“I think that you may be right. I think that maybe some truths can do more harm than good and that some Pandora’s Boxes are better left unopened.”
– Olivia

Before I dive into the commentary, I have to get something off my chest: Clue is not a two-player game. It requires at least 3 players. The British version, Cluedo, was at one point advertised as being for between 2 to 6 players, but the American version was never marketed as such. It is technically possible to play Clue with two players, but a two-player Clue game is kind of stupid. Making a suggestion that can’t be falsified by the other player automatically gives you the answer you need to make an accusation, so it’s very easy to win just by dumb luck. That’s why the game is said to need at least 3 players. Whew! It felt nice to finally say that.

Okay, I’m not talking about Clue just for the heck of it. I wanted to talk about this episode’s Clue-inspired title: “Olivia . In the Lab. With the Revolver.” At no point in this episode does Olivia actually shoot someone in Walter’s lab. (Duh.) So why the title? And why Clue, of all games?

Clue is a suitable metaphor for what the Fringe team does on a week-to-week basis. They run around in circles, confused about what to do (moving around the board); they face obstacles put up by those who seek to thwart them (other players blocking doors); they formulate theories about whatever Fringe phenomena are related to the case (making suggestions); and they then settle on a theory and use it to save the day (making an accusation).

As weird as her job can get at times, Olivia is fine with that routine, and until she found out that Peter was from the Other Side, she could find comfort in it.  But recent events have pushed her out of that routine, out of that game of Clue. She can’t take comfort in her job anymore if she’s harbouring a secret for one of her colleagues and keeping that secret from the other. Moreover, she used to be able to hide her feelings for Peter and take comfort in admiring him from a distance. But since “Jacksonville,” her feelings have been out in the open, and the perspicacious Nina Sharp has become aware of them. Because of these events, Olivia has had trouble sleeping at night, lying awake pondering the implications of the secret that burdens her. She has begun neglecting to take care of herself. Even her hair, which is usually drawn in a tight bun or ponytail, is being kept in a loose braid that looks as if it could come undone with the slightest tug. Olivia has been pushed out of her comfort zone, and she has lost her anchor to normalcy (whatever “normalcy” in the world of Fringe may be).

Sam coming over to play Clue with Olivia is as much about providing her with companionship as it is about reacquainting her with that normalcy. Clue reminds Olivia of what she does. It allows her to forget about the crazy aspects of her personal life that have spilled over into her professional one. So even while she struggles with the knowledge of Peter’s true origins and whether or not to tell him about them, she can enjoy a game that reminds her of more comfortable times.

But Clue is just a temporary remedy, something that can treat the symptoms of keeping Walter’s secret, but can’t provide a cure. Eventually, she will either have to decide to tell Peter or not to tell him. The secret she carries is like a loaded revolver, and firing it could have devastating consequences for the little Fringe family that she has created with Peter, Walter, and Astrid at the lab, hence the episode’s title. She could tear that family apart, destroying any chance of ever recovering the comfort that she used to feel. In the end, she opts not to fire her metaphorical loaded revolver. She tells Walter that she won’t reveal the truth to Peter, that doing so could cause more harm than good. However, Walter sees things differently now and thinks that Peter has a right to know where he came from. But it will take a while to gather up the courage to tell Peter the truth. Until then, Olivia must hold on to that secret. If she can bury it deep down, just like she did with her childhood trauma, then maybe she can get back to her comfort zone.

For more information on the Fringe rewatch project, please click here.

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