Forced Perspective was a good episode, but much like Wallflower, it was a bit of a disappointment in comparison to the episodes that came before it. Ironically enough, during my first viewing, I thought that “Forced Perspective” provided me with very little new perspective, but upon subsequent viewings and after thinking about the episode a bit, it provides some good insight into the overarching plot of this season.
- At the beginning of the episode, we meet a girl named Emily and she apparently has the ability to see visions of a person’s death before it happens. When she hears a hum signaling that a vision is developing in her mind, she feels compelled to draw it out. Once she draws it out, she strives to warn the marked individuals in an attempt to allow them the gift of saying their goodbyes to those that they love. She appears to have a very fatalistic perspective on things since she feels that their deaths are inevitable. But, for a young girl who has seen drawing after drawing come true, how could she not have such a perspective on things? In the beginning of the episode, she promptly starts drawing a picture of a man that is struck by a high beam such that it goes right through his chest. She spots the man in the crowd and gives him the drawing. I thought that the conversation that him and his partner had about teenagers was funny, but his subsequent death was rather gruesome even if it demonstrated impressive work by the special effects department. When Emily stopped the man to give him her drawing, she probably delayed him for a couple of seconds and the man was delayed further as he slowed down his walking to examine her drawing. If Emily had not stopped him, would he have walked by the construction site a lot sooner and thus, avoided the beam that came falling down? By warning these people about their doom, is Emily inadvertently fulfilling their fate that she foresaw? This is called a self-fulfilling prophecy and its an interesting idea.
- In the next scene, we see Olivia and Broyles talking with each other about the observer sightings. In the first season, the team had encountered an Observer in the episode “The Arrival” and had notified Broyles. Broyles then told them that they had been investigating these individuals for the past 3 years. A similar situation is playing out in this episode. Olivia’s encounter with the Observer caused her to tell Broyles who disclosed that they had been investigating them for quite some time. Regarding giving information to the Fringe team, Broyles will only tell them what they need to know based on whether or not such information is relevant to a current case. Since the Observers have not directly approached the team before, it makes sense that this is the first time that Olivia is fully learning about them. I’m assuming that the Observers have not made contact with the team since Peter does not exist in this timeline. This is consistent with my theory that Peter was the one that the observers were observing and September presumably felt the need to warn Olivia of her fate because somehow it ties into Peter’s fate.
- Skipping a bit ahead, there is another scene between Olivia and Broyles a bit later in which he asks her why she’s been to the health center three times within the last month. Olivia’s normally strong façade crumbles a bit as she tells Broyles that she has needed a constant supply of prescriptive medications to address her migraines that have seem to have gotten worse. She asks Broyles if he believes in fate and upon hearing that he doesn’t, she replies that she didn’t either, not until recently. Working on a case about a girl who is actually able to predict the death of certain individuals must have given credibility to the prophecy that she heard about her death a few weeks ago. Thus, she probably believes in fate a bit more than she did before. I can’t imagine how rattled she must be about everything that’s going on with her. Not only does she have to be able to work everyday in a job where life-threatening things can happen (and have happened), but she also has to deal with persistent migraines. Anyone who has experienced chronic headaches before will tell you that after about 5 hours of having a headache, you just want to crawl into a corner and start crying your eyes out. Regarding Broyles, our Broyles is such a contrast to AltBroyles who appears to be working with the enemy. In these two scenes with Olivia, Broyles proves that he is very different from his counterpart: he is caring and observant. He voices that he is committed to making sure that Olivia is out of harms way as much as possible from this point forward. It’s reassuring to see that their close relationship is retained in this timeline.
- I really loved the scene with Walter, Peter and Olivia in the lab. Walter has apparently stayed true to his promise of helping Peter to find his way home. Peter confesses that since he is not suppose to exist in this timeline, the machine in this timeline would not respond to him. In the initial episodes of season 4, we learned that when the machine was turned on, instead of destroying one of the universes, it actually formed a bridge. But how did the machine turn on in the first place in this timeline? Is the machine designed differently in this timeline such that it has been made to respond to something else other than Peter? It was responsive to Olivia in the old timeline. Is it still responsive to her? Does she have to be dosed with Cortexiphan so that her powers will emerge and so that she’ll be able to operate the machine? If the machine is designed a bit differently in this timeline, will Peter be able to manipulate it in such a way so that it can perform a different function (such as helping him get home)? On a shallow note, it should be a crime for Joshua Jackson to wear a shirt that makes him look as good as the shirt in this scene did. I’ve noticed that in almost all the episodes (with the exception of “Novation” and “And Those We Left Behind”), Peter is wearing a blue shirt or coat which is an appropriate homage to his true home (the Blueverse). I love the way that he says Olivia’s name when he sees her and the way that she smiles when she enters the lab. For both of them, the lab is a familiar setting, a setting that they’ve spent years in, investigating case after case. They’ve probably spent more time in the lab then they have in their respective homes. Olivia is delighted that Walter and Peter are working together and Walter’s response is sweet. He promises her that despite working on two different projects, she’ll always have his full attention when she needs it. I love the family dynamic between the three of them and seeing this scene really made me realize how much I’ve missed it. It’s weird, but with every passing episode, the characters become more and more like the older versions of themselves. I don’t know if this is intentional or not or whether it’s just lax acting. Because of Peter’s presence, are the timelines beginning to merge slowly, day by day?
- Another indication that this Olivia is becoming more like the Olivia from the old timeline is the fact that she noticed Emily’s backpack in the apartment when they went to question Emily’s family about her whereabouts. During the initial episodes of season 4, it was Lincoln who was the observant one and Olivia who seemed to be missing important pieces of information. With every passing episode, I find myself caring more and more about the characters from this timeline and Olivia is no exception to this.
- The scene in the lab with Emily was also a noteworthy scene. Walter proposed that some future events can reverberate backwards in time and Emily said that each vision comes to her like a dream and she draws them out before they fade away. I think that these ideas will somehow play out in future episodes, but I’m not sure how yet. I especially like how Peter relied on his past experiences to help the others on the current case. Peter learned about the green-red light method of mind control in the season 1 episode “The Equation” and I found it a bit weird that Walter didn’t know about this method in this episode. He learned about the method at St. Claire’s from one of his roommates. Him knowing about the method had nothing to do with Peter’s presence and so I felt that his lack of knowledge here was a bit contrived. It was wonderful to see Peter reassuring Walter while he was guiding Emily. Peter, more than anyone, knows what Walter is capable of and has confidence in him. Can I just give a shout out to the special effects department? There are some shows (like Once Upon A Time) that have an enormous budget, but that have really crappy special effects. I’m am constantly amazed at how good the special effects are despite the fact that Fringe is on a low budget. This show seriously makes the most out of every penny that they have, don’t they? Emily’s vision of the bomb attack was beautifully done.