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.
Each of Fringe’s season finales have been fast paced and leaving the audience ready for more. The third season finale has left me and many other fans dumbfounded. Just where can the show go from there? How will the past three seasons end up not being negated? I think the key is in understanding these very past episodes; that the history in them already has some of the answers.
Last summer, I anxiously awaited to find out what happened to Olivia and our Fringe team with a dupe in their midst. But it is this first season finale that truly altered the fabric of Fringe, weaving a rich story tapestry that made me feel that this show, allowed to play out, would be something special.
Nina Sharp was shot in the last episode. Her robotic arm was discovered and was going haywire. Part of me wonders why Jones let her live. I also find it amusing that Nina has Kevlar parts in her ribcage. Nina seems to be very paranoid. Instead of telling Broyles outright what Jones wanted, she asked for Olivia.
When Nina came to Walter’s Harvard basement lab, her reaction to seeing Peter was interesting. Still wondering why she is so unusually interested in Peter.
Nina said that Jones always felt he was special. Once again, the theme of special people was introduced.
The confusion surrounding William Bell continued. Olivia was under the impression that Jones works for Bell.
Olivia lost her normally cool and calm composure. This matter became personal for her. However, Broyles let her know that she cut him off before he could tell her that he was on her side, and that he agreed about what needed to be done. Nina Sharp noticed that Olivia’s drive to meet Bell was more than a professional desire.
I love how Broyles evolved from disparagingly calling Olivia ‘Liaison,’ to respecting her and doing whatever he could to assist her investigations.
Origins of The Pattern Emerge
Olivia has been shown to have amazing connective capabilities, and she used her smarts and tenacity to find a usable pattern to ‘The Pattern.’ However, in Brown Betty, it is Peter that shows her the map of all the incidences of Walter “stealing the dreams of children.”
As Olivia investigated she wondered why these events were increasing in number. Nina explained:
We happened, Agent Dunham. Scientific progress, advancing technologies... by meddling with the laws of nature, has hastened the decay of these constant fundamentals and increased the number of soft spots.
When Nina first said this, it seemed to me to be a remark about humanity in general. But now I’m convinced that the “We” she referred to was herself, Walter, William, Peter, Olivia, Broyles, Astrid, etc. But part of me also wonders if my first assumption was true, because the more technologically advanced society of the other universe was suffering anomalies at a much higher rate than our prime universe. The show had established the “zero event” as Peter’s abduction, caused by Walter crossing over. Did the other universe have more soft spots to begin with, and Walter’s intrusion just started the stacked dominoes to fall faster?
The constant laws of physics were really turned upside down in the S3 episode Os, as two of the most dense elements, Osmium and Lutetium, combined to form a molecule lighter than air.
As I watched the scene here in 1X20, I noticed something I had not picked up on before. Olivia asks:
Which of these events are the oldest? Do you remember? I mean, these events are somehow consequences of ‘soft spots’ --
Nina looked right over to Broyles who also gave her a knowing glance. What was that about? Also, when Olivia surmised the location as Reiden Lake, I’m surprised that Nina Sharp didn’t have a heart attack, considering that is where she lost her arm.
When Walter went missing and Peter was worried, Olivia wondered if he left because of the incident that Peter says Walter referred to as “the assault in the pastry shop.” Olivia was genuinely upset about hurting Walter, but it seemed that she saw how it also hurt Peter, as he was responsible for the old man. Plus, Peter had to live with what his father did to Olivia.
Any Fringe fan knows how coins keep showing up. It is a continuous prop throughout the series. In this episode, September showed Walter a Walking Liberty coin, just like the one he later finds in the lake house and later lays on top of his Peter’s gravestone.
Walter asked September, “How did you get that?
Peter once again exhibited lapsed memories concerning his childhood. Walter told him about the way Peter loved coins when he was very sick, but Peter didn't remember. Walter replied, "I do." Was Walter still confusing the two Peters? Did this Peter continue to collect coins when he came to this universe? In the episode Peter, the Peter we now know showed his mother the coin trick that Walter's Peter had showed him before he died. In The Last Sam Weiss, confused Peter went through a lot of effort to obtain a Walking Liberty coin in order to show it to his father, "Walter Bishop. The Secretary of Defense."
Later, Walter was confused when Peter played with such a coin after he was examined.
He quickly asked Peter, “Where'd you get this?”
Walter apparently never gave the coin back to Peter. Peter told the pawn shop owner when he bought it that it “always brings him luck.” We can be sure that this seemingly mundane prop has a significance that will extend into season four.
This episode shows a great transition in the relationship between Father and Son. At the start of the series, Peter did not want anything to do with Walter and was prepared to leave as soon as possible. By this time, Peter was offering to go and gently retrieve his wayward father himself.
As Walter broke down into an angry rant-filled search in front of Peter, he said that he started something long ago, and now he has to finish it.
There is significance to the scene in which Peter told Walter about his memories of him making pancakes on Saturday mornings at the beach house. Walter remembered that they were whale-shaped, and Peter concurred. This is one of the first of this Peter’s childhood memories shared with Walter. Previously, Walter would talk about Peter’s childhood, and Peter could not remember what Walter was talking about. We find out later that this is because Walter was mixing up his Peter with the boy he stole from the other universe. In this episode, it appears Peter jarred Walter’s memory. When Walter found his son’s coin in the trunk, it really hit home that he was remembering what he did.
As Walter and Peter traveled to Reiden Lake, Peter said something striking:
After all these years, what's going to happen if we're not on time?
Clocks were very prevalent in Season 3, specifically notable were the digital clocks in The Box, The Plateau, Entrada, 6:02 AM EST, The Last Sam Weiss, and The Day We Died.
Another exchange of interest:
PETER: What else aren't you telling me, Walter?
WALTER: Lots, I'm sure, but none of it's relevant.
Oh Walter, everything you’ve kept from Peter is relevant. Or would it be if the boy would be blinked from existence eventually?
Walter loves leaving notes, it seems. Peter was happy because Walter left him a note concerning his absence. Walter also wrote a letter for Peter explaining his real origin in White Tulip, but burned it. The pictures of Peter in the machine and of Olivia turning it off telepathically were kind of a version of a note from Walter, I guess.
When this episode first aired, the scene with Walter in the graveyard was quite curious to me. I figured that it had something to do with Peter’s mother, because I assumed she was dead. The lab assistant killed in the fire that had Walter committed to St. Claire’s also came to mind. There are hints dropped throughout the previous episodes that suggest something was not quite right about Peter. My suspicions grew when Walter told Peter at the lake house:
WALTER: Yes. He theorized that properly nurtured, these abilities could be heightened, intensified, and that in time his subjects may be able to travel from here to there.
PETER: Over there? You mean an alternate world?
WALTER: Around this time, something was lost to me, Peter. Something precious. I became convinced that if only I could cross over myself, then I could take from there what I had lost here.
But I never expected the later scene that caused viewers everywhere to gasp: the gravestone inscribed with ‘Peter Bishop 1978-1985.’
The Momentous Moment
Nina Sharply rudely stood-up Olivia, after promising her a visit with William Bell. As she tried to leave the building, Olivia perceived another slip in either time or place. As she looked around the office that she was led to, she saw things that had to have been confusing. An oxygen mask. A New York Post with headlines consisting of “Obamas Move into New White House,” and a living John F. Kennedy.
William Bell’s answer to Olivia’s question asking about their location was odd. He had to have known that Olivia knew about other universes by now. I’m just not so sure their location was the red universe that would be introduced later.
But Olivia looking out from a window in the standing Twin Towers against a yellow-lit New York skyline did answer the question in a way.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Why did the Observer take Walter to visit his Peter’s grave?
If Observers are not supposed to get involved, why did September take Walter to the lake house?
How could Walter know at what point what he had to find at the lake house and why?
What is the true significance of the coin?
What did Walter start ‘a long time ago’ that he has to finish?
Was Walter aware prior to this episode that Peter was not ‘his’ Peter? I assume not.
Why didn’t Peter get any inkling suspicion about Walter’s explanation concerning other realities and the fact the Walter knew exactly where this soft spot was located? Subject 13 showed a very distraught young Peter, desperate to ‘go home.” But nothing jarred his memory concerning his initial few months Over Here?
What was so "special" about David Robert Jones?
Who was protecting William Bell from inquiry?
If Peter Bishop Never Existed
It is pretty safe to assume that a lot of this episode would not exist either. Although Jones did not seem the slightest interested in Peter (almost like he didn’t exist) and would have tried to get to Bell anyway. But the hole surely would not be at Reiden Lake, because this is the scene of the first crossing over, as far as the audience knows. If Walter did not cross over to cure Peter, then the “zero event” most likely would have occurred elsewhere. Then again, Walter said that he had purchased the lake house because of proximity. So maybe the lake would have been the first point of crossing over anyway.
If Peter was not there to help Walter, maybe Walter would have never found the plug at all.
If Peter had not plugged the hole ‘in time,’ Jones may have made it to the other side. Walter made it clear in several episodes (Over There, Subject 13, Entrada) that crossing back over using that method may have shattered the universes.