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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 3 Season 1, The Ghost Network

Posted by Karl Withakay on June 23, 2011

They were all Blue Episodes back then.

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

Peter’s No Pharmacist

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant, Clonazepam is an ant anti anxiety agent, and Fluxetine is Prozac.  None of those drugs is a psychotic.

Solid Science?

The mystery gel (amber) filling a bus from a small delivery container is not so totally far fetched.  Silica aerogel is the world’s lowest density solid, and it has a density (1 mg/cm3) which is slightly less than air (1.2 mg/cm3 at 20ºC and 1 atm).  Aerogel has been nicknamed frozen smoke due to it’s very low density.  A scientist on TV once said that aerogel was as close to nothing as any solid material could be.

Unanswered Questions

Who are the people that Peter was supposed to check with before coming home?  What mystery lies in his past?  Will this mystery be addressed in season four, or will it be forgotten?

Shifting Gears Mid Stride

This is basically a copy-paste of a comment I made on Polite Scott’s site when the show originally aired.

The writers seem to have lost track and veered off in a different path at some point in this episode.  They seem to have switched from the concept of precognitive visions of future events to intercepting communication about plans for future events.  Roy was having visions of these attacks before they happened; not just foreknowledge, but actual, accurate visions of the events. If he was merely intercepting ghost network communication of the plans, he would not see accurate, detailed images of the events before they happen (or even after they happen). You could argue that his brain was interpreting the plans into visual hallucinations, but the show was clearly implying that he was pre-witnessing the actual events, which wouldn’t happen from merely intercepting ghost network communication, unless that communication included streaming video of a detailed computer simulations of the attacks.

Got it Right For the Wrong Reason


“The first responders were worried it was bioterrorism…ghost of the sarin subway incident in Tokyo in 1995.  They called in the CDC…confirmed the attack isn’t biological in nature.  There’s no contagion.”

Sarin gas is a nerve gas chemical weapon; it is not a contagion or a biological weapon.  If the first responders were thinking the incident might be similar to the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, they should probably have contacted the Army Chemical Materials Agency, not the CDC.

 The Guy’s Got Talent

Unless the ghost network also gave Roy drawing skills, he should try his hand at becoming a comic book/ graphic novel artist.

To Blathe…

Peter about whether Roy is lying or not:

“He’s not.  I’d like to consider myself a fairly good poker player, which requires me to have the ability to read my opponent’s tells, know when he’s bluffing.  He’s not bluffing.”

Peter is describing the process of “reading people” through mental acuity or applied psychology as used in the TV shows The Mentalist and Lie To Me.

Walter’s Idea of Simple…


Occam’s Razor.  All things being equal, the simplest explanation is the best.”


“And what is that?”


“The man’s psychic.  Theoretically, it’s all quite possible.”

Accepting that psychic powers are theoretically quite possible in Fringe World, the simplest explanation is still that Roy is part of the pattern conspiracy, not that he’s psychic.

Electromagnetic, Particle, or Ocean?


“We posited a spectrum of waves lying outside the range of those already discovered.”

It seems like Walter is talking about electromagnetic waves, but to be outside the range of those already discovered, they would have to be beyond gamma rays, which would be very high energy waves and very dangerous.  Perhaps the mysterious waves oscillate into another dimension or universe and thus lie in a spectrum “outside the range” of any already discovered waves.

Organomatallic Magic

Walter regarding the iridium based organomatallic compound that he introduced into Roy’s brain years earlier:

“The compound must have multiplied his bloodstream over time.  Environment, perhaps diet.”

Two problems here.  First, if Walter introduce the compound into Roy’s brain, then it shouldn’t be in his blood stream, unless there was a problem with Roy’s blood brain barrier.  Second, iridium is extremely rare on Earth, 40 times rarer than gold.  How could he get iridium from the environment or diet?  (It’s also not ferromagnetic)

Seeing Should Not Always Be Believing

Walter described the first optical illusion incorrectly.  He stated that the rotary movement gives the impression of  a 3-D tunnel.  In the illusion shown, the rotary motion is the illusion as it is a static image with no motion of any kind.  There’s also no 3-D tunnel effect in this illusion.  Here is the exact image Walter was showing, see for yourself.

Believe it or not, this is a static image.  It’s hard to tell when you look at the whole thing, but if you look close enough at any particular area, you’ll see that no part of the image ever actually changes.

Astrid Farnsworth: Relegated to the Fringe Team For Good Reason

Maybe Astrid should have gotten Roy to sign those release papers before Walter drilled into Roy’s brain.  What would she do if he had said, “Nope, too late.  It’s done, I’m not signing, and I’m suing you, Walter, and the FBI.”?  Even after he signed, a lawyer could argue that due to the experimenting on his brain, Roy was not of sound mind and not capable of entering into a binding legal agreement or legally signing any release of liability.


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