Bad Dreams
Season 1, Episode 17
Air date April 21, 2009
Written by Akiva Goldsman
Directed by Akiva Goldsman
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Cast | Transcript

"Bad Dreams" is the seventeenth episode of the first season of Fringe.


As a suicide incident occurs at New York's iconic Grand Central station, Agent Dunham simultaneously witnesses the event while asleep and dreaming in Boston. Rattled by the extraordinary and coincidental circumstances, Olivia, Peter and Walter investigate further but keep coming up empty-handed. As these violent occurrences continue and worsen, Olivia is sent into an unthinkable direction and shocking details emerge about the ZFT manuscript, the highly experimental drug Cortexiphan and Olivia's childhood.


Olivia dreams that she pushes Risa Pears in front of a subway train at Grand Central Terminal, but assumes it was just in her head. In the morning, however, the news reports that the woman killed herself with the train. Walter Bishop puts forth various theories, such as astral projection, while Peter Bishop thinks it was still just a dream. Olivia is unconvinced and goes with the Fringe team to investigate. An NYPD officer escorts them to the crime scene, and Peter sees a red balloon floating and begins to believe her, as Olivia had described the balloon to him previously.

Olivia worries it will happen again, and though she attempts to ward off sleep, she next dreams that she helps a woman named Mouse Willis murder her husband Billy Willis at a restaurant. They interview the wife, who tells them she became so convinced her husband was going to leave her that she became angry and stabbed him. The team posits that while no one is actually causing the incidents, they are happening as Olivia has seen them. At the restaurant, the owner tells them a blond man with a scar named Nick Lane was sitting in the same place as Olivia was in her dream, and was also seen in the video surveillance from the first crime scene. Walter posits that because she never sees him in her dreams, it was Lane, not Olivia, causing the people's deaths. Olivia and Peter interview doctor at St. Jude's Mental Hospital, who tell them Lane was staying there voluntarily but left after a mysterious man came to visit him. The doctor described him as hyper-emotive, in which those near him adopt the same emotions he is experiencing. Olivia and Peter soon learn that as a child, Lane was treated with the nootropic drug Cortexiphan in drug trials and believes himself to be a recruit in the upcoming war between the two universes.

Walter tells Olivia that she may have been in the same drug trials as Lane and that the bond they share stems from Walter and William Bell pairing up the children into "buddy systems." To locate where Lane is, Walter uses this bond and puts Olivia under the effect of drugs so she experiences Lane's emotions. She sees Lane sleep with a stripper named Ginger, who is then influenced to kill herself in a mirror of Lane's depressed thoughts; afterwards, Olivia discovers where he lives. While they explore his apartment, a suicidal Lane walks down a sidewalk and unwittingly influences others to mirror his emotions, so that they follow him to the top of a building. Because of her past in the trials, Walter believes Olivia won't be influenced by these suicidal thoughts, and she goes to encounter Lane alone. While Olivia does not remember him, he remembers her, having nicknamed her "Olive." Olivia non-fatally wounds him so he does not commit suicide with the others, and he is placed in a medically induced coma to contain his emotions.

The episode ends with Walter watching a video of Olivia as a child, apparently taken during the time she was being administered the drug. Walter's voice is heard on the tape, as is William Bell's. Both are trying to calm Olivia down and there appears to be damage to the equipment in the room.

Notable Quotes[]

Peter: She had a bad dream.
Olivia: No, I could smell the platform. I saw her baby staring at me. I saw her face before I saw the news. How is that possible?
Walter: Opium?

Agent: We've got a hit.
Charlie: Subject's name is Nick Lane. Uh, former address is St. Jude's Mental Hospital.
Walter: Well, I'm not going there.

Walter: What is mankind's oldest dream?
Astrid: World peace?
Walter: Oh, hardly. It's a social construct imposed by an awareness of our own mortality.
Astrid: Should have gone with "great taste, less filling."

Walter: Astral...
Astrid: (correcting him) Astrid.
Walter: ...projection. Spirit walk!


  • The Observer can be seen crossing the street near the building where the mass suicide is about to happen.
  • The building Nick Lane leads the followers to is at the corner of Broadway and 20th Street in Manhattan.
  • This episode marks the first time that the viewer gets to hear the voice of William Bell


  • Risa Pears is shown waiting for the 7 train on the Shuttle platform at Grand Central Terminal. The Shuttle line only runs between GCT and Times Square, while the 7 train travels eastward through Queens--it is impossible for the 7 (or any train) to pass through the Shuttle area, so Risa Pears should have been waiting on the 7 train platform two levels below.
  • When Olivia Dunham (as Nick Lane) is in the bedroom with Ginger, the club dancer, she observes her in the bathroom topless. Seconds later, Olivia enters the bathroom, and the dancer is now wearing a bra.
  • After talking to the woman who killed her own husband, Olivia walks away. As she turns the corner, she has her hand on her head. Peter comes in behind her and she is lowering her hand, but when she turns around to face him she has her hand back on her head, about to lower it.
  • The car's roof implodes and the windows shatter a split second before the falling woman hits it.


  • "Starstruck" by Lady Gaga
  • "Via Veneto" by Lou Monte


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