Join us for our Fringe Summer Rewatch, where we review every episode of Fringe during the summer hiatus. Comments are welcome as we dig into the connections made over three seasons.
This episode is one that still perplexes to this day. Many might write it off as a mere stand-alone that gave some insight into the Bishop family past. However, I hope that in Season Four we will find out some answers to some of the “mysteries that are destined to remain unsolved."
Purple Never Goes Out of Style
When Walter and Peter arrived at the Staller wedding crime scene, Walter spoke to Peter about when he married his mother. In a way, I found this very sweet, even as Peter was scared for his life with Walter driving. Walter spoke fondly of Elizabeth:
She was so beautiful, Peter. So beautiful in white. I won't deny I was never happier
But he had been hostile about her before. In The Arrival he told Peter:
Must you always be so small-minded? Damn it, don't be like her. Like your mother. Questioning my judgment. I am not a child. I will not be babied.More insight into the nature of the relationship between Elizabeth and Walter is given in Peter and Subject 13.
Walter's question about Olivia has new relevance: “Do you think she’ll call me Dad?" Although she later married Peter, she was never shown calling Walter by the term. But the scene in The Day We Died in which Walter gave her “an appropriate welcome to the family” was very touching, and one of my favorites.
Walter told Peter “She’s just what you need. Someone who can see right through you.” I wonder if Olivia will be able to see through whatever way Peter returns in season four?
She saw through him in this episode. Olivia shook her head and let out a small disapproving laugh at Markams’s bookstore. Peter sensed this, and Olivia called him out on his real motivation for selling the books. Peter showed shame as he explained the sale was more of a way to get back at Walter for abandoning the family, by selling his most prized possessions. Peter’s discomfort is another small mile-marker in his relationship with Walter. It is also noteworthy that he did not want Olivia to think any less of him.
The Nazi scientist, Alfred Hoffman, made small conversation as he unleashed the toxin in a cafe, via a cup of tea. He said something that perked my attention:
These days are precious. Soon all you will have... are pictures.(Tea in the Fringe universe seems synonymous with bad things going down... Bell used tea to have Olivia (and maybe Peter) ingest a soul magnet. The world Over There is so bad off, that tea is the hot beverage of choice due to coffee scarcity.)
Of course he was referring to the immediate situation with the mother and child in the café. However, as the series progresses, the audience is shown just how precarious life can be. Especially as we learn more about the conditions and life Over There. Pictures are very meaningful in Fringe, and many examples of this importance abound.
Olivia kept one of herself and Charlie.
Walter keeps family pictures with his own son that died, but he also keeps pictures with the adult Peter he cured.
Altlivia kept the photo booth pictures of herself with Peter.
Henry Higgins prominently displayed his family’s photo in his taxi cab.
Olivia admired a childhood picture of Peter in 6:02 AM EST. In the same episode, Lincoln Lee was shown looking at a photograph taken of him and Altlivia.
I think that the ultimate expression of this sentiment is found in The Day We Died, as Peter mourned the death of Olivia, and he saw the child’s drawing of their never-to-be family on the refrigerator. At the end of The Bishop Revival, Walter showed Peter a picture of Robert Bishop, but did not show him the one with Alfred Hoffman, a man that had not aged a day.
At the café crime scene, Walter offered to drive back to the lab. His key-chain was shown as a white rabbit’s foot. The white rabbit is one of the characters from Alice in Wonderland, known as a favorite book of J.J. Abrams. The White Rabbit was always obsessed with being on time. Walter mentioned to Peter in There is More than One of Everything that he did not know the consequences of not being on time. Plus, the Observers are always seen marking time as they write notes. There are digital clocks in many episodes, and an episode named 6:02 AM EST.
Also, misunderstood artist Eric Franco described one of Walter’s father’s books as “Alice in Wonderland Meets the Evil Nazi Experiment.”
Walter said that his father, Robert Bishop, came to the US in 1943. Robert’s gravestone in The Arrival lists his date of death as December 11, 1944. However, it has been stated that Walter was born in 1946...
I wrote an article some time ago about the importance of books in Fringe. Of relevance to this episode:
In The Bishop Revival, we learn that Walter’s father, Robert Bischoff, left his library of books to Walter. Walter reveals that his father was actually a spy for the Allies, as he worked for the Nazis in Germany. His father hid important notes about his work among his books so that they could be smuggled to America and kept safe from the wrong hands. As Walter searches for them, we learn that Peter sold the books ten years before because, “he needed money.” This brings out the angry side of Walter that insists the books were HIS and that his father entrusted them to him to keep safe. Walter lashes out to Peter that because Walter had failed to protect them, his father’s work was killing people. This is of interest because Peter was concerned about Walter’s work hurting people.
Another sweet Bishop father/son moment occurs when Peter returns what was left of the books he had retrieved. Walter was clearly thankful, and finds a group picture that had Robert pictured. Walter tells Peter, that he wished that he and his grandfather could have met, and that they “share the same noble brow.”
(Am I the only one that feels this is an allusion to Josh Jackson’s trademark forehead?)
Walter exhibited a single minded mentality when he set out to kill Albert Hoffman, instead of allowing for him to be captured. Walter stated that he would do anything for family, then he glanced over at an unknowing Peter, leaned up against a wall and chatting on the phone. Later, it would be revealed that yes, Walter did quite literally anything to save another version of his dying son, including risking the stability of the fabric of reality.
This offers an interesting parallel in Walternate. He also will do anything to achieve what he sets his mind to. However, his motivation switched from his son (family) to revenge for taking that son away from him.
Show and Tell
Alfred Hoffman was shown in his own basement lab, complete with phonograph and an antique typewriter, along with modern computer and lab equipment.
Some might wonder why Peter was not affected by the toxin in Hoffman’s lab. Hoffman must used a hair from Walter’s sweater to make the toxin specifically to target Walter, not just any Bishop.
Maybe the same “Cellular rejuvenation” listed in the 2026 Fringe opening was the same process that kept Albert Hoffman looking young? Walter had also mentioned that the Nazis were seeking a biological “fountain of youth.”
Parallels in History
The Nazis used humans as unwilling test subjects, including children.
It has often been noted that the men responsible for these atrocities thought that they were doing the right thing for their country and the betterment of humanity. They were mostly normal men, with families. Some people, like the artist character, Eric Franco, are not amused with showing “history’s tyrants, as these regular smucks.” Peter sarcastically quipped to Franco, “That’s deep.” But really, it is exactly that.
Walter often tried to justify the Cortexiphan trials. He told Olivia that that he and Bell were trying to prepare them. To make them more capable. At other times, Walter insisted that “they were Belly’s trials.”
The Nazis perceived the Jews and other “undesirables” as a detriment to their country and persecuted them. They questioned the humanity of these people. German citizens were brainwashed into believing the propaganda, and as such, many did terrible things to those chosen to be eliminated by the State.
Walternate explained to AltLivia that the people in the blue universe were “monsters in our own skin.“ He said that although they may look like “us,“ to not be fooled. In season three, the war between universes escalated. Peter saw things differently from his biological father. He explained his feelings to AltLivia in 6955 kHz:
There are billions of innocent people over there... just like here... people with jobs, families, lives. I got to believe there's another way. And whatever my part in all of this is... I got to believe there's another way. There's always hope, right?
In The Day We Died, it was revealed that Walter received his own trial. He became the scapegoat for the destruction of one world and the problems of another. To the people in 2026, Walter’s face was the face of evil.
Who was Alfred Hoffman?
Was Hoffman’s statement about Walter looking just like his father literal?
How did Robert Bishop die at such a young age?
Why was Walter supposedly born after Robert’s death?
If Peter was Removed From the Equation
Peter really didn't seem to have a direct influence on this episode, which was mainly concerned with Walter and his father's work. However, Walter’s books may have never been sold.