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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 1, Season 3, Olivia

Posted by Karl Withakay on September 23, 2010

(A Red Episode)

As usual, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

It seemed to me there was less to Deconstruct in this episode as it didn’t involve a Fringe incident and dealt mostly with the drama of Olivia in the alternate universe, but after finishing this post, maybe I was mistaken.

Ultra Low Security Establishment

OK, first they escort a potentially dangerous, combat trained prisoner using only one guard and no restraints.  Then they have no guard(s) posted outside the room during the treatment, and the guards on patrol in the hallways are best suited to be a mall cops rather than guards at a secure government installation.  (No offense intended to mall cops.)  Next they release her from her restraints when she starts having breathing problems so they can sit her up rather than say, bag her while she is still restrained.  (They’re conducting medical experiments on her, they have to have the  equipment and trained personnel to deal with medical emergencies, right?)  Finally the doors are locked only with a key code and no swipe card, they allow the prisoner to observe the code being entered, and all the doors internal and external have the same code.  If I ever get locked up in a super secret, government facility, this is the one I want to be locked up in.

Magic “Memory” White Blood Cells

I think the writers are confused about what is meant by the term “memory B Cells” and “memory T cells” in regards to B cell lymphocytes and T Cell lymphocytes (types of white blood cells) in the immune system.  The term does not refer to memory in regards to the ability to consciously recollect things; it is an anthropomorphic characterization of the T & B Cell’s ability to chemically “recognize” antigens from pathogens the immune system has “seen” before.  In no way do these cells have anything to do with memories stored in the brain.

Alternate Universe Presidential Trivia

In case you couldn’t make out what was being said on the radio:

In the alternate universe, not only is former president Kennedy still alive, but he is still actively involved in government service.  He is currently stepping down from his role as UN ambassador to head the agency in charge of slowing down ecological breakdown.

Cab Driver AND Women’s Clothes Buyer

How did the cab driver know what size clothes to buy Olivia?  She didn’t tell him her size.  Was she about the same size as his wife, or does he have a lot of experience in buying clothes for women of different sizes?

Alternate Universe Advertising Trivia

GlatterFlug (German for “smooth flight”) offers daily flights to the moon. “Don’t give her diamonds, give her the moon.”

Magic High Explosive Incendiary 5.7X28mm Ammo, Standard Issue

One shot from Olivia’s gun and the propane tanks explodes in a massive fireball.  It looks good on TV, but the Mythbusters can tell you it doesn’t happen like that.

Olivia was using a FN Five Seven pistol that could have been using SS190 copper jacketed rounds that do contain a steel penetrator, so a spark is not completely out of the question, but I’m still comfortable saying the explosion wouldn’t happen.

Adrenaline Carries Blood Cells Across the Blood Brain Barrier?

Scott will probably have more to say on this, but that’s the kind of thing the blood brain barrier prevents.  It’s generally not a good thing when things that normally don’t cross the BBB manage to do so.

Question To Be Answered:

Will we see the cabbie again?

Is Olivia truly converted into Bolivia II, or is she faking?

Identity Assumption Plausibility Problem

How can Bolivia I effectively pass herself off as Olivia in our universe without any of Olivia’s memories?  I would think her complete lack of knowledge of Olivia’s past has to catch up with her pretty soon.  “Geez Olivia, don’t you remember anything from before you returned from the alternate universe?  Wait a minute…travel between universes must give long haired, female FIB agents amnesia.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

UPDATE:  From My Notes

I had a couple of things in my notes, but forgot to mention them in my post.

Apparently in the alternate universe Manhattan is spelled with one t, and there is a vaccination for typhus, neither of which is true in this universe.  🙂


4 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 1, Season 3, Olivia”

  1. […] This week’s Fringe cipher was: AMBER. A list of all previous Fringe reviews is available here. Karl has much more to say. […]

  2. FC said

    Hi Karl, just for the purposes of playing Devil’s Advocate (because it’s fun to try) in trying to come up with some plausible explanation for some of the things on Fringe.

    – Regarding the Security, the facility is on an inland that isn’t normally accessible. It could be that it’s fairly lax because they assume their patients can’t go anywhere anyway. Also if it’s usually done with patients and not prisoners it could be the facility wasn’t really designed with much security in mind. It’s a stretch, but just within the realm of belief. As a matter of fact I think it’s much tougher to swallow that she swam all the way to shore in the middle of the night in what has to be very cold water in just her hospital gown.

    – I also smiled at the explosion, but I guess it’s also within the realm of possibility. Also they seem to have more advanced tech in many areas in this alternate universe. It could be they DO have standard issue magic bullets in those things (Who knows what horror a Fringe agent will need to shoot at during the course of a normal investigation.

    – Yeah at the very least the Cabbie should have asked Olivia her sizes. Then again I never assume that everything happens on screen. I could easily imagine an off screen scene where the Cabbie comes back out and says: Lady you forgot to tell me your sizes. All the while we’re watching the action someplace else. If I may digress, in many TV shows I’ve often seen nitpicks of this sort and I always say: “Don’t assume that just because it doesn’t happen on-screen it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen”. If you can fit a logical occurrence in between scenes, it could very well be it did happen. I know this is kind of “Filling the Gap” stuff we usually don’t like and people decry. But an entirely consistent TV episode would require far more than 42 or 50 minutes of show time.

    – I was a bit disappointed with how they treated the whole memory thing. I was expecting something more akin to Walter’s hypnosis devices. I know it’s just a plot device but the Writers could have spent a couple of hours doing the research and trying to come up with a fun but far more plausible way of inserting the alternate Olivia’s memories.

    Anyway this is just a having fun post and not a knock in any way of yours. Cheers.

  3. jamesmith3 said

    Yeah, I too figured the “hey, what size are you?” happened off screen. It was a minor enough plot point I just didn’t mind.

    I’ve seen other people ask about Fauxlivia’s knowledge of “our” world. I think people have forgotten the guys who went around collecting briefcases full of seemingly random, unimportant stuff. Were they working for Walternate? Is Fauxlivia sitting in her apartment every night, poring over a notebook full of notes on how you spell Manhattan and who’s on the $20? Seems reasonable. Unlike with Lost, I trust the writers have actually thought about it and have an answer.

    That whole “memory B” thing was not only bad science, it was bad writitng and completely unnescessary. I don’t know why they did that.

  4. Karl Withakay said

    Yes, but there’s going to be a lot of minor details between Olivia and Peter that nobody else could know, and they are bound to come up sooner or later. It will be interesting to see if they deal with it well.

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