Fringe Time Line: Shape Shifting ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Time Line: Shape Shifting

      Email Post       9/20/2009 09:31:00 AM      

The shape shifter storyline in the Fringe Season 2 premiere episode "A New Day In The Old Town" is leaving a lot of people confused. Here are the "rules" of shape shifting as we percieve them, and a time line of events, which hopefully will clear things up.

The Rules of Shape Shifting:
  • As you see in the video above, the "meat" of the transformation only takes about 18 seconds, and including the setup, about a minute. The shape shifter is clearly not in a hurry here, which could cut the overall time to under 30 seconds.
  • When the device is used, the shape shifter takes the physical form of the victim. It's possible that memories may be transferred as well, which would help with the disguise.
  • The victim stays basically the same, save for the three holes in the mouth and the strange fluid loss.
  • The shape shifter does not seems injure, and may be self healing, which helped it survive the car crash and gun shots, and may mean there would be no holes in the mouth if inspected.
  • The shape shifter appears to have super-human abilities, endowed with extraordinary strength, and able to leap from tall building without injury.

At some point before Olivia's NY trip to meet William Bell, the shape shifter entered our world and killed George Reed and copied his looks.

The shape shifter took Reed's car and waited for Olivia to pass by, so it could crash into her.

After the crash, the shape shifter believe he's killed his target - Oliva, and flees the scene to find a new disguise.

The shape shifter assumes the form of Lloyd Par.

The shape shifter communicates with the alternate reality using the Selectric 251. Is he talking to his boss, or his alternate self?

The shape shifter receives new orders, then heads to the hospital.

The shape shifter assumes the form of Olivia's nurse, and hides the dead nurse's body in the cart next to the furnace.

The nurse unsuccessfully tries to kill Olivia, and is shot in the back by Agent Jessup. Unfazed by the gun shots, the nurse jumps out the window, and runs into the basement and hides near the furnace.

This is where the time line gets a little tricky. As soon as the nurse drops from the ceiling, Charlie immediately turns and fires two shots. Unfortunately, we don't see what happens next.

The sound of two gunshots causes Peter to turn around, then there are two more gunshots heard a few seconds later.

From that point, it takes about 10 more seconds of screen time for Peter and Amy to arrive. It's possible there is some time compression and this could have taken much longer, depending on how large the hospital basement was.

However, 10 seconds is clearly not enough time for the Shape Shifter to perform the transformation, change into Charlie's clothes, and get the nurse's real body from the cart, and then put Charlie's naked body in the cart.

Another possible explanation is that the shape shifting nurse could be playing possum, and kills Charlie after Peter and Amy leave.

However, one problem with that theory is that it looks like Peter takes the transformation device - but then again he could be just looking at it, and could have got it later from Amy. I can't imagine the shape shifter would give it to him.

Not quite a rock-solid case, but almost there. How do you think it all went down?

UPDATE: Here is the Charlie gunshot scene:


Aditi Minda said...

Frankly, I didn't like the episode as much. Especially it just was too predictable with all the shape-shifter thing and everything came too easy to him. I also did not believe that Agent Olivia Dunham would not doubt the nurse when she kept asking her questions. You know Olivia with Cortexphine drug and everything is suppose to have higher intelligence than normal humans.Getting back to the shape shifter, unlike typical fringe episode, they weren't trying to find out what's going on with the shape shifter... everything on the screen was predictable and I just didn't buy anything. I am currently working on a spec script for my class for Fringe... and as a writer I expected a lot more...

Anonymous said...

I could buy Olivia not realizing the nurse was up to something simply due to all of the trauma. At that point she still wasn't all together with it yet. Still trying to remember what had happened, still feeling out of control. It's not until the scene where she's able to load her gone aim it that she's back to 100% (or nearly 100%).

As for the shape shifter - one thing that I thought of was what if there was a second shifter we didn't know about. One that had a second set of orders in case the first one failed in his mission. Because he had failed once already whoever he was reporting to may have felt he wasn't reliable...

Dennis said...

While I am certain there are more shape shifters in the alternate universe, there's no reason to believe there was more than one in this episode.

Judge Suzy said...

One thing to remember is Peter took a transformation device, and not the transformation device. The one Peter handed over was broken. It is possible that the device that works is still with Charlie.

Bullets don't kill the shape-shifter. If there are 2 transformation devices, I think everything could be explained by your "playing possum theory".

Jeff said...

Charlie didn't make those two shots. The shifter stopped him, killed him, and took his form. Then he dragged out the nurse's body from before. Thats when Peter took the broken device, and Pseudo-Charlie doesn't have one.

Dennis said...

Which two shots, the first two, or the second two?

When the shapeshifter drops from the ceiling, Charlie immediately turns and fires two shots - those first two shots HAVE to be from the real Charlie.

I have added the video of the scene to the post so you can see how tight the timing is.

The very next scene shows Peter reacting to the sound of the first two shots, and you immediately hear two more shots. Those COULD be from the shapeshifter, and this is how it could have happened:

The shape shifter takes the two shots from Charlie, immediately grabs the gun and then shoots Charlie twice. Perfectly reasonable.

However, now before Peter and Amy find him, the Shape Shifter would still have to perform the transformation, change into Charlie's clothes and hide Charlie's body, then get the nurse's body from the cart, and put her back in the nurse's outfit (remember, the shape-shifter was wearing the nurse's clothes). That's a lot of outfit changes. This would have worked better if the shape-shifter was more like a T-1000 Terminator, and the clothes changed during the transformation too.

I'm willing to chalk this all up to a continuity error, unless someone has a better explanation.

Judge Suzy said...

On second thought, perhpas you are right and it was merely a continuity error. However, I have a sneaky suspicion that there is a second device transfermation device out there with the new evil-Charlie.

Love this site and just found it today. Thank you Dennis for providing a forum for Fringe lovers.

Unknown said...

hey I liked the new episode .. it may sounds familiar for those who was expecting more but it is awesome anyway .. I just have some thoughts .. how could the good charlie disappear from the show and a devil charlie appears ? I couldnt expect this to happen and i dont want it to happen although what we saw have a single meaning that charlie is no longer a good person .i think this is not a good plot . but I assume that charlie wasn't killed and the shape shifter did two transformation processes . he transfromed himself to charlie and transformed the nurse to charlie too . Although he has no reason to do this but lets assume this happened so charlie will be alive and will go back to the scene , with the assumption that the shape shifter has a working transformation device .
and something else .. they were talking about preventing olivia from attending the meeting , and they said that the meeting happened and the target is still alive . what meeting are they talking about ? and who are them ? with whom they work ?(I assume against wiliam bell )

I have many thoughts but for the first one I think the good charlie will be back in a way or another , may be by a time machine , who knows ..

- roo bonoldi said...

I guess this hole thing is a continuity error... each explanation seems a little bit silly to me, like they are trying too hard to explain something that doesn't make any sense.
I think they won't try to come up with anything to 'fix' that error and they are just expecting us to get over it, which sucks because when you are talking about series like fringe it's nice to know the writers are thinking about each little detail that appears on the show, so you can try to resolve the puzzle using every little piece. And with that kind of errors, if you see something 'fishy' you start to doubt if it is really a clue or just something that shouldn't be there or shouldn't have happened.
I'm sorry if my thoughts are confusing or if my english is wrong, i'm from brazil and my english is not very good...

Anyway, thats the best blog about fringe i've found!
Keep on the good work...

Unknown said...

While I'm a bit sad to see 'good' Charlie bite the bullet, trying to come up with implausible scenarios with him still alive are just wishful thinking.

He's dead. Accept it.

chip said...

thought it was bad. thought the agent said thay found the nurses body . i doubt they would leave it unattended for the shifter to use later. the story only worked by adding a body , so they did.

lost2010 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

If the nurse was the shape-shifter [it] would have needed THAT body to assume Charley's form. So there was an extra body... continuity error.

This was confusing enough until Charley mysteriously reappears halfway through season two in Unearthed. I would like to know where that episode really belonged in the episode sequence.

Dennis said...

The shape shifter killed the nurse when it first arrived at the hospital, then hid the real dead nurse's body in the cart.

When the shapeshifter later runs into Charlie near the furnace, Charlie shoots at it, but as we have seen, shapeshifters are not affected by bullets unless shot in the head. The shapeshifter kills Charlie, transforms into Charlie, then hides Charlie's dead body in the cart.

(Now we have two dead bodies in the cart - Charlie & the nurse)

Then it takes the dead nurse body from the cart, and shoots it. This explains the second set of shots heard. When Olivia and Peter show up, they see the Shapeshifter (who looks like Charlie) and the dead nurse who looks like she was killed by gun shots.

As for Unearthed, this was explained when the episode originally aired. Unearthed was a "bonus" episode from season 1. It is officially episode #121, and was filmed AFTER the Season 1 finale. Since the season was over, they eventually showed it at some random time during season 2. It was a bad idea IMO, because it confused a lot of people.

On the Fringe season 2 DVDs/Blu-rays, the episode is not listed with all the Season 2 episodes, it is relegated to the bonus section (since they can't go back in time and add it to the Season 1 DVDs/Blu-rays

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing that up, Dennis.

Those shape-shifters are pretty darn diabolical. I bet they're awesome chess players.

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