Every day until the next episode airs on Fringe Friday, December 7th, I will post a review of an episode I believe is most important to the series, and commentary on why I believe it is so.
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. Does 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.
•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 was 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?
Episode 1.04 is the first episode in the series in which we actually meet and learn about an 'Observer.'
If you are reading this and are brand new to this series, that may not seem that important, but
for those fans who have viewed all the episodes up to and including episode 5.07, they know just how significant a role the Observers play.
We learned somewhere in Season 1 that September can be spotted in every episode, but in episode 1.04
we see him up close, we learn what he eats, we see his famous notebook, in which he writes strange symbols from right-to-left. We see 2 of his cool toys, 1)his laser-impregnated opera glasses and 2)his special phone(and note that in Season 5 we STILL do not know who he is calling!)
We learn that Broyles has had his people looking for September for years, and that Broyles named September 'The Observer' because he seems to have observed at least 3 dozen Pattern-related scenes.
And most interestingly, we learn that September can read Peter's thoughts without the external equipment John Mosley used-a lovely harbinger of all the Observers reading civilians' minds in 'Letters Of Transit,' and Season 5. I think it is quite intruiging that we are near the end of the series and still know so little about John Mosley. Will we learn anymore about him before the series ends?
We learn alot more about Walter Bishop in episode 1.04 as Aimee points out above. As per usual for most of the Season 1 episodes we learn that a project that Walter worked on for the government in the past, plays a role in the current time. In this episode he mentions 'Project Thor.' And even though we have seen the beacon at least three times since this episode('Brown Betty,' 'A Short Story About Love,' and 'Five-Twenty-Ten')we still do not know that much about these things.
In episode 1.04 we learn of the critical relationship between Walter and September. This is the first of these scenes, followed by other Walter/September exchanges in 'There's More Than One Of Everything,' and 'The Firefly.' And we hear at the end of this episode that according to Walter, September is responsible for saving Peter's life when he was drowning in Reiden Lake.
Also, as Aimee mentions above, episode 1.04 is also important in that it makes antsy, nomadic Peter Bishop settle down into a committed role in helping Olivia and the team find answers to The Pattern. In a vague way, 'Old Peter' becomes 'New Peter' by the end.
I also must add that this episode expands upon the Peter/Olivia romantic potential planted in the pilot.
episode. Rewatch this and watch Broyles' face as he looks at Peter and then quickly at Olivia when she arrives to take Peter home from the hospital. Broyles knows, and lets the audience know.
In my personal opinion, the most important dialogue in episode 1.04 is when Peter and Olivia are trying to pry out of Walter in the Federal Building exactly where he hid the beacon:
PETER: Let me explain how this works to you, Walter. You can't inject a federal officer with sedatives, steal government property, and then escape from protective custody, and then ask to be not treated like a criminal.
WALTER: Have you never taken anything that didn't belong to you because you knew it was the right thing to do?
PETER: This isn't about me.
WALTER: Maybe it is, Peter.
We know from looking back this is lovely foreshadowing of the episode 'Peter,' but is there more to it?
Will the Dark Peter in mid-Season 5 take something that didn't belong to him because he knew it was the right thing to do? 'Brown Betty' seems to point to this. All we can do is wait and find out!