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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 19 Season 3, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

Posted by Karl Withakay on April 15, 2011

A Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

Yeah. 220… 221, Whatever it Takes -or- Do Not Reset or Power Off Your Olivia

I know the effect of dimming lights and blown breakers added drama, but wouldn’t you make sure you had enough current capacity to properly power your mind transfer device?  You always get a warning not to shut down or reset when saving a game on the Xbox360 or flashing the ROM on your computer or electronic devices.  Who knows what could happen if you lose power when in the middle of a consciousness transfer?

Did You Make Sure To Select the Right Volume?

How do you make sure your soul transfer machine transfers the right soul anyway?  What if Olivia had ended up in the body of the bearded guy on ice?

Does This Rat Seem Like that Other Rat to You?

Who knew rats had souls?  How exactly would you tell that a rat had the soul of another rat inside it?  I guess you would use the magic soul reading EEG for the rats just like you do for people.

First In, First Out?

Why is it that the natural host soul (which is presumably better anchored to the host brain) is the one to be lost rather than the invasive guest soul?

Chi, Why Did it Have to Be Chi?


“OK, what if we try and activate her Chi”




“Yes, we try and stimulate her seventh chakra.  Pure consciousness.”

First of all, Chi and Chakras are related but different forms of vitalistic woo.  As for acupuncture and Chi points, studies have shown that the location of needling in acupuncture is irrelevant.  (They have also shown that it doesn’t matter whether you penetrate with needles or just poke with toothpicks.)  Chi points have never been demonstrated to exist, and their origin lies more with astrology than with anatomy.  Chi is a prescientific, concept based on vitalism, devised before the modern understanding of the circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems.

The Emulator is Legal, But are the ROMs Copywrited?


“Whole brain emulation.  It’s another one of Belly’s old projects.  It describes how an inorganic host can house organic material.”

I think the writers are getting confused and mixing up concepts here.  If William Bell has an incorporeal soul that is independent of his old brain, as it must be since his body is now dead and his soul has moved into Olivia’s body, then that soul cannot be considered organic.  If the mind is exclusively the result of the organic brain, then there is no way to transfer the mind or soul.  Though it could be possible to copy the mind, the original would be left behind in that case.

More Mental Confusion

Mind, soul, brain, consciousness, the writers seem to randomly interchange these terms so much that it becomes difficult to tell what they’re actually talking about at times.  Are they going into Olivia’s mind to look for her consciousness or going into her brain to find her mind/soul.  The language seems clear that they are going into her mind to find her consciousness, but that means her mind is there and reachable.  Is there a danger that her consciousness will disappear while her mind is still in her body?  Is the danger that her mind will follow her consciousness if it disappears from her body?  Is this all just an elaborate excuse to do an Inception episode?

Astrid Farnsworth, M.D.?

Should Astrid really be supervising the whole LSD trip into Olivia’s mind all by herself?  What if one of them seizes, arrests, or experiences some other form of serious complication?

She’s Got a Lot On Her Mind

That’s a very large, complicated, and involved world that Olivia’s mind was generating.  No wonder her consciousness was suppressed, it was too busy generating a dream consisting of a large portion of the United States with a cast of at least thousands of people in it.

Peter, I Made a Skid!

Normally, that would have a different meaning coming out of Walter’s mouth.  Enough said.

A Mind Scanner Darkly

It seems like they did the animation just for scenes involving Leonard Nimoy as Bell.  Nimoy had retired from acting, but he returned for Fringe and to voice Sentinel Prime in the next Transformers movie.  It’s almost like Nimoy will only do voice acting work now, so they animated his scenes.  The other option presumably would have been to make Bell a large transforming robot from another planet.

Explosive Decompression?

Hydrogen filled rigid airships typically cruised at about 3,000 ft, with the highest altitude achieved by a hydrogen filled rigid passenger airship being 5,500 ft on the Graf Zeppelin’s maiden voyage.  As far as I can find from very limited research, explosive decompression does not even begin to be a concern until sometime around or after 15,000 ft.  That guy should not have been sucked out of the zeppelin like that.

Mostly For the Search Engines

The ECL82 is an actual vacuum tube used in record players with crystal pickups.  I’m not sure why Walter’s digital soul computer would need one, or where he would plug it in.  Perhaps Walter was looking to mellow out Bell’s soul a little bit.

Fear Is The Mind Killer

The resolution seemed a little anticlimactic/ Deus Ex Humana to me.  All it took to resolve the situation was for Olivia to become a Bene Gesserit.

Product Placement

It’s strange.  The SPRINT tablets I see online and in the stores don’t seem to have SPRINT in GAINT LETTERS across the top to let you know they are SPRINT tablets like the one in the show did.  I wonder if it was supposed to be a product placement, kind of like an in-show ad or something?  🙂


10 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 19 Season 3, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide”

  1. Daedalus said

    Couple of points: Anything in the “mind of Olivia” sequence has to be regarded as beyond quibbling. If her mind thinks you can be sucked out of a zeppelin, then you can.

    On the other hand, Walter’s call for 2000 mg of LSD would indicate he wanted enough of the stuff to send a small city on vacation. Normal dose, I seem to have heard somewhere, is about 20 micrograms.

    I have no problem with the level of detail in Olivia’s dreams. I am occasionally amazed at the detail in my own…

  2. Karl Withakay said

    Maybe I should have said that outside of a dream, the guy wouldn’t have been sucked out of the zeppelin like that, but I think it was worth noting as some viewers may not have known that there wouldn’t be any explosive decompression at zeppelin altitudes.

    As to the level of detail in Olivia’s dream, I suppose I can’t really say for sure that there isn’t a cast of thousands in parts of my dreams that I’m not a participant in, any we didn’t really see very much individual, independent action by most of the people in her mind.

  3. jedivulcan said

    The one thing I caught in the episode that I found interesting was when Broyles was tripping on LSD in the lab, at one point, it seemed that he was having a vision of his other self being killed in that exact same lab from the other universe. It probably explains why he could “see” death. It could be a coincidence or a very loose reference.

    Previous episodes established that tripping on LSD lets them see things from the other universe like the shape shifters.

  4. tahtee said

    Just discovered this fantastic page, after watching the episode and having asked myself almost the same questions, plus: why does O’s mind consider Nina a killer??? And, regarding the bad guy she believes wilol kill her… how come he is in her mind? She has premonition abilities now?
    (Oh, excuse me: VISCA EL BARÇA!!! Just scored against Madrid, he, he ,he…)

  5. jedivulcan said

    @Tahtee I was strangely satisfied that Nina Sharp was pushed down an elevator shaft. Interesting too was Nina appearing in a setting that only exists in the alternate reality. Maybe it’s a foretelling of the kind of person we’ll eventually meet over there.

  6. Miles Fowler said

    “No wonder her consciousness was suppressed, it was too busy generating a dream consisting of a large portion of the United States with a cast of at least thousands of people in it.”

    “…we didn’t really see very much individual, independent action by most of the people in her mind.”

    Most of those people were, perhaps, iterations of a generic human. It’s the same way with computer generated images. Waves of water are all the same, so you don’t need a code for each separate wave.

  7. […] This week’s Fringe cipher was: FEARS. A list of all previous Fringe reviews is available here. Karl has more to say, as always, over at his blog. […]

  8. duff said

    about drug use/refernces in fringe: 2000 MILLIgrams of acid ? whoooa. that would be HELL OF A TRIP [coma probably]. recrational dose is around 150 MICROgrams [ug] 🙂 around 1000 ug religous visions start to kick in. also whenever they’re ‘tripping’ in series they ingest/inject HUGE amounts of psychedelics and swooosh after 2-3 hours all are fine and smiling. calming down after taking such hardcore mixtures [in terms of drugs used and their amount] one would need MASSIVE amounts of antipsychotics to calm down and effects wouldn’t wear off that quickly for sure. my 5 cents 🙂 anyways great show ! keep up the good work

  9. […] episode is debunked at Polite Dissent and Cordial Deconstruction, and you can read more about it at Fox, IMDb and the A.V. […]

  10. Britt said

    About Leonard Nimoy and Voice work. I wondered about that too, especially since he recently did a live commercial for Telus (Canadian telecomunications company). Presumably he filmed it in Vancouver while working on Fringe.

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