Fringe Summer Rewatch: #104 "The Arrival" ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Summer Rewatch: #104 "The Arrival"

      Email Post       7/21/2011 10:41:00 AM      

Join us for our Fringe Summer re-watch, where we review every episode of Fringe during the summer hiatus. Comments are welcome as we dig into the connections made over three seasons.

The Arrival is an episode of key importance to the Fringe mythology. It is here that viewers have their first look at one of the more enigmatic characters on Fringe, The Observer.

(Of course, we later learn there are several Observers and that they appear in both universes.)

It is interesting that although the audience knows the name of the Observer, September, his name is never mentioned on the show.

The first scene takes place at a diner. Fringe sure loves diners and bars...

The Observer (September) is quite the contrast to the other diner patrons. As chaos unfolds in the construction site next door, he calmly finishes his water, leaves $20 for payment, and he proceeds to leave. As he exits the door, a blue flash of light happens.The camera lenses get covered with dirt and debris as people scatter everywhere. He comes up to a large crater created at the site, makes a call to an unknown party, and announces, “It has arrived.” In the words of rock band Faith No More, viewers are left to wonder, “What is It?” And we still wonder about the exact nature of the cylinder object.

When the Fringe team arrives at the warehouse housing the cylinder, everyone but Walter is dire and ready to get to work. However, Walter is more interested in talking with other agents involved in the investigation. He engages them with "Hellos" and “Good Mornings." Peter tried to herd him away to focus. I found this really sad for Walter, a man that has been denied most human contact for 17 years. He was desperate to connect with other people. It makes his future fate of life imprisonment for his "crimes against nature" so terrible to fathom.

When Walter first sees the cylinder, he has a look of concern, not just amazement. Like his memory had been jogged. He does tell Olivia that he has an idea of what it might be, but he won’t tell because “it’s too early.” Peter cracks a joke about it being “a can of magic soup from outer space” which sends Walter right on the defensive; “Who says it came from space?” What exactly did Walter know? And the words "too early" make me wonder, too early for what?

Peter tells Olivia that he’s leaving after this case. He's feeling the burden of taking care of his mentally unstable father and feels fairly useless. In other words, he doesn't belong. As the series progresses, Peter wants to feel that he knows who he is, and where he belongs. In the third season finale, he has that. But with the world falling apart, it must have been very bittersweet.

When Broyles doesn’t want to transfer the object to the lab, Walter becomes very indignant and angry. Basically his attitude is "it’s my way or the highway." (Walter reminds me very much of Walternate in this scene.)

I find it worth noting that the Iridium element that allowed Roy McComb's ability in The Ghost Network, is the same material used in the cylinder's construction. Also, the Observer can seemingly read thoughts just like Roy McComb was said to do.

The cylinder is said to vibrate at frequencies of 2 mHz and 4 mHz. Do this happen to have anything to do with Peter's frequency as mentioned by Sam Weiss in Concentrate and Ask Again?

Walter mentions working on a project for the Defense Department called "Project Thor." Peter finds the notion of a missile able to penetrate from one side of the Earth to the other, "ridiculous." Walter replies:

"Open your mind, Son, before someone else opens it for you."

Once again, one of Walter's statements lends so much. Not only does Peter get his mind opened in this episode, but it also occurs in The Day We Died. Walter opened the current Peter's mind to the consequences of his actions in the future.

Walter shows some interesting character development in protecting the cylinder. First, he lies to Peter about needing aluminum foil, then he sedates Astrid. Later, he apologizes to Astrid, the start of an interesting dynamic over three seasons. Astrid may be considered a minor character, but I find her place in this odd family unit very endearing.

There are some interesting observations in the scene where Walter has been arrested, and Peter and Olivia are trying to find out where he hid the cylinder. Peter believes in Walter’s "friend" (The Observer) as much as Harvey the Rabbit. After the third season, I'm questioning who is "real" and who is not. Peter is tired of Walter's stalling and angrily tells Walter that the cylinder had nothing to do with him. A very stern Walter looks at Peter and makes the statement, "Maybe it does, Peter." Peter looks concerned at this outburst.

When Walter says that his "friend" could not be found, Peter quips, "Of course not, because he's in the seventh dimension." From what little we do know of the Observers, this seems to more than just Peter being snarky.

Walter is also very aggravated at Peter "treating him like a child," and alludes to him acting like his mother, which thoroughly angers Peter. He leaves the building and goes back to the lab, where he is abducted by the so-called rogue Observer, John Mosely. It is interesting that Mosley wears a knit watch cap with green, green, green, red dots. He has to use some sort of technology to torture Peter into a state of emotion to reveal thoughts concerning the cylinder location - thoughts Walter never told him. The device seemed to be a memory-thought inducing machine. Did the Vacuum machine serve a similar purpose, but on a larger, time-hopping scale?

One other thought: The Cylinder appears in Brown Betty as one of Walter's inventions.

Peter and Olivia

Peter confides in Olivia. She says it was wrong of her to make him feel beholden to her. Peter assures her that he isn't going anywhere until he finds answers.

When Olivia hands Peter his credentials as Civilian Consultant to Homeland Security, there is almost a spark in his eyes. As much as the man wants to run, he is drawn to this thing bigger than himself. He seems to see that he can be useful as his own person and not just as Walter’s son. This is a big step for nomadic Peter, the first root to his father and to Olivia. The first bonds of their “odd little family unit.” The first step on his journey with Olivia as a partner first - leading to friendship, love and marriage.

The first promotion was recently released for Season 4. The spot shows this scene with Peter telling Olivia:

"I'm a fairly open-minded guy, but there are things happening here that I can't even begin to explain. And I am not going anywhere until I can."

It is time to find out about the Observers, the cylinder, and who is Peter Bishop, really?

My crazy fan theories? Peter may really be Robert Bishop. At this point, it seems anything is a possibility when time-lines and paradoxes are involved.

I also feel that the "4" found in the promo resembles a graph.

"4" = quad = quadrants = coordinates

X and Y are standard variables. Add Z for a third dimension. W is a variable for... the Fourth Dimension? Time is considered a type of fourth dimension.

Is the purpose of the beacon cylinder to map or locate coordinates? When lines cross at a certain point, they are said to intersect. Peter has been shown making many such intersections on maps in order to find a location. Somehow, I think that the #WhereIsPeterBishop promo may possibly be a big clue about the beacon cylinder. Or not...

Walter and Peter's Relationship

This episode really delves into the meat and potatoes of one of the driving forces in Fringe: The relationship between Walter and Peter. There is incredible tension between the reluctant son and his until-recently-estranged father. It is said that this relationship was considered of prime importance to show creator J.J. Abrams. Jackson and Noble sell it well.

Peter is very irritated with Walter. He can’t sleep, and he looks terrible. Walter always reminds him of his disappointment that Peter has “squandered his intellect and substantial education.”

Peter insists there is nothing “special” about him. That anyone can “babysit” and “decipher” Walter. Peter insists that he can’t stay, but Olivia tells him that Walter will refuse to cooperate if Peter leaves. The viewer gets a good taste of Peter’s dry wit: “Was he wearing clothes at the time?”

After being tortured by Mosley, and also shot by the Observer with an air-gun, Peter talks with Walter. Walter tells him that thoughts can be shared by proximity. He also recounts the story of how the Observer saved both of their lives - except it is only a half-truth. Peter shows some understanding with Walter: “You must think me insane.” Peter replies, “Not nearly as much as you think.”

(And that air-gun makes another appearance in The Firefly.)


Both Walter and Peter have fuzzy memories of the past. All of this messing with time-lines that was revealed in the third season just might have something to do with it.

Unsolved Mysteries

  • What is the significance of the observations that the Observer makes? Do they have a purpose?

  • Why was Walter asked to keep the cylinder safe?

  • Who are the Observers, and why do they even care about Walter and Peter? Or any other events for that matter?

  • How did Peter know that Walter buried the Cylinder in his grandfather’s grave? Is Robert Bishop's body even in that grave? Why did Robert die young - at age 32?

  • Did John Mosley know Robert, and how, because Mosely was not old.

  • Why did Walter recognize Mosley?

  • Who is John Mosely? Why did he want the cylinder, and why were the Observers concerned about it?

  • What papers were Peter digging through as he was arranging for work and getting ready to leave Boston?

  • What is the significance of the fact that the cylinder was constructed from Iridium? It was the metal used in Roy McComb's blood in The Ghost Network. Fringe has mentioned a close cousin to this element, Osmium (Os.)

  • Why did it vibrate at 2Mhz and then 4MhZ?

  • Is there significance to it arriving at Quantico in 1987?

  • Why did the cylinder just go away once retrieved by Mosley, and why was he smiling when he died?

  • Is there any significance to the words Peter spoke to the Observer when he came face-to-face with him for the first time? Beatles lyrics?

If Peter Does Not Exist?

Keep in mind that Olivia expressed that Peter was needed to keep Walter working with Fringe Division.

  • If there was no Peter, what circumstances led to Walter working with Fringe Division in the first place?

  • Who got him out of St Claire’s, if he was even sent there at all?

  • What drove Walter to cooperate?

  • Will there be a cylinder in the new time-line if there is no Peter?

  • If there is a cylinder, will there be a Mosley to obtain it for whatever purpose his employer wanted? Who was that employer?

  • Are the roots of Peter's "purpose" found in this episode?


cortexifan said...

Again, awesome!


-The song in the diner also plays in 3.02 The Box at the bar. Fauxlivia loved it.
-Green, green, green, red on the binoculars.
- Just a funny: quick, hide all your black pepper and Tabasco sauce.
-What is the beacon?
-Love how Walter makes connections with food. My favorite line in this episode when Peter decides to sleep in the tub: A root beer float.
-Peter described Walter standing there naked because he enjoyed the breeze – must have been Tuesday (3.20 6:02 AM EST).
- Olivia said Walter would rather go back to St. Claire’s than work alone. In the Equation he reluctantly goes back to help with a case. In Northwest Passages he was afraid to be send back.
-The Beacon is vibrating. Is it a frequency from Over There?
-Who is Jacobson? Did Olivia serve under him? In 1987 Olivia was 8, was he a neighbor where she lived?
-Rogue Observer had gggr on his hat. Who was he working for? Are there more?
-Walter says: “Open your mind or someone will open it for you.” Did Walter have any idea how literal that sentence would become later?
-It took other agents a year to spot the Observers. Olivia did it in 3 weeks. You go girl!
-Poor Astrid. She has to put up with a lot.
-When the rogue showed up at Jacobson’s how did he know a female came to see Jacobson? Did Jacobson die?
-If the Observers can’t taste anything, why did he gulp down that sandwich? Why can’t he touch the beacon?
-Walter says to Peter: “Don’t be like your mother, questioning my judgment.” Was he referring to 3.18 Subject 13 where Elizabeth found his notes about Olivia’s home environment and she was questioning that approach?

cortexifan said...

part 2

-What was the purpose of the beacon’s arrival and departure?
-When Peter talks to the Observer he says: apples, bananas, rhinoceros; on the walls of the child care center in Jacksonville were those items (3.18 Subject 13). Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (or short: LSD)
-1st time Peter gets a blow from the Observer, although not as strong as later in 3.10 The Firefly.
-“I’m not going anywhere until I can (explain all this).” Did he go away because he did figure it out? Where did he go? We have a theory at work that Peter does only not exist in the bridge room but is still present in either or just one universe. Whether everyone (including him) can remember, that’s a whole different story.
-Walter said: “…adjust the way you consider communications. Ideas can be absorbed through osmosis, through close proximity.” Is that where his ability to turn the machine on, comes from, or the flashbacks in 3.21 The Last Sam Weiss as both him and Olivia stand by the machine and even his connection with Olivia?
-Peter knows a version of the story how they drowned in the lake. Walter tells him a different version and later apparently the truth to Olivia. I have a feeling that there is even more to the story. And again, how much is Walter holding back?
-Why was the Observer at the lake? How did he get from the lab over there to the lake over here?
-When Walter is done telling the story, there is a white dot in one of his eyes, just briefly. What does that mean?
-Projection John just like later projection Peter. I can see why Peter would appear. I’m still not sure why John did.

If Peter didn’t exist in this episode…

-The Rogue Observer would still be alive and kill more people.
-Would he have found the beacon?
-Would the Observer still have observed Walter and Olivia? The cover picture on the booklet to S1 DVDs, show Olivia in the tank (or at least her head). In one of the strands of her hair you can read the word: observed.
-Would have Walter ever become a consultant with the FBI as well?

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