Welcome to Part 5 of 'The 8 Most Important Episodes of Fringe.'
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 a commentary on why I believe it is so.
The World of Brown Betty(Episode 2.19)
Exploring the mysteries
by Cerissa Cheffy
Yes, this is the story about how a serious, gut-wrenching, mind-bending, jaw-dropping show that is known as Fringe would come to have an unexpected but equally delightful musical episode that would not only begin a tradition of having the 19th episode of every season be out-of-the-imagination-box, but would hold countless clues as to the show’s future. At the time, season 2 of Fringe was going full-force. The shocking revelations about Peter’s childhood were coming one after the other culminating in the moment when Peter learned on his own that he had been lied to by the two people that he trusted more than anyone else. He disappeared in the middle of the nigh and as we wait anxiously to find out how the team would work through this latest setback, we get…wait for it…a musical! What? As you can imagine and perhaps remember, there were some people upset by this publicity stunt on Fox’s part. At the top edge of your seat moment of the season, it’s announced that all of Fox’s shows will do a musical number to honor Glee. So what do the writers of Fringe do with this curveball? They do what they do best. Rise to the occasion and adapt to the unusual circumstances. And the result? Hidden clues and symbolism that is still playing out as we near the end of the series.
Can everything that played out in Brown Betty be translated to reality for our beloved team? Of course not. Even if it was intended to play out a certain way, ideas change, stories change, as time goes on. But what if even parts of it foreshadowed the coming seasons? What if Walter’s drug trip was more than a mere distraction? What if Walter’silly entertainment for a child was actually a different perspective on the events surrounding this “little family unit?” I happen to be a firm believer that most of Brown Betty is relevant to the very premise of the entire series(except perhaps Gene’s multicolored dots…I can’t find any meaningful reason for that one…)
Let’s start with a quick (ish) introduction for those of you who haven’t seen it 50 million times and may have
forgotten parts of it. The episode aired right after Peter found out the truth about his childhood. He was
understandably infuriated and heartbroken that the two most important people in his life had lied to him. He
checked out of the hospital and disappeared without a trace. To say that Walter was upset by this turn of events would be an understatement. The guilt and heartache that Walter had been dealing with for months, and really for years, had finally reached its pinnacle in the absence of Peter. Both Walter and Olivia coped in the only way they knew how. Olivia put all her effort and emotion into her work, the main purpose of which was to find Peter. And Walter, well dear sweet Walter distracted himself with one of his favorite activities: “self-medicating.” And so the episode begins with Walter doing just that in an equally hilarious and heartbreaking moment as Astrid finds him busy labeling everything in sight. Olivia joins them soon after only to tell Walter that while she has some leads to follow up on, there was something else she needed to take care of; her niece Ella. She asks if Astrid can keep an eye on her while she keeps looking for Peter. Ella asks “Uncle Walter” to tell her a story and the creative genius of Brown Betty begins in the quirky, tripping mind of Walter.
Set in the 1940’s, with a dash of modern conveniences, based on Walter’s early admission of his mother’s love of detective stories from that time period and musicals; he began to tell Ella the story of Detective Olivia Dunham and the case that would change her life and perspective on one very important topic: “love, especially great love.”
At this point, I would highly suggest watching the episode again as I love lengthy descriptions and would take much too long doing a full recap but here is a link to a succinct but detailed synopsis here:
or for an even more detailed description here:
Let’s jump into it with the big foreshadowing that is coming to fruition in less than a month: The Observers. After months of harboring secret and not so secret, conspiracy theories about the true intentions of the Observers, my dream finally came true when episode 4.19, Letters of Transit aired. But what started it all? After all, as far as we could tell, the Observers were there for one reason and one reason alone: to restore and maintain the delicate balance of time. But there had always been something just a little fishy about their story, especially when it involved Peter. If the natural order was to be maintained, then it stands to reason that if Peter died over here as a child, then Peter should have died over there as well with neither Walter finding the cure. But, Walternate would have found the cure if he hadn’t been distracted by September showing up in the lab. That was the Observers first indiscretion.
September’s “mistake” set off a chain of unforeseen circumstances: Walter causes irreparable damage to both universes by crossing over to save Peter, September saves both of them from the frigid lake, Walter continues the experiments he disagreed with in order to send Peter back home, etc. Most of which could have been explained away if not for the question of why Peter was supposed to live when his counterpart didn’t in the first place. The Observers told September that Peter was important and that’s why September needed to fix his mistake. The Observers obviously needed Peter to be alive to fulfill some kind of purpose. That purpose was revealed in the season three finale when Peter got into the machine and prevented both universes from destroying each other and the Observers promptly ensured that Peter was erased from existence. The only thing that I can infer from that event is that the Observers needed Peter alive to make sure that the two universes stopped fighting. And with the newfound knowledge that the Observers are us in the future, the survival of the universes also ensured their own survival. So how does this tie into Brown Betty, you ask? Well for starters, at the time when Brown Betty aired, there had only been one accusation thrown at the Observers and that was from a crazy ex-colonel who had been busy staging horrific explosions using misinformed military (or were they?) His word could hardly be taken seriously at the time. So when Brown Betty came along and also indicated that the Observers were bad guys, it became a little harder to ignore. In the story, the “Watchers” had been working for Massive Dynamic. When Detective Dunham started to get too involved, Mr. Gemini (September) was sent to stop her. The first time was a warning; the second time was to put an end to her life. And when that didn’t work, the whole group of them ambushed Peter and Olivia and stole Peter’s heart from him but then left both of them alive. There are four points
that come to mind with this:
1. The Observers will go to any lengths to accomplish their purpose.
2. The Observers value their lives. They didn’t stay any longer than was necessary to fulfill their purposes.
3. The Observers are good at distractions. The only reason that so many of them came to steal the heart was so that Dunham would remain busy long enough for them to get what they needed.
It is also important to note that when the Observers came to steal the heart, they were no longer working for Massive Dynamic but Walter had converted them over to his side. This detail is extremely relevant to the outcome of the series. This has already come into play but may very well still have implications in Season 5. The team had brought three observers to their side before they even knew that they were fighting the Observers. The little observer from Season 1 made a deep connection with Olivia and looked terrified when he spotted September. If given the choice, I believe his loyalties would lie with Olivia and not the other Observers. Then there was August. His love for Christine separated him from the other Observers before the team even got involved. August became disillusioned with the other Observers. He found that they had no heart for the lives of these people. They were only unfeeling puppet masters that made sure the desired end result was achieved. But his own heart was opened by love and that love drove him to desperation by seeking help from someone who had also gone to great lengths for love-Walter. Walter and the team had the same goal as August, to save the life of Christine and if he hadn’t died to fulfill that goal, that heart connection would have held strong. Which brings us to the third, and perhaps most crucial Observer, won over by the love he found-September. He has witnessed firsthand the lengths that this family will go to save and protect each other and it did not leave him unchanged. Last season, September revealed that the reason Peter couldn’t be completely erased was because of love. What he didn’t mention was that it was
September himself that prevented this from happening when he made the decision to not use the machine he
built in the first episode of Season 4. With that decision, he once again made Peter important. Much like August had made Christine important by sacrificing his life for her. And by the end of Season 4, September would also make Olivia important by doing the same thing. September told Walter that, “every action causes ripples, consequences both obvious and... unforeseen.” That was true beyond the harmful events that came to pass since Walter stole Peter that fateful night. Those unforeseen consequences also included the transformation of September’s careful observations of this family into an emotional connection that would change his perspective and his heart. This brings me to one final point about the Observers that was revealed in Brown Betty and could result in both positive and negative connotations for the team:
4. The Observers loyalties are not set in stone.
While this may come in handy for the team when it comes to those Observers who has been exposed to love, it is just as harmful when it comes to the other side of the coin. In just about every story, there are two main opposing forces. There is the love of power and the love of people. Letters of Transit has already proven which side of the coin the Observers are on. They take power hungry to a whole new level.
But long before the Observers revealed their side, there was another whose quest for power had resulted in unimaginable consequences: William Bell.
When William and Walter became partners, they both were on a quest to reach new heights in scientific progress. While Walter’s path took a different direction when Peter died, Bell’s stayed right on track. Bell’s ambitiousness made him reckless and even immoral in his pursuit. His Cortexiphan experiments in 1981 were just the beginning. Once he founded Massive Dynamic, he had unlimited resources to “progress” in inconceivable and disturbing ways. His search for power resulted in the near creation of a whole new universe when he believed these universes were a lost cause. At which time, he was arrogant enough to equate himself with God. In his mind, he had reached the very pinnacle of power. But even that attempt failed because of his ego. A case could be made that while Walter’s choices began the tiny fissure between universes, the crack that would beget larger cracks; it was Bell’s “answers” to questions he shouldn’t have been asking that was what fueled the further deterioration. Not to mention the questions raised about his involvement in the war between universes. How was he able to travel back and forth between universes when one single time of Walter crossing did so much damage? Was it fair to place all the blame on Walter’s shoulders or was it a convenient excuse to cover up his own contribution? Once upon a time, Olivia thought so. Olivia told Bell:
Your company has been involved in, if not directly responsible for, some of the most horrific things that I have ever seen, to say nothing of the fact that you just yanked me into a parallel universe to warn me about an inter-dimensional war that I believe you are responsible for starting.
But regardless of Bell’s true motives, I think it is safe to say that his end goal is and always will be for his benefit and his alone. And that is something that he shares in common with the Observers. There is something that was said to Olivia way back in Season 1 that I believe has yet to be answered. Olivia was trying to get information from Mitchell Loeb about the ZFT when he asked her, “Do you not understand the rules? What we're up against? Who the two sides are? Tell me at least you know that.” Who are the two sides in this war? And by war, I’m talking about the war that Bell and Walter were preparing for years before Peter was kidnapped. The one that the ZFT spoke of and the one in which the Cortexiphan children were originally prepared for. Remember when I mentioned that the Observers were good at distractions? Well, so is Bell. Every time he has been cornered about his motives he has focused the blame on someone else or changed the subject. I do believe that both Bell and the Observers used the war between universes as a distraction to the bigger war, but that is a topic for another day.
Last season, the enemy was Bell. This season, everything points to the Observers as the enemy. I happen to believe it is both and you need not look any farther than Brown Betty to see why. In the story, the Watchers were working for/with Bell in the beginning. The Observers and Bell both have a track record of looking out for their survival and success more than anything else. What I’m not convinced of yet is whether Bell is the true mastermind of the entire war or simply another pawn in the Observers game though. And really, I’m not sure if Bell even knows what his role is. But I am convinced that there is some connection between the Observers and Bell. My gut tells me that it is no mere coincidence that Bell’s goal is at the very least to be the leader of scientific and technological progress and at the very most to be God Himself. And that the Observers are the height of human technological advancement. It could very well be that Bell is the “creator” of the Observers in the sense that his “scientific progress” is what led humankind down the evolutionary path into what the Observers have become. But if indeed they are in a partnership, it may not end well for Bell. Any time a partnership is formed in order to gain power, there always comes a time when one party becomes more powerful than the other party and the weaker party either forfeits his power or fights it. And that may bring the entire war full circle.
When Bell pulled Olivia over to the other side he told her:
I've seen history repeat itself enough times to know a war is coming, just as we predicted, Walter and
I, years ago, and we knew that we had to prepare a guardian, someone to watch the gate.
Now this is where it gets really confusing because when I try to understand the Time Paradox, it makes my head spin but here is the way I look at it. Aside from any question of HOW Bell could see history repeat itself, let’s say that Bell could see that his contribution to the scientific community would lead to the Observers and he would see the Observers take over our world. Now if I understand correctly, he couldn’t go back and take away that contribution because it already happened. But he could go back and prepare for the war that he in essence started. This in the end would make him a good guy. That is all speculation of course, but just goes to show: Do we really know who the two sides are?
While we are on the topic, I want to throw out one more consideration for who the team is really fighting against. This one, even I have a hard time believing or even justifying but there comes a time when every conspiracy theorist finds that one idea, that one niggling thought, which is impossible to discount. It doesn’t matter if every shred of evidence points in the opposite direction, once that thought takes root in your brain, it is there to stay until it is either proven or without a doubt, proven wrong. Once upon a time, for me, that was the belief that the Observers had ulterior motives beyond keeping things, “balanced.” Now that that has been proven true, my brain has latched onto another idea. It’s not a new one, but it seems that the more and more that people point out the impossibility of something coming to pass, the more it weighs on me. And this conspiracy has come primarily from Brown Betty. I am of course talking about Rachel Dunham. Go ahead and take a moment to laugh at the absurdity of the idea, because I know that I am. I think it is safe to say that the majority of Fringies would consider her one of the most, if not the top, inconsequential character in the Fringe world. And you know what? I agree. Before I state my case on this issue, let me be clear. Just as Olivia told Peter, I am telling you that, “I understand the facts.” The likelihood of Rachel being anything other than a less than minor character used primarily to show that Olivia Dunham was still capable of love even when everyone around her was betraying her or keeping her in the dark is laughable. But there were hints subtly placed up until the time of Brown Betty that would have suggested otherwise. In the first episode that Rachel was in, she told Olivia, “You've always been the strong one, you have.” Almost word for word what Walter, Bell, and Nick Lane told Olivia at some point. All of whom were associated with the Cortexiphan trials. Then in Inner Child, the sisters had a late night conversation:
RACHEL: Liv... Do you like it? Your job?
OLIVIA: Yeah. Most days. Today, not so much. I followed a lead that didn't pan out. What about you? Why are you up?
Maybe the hesitation didn’t mean anything. Maybe her statement about Olivia being the strong one was pure
coincidence. But Brown Betty threw that little nagging thought into the mix, when “Rachel” turned out to be an actress hired by Walter to get Detective Dunham on the case. Could there be something more to Rachel? The possibility is pretty much null and void at this point. Rachel disappeared after the season 2 finale with only occasional comments thrown in to suggest that she still exists. While there may have been something to the story it’s more likely that the writers decided to go a different direction, but it is something to keep in mind as we speed towards the end. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see Rachel turn out to be the biggest badass of them all?
Onto heavier topics, when I spoke of Brown Betty being relevant to the very premise of the series, it was primarily because of this one element: The heart and what it represents. Did you know that the word, “heart” was mentioned 32 times in Brown Betty? 30 times on its own and 2 times as, “sweetheart.” The heart was…well the very heart of Brown Betty. And a case could be made that the heart is the very center of the series. Walter’s love for Peter has been the foundation on which the show was built. After all, it was this love that drove Walter to cross scientific, moral, and physical boundaries to save the alternate version of his son when he had failed to save his own. It was the love for his wife that initially kept Walter from finding a way to take this boy home. It was love for this alternate son that helped drive Walter insane and drove Elizabeth to her death when they couldn’t find a way to send him back home after they saw his suffering. It was love for this son that wasn’t his that would cause the unraveling of two universes and would ultimately be their salvation when Walter finally learned to let go. And in season 4, we found out just how much that love for Peter had kept Walter going, when we watched Walter suffer through each day because that love had been nonexistent in this new timeline.
And it hasn’t just been about a fathers love for his child. The show has come to be about Peter’s love just as much as Walter’s, if not more. There’s something to be said for the fact that it was Peter’s heart that was the center of Brown Betty. Sometimes, I find myself thinking that this show is more about Peter’s journey than even Walter’s or Olivia’s. When we first met Peter, he was a hardened criminal. He looked out only for himself. He was angry at the world, but most specifically at the father who abandoned him and his mother by going insane. He had no interest in a relationship with his father, let alone anyone else. But, “sometimes when one walks away from his fate, it leads one directly to fate's doorstep.” Peter, against his will, was thrust into the role of being Walter’s guardian. And though it may have been forced upon him at first, he eventually came to embrace the role and, over time, would begin to form a better relationship with Walter. But that came to a screeching halt when Peter discovered that Walter had lied to him and kept him in the dark about his childhood. But that wasn’t the end of the story, nor was Peter’s anger the end of the story in Brown Betty. In the story, Peter ended up forgiving Walter for his transgressions and even split his heart in
two for Walter (more on that later.) Even though Peter was betrayed by those he had come to care deeply about, he would end up sacrificing his life, and his very existence, in order to save them. That is love. When he did find a way back home, he learned of the sacrifice he had made unknowingly. That of the son he never had a chance to love, and it broke his heart. And while it remains to be seen how the team got stuck in amber in the future, I would venture to guess that it had something to do with protecting Etta, once again showing his love for his family.
And what about Olivia? She came from an abusive home, was experimented on when she was just 3 years old and continued well into her childhood, and lost her mother at the tender age of 14. Not exactly an ideal environment for love. But Olivia found it. When we met her, she was in love with John Scott and while she may have thought that she was hiding it well, that love made her glow and was on display for all to see. Which made his betrayal all the more bitter. But even then, she never once closed down her heart for others. In fact, it is that very heart that makes her such a damn good agent. The only times that Agent Olivia Dunham has shown any fear was when someone innocent was going to get hurt, and even more so when she loved that person. Think of Ella and the computer virus, Peter being kidnapped (on multiple occasions), the young observer who was going to be taken away for experiments, Walter when Newton had poisoned him to ensure he got away, Charlie when he got infected by “Harriet,” and Nina when Olivia believed she was being held captive and tortured by David Robert Jones. And of course, then there is Olivia and Peter. When Walter told Ella in Brown Betty that, “Detective Olivia once believed in love. Especially great love,” he didn’t know just how true that statement would come to be. I will spare you the lengthy description of why I think Olivia and Peter have one of the best love stories that I have ever seen and leave it at this: Their relationship has grown from reluctant partners to friends to tentative lovers to soulmates. Their love has transcended universes, timelines, and even death. But even through that, they survived the
very human struggles like betrayal, jealousy, hurt, anger, and disappointment. And this is just the paths of love for the three main characters. This doesn’t include the numerous examples of love from Astrid, Elizabeth, Broyles, Nina, even the highly misguided love from the “bad guys” in this tale. I would guess that some 90% of the bad guys throughout the past 4 years have really been good guys with good intentions who honestly thought they were doing their part to help the world and/or someone they loved, but it became twisted in the end. Even David Robert Jones had his moment of season 4:
Because you don't know me or what I’m capable of. But if I’m willing to do that to someone I love dearly, imagine what I'll do to people I don't care about.
Disturbed? Most definitely. But even the bad guys need something to believe in, right? But what it really comes down to is that there is nothing more powerful than love. Not science, not power, not even a sense of morality (whether it is legitimate or distorted) compares to the power of love. It changes hearts, minds, lives, and even fate. Good will always conquerevil, not simply because it is good but because it is done with and for love. And this is what all three characters learned by the end of Brown Betty (with a little help from Ella.) Walter learned that he didn’t need stolen dreams and shattered innocence to make the world a better place; he needed only a heart and the people he loved. Peter learned that even in the most evil heart, there is still goodness to be found. And Olivia learned that, “love, especially great love,” not only exists, but is worth every obstacle that is put in its way.
There is one other theme that was presented in Brown Betty that had become just as important to the foundation of Fringe as the heart and actually goes hand in hand with love, and that is second chances. Just take a look at the story. Walter, in his quest to “do good” for the world, stumbled. Walter fell from grace when he started stealing dreams from children to continue his work. Now we don’t know the back story to Brown Betty. Maybe Walter’s quest was 100% evil from the beginning. Maybe he found out that he could pawn off innocent children’s dreams as his own and he never really had any intention of making the world a better place but three things make me think that he really did start out with good intentions.
1. This is a common theme in Fringe – Well-intentioned people who, by choice or circumstance, become
misdirected in their actions and cause more harm than good.
2. Peter trusted him enough to actually give up his heart, and essentially his life, so that Walter could continue his work. True, Walter could have been an excellent liar, but there had to have been some semblance of truth for Peter to give up everything for the cause.
3. Walter was redeemed. It is rare indeed for a soul to be rescued from the depths of Hell, which it had to be for a man to destroy a child’s innocence for his own objective, unless there is something worth saving. Ella said it best when she changed the ending with, “Peter looked inside Walter's eyes and realized there was still goodness inside him.”
And isn’t that just what happened in reality? Walter was relentless in his search for power in the scientific
community. He was experimenting on toddlers while simultaneously stealing tech from the other side and using it for his own benefit. But there came a day when the consequences caught up to him and it left him broken.
Nobody, not even his own son, would have balked if Walter had got what was coming to him. After all, he
deserved it. But Walter was given a second chance. There was still goodness inside of him and over time, the ones that he hurt the most would be the ones to extend the most grace.
But Walter wasn’t the only one who got a second chance. Peter got a second chance at life and it is no mere
coincidence that the reason for that was Olivia. That was put into play by the end of season 2 when Olivia crossed over to save Peter. At the time, it was believed that Peter getting into the machine was certain death and Olivia gave him a reason to step away from that fate for a time. But that was just the beginning. Because he could only avoid his fate for so long before it caught up to him and the outcome was devastating. Death became minor compared to being erased from time. But again, it was Olivia that helped him get his life back. Just as she helped him stay alive with the batteries in Brown Betty.
And speaking of Olivia, she got her second chance too. She got a second chance with love. Just like in the story, she got burned so bad by John Scott that she gave up on love, focusing on work and finding even that to be lacking. But in the end, she found love that shines brighter than anything she could have imagined or dreamed of.
Speaking of dreaming, I find it interesting that the source of Walter’s success came from stealing children’s
dreams. Dreams and specifically the dream state is nothing new to Fringe. In the very first episode, the concept of entering a dream state to find answers was introduced. Since then, there have been countless other examples of the power in dreaming.
Nick Lane and Olivia shared a connection that came in the form of dreams.
When Bell and Olivia shared a consciousness, Peter and Walter took a trip (pun intended) through Olivia’s dream state to bring her consciousness out of hiding.
Walter taught Peter a mantra to keep him from “dreaming” which resulted in Peter losing his memories of
his childhood over there.
Before Peter came back into existence in season 4, it was dreams and visions that alerted Olivia and
Walter to his presence.
Both Olivia and Peter had dreams at the beginning of season 4 that revealed their deepest desires,
reinforcing the idea that dreaming of a better world, can help make that a reality.
And these are just a few examples. But in the case of Brown Betty, three examples stood out from the rest.
1. When details about Cortexiphan were coming out, Walter told Peter and Olivia that perception was the key to transformation which translated to: “If you can dream a better world, you can make a better world.” An idea that would be mentioned many other times including Elizabeth telling Peter that as a child and Peter telling Olivia in the white tulip field as children. Bell and Walter hypothesized that this idea was most accurately depicted in children because the belief was that, “the human mind was infinitely capable at birth.” Cortexiphan was then developed to keep those predisposed children from losing that capability which would result in a greater ability to shape reality with their minds. These damaged kids that Walter was using to “make a better world,” in the story were in fact a representation of the Cortexiphan children and the damage wrought on them.
2. Stealing dreams. The idea of stealing dreams was presented earlier on in season 2 when a doctor discovered how to steal his patient’s dreams in Dream Logic. In a quest to cure sleep disorders, Dr. Laxmeesh Nayak developed a bio-chip which was implanted into the brain in order to monitor sleep cycles and induce a dream state. However, his research would also lead to viewing the dreams produced as his own and became an addiction so strong that it would literally kill his patients from acute exhaustion and in time, himself.
3. In The Abducted, Olivia became involved in the case of the Candy man. A case that involved children being stolen from their homes for 48 hours, in which time hormones from their pituitary glands were extracted which resulted in extensive internal degradation for the children and extended youth for the scientists responsible. This particular case didn’t involve dreams but did involve stealing children’s innocence and trading it for horror. Peter told Olivia
Walter's invented a great many things. Wondrous things. That much is true. But what he didn't tell you is where his ideas come from. Elephants, rainbows, licorice sticks... they come from the dreams of children. He steals children's dreams and he replaces them with nightmares. That's what this is, a Pattern of Destruction. Of damaged kids, shattered innocence.
Also in the story, both Walter and the singing corpses sang the Candy Man song, further cementing the connection between these two episodes.
This leads into my final topic of thought and one that also has run the course of the series. Does the end justify the means? Was the fact that Walter was making the world a better place worth the pain and suffering that these children experienced? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the majority of people would say no. But what about this scenario? Would crossing forbidden lines to save your child’s life be worth the potential destruction of the planet? Would finding a way to defy space and time to be with the one you love be worth the consequences both seen and unforeseen?
Other references found in Brown Betty
The story centered on Walter taking Peter’s heart for his own and Peter’s quest to get it back. In reality,
Walter stole Peter from his home as a child and in season 4, Peter learned that home is where the heart is.
Rachel’s heartless body was almost identical to the body in Marionette with his heart removed.
Peter’s heart was called a, “power source.” Peter used this same phrase when talking about the machine,
“Up until now, we've been operating under the assumption that I was somehow the power source for this
machine” Sam Weiss alludes that it is Peter’s heart that is indeed the power source for the machine when
he tells Nina:
SAM WEISS: Okay. What I can tell you is this... That device can either be used as a tool of creation or as
a weapon of destruction. Depends on your point of view. And Peter Bishop is uniquely tuned to operate
it. Whatever frequency Peter's vibrating at will determine how the machine reacts.
NINA: And what determines Peter's frequency?
SAM WEISS: Depends on his state of mind, which, in turn, will depend on who he ends up with. Olivia
from here or Olivia from over there. Whichever one he chooses, it'll be her universe that survives.
Peter needed batteries to keep him alive until he could get his heart back. Reminds me of what
September told Walter when he saved them from the lake, “You must fix him.” And in Letters of Transit,
after they freed Walter from the amber and discovered he had brain damage, Etta asked Simon, “Well,
how do we fix him?” A term generally used more when referring to something mechanical rather than
Nina told Detective Olivia, “Miss Dunham. You should proceed with caution.” Nina expressed the same
sentiment to Olivia in their first meeting, “You should know what you're getting into, Agent Dunham. I
would say this to my own daughter: "Be careful and good luck."
Olivia’s first lead was a piece of paper found in Rachel’s apartment with the Massive Dynamic logo on it.
In Concentrate and Ask Again, Nina went searching through Bell’s safe and found a napkin with the MD
logo drawn on it.
Olivia’s wound in Brown Betty healed just like the lemon cake/pig brain Cortexiphan experiment that
Walter conducted in Brave New World pt 1 and again in Brave New World pt 2 when Walter shot Olivia.
Ella had an interesting opinion about Nina Sharp’s role in the story:
ELLA: Nina Sharp. She was lying, wasn't she?
WALTER: What makes you think that?
ELLA: I don't know, I just don't trust her.
WALTER: Smart girl. You're getting ahead of the narrative, but you're thinking along the right lines.
Because Detective Olivia didn't trust her either.
Olivia has also shared her distrust of Nina and Massive Dynamic on several occasions, including the visual
interpretation of Olivia’s subconscious in LSD, where Nina tried to eliminate Peter and Walter by pushing
them through an open elevator shaft.
When Olivia needed to put batteries into Peter, he told her, “You’re gonna be fine.” The same expression
that Charlie had told Olivia on their first case together and that Sam had helped her find when she needed
comfort after Charlie’s death. There has also been a slight variation of the phrase in The Transformation,
Grey Matters, and The Day We Died -“You’re going to be fine.”
Esther told Detective Olivia that her problem was, “You're always looking for something that doesn't even
exist.” In season 4, Astrid told Olivia, “Do you ever think that maybe your type just doesn't exist?”
Peter’s map of destruction is the same pattern that Olivia discovered when she mapped out all the fringe
events to stop David Robert Jones from opening a doorway to the other universe and again showed up in
6B when they were trying to prevent the vortex from occurring.
The beacon showed up just before the Watchers attacked which hinted at what we would later learn
about the beacon serving as some kind of tracking device that helped September find his way back in
season 4. It may be important to mention that in Brown Betty, it was Walter who invented it, suggesting
another link between Walter and the Observers.
Will Brown Betty have any more relevance as we near the end of the series? Only time will tell but the end of the story in Brown Betty may hold clues to keep in mind as the time approaches. The story ended with Peter splitting his heart into two which allowed everyone to continue, “making goodness.” Will Peter need to sacrifice his heart for his loved ones before the end? Will Peter be forced to choose between his loved ones? Who knows? But remember, “As with all good stories, things aren't always as they seem.” Ella had some sound advice that I do believe after all is said and done will come to pass, “All good stories start with once upon a time, and they end with happily ever after.”
Why Brown Betty is on the '8 most important episodes' list:
I do not remember who said it first, but someone said "Brown Betty is the mother of all foreshadowing in Fringe," and it is true. This quirky 19th episode and a musical to boot has a treasure trove of foresahdowing about the rest of the series. Dangerous Peter shows up in Reciprocity and more recently in Season 5. Olivia in a pine coffin on the water points to episode 3.22. Bad Observers points to Letters Of Transit and the rest of the series. And the heart? I love that Cerissa counted the number of times it is mentioned in this episode(I counted too) and the concept of the heart, or "power source," as Walter mentions, became huge in Season 3 and I believe it will become important again in this final stretch of the series.
Many fans discounted Brown Betty as a useless, fluffy episode, but it is really a beacon of the rest of the series.