of "Fringe". :) @myself - I think I forgot to metion why my theory really seems plausible to me: Our Olivia is potentially nearing the end of her story thread. This episode has led to Olivia conquering her fears. She has Peter. They both have happiness. That sounds great on paper but could get borig to watch if not handled right. Now they could have a lot more planned for Our Olivia as far as I know, but they could also have introduced Faux-livia to us as one of the bad guys, slowly revealed her integrity and made us actually care about her for a reason too.
Reply
Flag
Fantastic episode!!! Broyles was hilarious!!! XD As for Belly, it would seem he's gone for good but this is Fringe so we never know for sure! This episode was quite a ride and I really enjoyed it, but that ending really left me wondering. Who's that guy and how does Olivia know he's the one who's going to kill her? And does she mean that literaly? I really hope the writers don't go down that road and end up killing Olivia as renaldsRAP suggests a few posts below.
Reply
Flag
I really didn't like this episode. It felt pointless, the animation sequences felt forced because Leonard Nimoy don't want to be on screen for whatever reason, I really didn't like the style of the animation, I also disliked the way they handled getting William Bell out of Olivia's body, and the fact that everything felt like "hey, Inception did it, why can't we?".. But I did like everything before they went into the dream sequence, and the way things ended. I actually hope Broyles for whatever reason becomes addicted to LSD or any similar drugs and starts being like that all the time.
1
Reply
Flag
Didn't do a thing for me. And Bell should be in an iPad. :)
Reply
Flag
Broyles smiling!!!!! Astrid deserves more script. Anna Torv doing a great job with Fauxlivia and Bellivia.
Reply
Flag
@docspector I don't think this is the last time we'll see William Bell's consciousness. The point of his return was mainly character development rather than plot. We saw how Peter and Olivia have strengthened their relationship, how Olivia had conquered her inner demons, and how Walter finally comes to terms with his partner's death and his own power. To answer your other questions, Olivia's mind was a mishmash of things she had seen on both universes, not relics of Fauxlivia's memory (though it could still be there). The dirigible got from NYC to Florida so quickly because they're in Olivia's mind, it doesn't have to be precise in geographical distance because Olivia isn't a warehouse of data. Fauxlivia did appear in her mind as the person who greeted Peter first, but as I've said, Peter can now see who is his real girlfriend. As for shapeshifters, you can't really tell if they weren't in her mind, because they look like regular humans. Walternate wasn't in there because, well, there wasn't time or a need to perhaps. I think it would have been dangerous for Peter and Walter to reenter since Olivia's mind was already aware of their presence. Also, ringing the bell again would just draw Bell into Olivia again, not another host and since Peter is so protective, I don't think he'd let Olivia be possessed again.
More+
Reply
Flag
I think Astrid is Control. She can't trip cause she's the one who pulls people back from the edge. She's like the only sane person on the show. I think Billy is dead. And he went out altruistically. He went hunting for Olivia knowing it would be the death of him. Good for Billy. We'll miss you. Though not Billivia. That was just weird. Broils trippin was sweet. Totally sweet. I loved him whisteling to the bird on Walters shoulder. I also loved Peter calling him an Observer. "You're bald..."
Reply
Flag
"Doors of Perception" indeed, good sir! What a fantastic review of a fantastic episode of a fantastic series (wholeheartedly disagree about "Brown Betty" tho. I thought that episode was as much fun as this one and that they paralleled each other nicely.) I am very surprised by the reaction to this episode tho - as some fans are trying to read too much into an episode that was 95% fun, and 5% continuing of the story. In response to the question of why no alt-universe characters in Olivia's mind, I'm gonna say they were there but Walter, Peter and Bell were TRIPPING which makes it hard to focus on anything except for "Hey, I'm a cartoon!", "We're being chased by zombies!", and "Help! I'm falling from a zeppelin!" that's just based on my experience with that particular hallucinogen. :D



Then there's the fans (and Tim, you're on this list too) who are not reading far enough into the big revelation of Olivia's own Grim Reaper. Has no one yet thought that OUR Olivia might die and that this is why we've been introduced to Faux-livia? See, the fringe writers seem to think like me - on a least 3 levels at once. First there's the blatant surface-level story. Then comes the not-so-blatant-but-still-visible undertones that tell a completely different emotional story. Finally, there's the undertones that were so quiet, you didn't think they were there, tho you realize you always knew they were. I wouldn't put it past Pinkner and Wyman to have used the super intense first half of season 3 to get us used to Faux-livia and flesh out her character while all of us were concerened about Our Olivia. Then with the back-half of the season, the few Alt-focused episodes are all about making Faux-livia more indespensible. She loves Peter. Peter loves her. She has Peter's kid. But most important of all - she's a mom now. I can easily see Our Olivia getting killed off by season's end. Somewhere before that, Faux-livia defects to our side and Peter learns he's a father. Season four opens with a story-arc about Peter letting go of Our Olivia and moving on to try to start a family with Faux-livia, his son, and Walter. Think about it - it's a great way to branch into next season AND it's like the perfect combination of sci-fi and emotion - which is SO "Fringe"
More+
Reply
Flag
I'm very glad Anna Torv is done channeling Spock.// Broyles was hi-larious!!// I could see Astrid feeling unappreciated, and next season leaving for a little while- remains to be seen if they wanna go that route with her character though.// I never heard of that book, sorry Tim.// Lastly, this episode was a freakin' trip, and I gotta say, I enjoyed the ride.
Reply
Flag
LOVED IT!!! Can't wait for next week's episode. So glad it got renewed.
Reply
Flag
one of the most entertaining episodes ever, just psychedelic man
Reply
Flag
So, we had an episode where the big payoff was "Bell's back", followed by an episode where the big payoff was "and now he's gone". What was the point?



Is there maybe a point that there are significant relics of Fauxlivia in Olivia's mind? (the visitors arrived in NYC and not Boston, WTT still standing, dirigibles (and how did a dirigible get from NYC to Florida in a matter of hours?))



Other questions: Why didn't Fauxlivia appear as one of Olivia's fears? Or shapechangers? Or Walternate?

Why couldn't Walter or Peter re-enter? Does "dying" in someone else's mind detox the LSD out of their system? It seemed to clear up the sedative...



And the big one... couldn't they find a suitable host for Bell, and ring the bell again to bring him back?
Reply
Flag
High concept done right. This was my favorite episode of any show this year, thus far.
Reply
Flag
Seeing Broyles with such a large smile was really creepy.
Reply
Flag
@AnnGregory, it's on Hulu.com for sure.
and how about Peter's progression to now being able to tell it's not Olivia by looking into her eyes? Brought back memories of "Marionette" when Olivia confronted him about not being able to tell that he was sleeping with Fauxlivia. They've come so far *sniff sniff*.
Reply
Flag
This was a great ep, I really love this show. The animation at the end was so unexpected but I'm so happy they found a way to bring Bell back.
Reply
Flag
Does anyone know if you can watch this through the TVDevo website? I know they stream a lot of shows but not sure about these??
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook