What is a cartoon dream within a dream? A Saturday morning version of Inception perhaps? Fringe gets animated for part of their episode as the Bishops take a page out of Christopher Nolan's book and try some shared dreaming with Bel-livia in "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide".
With time running out for William Bell inhabiting Olivia's body Walter and Peter are hard at work trying to find a suitable host for Bell's consciousness. After a failed attempt to transfer Bell's mind to a suitable host, him and Walter come up with an ulterior plan to enter Olivia's mind to find her consciousness before its too late. With a little imagination and lots of LSD Walter and Peter connect their minds to Bel-livia and enter Olivia's dream world consciousness. Inside the Bishops meet up with Bell and search for Olivia while running from her overly protective subconscious.
After Inception came out last summer I knew it was just a matter of time before someone would imitate Nolan's original ideas for something else. Fringe 'borrows' some of Nolan's concepts rather than steal them all together, as this episode utilizes the notion of shared dreaming. Since Fringe had done something like this already back in the first season (before Inception came out BTW), with Olivia and the dead body of John Scott, they re-visit this idea as a way to communicate and find Olivia's lost consciousness. I always loved the idea Fringe had with the shared consciousness and I like that they use this interesting plot device sparingly; not over use it.
Having both Walter and Peter enter Bel-livia's mind it made for some interesting moments, even before they met up with Bell, but for being in a dream world I felt like the show held back a bit. When I think people in a dream like world I think of something similar to The Matrix. That being your own limitations in that world is in your imagination. However the episode doesn't go the super powers route and stays grounded (or at least grounded for their normal level of craziness).
Where "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" really gets unique is when the Bishops re-unite with Bell at his office at one of the World Trade Center towers and Nimoy returns to the show. Pretty much from then afterwards most of the episode is in cartoon form as Bell and the Bishops search for Olivia in her own mind. Personally I love it when TV shows go out of their comfort zone and try something different like this. Last season there was the "Brown Betty" episode were it was shot like an old 50's murder mystery that was completely unlike anything the series had ever done before. The animation came off as a little slow in regards to the characters reactions but the look was really great. When Leonard Nimoy officially announced his retirement from acting last year, the thought of William Bell ever returning to show went with him. But it seems the producers on Fringe found their loop hole and brought Nimoy back in animated form. Myself, and probably the rest of the fans of this show, have been craving to see more scenes and episodes with both Nimoy and John Noble together. Having them perform together one last time (maybe -- never say never with Fringe) was still great to watch, even if it was only their voices.
For as life threatening as the whole situation with Olivia's mind being lost forever was, the episode kept the mood pretty light. After Broyles accidentally drops some LSD he is probably the funniest to watch as he trips out over some twizzlers. He even has a Disney moment where he sees animated birds in the real world without even being plugged in. Something else I found entertaining was the blatant product placement for the new Sprint tablet. I realize that it's part of the business, and it might even help a Friday night show like Fringe out financially, but the product placement was done so obviously it was like the show went on a commercial break in the middle of the scene.
With this episode resolving the big issue of Bel-livia's fate, Fringe still managed to raise some interesting questions for what's next. During the cartoon zeppelin ride Peter and Walter encounter a mysterious man with an 'X' on his chest who was hostel against the Bishops. At the time this mystery guy just seem like another part of Olivia's subconscious that was out to get them for intruding in Olivia's mind, but this guy seemed different for some reason. Turns out after Olivia's emotional break through over her fears she drops a cliff-hanger of a ending line by suggesting that the guy with the 'X' on his chest from inside her mind will be the guy to kill her. This guy could either be another person from her past or maybe someone else who is able to travel into others mind. Another cortexiphan kid perhaps?
Like I said earlier I like the fact that Fringe hasn't over used this shared consciousness concept but it the cartoon aspect was a different twist than previous episodes. Peter brings up a great point about it by saying: "I'm pretty sure there is a reason why we can't enter each other's minds. What if we kick something loose in there?" If this was Fringe's way of foreshadowing, maybe next time Walter tries this now signature processor, things might not go as smoothly as before.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.