Welcome to Fringe Observations: the comprehensive Clues and Eastereggs Round-up for episode 2 of season 8 – “August”.
Below the jump we explore the various clues and eastereggs from the episode and try to figure out what it all means.
Observing The Observers
Take your pick from a room full of Observers. [left to right: December, August, September, July].
8 Is Great
If you’ve been following the clues you’ll know that the number 8 is one of the more important numbers in Fringe mythology – personally, I believe it is Olivia’s lucky number (see previous Fringe Observations for more on this). Another significant 8 appeared in this episode – although not directly tied to Olivia this time – in the shape of the Observer called August, which is of course the EIGHTH month of our calendar year.
As an aside, it makes you wonder why the Observers are named after months. Are there only 12 Observers? (debatable – unless a third of them REALLY like the Boston area). And how were they given their names?
Wonder No Longer
As we speculated last time out, the clue for this episode looks like being the “Wonders” book (above). Rome’s Colosseum is one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Christine Hollis was supposed to travel to Rome to study ceramics before August kidnapped her. The flight she was supposed to be on (flight 821) crashed 2 hours from Rome.
Another possible episode clue for August was the Peter’s teddy bear from “Of Human Action” – Christine had a similar bear.
Here’s a look at August’s eye-glasses – take note of the interface and the green, green, green, red color sequence at the bottom left..
They are the same as September’s eye-glasses from the season 1 episode, “The Arrival”:
As we speculated back then, the glasses appear to measure, or even predict, certain outcomes around those being observed.
Moving on to the green/red color sequence, it also appeared on Donald’s phone when September called him, and as a post-production camera flare:
The meaning of the sequence is still unclear, but it could be well be a code or a brand (corporate or government) pertaining to the Observers and their inner-circle. Donald’s response to receiving the sequence was pretty revealing – as in he knew it was kill-time, although the green/red could have other meanings.
The sequence has, of course, been spotted many times throughout the series – sometimes out in the open, as was the case with the entire “Equation” episode (creating a hypnagogic state making time ‘appear to stand still’), but mostly through subtle lighting added in post production.
Most intriguingly, the green/red sequence appeared on the cap of Rogue (aka John Mosley) who appeared to be an enemy (and possible Rogue Observer) of the Observers when he tried to get his hands on the beacon. The sequence also appeared on Olivia’s uncle’s kayak during her dream-state with John Scott (Pilot):
All of which tells me that 1. The Observers have direct opponents, possibly a rebel group that have split from the main group, and 2. Olivia has family ties to the Observers – her uncle may well be an important figure in Observer history.
Christine Hollis is seemingly a reference to Ray Hollis and the 1969 Philip K. Dick novel, Ubik. The novel deals with themes such as reality-changes, timeline shifts, perception, psychics and the battle between restoration and decay. If you’ve read the book, it’s easy to see how this reference supports the mythology of “August”, the Observers and the main arcs of the show. Here’s a brief plot summary (book spoilers):
Glen Runciter is dead. Or is everybody else? Someone died in an explosion orchestrated by Runciter’s business competitors. And, indeed, it’s the kingly Runciter whose funeral is scheduled in Des Moines. But in the meantime, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering — and sometimes scatological — messages from their boss. And the world around them is warping in ways that suggest that their own time is running out. Or already has.
August simply touches the ignition to start the car. A glow can be seen coming from his thumb – possibly electricity or some kind of energy. That is pretty amazing. Along with catching bullets and reading minds this is one of the most skillful things we’ve seen them do so far. It just makes me wonder about Peter – who himself once said “I can bring just about anything mechanical back to life” (or words to that effect). I think the writers are building to something, and it might be more than the revelation we’re expecting.
The song playing during Olivia and Peter’s car ride was “Jamaica Say You Will“ (1972) by Jackson Browne. I’m not sure the lyrics are all that important to the episode or show, aside from the lovey-dovey aspect.
The episode contained some cool reflections – above are just a few of the reflections which, as always, symbolise the window to alternate realities and a sense of deep character focus.
Observer 101 / Nineteen Eighty-Four
I thought this was pretty cool – August was staying in room 101. The denotation “101” is often used when providing a basic guide or introduction to a subject (for example, “Photoshop 101”). We can take this to signify that this episode was an “Observer 101” – probably the creators way of saying that this is merely an introduction to what they have in store for us regarding the Observers. (good news for those of you who felt this episode didn’t provide enough answers 😉 ).
The room number could also be a reference to “Room 101”, which is from George Orwell’s famous novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. In the book, Room 101 is a torture chamber in the Ministry of Love in which the Party tries to subject a prisoner to his worst nightmare. Here is a quote from the book:
“You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.”
Orwell implies that it is possible for the state to use terror to create any reality it wishes by altering a subject sense of truth – mentally and emotionally – through violence. This alludes to some of the themes in Fringe, which is focusing heavily on perception. The term “Big Brother” was also made popular by the book, and may give us a clue as to who the Observers work for – a omnipresent future government who seek to control the “natural course of events”, perhaps? Did August achieve a small victory by gaining human emotion and breaking free from the rules? Of course, I’m speculating here, but I do feel that Room 101 is an intentional, yet subtle, clue which helps add to the thematic layering of the show.
We know from previous episodes (season 1, as well as 2) that red is Olivia’s color – her guide, if you will. We see several more instances of blatant red breadcrumbs (the last two screencaps above could be argued to relate directly to Olivia).
As an aside, the scene with the monkey in the sink might also want us to look at the set of pills – was August on medication, or do they help to maintain his natural balance, Ala the shapeshifters and mercury? As for the comb, perhaps Observers have hair in other places..
There is a symbol of a red dragon on the Chinese take-away bag. Dragons are serpentine creatures, which seems like the best candidate for the next episode clue. The Red Cobra Chillies – referenced in the episode – also seems to support this being the clue.
Out of this World
We see Peter use August’s gun to zappp! Donald Long. This is interesting because Broyles later reveals that the tech team are unable to get the gun to work – they figure that Peter must have fired the last round. This is unlikely because the Observers guns don’t appear to rely on ’rounds’ – they simply fire energy blasts.
Moreover, I believe that August’s little nod to Peter, and Peter’s curious glance at the gun, points to the likelihood that he was able to operate the weapon because he’s not of this reality (as we already know). However, it might further point to Peter being special in some way – did September give him Observer ability when he saved him from the lake? I think this is very possible.
(wacky thought – if the Observers need extreme heat or cold to feel anything in our reality, perhaps this ties into Peter and the frozen lake somehow? Of course this would stretch our common held beliefs about Peter to the max, but it’s worth a shot).
As an aside, the Observers gun is another piece of tech that our reality is unable to operate – the shapeshifters transformation device also has some kind of encryption preventing ‘us’ from using it. Data protection is becoming an evermore important theme in the show.
A closer look at some of the ‘traditional’ technology that the Observers and their recruits seem to prefer. In many ways I consider their technology to be something of a Trojan Horse – looks harmless on the outside, but highly sophisticated in reality. We can also add the shapeshifters alter-world typewriter and transformation device, Nina’s 2-bit computer used to send messages to William Bell, and Walter’s typewriters to the mix. Old technology is, in many cases, being preferred over modern tech – although many of these technologies also have a futuristic aspect to them. It a curious amalgamation alright.
*As Gillian in the comments points out, there was also a telephone point from the 1960’s in August’s room. (*added Dec. 1, 2009)
- August catches the security guards bullet, but we only see him do this on the security footage. In ‘real time’ he just ignores the bullets and gets into the car. Is this a continuity gaff, or a subtle clue about the nature of observation, perception and reality? Oh, and Matrix.
- August took Christine to Belle Motel – as in William Bell. A minor allusion linking the Observers to William, perhaps.
- In “Arrival” September knew what Peter was going to say before he said it – whether this was mind-reading or an empathetic ability is up for debate. The Child (aka Mini Observer) also seemed to know what Olivia needed in “Inner Child”. Now in this episode we see August pre-empt Christine’s words before she says them. In the case of September and August, it’s almost as if they do this when they are anxious, to prevent others from reading their minds, perhaps? It’s similar to what a child might do when they don’t want to answer a question.
- Some of the Observers writings have appeared in our own ancient history – according to Brandon one of the symbols appear on the Iron Pillar of Delhi, remarkable – in part – due to the composition of the metals used in its construction. Which makes me wonder about the beacon – a metallic cylinder noted by Walter for its precision.
- Maybe you thought Rachel wasn’t in this episode? Think again.
- Olivia sends Ella to the Jacobson’s. I’m assuming they have no relation to Colonel Jacobson, who Rogue seemingly killed in “Arrival”.
- Christine’s parents died in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.
- August told Walter that he suspected the likeness of a Nitrogen molecule would attract his attention. Why? Is it because Walter’s a scientist, or because Nitrogen relates to Peter somehow (considering Walter’s next words were: “Please don’t take my son”)? Sure, I know it’s a long shot, but it crossed my mind.
- Walter said that he and September had a “deal..an arrangement” – adding fuel to the previous hints that in return for saving Peter, the Observer would require Walter’s assistance in future. Walter’s already paid that debt on at least two occasions – how many more times will the Observer call on him?
- August observed 1884 – a record year for blubber, apparently. He also had newspaper clippings of the end of World War II, Man’s first steps on the moon, the sinking of the Titanic, and other historic events. Peter suggests that they’re looking for something, my best bet is that they’re looking for a moment in time that takes “the pattern” from a skirmish to an inter-reality war.
- There was an absence of blue flashes in this episode – strange, considering the previous Observer-centric was full of them.
- The glyphs for this episode spelled “BLIGHT” (wither, destroy), possibly relating to August’s demise, or perhaps, the irregularity which was Christine’s survival.
- (added Dec 1, 2009) Walter references Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride – an event in American history in which Bostonian Paul Revere helped the patriots repel the British army in his role as night-time messenger. This could relate to Olivia’s role as “Gate Keeper”, and may also tie into the Observers historical sighting at the Boston Massacre (original here), whilst giving Olivia’s roller-coaster ride at the end of the episode greater symbolism (i.e. “midnight ride”).
As always if you have any comments on the above, or you feel we have missed something, please feel free to share your views in the comments section.