“Olivia once told me that she sometimes thinks about what it would be like to just be normal. She said she falls asleep sometimes thinking about what it would be like if her life hadn’t taken the turn that it did. She told me that the last time she remembered feeling that way was the day before she met you and Walter at the Cortexiphan trials.”
– Peter

Since William Bell possessed her at the end of “Os,” Olivia has literally been hiding out inside her own mind. Now, it’s up to Walter, Peter, and the soul of William Bell to jump in there and find her. But it won’t be easy: the weird, wacky world of Olivia’s mind is going to put up a fight.

Olivia has always been afraid to be vulnerable, to let other people share in her hardship. She has been on her own for a large part of her life, and as such, she tends to retreat inside herself when things go wrong. “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” takes that to an extreme, with Olivia literally disappearing inside herself. Doing so makes sense for Olivia. It’s how she has always dealt with her fears, by internalizing them instead of facing them head-on. As we learned in “Subject 13,” when she was a child, she wouldn’t let anybody know that her stepfather was beating her, not even Walter, because doing so would involve facing her fear. Olivia believed herself to be safe as along as she could retreat within herself.

But retreating within herself involves putting up barriers, and it’s those barriers that Walter, Peter, and Bell must face. The barriers manifest themselves as a twisted reflection of reality, a world in which a silent army of grey-clad soldiers makes it their mission to stop Peter and Walter from finding Bell. In this world, people act not like themselves, but how Olivia perceives them. So, instead of being cunning but ultimately benign, Nina is an evil trickster. Instead of being a smug, nerdy scientist, Brandon is…well, let’s just say he really likes brrraaaaaiiinnnnsss!

Navigating these channels would be impossible were it not for Peter, the one person who truly understands Olivia on an intimate level. He knows that Olivia would be hiding in the last place anyone would look, and also as a child version of herself; if Olivia is retreating due to fear, then it makes sense for her to run back to the last time she truly felt safe, when she was a very young girl. Olivia has always longed to recapture the innocence of her early childhood, and though she never will, it’s a source of comfort for her.

“You should have been safe inside your mind, except it’s you, and you have never felt safe. You are your own worst enemy, Olivia. You took the opportunity to let your fears overwhelm you. But you just fought back. In the end, you are as strong as Walter and I always believed you were. And now, you know it too.”
– William Bell

But now that Peter has brought Olivia out of hiding, it’s time for her to face her own demons, to realize that she can stand in front of her fears and stare them down. Olivia has never been a damsel in distress, but for the first time in her life, she deals with her fears not by retreating, but by standing her ground. Only then does she wake out of her slumber and return to the real world.

“Please tell Walter that I knew the dog wouldn’t hunt.”
– William Bell

But none of this would have been possible without William Bell’s consciousness leaving Olivia’s brain. His possession of Olivia’s body is what caused Olivia to retreat within herself in the first place, after all. Bell had always longed to immortalize himself in some way or another, and Walter is excited by the prospect that Bell could live on as a machine. But when Olivia wakes up, Bell’s consciousness fails to download itself onto the hard disk that was supposed to hold it. When Olivia tells Walter that Bell told her to tell him that “the dog wouldn’t hunt,” Walter knows what happened. Bell knew that the plan to preserve his mind on a computer wouldn’t work along, but he needed to leave Olivia’s brain so that her consciousness wouldn’t be suppressed permanently. In essence, Bell let himself “die” so that Olivia could “live.” Thus, Bell leaves the show just as much of a clever, scheming bastard as he always was, but a clever, scheming bastard with a heart.

For more information on the Fringe rewatch project, please click here. For my review of “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide,” please click here.