Bad Dreams

Season 1, Episode 17
Aired: April 21st, 2009
Written By: Akiva Goldsman
Directed By: Akiva Goldsman

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Resources: IMDb | Wikipedia | Transcript
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Bad Dreams

The Glyphs

This episode's glyphs spell: B-E-L-L-Y

This episode ends with Walter watching a tape of him and William Bell consoling a young, frightened Olivia during the drug trials, the first time Bell has been seen or heard in the series.

Glyph symbol BGlyph symbol EGlyph symbol LGlyph symbol LGlyph symbol Y
Glyph symbol B
Glyph symbol E
Glyph symbol L
Glyph symbol L
Glyph symbol Y

The Observer

The Observer can be seen crossing the street near the building where the mass suicide is about to happen.


Timestamp: 41:33

Episode Clues

Previous Episode Clue

A keg outside the frat house in 'Unleashed' is labelled "Red Balloon Lager," a reference to the the red balloon found at the first crime scene in 'Bad Dreams'

Previous episode clue

Timestamp: 08:55

Next Episode Clue

Nick Lane walked by a street vendor sign in 'Bad Dreams' that said "Night Stalker Energy Drink", foreshadowing the blue-eyed killer in 'Midnight' who hunted for victims at night and drank their spinal fluid.

Next episode clue

Timestamp: 38:56

Items of Interest

  • Nick and Olivia were 'buddies' during the Cortexiphan trials.
  • Nick Lane's wardrobe is all dark colors like Olivia's. (Image 1)
  • Article titles on Nick's wall: "Genetically Modified Children - The Future of the Super Human Race", "Government Funds Secret Drug Trials", "Tax Dollars Building A Secret Army", "Doppelgangers Among Us", "Government Closes Kelvin Genetics". (Image 2)
  • Walter has a tape of him talking to a young, scared Olivia. (Image 3)
Item of interest: Nick Lane's wardrobe
Image 1: Nick Lane's wardrobe
Timestamp: 37:08
Item of interest: Nick Lane's wall
Image 2: Nick Lane's wall
Timestamp: 38:29
Item of interest: Young Olivia on Walter's tape
Image 3: Young Olivia on Walter's tape
Timestamp: 49:11

JJ Abrams Easter Eggs

  • Nick Lane's wall of articles has a giant 47 on it. (J.J.)
  • Article titles on Nick's wall: "Genetically Modified Children - The Future of the Super Human Race", "Government Funds Secret Drug Trials", "Tax Dollars Building A Secret Army", "Doppelgangers Among Us", "Government Closes Kelvin Genetics". (J.J.) (Image 1)
Item of interest: Nick Lane's wall
Image 1: Nick Lane's wall
Timestamp: 38:29

Fringe Division Case File

U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
121 105th Street • Washington, DC 20735
Phone: (202) 555-2100 • Fax: (202) 555-2101


FRINGE EVENT: Reverse empath killing innocent civilians

CLASSIFIED CASE CONNECTION(S): Cortexiphan subject activation via David Robert Jones/ZFT

AGENTS ASSIGNED: Dunham, Francis


FILE ARCHIVED BY: Léger Alexandre, David Senderling

WITNESSES/CONTACTS: Todd Pears (spouse), Mouse Willis, Nick Lane (suspect), Dr. Miller

LOCATION: Grand Central Station, NCY; St. Vincent's Hospital, NCY; St. Jude's Mental Hospital, NYC

VICTIM(S): Risa Pears, Billy Willis, Ginger, Jane Doe


Agent Dunham was given permission by Agent Broyles to investigate a New York subway suicide case for twenty-four hours. After Agent Broyles confronted Agent Dunham with a lawsuit from a restaurant manager in New York, unauthorized allocation of agency time and resources, and evidence of accessing government databases for personal use, she admitted to "seeing" the death of Risa Pears and the murder of Billy Willis in her dreams.
 Agent Dunham connected a blond-haired man with a scar on his face to both crime scenes. He was found to be Nick Lane, a former St. Jude's Mental Hospital patient. Four months earlier, an attorney had arrived with a paper, saying that Lane had inherited a large sum of money. They met twice more, and after that, Lane had checked himself out. Lane was hyperemotive with an ideation toward self-contempt. He was convinced he'd been recruited as a child for a series of top-secret experiments. He believed he was being prepared to serve as a soldier in the coming war against denizens of a parallel universe. Lane is a reverse empath, and his feelings were killing people. Dr. Bishop stimulated a REM state to enhance Agent Dunham's psychic connection to Lane. They located him on the top of a building with several people, all standing on the roof edge together. Lane recognized Agent Dunham, but she didn't know him. Lane was taken into custody and kept in a drug-induced coma.

Walter's Food

Walter marveled at his cinnamon coffee, remembered William Bell making a peyote mash, and ate a wafer.
Connection: Coffee
Timestamp: 19:40
Connection: Wafer
Timestamp: 29:12

Walter's Lab Notes

"Bad Dreams"
by Walter Bishop

Once upon a midnight dreary, Agent Dunham weak and weary,
Seeking some small bit of respite from her taxing daily chore,
As she lay upon her bedstead, tossing, turning, hardly rested,
Dreams her peaceful sleep molested, bringing news of grievous gore.
Homicidal thoughts that shook her to her body's very core -
Just a nightmare, nothing more?

Waking in the dawn of morrow, Dunham learned to her great sorrow
Someone killed herself; the horror's manner she could scarce ignore.
Hurled herself before the train, and family ne'er to see again, and
Nothing in the woman's brain suggested suicide before.
What about the haunted fellow watching from the subway floor?
Passerby and nothing more?

With another nightmare stricken, Dunham's fear began to quicken,
As the plot began to thicken, coffee spilt upon the floor -
Someone Dunham dreamt the spilling, held the knife and did the killing;
Forced a woman most unwilling to an act she'd most abhor.
In the chair where Dunham watched, the haunted man she'd seen before -
Happenstance, or something more?

To a mental institution, Dunham went for absolution -
Searching for a man she thought that she had never met before.
But as children they were taken, given drugs to keep awakened
Powers that adults forsake and prepping them for something more.
Kept together, never knowing what Cortexiphan was for -
Linking them forevermore.

Errant thoughts from him were seeping, into strangers' heads were creeping;
Dunham watched while she was sleeping, slipping through the mental door.
Violent thoughts of pure self-loathing into others' minds imposing,
Seeking for his life a closing, wondering what his life was for.
So we placed him in a coma, put his thoughts into a drawer -
Nightmares haunting... nevermore?

Walter's Lab Notes

Notable Quotes

NICK LANE'S DOCTOR: "Nick was convinced he'd been recruited as a child for a series of top-secret experiments. That he was being prepared to serve as a soldier in the coming war against denizens of a parallel universe."

NICK to Olivia: "I did what they told us. I waited, Olive. 'The soldier to come is both natural and unnatural.' I waited to be called up. Stay fit, stay focused, stay ready. I wore the blacks and greys. I blended in."

Connection Chart

A visualization of all the ways this episode connects to other episodes. Scroll down to see the actual connections.

Episode Connections

Spoilers for future episodes below!

S2E16 - Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver.

  • James Heath went to Nick's aunt's house looking for Nick in 'Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver'. Heath was looking for Cortexiphan subjects, and Nick displayed his abilities in 'Bad Dream's.
  • SAM WEISS to Olivia in 'Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver': "I don't think I've ever seen you in a primary color."

    NICK LANE In 'Bad Dreams': "I wore the blacks and grays. I blended in."
      Olivia did the same, subconsciously, as another Cortexiphan subject.

S2E21 - Over There (Part 1)

  • Nick Lane is being kept in a coma indefinitely at the end of 'Bad Dreams'. In 'Over There (Part 1)' Olivia learned that he and other found Cortexiphan subjects have been training to keep their abilities under control.
Connection: Nick Lane
Nick Lane
S2E21 - Over There (Part 1)
Timestamp: 14:10

S3E15 - Subject 13

  • Nick Lane, first seen in 'Bad Dreams' was a Cortexiphan subject in 'Subject 13'.
  • NICK LANE about the trials in 'Bad Dreams': "I think they meant for us to forget."
      Olivia didn't remember being in the trials as a child in 'Subject 13'
  • Fear (seeing Nick Lane dead on the ground) caused Olivia to create a fireball around her in 'Subject 13'. Walter watched the aftermath of this explosion on an old VHS tape in 'Bad Dreams'.

S4E14 - The End of All Things

  • PETER in 'The End of All Things': "How did you do that? How did you know how to concentrate your power?"
    OLIVIA: "Well, I, uh -- I didn't. I just know that when I was a little girl, I did something similar."

      Walter watched a video of the aftermath of Olivia's explosive childhood incident in 'Bad Dreams'.
Connection: Young Olivia after her explosion
Young Olivia after her explosion
S1E17 - Bad Dreams
Timestamp: 49:05

S4E20 - Worlds Apart

  • Redverse Nick saw the earthquakes through Blueverse Nick's mind in 'Worlds Apart', similar to how Olivia saw Nick's actions in her own mind in 'Bad Dreams'.

S4E21 - Brave New World (Part 1)

  • In 'Brave New World (Part 1)' Olivia made the officers on the rooftop throw down their guns when she threw hers down, and she controlled Peter's movements as he fought Jones, just like Nick Lane could control others with his empathic transfer ability in' Bad Dreams'.