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October 10, 2015

'Fringe' Season 3, Episode 19 Recap

by Mike Moody, posted Apr 16th 2011 10:00AM
fringe Lysergic Acid Diethylamide cartoon['Fringe' – 'Lysergic Acid Diethylamide']

Just when you thought 'Fringe' couldn't get any weirder, the show returned with one of its trippiest episodes ever.

This week's installment – with its wonderfully bizarre cartoon world, brain-melting sci-fi chicanery and drug-induced whimsy – will not soon be forgotten. It's the kind of episode that, years from now, will inspire us to say things like, "Hey, remember that crazy one they did in the third season? That was so awesome!"

But there's another reason this episode will remain stuck in our brains (or what's left of them) for years to come: It marked a major turning point for the show's heroine and resident whipping girl, Olivia Dunham.

Olivia has been put through the ringer more times than I can count over the past three years. She's been shot, drugged, manipulated and used as a guinea pig for about a dozen dangerous science experiments. Crazy scientists have even attempted to wipe her mind and replace it with a completely different personality. But Olivia has always come out the other end of these trials unbroken (for the most part). And, sometimes, these challenges inspire her to take another step closer to fulfilling her full potential.

After the insane events of this episode, it looks like Olivia is finally ready to become Super Olivia! Forced to examine herself inside and out, she discovered that she was consumed by paralyzing fear. In the end, she conquered her fear and accepted what Walter and Belly knew all along -- she's special, and she might even be strong enough to save the world(s).

She's not afraid to move forward anymore, and judging by that final scene, it seems that Olivia's head-trip will probably inspire her to make some big changes in her life. But perhaps it's too early to speculate on what exactly those changes will be and how they'll affect the show. For now, let's explore the mad, ambitious spirit and the geeky and fearless joys of this episode starting with ... two thousand milligrams of LSD, on the double, Astro!

This was an incredibly emotional episode, but it was also one of the funniest and goofiest hours of 'Fringe' we've seen all season. Inside of Olivia's subconscious, we witnessed cartoon zombie attacks (a fun parody of 'The Walking Dead' featuring what looked like an army of undead Brandons), Walter crotch grabbing, and cartoon William Bell riding a hog. Strange, ambitious stuff!

The comedy kept going back at the lab with hilarious scenes of Broyles tripping his brains out. It was a treat to see Broyles drop his sharp intimidation act and de-evolve into a Deadhead, comparing red licorice to Bernini's spirals at St. Peter's basilica.

But Broyles' trip wasn't all smiley faces and cartoon birdies; he went to a dark place and admitted, "I saw death, all of it. And it was me," referring to the image of his dead doppelganger from The Other Side. Luckily, Astrid is a born guide who was there to hold his hand through the long, strange trip.

The writers (Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman, and Akiva Goldsman) were clearly having fun with the whole 'Wizard of Oz'-meets-'Inception'-meets-'A Scanner Darkly' vibe and presentation here, but 'Lysergic Acid Diethylamide' was firmly rooted in character and emotion, and it hit a few emotional beats that we'll surely see resonate again before the season ends.

Walter was clearly still troubled by the thought of the doomsday machine and Peter's role in what could turn out to be the end of the world(s). Belly's words to Walter in the airship reminded our favorite cuddly mad scientists to trust himself. "Now you possess the wisdom of humility," Belly told Walter. "The decisions you make will be the right ones. The direction you chose to take will be just." It was a poignant moment between two old friends, and the scene -- along with Bell's insistence that he knew the "dog wouldn't hunt" -- erased any doubts I had about William Bell's moral integrity here. Turns out the guy was on our side after all.

And it also turns out that Peter truly does deserve Olivia's love. His deep feelings for her and his knowledge of her heart led him straight to her secret, safe hiding place – no, not the house with the red door, but inside the little girl on the day before the Cortexiphan trials began.

Thanks in part to Peter's love and persistence, Olivia found the strength to trust herself and to fight against the fears that overwhelmed her. (Thankfully, the show spared us the visual of cartoon Olivia going all Buffy on her dream demons, which might have been a little much.)

So why did everything become animated about 18 minutes in? Probably because it was a cool and interesting thing to do. Or, perhaps, because Leonard Nimoy was unable to physically show up to play William Bell and could only record his voice for the part (he has retired from acting, after all). Whatever the reason, it mostly worked, despite the animation looking a little stilted and video game-y at times. It'll be fun to see 'Fringe' try to top this one next season.

I'm sure some will argue that 'Lysergic Acid Diethylamide' was simply a fun but frivolous detour from the overarching War of the Unverses plot, but I disagree. Olivia, Peter and Walter all learned new and important things about themselves here -- things that will matter once the war really starts to heat up.

Finally, what are we to make of the 'Zeppelin Man' who was running around inside of Olivia's mind? Belly assumed that he was some figure from her past, but Olivia claimed she'd never met him before. Was Olivia right when she said, "I think he's the man who's gonna kill me" before casually taking a bite out of a piece of toast?

And with that perplexing but intriguing ending we move forward, unafraid and ready for more.

Other thoughts:

- Watching Walter mourn Belly broke my heart. Even 'Zoom' couldn't cheer him up.

- Olivia's childhood home had a red door. Makes you wonder if there's any connection to the Other (red) universe there.

- "Aye Aye Captain!" They had to add a 'Star Trek' nod for what looks to be Nimoy's final episode.

- No, I don't think Broyles is an Observer!

- Friday was Anna Torv's birthday. Celebrate by watching this episode again!

'Fringe' airs Friday nights at 9PM ET on Fox

[Follow @mikemoody on Twitter.]

Watch the full episode here:

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I thought it was a fantastically creative episode. The animation was weak but I thought it matched the vibe of the show. Loved the part with the zombies. I can't wait to learn more about Olivia's killer and how they stop him.

April 20 2011 at 12:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve Froud

Hopefully they wont do the crappy cartoon style again, I was falling asleep.

April 19 2011 at 2:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

At first I wasn't sure how I felt about this episode but by the end I was completely sold. Fun, unique and divulging!

Loved Broyles actually smiling!

This season hasn't been as stellar as previous seasons but I am hoping next season comes crashing in!

April 19 2011 at 1:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What I don't get are the people who don't like this show but still watch it. Do they just like complaining? Don't watch. Read a PKD novel, STFU and just leave the fans alone. Along with other creative ideas that this show's many episodes have generated and the quirkiness of them all, this episode was quite creative for TV and a lot of fun to watch and at the same time generated a lot to worry over what will happen to the characters. Meanwhile I want to see more of Astrid and Broyles characters having more to do. (They had more to do in the other universe).

April 17 2011 at 11:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Really didn't like this episode. We didn't learn a damn thing, nothing happened, and the cartoon crap was just a really lame way of showing William Bell since Leonard Nimoy has retired from acting (I suppose he did the voiceovers). Had Nimoy not retired, there wouldn't have been any cartoon bs.

Anyone catch the Fox "Win items from the Fringe set!" promotion they were advertising during the episode. You can bet that means there won't be a 4th season, though we already knew that once they moved the show to the Friday death slot. The show was so great at one point... and now this. It looks like they had enough time to end the series though, since we're already going to be dealing with "the machine" in the upcoming episodes. That's the endgame, one universe or the other... to be decided in the series finale. Looks like that is 3 eps away.

April 16 2011 at 10:20 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BruceM's comment
David Bisset

It's been reported that the show has been renewed for another season, so there's more complaining in your future!

April 16 2011 at 10:45 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

One of my favorite moments was Astrid responding to being called "Astro" by calling Walter "Wally" (and the look on his face in response).

April 16 2011 at 4:09 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

I loved, loved this episode! It was trippy, fun, and incredibly profound. It even made me feel like I can conquer my own fears....Yay, Olivia! Yay, Oliviette! Yay Fringe!

April 16 2011 at 2:54 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jalfrdprfrck's comment
Steve Froud

This episode was the worst ever, anyway I managed to endure it, the rest of the series is superb.

April 19 2011 at 2:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Worst TV series EVER made - period.
It moves at ungodly s-l-o-w pace and is as boring as it gets. Who CARES about anyone on this show?!
I hope it goes bye bye soon and Fox puts on something decent.

April 16 2011 at 2:29 PM Report abuse -12 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Melissa's comment

Since Zeppelin rides are more common in the other universe, could that mean the Zeppelin Man is from the other side?

April 16 2011 at 2:09 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Vince Averello

Little Olivia was adorable and Trippin' Broyles was hilarious... but Astrid was my favorite acting as FBI agent, lab assistant & caretaker.

April 16 2011 at 11:10 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Vince Averello's comment
Jeff Fulton(8bitjeff

I really want to see Astrid come and kick some ass some time. It would be cool to see her get out of that lab once in a while.

April 17 2011 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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