Fringe: A Question of Faith

Dec 11, 2012 | 17 comments

Not too long after the last episode of Fringe I went to Facebook to gauge viewer reaction.  I wanted to see if many were as nonplussed as I was.  Not that I didn’t like the episode but I didn’t think that it covered any new ground nor revealed anything new to the storyline.  In fact, I thought we had pretty much covered all the ground there was to cover when it came to tests of faith.  Walter beseeched Peter to keep their pact, Olivia explained to Simone that humanity can be reduced to numbers and basically when it comes to math we finish in second place.

By the end of the episode all was right with the world.  Peter had regained his humanity, Olivia had kept the faith, Walter had his son back and emotion was seen as a strength and not a weakness.

So, yeah, that’s good.

What about defeating the Observers, how close are we?

Judging by some of the internet reaction this was another filler episode and we’re just spinning our wheels.  The frustration was palpable and the comparisons to Lost flooded the web.

But let’s step back a little and look at this episode from a larger sense.  I’ve always thought the people at Fringe talk to their viewers through the show itself.

“Look at what we are showing you, what is the meaning, how does it make you feel?”

So when I took a step back I came to realize this was Fringe’s way of telling us to be patient.  To take it all in and most of  all..

Keep the faith.

There are only so many episodes and they can try to jam in as much as possible but what would it really serve.  Do we really want an encyclopedic tour of all the minutiae from this series or do we want a conclusion that is a fitting end to this journey?

I vote fitting end.

Keep the faith people.

OK, I’m off the soapbox,  here’s a couple of nuggets I also gleaned from the episode.  Take a look at the necklace that Simone is wearing from the above picture.  It’s a ring.  A large one to be sure and we’ve seen a lot of ring imagery this season especially when it come to Peter and Olivia’s wedding bands.  But, to me, and since we’re taking a step back and looking at things from a larger sense it also represents a circle.

To me, a circle is symbolic of where the end meets the beginning, what comes around goes around and the completion of a journey from whence it started.  If we are all to keep the faith then I see this as a sign or clue that by the time we reach the end of Fringe things may well end up where the started.   Wouldn’t it be interesting if end up smack dab where it all started? (Keep an eye out for more circles or rings.)

Lastly, I thought Walter said something very interesting to Peter over the phone.

“We all want Windmark dead, the plan outlined on the tapes is the way to do it.”

Will Walters plan actually kill the Observers?  That seems extreme but they are at war.  I originally thought the device would block the Observers from invading the past or at least make the world uninhabitable for them.  But kill them?  Maybe.

What are your thoughts people?

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  1. CharlieFromVirginia

    I was/am still disappointed Peter removed the Tech.
    I wanted to see the continuation of Peter to observer.
    I do have great faith in the writers.
    But still I am hurt sad discouraged that Peter removed the tech.
    I think it is on purpose there is now a second tech he can put back in his head.
    Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah to you IDD! And all of Fringe Fandom, a Happy New Year.

    • Inter-dimensional Dave

      Good to hear from you Charlie. I thought the “Peter as Observer” story arc would run through the end of the season until there was some climatic confrontation and then Peter would be pulled back from the abyss. Not to be! I guess they have different plans and its pretty obvious that the Peter/Olivia relationship is important to them.

      They may have wanted to dabble with the Peter thing as some sort of fan service. The idea that Peter would be an Observer has been around for a while. He even wore that fedora to the Comic Con. As for the second tech unit maybe you are right. Peter might insist on a “power boost” to save the day or maybe they will give it back to September so he can fight the good fight.

      Keep the beer on ice Charlie and thanks for the holiday wishes!

  2. Tyler A

    I thought it felt really weird to see the trailer for next week with Peter back.
    Its like this little mini-sode of observer peter ended, on to the next…but feels forced.
    I hope they talk about in the next eps. and it doesn’t get blown over. Not just with Oliva but an really good talk with Walter could be great.

    I am a faith filled man but I hear people take about Oliva finding faith again I didn’t really catch it. She always had faith in the plan and faith that emotions, memories, and love mean more than math. I didn’t really see a shift in her.

    I wish they were building something as they collected parts of the puzzle. And that every eps wasn’t a new tape mystery solved. 1 eps on just putting pieces together, to break up the monotony, would of been cool.

    Love the podcast and the show.

    • InterdimensionalDave

      Hi Tyler, I can understand how you feel when you say the episode or Peter’s story arc as an Observer feels forced. I’m afraid it’s the price we have to pay for a truncated season. I think they want to explore all the nooks and crannies they just don’t have the time so they just touch on things here and there.

      I said above that the relationship between Olivia and Peter is pretty important to them and they consider it a lynchpin of the show. It’s no wonder, to me at least, that they had to wrap the Peter side story to they can get back to the love story and the family dynamic angle.

      The point where Olivia lost her faith was when she lectured the character of Simone before she climbed into the truck. Things seemed especially dire when she told Simone that everything could be broken down into numbers. It all seemed justified when Olivia was set upon during the ride back. But she rebounded with a big assist from the bullet and I think that resonated with her.

      So yeah, that was all of about 20 minutes of TV time and it seemed short shrifted. So you could argue that was forced also. Hey, that’s TV for you and they only have so much time.

      Hopefully the end will make all seem justified. Keep the faith Tyler and thanks for the feedback.

  3. Syafiq

    Interesting bit on the circle part, Dave. There had been a discussion on io9’s review page for one of the past episodes (can’t remember which one) at the comments section. Apparently, there’s a theory that Peter= September and that the show itself is an endless loop. Of course, this is before Peter pulls out the tech from himself (which may or may not have further future effects on him).

    Nevertheless, I’ve been thinking about it too lately regarding how it relates to season 1. If Peter=September, perhaps September’s unintentional distracting of Walternate is actually an attempt on his part to know his origin story? Maybe, the first iteration of it (the loop) is just about self-discovery since Observers now have no emotions and want to study their own (human) history. And perhaps his mistake of distracting Walternate is the one that sets the loop endless, and having different purpose (of going back in time) after multiple iterations.

    Anyway, better stop now. Don’t know if I’ve made myself clear with the previous paragraph. Sometimes I confuse myself as well, haha. Let’s get back on the show’s “circle”, I do think that your “things may well end up where the started. Wouldn’t it be interesting if end up smack dab where it all started?” theory is interesting. Some io9 commenters however, oppose this as they say it’s like wasting their time of watching 5 seasons of TV. But hey, wouldn’t that be a HUGE mindfuck, something very close to Fringe itself?

    • InterdimensionalDave

      Hey Syafiq, I’m a big fan of io9, in fact I am addicted to their “Morning Spoilers” section. Although it did spoil the return of David Robert Jones for me. Wish I hadn’t seen that one. I didn’t see the discussion you referred to however but it sounds interesting.

      I’m still not buying to the Peter = September theory. Although I do love the part about September going back and intentionally interrupting Walternate and then making a deal with Walter. It fits in nice with the “variable” and maybe that will break the loop.

      Maybe that’s a slight variation of the theory you elucidated. Getting back to where it al started wouldn’t surprise me. We’ll find out soon.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  4. Chris

    Initially, the ending left me with a slight sour taste, because the Peter becoming an Observer storyline added an extra dynamic to the season. However, chatting with folks on twitter & listening to the podcast, I have more acceptance of it. For one, it gave us concrete answers to Observer physiology, a major mystery throughout the show. Second, we got a nice parallel between son and father, as Walter, had also chosen to have pieces of his brain removed that were causing similar hubris (although they were put back last season).

    What I’m really hoping is that Peter will have residual effects. Perhaps even as his emotional functioning returns, he will retain the higher cognitive functioning long enough to figure out what the plan is, or at least make some sense of those physics equations that Walter could not. What has made the plan frustrating is that we only get parts, without any new information to decipher it. It seems it will all have to culminate at the end, and at this point, I think it needs to do something more profound than simply eliminate the Invaders. I really hope you are on to something about the circle symbolism, I would love to see it end where it began myself.

    Still maintain that we will have a grand ending to Fringe!

    • InterdimensionalDave

      I’m glad you were able to renew your faith Chris.

      I’ve discussed with Sarah Maria how Peter will indeed suffer some after affects from removing the tech from his neck. Maybe it will be like some sort of withdrawal like in drugs or maybe they will have to re-introduce that second piece of tech into Peter just to balance him. Each way, Walter will have to step up.

      I’m frustrated by the tape chase too. It’s been regulated as a sideshow. I don’t think they had all the time they thought they had to explore that angle fully. So now we see the abridged version of the tape chase. It’s not a big deal. The show is more character driven now than ever.

      Any ideas or theories into what would be more profound than eliminating the Observers? Maybe something like defusing the tech and returning them all to humanity? Let me know and thanks for the feedback!

  5. Sarah Maria

    Hey there, Dave!

    So, to be honest, I actually rather enjoyed the episode. Much like reading a novel, I love when a story takes a dip from the action in order to delve into the heart of matters at hand. I didn’t see this episode as filler, but rather as a set-up for what’s to come and here’s why:

    1) Olivia was once again “The Crowbar” for Peter. In the first instance of her being the CB, we see her remove Peter from the tech (ie “The Machine”) and in this episode we see her remove the tech from Peter. How’s that for full circle?
    Olivia has not only regained her faith in the mission at hand, but she’s regained faith in herself. I still believe Olivia is the savior. She’s who Broyles recruited, she’s who DRJ needed, she’s the only one with completely successful results from the Cortexiphan trials, etc…

    2) When Walter was examining the brain after inserting the Observer tech, he and Astrid notices the rapid, damn near immediate changes occurring. If Peter’s brain had a few days worth of time with that tech installed, what are the ramifications of removing it? Does his brain regress rapidly? Does it remain evolved? Long story short: Some people are disappointed Peter is no longer on the path to Observerdom, but to that I say how do we know for sure he’s not forever changed?

    3) There was a lot of focus on “Etta imagery” in this episode: Her final memory, the resist posters being taken down by a Loyalist, Olivia’s use of the bullet both to kill her captor and to hand over to Peter, etc… Do I think she’s coming back? No. Definitely not. But do I think these things are major clues? Totally. The posters especially.

    Anyhoo… in conclusion: I loved the episode because it was clearly building up to something, and with next week’s episode, “The Black Blotter”, being the special episode, I’m betting we’ll get the bang!


    • InterdimensionalDave

      Hi Sarah, like I told Chris above, the show is more character driven now than it was in the past. So you must be very happy. If everything comes full circle then we will see Olivia as the lynchpin, keystone or leader she was always meant to be. But like any circle she is only as strong as the elements she unites. Her strength is derived from those she seeks to protect. A true family dynamic.

      I’m eager to see how Peter reacts to the tech removal. As we have discussed through many venues, there is bound to be ramifications. I told Chris it may be something like drug withdrawal or perhaps some thing even worse if that can be imagined. I’m not sure to characterize it as a dependency or a physiological reaction to having something actually removed from your body. Like an amputation I guess. I wonder if he is suffering phantom pains. Interesting.

      Do I think Etta is coming back? Yes I do. In what fashion or manifestation, I’m not sure. Like you, I think “Black Blotter” will be revealing in this regard.

      Cheers to you Sarah Maria!

      • Sarah Maria

        All good fiction starts with good characters. Without the people, there is no tale to be told. That’s what makes Fringe so brilliant. Each cog of a character is worth caring about. So, on that note, I agree with you… Each piece of the Fringe Team is important, not just Olivia. I whole heartedly believe she is the savior (I use that specific word because of “A Brave New World”, and you know my reasoning so I don’t have to go into it again lol, but Walter, Peter, & Astrid (and more are imperative).

        After seeing how rapidly the porcupine man’s brain developed, I think we’re going to see either a very pained Peter due to a rapid regression, or we’re going to see “The Human Kind” (aka a techless person with a mind developed like an observer). Either way, I think it spells more trouble for Peter.
        On a aside note: perhaps Cortexiphan has a similar effect on the brain?

        I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Etta, but like you said, in what way will we see her? I definitely don’t think she survived.

        In the end, I know happy endings can seem cheesy, but dammit these characters deserve one and I trust the writers to satisfy us.

        Cheers again!

  6. zeppelindriver

    I’m with Chris and Sarah in hoping that the Observer tech left an indelible mark on Peter. After all, the episode was called “An Origin Story”, leading us to believe that Peter eventually somehow creates the Observers. Just watched S2’s “August” where Peter fired Donald (the assasin)’s Observer weapon, and then Broyles said afterward nobody in the lab could get it to work. Hmmm….

    I have faith the writers will tie up most loose ends and leave us with a meaningful ending. This episode served to turn the focus back on the team effort to defeat the Invaders, hopefully with help from Peter’s and Olivia’s untapped abilties!

    • Inter-dimensional Dave

      Hey “Zepp Driver”,

      Didn’t I hear some feedback from you on the Fringe Podcast that I listened to today? Well done.

      Nice callback to the “August” episode. I need to do a re-watch of that. Maybe we will finally get to know the details of the secret deal between Walter and September that Walter blurted out to August himself I believe. (I’ll have to check that.)

      I don’t mind if the show becomes more character driven also. There is too little time left to get wrapped up in all the unanswered questions.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  7. The Ozone Layer


    I don’t know, but I think that you may be carrying this “circle as symbolic of something greater” thing way too far. Furthermore there are circles everywhere, so why do you ascribe some significance to this particular one from the necklace? Could be a truck tire? A cereal dish? Or a penny? Not to dump on your theory, since a lot of your predictions have come through in the past.

    Beyond that, I am trying to tie up the loose ends of my particular theory re: Peter, The Observers, September’s relationship with Walter, Who is Donald? Who is the Creepy Bald Kid? Etc. etc. etc. There are so many theories floating around out there that I am getting an ice cream headache. Many of these postulate that CBK is September, and Donald is William Bell. Peter is somehow the father of all the Observers, etc.. For some reason my mind rejects these theories as too simple and way too convenient. So although I may be projecting, and subconsciously rejecting ideas that I just don’t like; the background for my theory goes something like this:

    Obviously Peter is significant since he is different, he is from the Red-verse. Olivia is significant since she is stll loaded with Cortexiphan even if it’s effects are somehow in a dormant state. When last we saw William Bell he was piloting his ark into oblivion. However Bell seems to have nine lives, so obviously we have not seen the last of him.

    The fundamental question that I have always had is why did September choose to share everything with Walter in the first place? Perhaps he chose Walter because he observed that Walter developed the tech that allowed him to travel between the universes, therefore making him special and significant. Maybe the Observers for some reason cannot alter anything in the Red-verse, and since Peter is from the Red-verse some of the powers that the Observers seem to have over humans will have no effect on Peter? Or they will not be able to control him or something like that.

    Since time is not linear to the Observers, it is either circular, or something of a matrix; September knows everything that will happen, and has chosen Peter, Walter, and Olivia for the above reasons mentioned, to alter the future, which to September, has already occurred.

    My theory is that Walter and September, working together have hatched the plan for the destruction of the Observers, and that September is in fact Donald. The Creepy Bald Kid is actually a young Widmark that September (Donald) has gone to the future and kidnapped. Walter has created this pocket universe in the hope of stashing him away until they need him. Since time occurs much more slowly in this pocket universe, the young Widmark, AKA CBK, essentially will not age, even if it takes Walter decades to finally go and fetch him. Maybe if two incarnations of the same observer at different times appear together, then something cataclysmic occurs, possibly the Observers’ death.

    The other aspect of the theory is that the plan that September and Walter have cooked up involves altering the Earth’s Oxygen levels, and thereby killing the Observers off. I believe that if the Observers can’t stand to breathe Oxygen, then Ozone will kill them off quickly. And the plan is to build a large Ozone generator to alter the atmosphere. I think that some piece of the technology necessary to create this is missing, and Bell (now with one prosthetic arm, just like Nina) will triumphantly return, and somehow through Massive Dynamic’s resources will provide the missing piece/element/energy required.

    In my mind the show has made mention of the Observers and Oxygen far too often for it not to be significant.

    On the planned day of liberation, Walter has everyone drop acid so that the Observers can not read anyones thoughts. Either that or the Observers’ heads explode trying to “read” an acid tripping Walter’s thoughts.

    Peter will re-introduce the tech into his neck because his being Observer will be the only way to accomplish something, even though he knows that doing so will kill him, since he is now 100% Observer. He chooses to sacrifice himself for the benefit of all mankind. But before doing that, Peter goes back in time to the warehouse and scoops up Etta before Widmark can get to her, and sends her back to Olivia in one piece. Etta will never have been shot, and will have no knowledge of it ever happening.

    A bunch of Observers show up to destroy the Ozone machine, but Olivia gets scared and goes all Cortexiphan induced supernova on them and through her thoughts, incinerates them all.

    Flash forward to Etta, now a mother herself, Peter and a much older Olivia in the park, either all covered in white tulips, or all blowing dandelion seeds into the wind. Since Peter is full blown Observer now, he has seen this future; and has gone there to live, even though he is really dead in the present.

    This is likely the most whacked out scenario so far, and it is highly unlikely that any of this ever takes place. So I may just drop some acid myself, sit back and enjoy the rest of the precious few episodes that remain.

    P.S. If my probation officer is reading that last part, I am just kidding !

  8. Inter-dimensional Dave

    Hey there, “Ozone Layer”

    I admit I get caught up in some of my imagery and symbolism. Like Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Buuuut, I’d like to refer you to a blog post I did earlier this (that I almost forgot about) and consider it a defense of my position.

    I agree with you that Donald is September.

    See that post here….

    But I never thought that the CBK could be Windmark, that would be simply awesome. I hope its true because the possibilities and permutations would be innumerable.

    As for your finale scenario, I sense that you are a bit of a romantic! I think we all want to see a happy ending even if it is tinged with a bit of sadness.

    Thanks for sharing “Ozone” great feedback!

  9. duckyislost

    Sorry I’m so late with my reply Dave. I really agree that the meta message of faith was for the fans. Placing faith in people rather than tech has to be the way our heroes will prevail. The circle necklace jumped out at me too. It wasn’t as overt as an orubus, which popped up in the Xfiles and Lost (and probably many other shows), but it stood out to me symbolically. I think we are circling the wagons back to what matters most – the bonds of friendship, love, and family. Whether that will also involve literally returning to a moment in the past remains to be seen. We’re certainly getting several hints at that through the various call backs to previous moments in the Fringe mythology. Can our heroes go home again, by clicking their heals perhaps? -Lynne

  10. duckyislost

    Gah, orobus not orubus.


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