Reiden Lake, 1985. Elizabeth Bishop finishes vacuuming and calls Peter to lunch. She finds a note on his bed that reads, “I am going home.” Out on the frozen lake, young Peter ties one end of a rope around his waist and the other around what looks like a garden stone. Elizabeth rushes to stop him but before she can reach him, he smashes the surface of the ice and plunges into the water. She jumps in after him and struggles to pull him out. He fights her, repeatedly screaming, “You’re not my mother! I want to go home!”
Awesome retro 1980s credits. I get such a kick out of that for some reason.
At Jacksonville Family Daycare Center, Walter leads a group of kids, including young Olivia, in an exercise apparently designed to help them teleport at will. Olivia reassures the nervous boy next to her, and Walter scolds her for talking when she should be listening. “Miss Ashley” interrupts to tell Walter that his wife called “¦ to let him know she’s in Jacksonville. Olivia looks terrified to be going home early.
Walter tries to convince Peter he’s imagining the differences between the universes. Peter is not having it; he flips out, again screaming that he wants to go home. The Bishops talk once he’s asleep. Elizabeth wants to take Peter home (for his sake) but Walter says it’s too dangerous. He tells her to hold on until he can get the kids at the day care to cross over and take Peter with them.
Meanwhile, Olivia’s awful stepfather rips her book from her hands and tells her to go to bed. She runs from the room and suddenly finds herself standing in a field as an airship passes overhead, then whisked back home just as quickly, and then we’re whisked to commercials.
Elizabeth fixes Peter’s breakfast. Again, he’s all, “Bitch you ain’t my mom.” She tells him that she’s answered some of his questions wrong because he’s “confused” from being sick. He insists, “I’m not crazy.” He’s got a pretty good understanding of what’s happened, except he thinks his world is at the bottom of the lake.
Walter tells Ashley he’s ready to start independent testing on the kids, starting with Olivia. Walter asks Olivia why she’s inside drawing instead of out playing with the other kids. He asks her about her black eye and she says she fell. She’s drawn an airship, and Walter asks her if she saw it last night when she fell.
Elizabeth and Peter are in the car, on the way to run errands. They pass a field of tulips; Elizabeth explains that they aren’t native to the region and were developed by a professor to grow there. She asks Peter what he’d wish for if he could change the world. He says he’d go home. Lady, you walked right into that one. Instead, she promises him a surprise after they’re finished with errands. She takes him to a toy store and tells him to pick out a toy. He seems to be warming up to her a bit. Ah, bribery.
Walter wants to experiment on Olivia to see if he can trigger an emotional response that will make her cross over again. Elizabeth brings Peter to the day care to see where Walter works. Olivia, drawing in a classroom, catches his attention through the window. Walter seems amused. They send Peter off to get a snack, and Walter tells Elizabeth he’s close to finding a way to send Peter home. Inside, Olivia stops drawing long enough to give them a very Children of the Corn kind of look.
Walter writes to William Bell about Subject 13, aka Olivia. He prepares to send him footage of his sessions with her on Betamax (heh). First, Walter tries joy (making her laugh), exhaustion (making her run on a treadmill), anger (needling her while she tries to complete a puzzle), and loneliness (leaving her in a room by herself). He’s about to break out Jaws when he realizes fear alone isn’t the answer either.
He locks her in a room and turns out the lights. Then she hears whispers in the dark. Once she’s good and upset, the lights come up to reveal a boy on the floor covered in blood. Olivia screams and sets the room ablaze. Nicely done, Dr. Bishop.
Chez Bishop, Elizabeth sees emergency vehicles racing past the house with their sirens on. She picks up the phone but gets only a busy signal.
At the day care, Walter cleans up Nick, the kid he recruited to help him play that gruesome trick on Olivia. Even without Cortexiphan, these kids would’ve been all kinds of messed up.
Elizabeth arrives at the day care to find the fire out, but emergency vehicles still in the parking lot. Olivia’s gone missing. Elizabeth tells Peter to stay put in a classroom, then goes looking through the papers on Walter’s desk. Peter takes Olivia’s sketchbook out of her cubby. There’s a picture of a screaming red-faced man, and a picture of a field of tulips.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth has discovered that Walter’s been taking advantage of Olivia’s terrible home life to stimulate both love and terror so she can cross over. Elizabeth is upset but Walter is determined to send Peter home before Walternate comes to get him, and potentially destroy their world. Ashley comes looking for Peter (poor kid’s never had peanut M&Ms), and it becomes clear that he’s gone missing too.
In the otherverse, the Bishops watch a news broadcast on Peter’s kidnapping. Walter has been drinking himself into oblivion (as his wife puts it) trying to cope. Later, he refuses dinner and presses her (for the umpteenth) time for details about the abductions. She doesn’t want to talk about it as that’s solved nothing so far. Walter is convinced there’s a scientific explanation. (BTW, John Noble is kicking so much ass in this scene it’s not even funny. Seriously, where is his Emmy?)
Walter goes into Peter’s room and sits beside the bed. He comes to apologize to Elizabeth and brushes her hair. She hopes Peter is safe and cared for, and will come back to them. She tells Walter she wants to keep their marriage strong in the meantime, as it’s all they have. She begs him to stay home from work this week. The next morning, she wakes to find him gone. He goes to work and takes a sip from his flask the minute he’s in his office.
Back on our side, night has fallen. Ashley finds Olivia’s sketchbook and brings it to Walter. It’s open to the picture of the screaming man.
Peter finds Olivia sitting in the field of tulips because, he says, it was the only “happy” thing she drew. They introduce themselves to each other. She admits that her stepfather gave her the black eye, and that she’s afraid Walter will send her home for “messing up.” Peter tells her to imagine the world the way she wants it to be. She asks him if he trusts Walter, and he encourages her to tell him about the abuse. They hold hands and sit in the field together.
Peter and Olivia return to the daycare. Olivia watches as Elizabeth hugs Peter. Ashley tells Olivia her stepfather is on his way to pick her up. Olivia runs to Walter’s office and confesses, both that she was hit and that she crossed over. She hands him her sketchbook and asks for his help ““ and when she hears Walter behind her, realizes she just crossed over again and was talking to the wrong Walter.
When her stepfather arrives, Walter threatens to go to social services if he hits Olivia again. (I will admit to being unsure he’d say or do anything, actually.)
Elizabeth makes dinner. Peter apologizes for running off. He’s accepted (more or less) that he can’t go home. Elizabeth begs him to make the best of it and promises to take care of him. When he presses her, though, she still won’t admit she isn’t his real mother. He hugs her and calls her “Mom.” Once he leaves the room, she cries and pours herself a drink.
On the other side, Walternate calls his wife to tell her he knows where Peter was taken. In front of him is a picture Olivia drew of her and Peter in the field of tulips.
In two weeks (two weeks?!), “a baffling case breaks the laws of physics.” Um, doesn’t that happen in every episode?