Fringe Observations: 2.08 August


Fringe Observations - 2.07 Of Human Action

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

August clues

Take your pick from a room full of Observers. [left to right: December, August, September, July].

8 Is Great

August clues

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

This episode clue

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.

Eye-Spy

August clues

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”:

Arrival clues

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:

August clues

August clues

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):

Arrival/Pilot clues

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.

Ubik

Philip K. Dick

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.

The Spark

August clues

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.

Sail Away

August clues

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.

See You

August clues

August clues

August clues

August clues

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

August clues

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.

Red

August clues

August clues

August clues

August clues

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..

Dragon

August clues

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

August clues

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.

Old

August clues

August clues

August clues

August clues

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)

Other clues:

  • 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”.
  • 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.

Comments

  1. Joe says

    Hey, I’m thinking about your comments about the Observers being “sent” back into time at the bequest of some individual in the future, (like in the Terminator, I presume). What if they’re “sent” into the past to prevent or ensure that a decision is made that causes the creation of another reality?
    Or, they’re trying to prevent the inter-reality war?

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  2. says

    And here I was, thinking that the break between Lost’s seasons 5 and 6 was going to give me some peace from time travel.

    Is it just me, or have there been a severe lack of blue flashes this season? We were overwhelmed with them in the first season (I got some friends to watch it with us, and they insist on shouting “BLUE FLASH!” every time they see one because I told them they were important…) and it’s been smatterings this year but nothing like last year. Hmmm.

    Anyway, I’m excited to see the empathic Observers matched up against the contagious emotion Cortexiphan kids. And hopefully Peter’s big reveal is coming up…

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    • says

      Is it just me, or have there been a severe lack of blue flashes this season? We were overwhelmed with them in the first season (I got some friends to watch it with us, and they insist on shouting “BLUE FLASH!” every time they see one because I told them they were important…) and it’s been smatterings this year but nothing like last year. Hmmm.

      I agree Rachel, there haven’t been nearly as many blue flashes as there were last season. Perhaps the creators are holding back on them? Although I’m not sure what this would say about their presumed meaning. (“pattern events”, observation, travel, universe collision, etc)..

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  3. says

    Now I know why I felt that 101 feels so relevant. At first my subconscious is telling me 101 Dalmatians but that doesn’t make sense. Now, it did, because 101 simply means fundamental of observers. Could 101 also be related to the number used in computer? A binary number? OR 101 just purely an “observer effect”, some1 0bservering some1?

    Anyway, the you failed to catch the “tropos” air, tropos in greek means turn or change, which is a “theme” of the show.

    I think the likeness of nitrogen is purely an attempt to explain the Lewis structure, which was use to hide the message of August to Bishop.

    The white glow from the thumb you pointed out made me convince that there is more than what we know from Peter. At first, I believe that Peter just used up the final ammunition. But then, the “energy” from the observer’s thumb is a sign that the gun is coming from the hands of August. Having said that, Peter could have used the same mechanism. But now that begs a question, why alter-universe people have the capability like this? I am not convinced that the observers are from the alter-universe. I am not also convinced that there is a connection between Peter and the observers. BUT hang-on, could it be that because Peter was saved by September, the consequence of making him special is to actually fill a spot of an observer? Would that mean if there will be a chance that the observers needed Peter, they will just magically transform him into a bald person and become an observer? Could that be the deal?

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    • says

      Could 101 also be related to the number used in computer? A binary number? OR 101 just purely an “observer effect”, some1 0bservering some1?

      Interesting idea.

      Anyway, the you failed to catch the “tropos” air, tropos in greek means turn or change, which is a “theme” of the show.

      Ah, nice catch, I missed that one!

      I think the likeness of nitrogen is purely an attempt to explain the Lewis structure, which was use to hide the message of August to Bishop.

      Yeah, that does seem like the logical answer. I just thought there might be something more to it.

      At first, I believe that Peter just used up the final ammunition. But then, the “energy” from the observer’s thumb is a sign that the gun is coming from the hands of August. Having said that, Peter could have used the same mechanism

      That’s a nice idea, although how would Peter ‘channel’ that energy – unless of course he has that energy himself, as you say. It wouldn’t explain why they need the gun to fire energy blasts though, so the gun probably serves some purpose beyond aesthetics.

      But now that begs a question, why alter-universe people have the capability like this?

      We could ask the same question of the shapeshifters and their set of skills. I guess the Observers could have been designed this way, or they may have found a way to unlock the kinetic potential that is in all of us – either through evolution or modification?

      I am not also convinced that there is a connection between Peter and the observers. BUT hang-on, could it be that because Peter was saved by September, the consequence of making him special is to actually fill a spot of an observer?

      Yeah, I think this episode went a long way in confirming that there is a link between Peter and the Observers. At the very least we know that September was involved in saving Peter (and possibly at fault for original Peter’s death). Although personally, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Peter is or will become an Observer.

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  4. Pedro says

    I thought this episode was interesting (do not read good) because it was about a really cool character, or group of characters, the Observers. The plot was a little blah, blah, but it was cool. A few things that may mean something later came to light. I give this episode 8/10 because at least the characters were neat.

    My observations of this episode is this. What happened to the impending War, the ShapeShifters, The Head Grow back dude, Why doesn’t anyone miss Charlie, Why isn’t Olivia pissed that Massive Dynamics arranged to transport her to another universe, in the process caused her to have a horrible car wreck which she had to suffer through? Why in the F does Massive Dynamics have that annoying Fudd Pucker working for them.

    So in a nutshell does everyone on this silly show have selective memory loss? Maybe fox wants us to wait through the 7 week break in hopes that we will forget that there actually was the seeds of a great show at the beginning of season 2.

    Observation #2 – The following people can suck it: Fox, JJ Abrams, The Writers, the Directors and the Sewed on Head Guy.

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  5. Dr.Balt Weller says

    Great article.
    Just one thing I think you guys missed:
    The t-shirt on Christine’s teddy bear says “I Love SF”, which can be construed as meaning “I Love San Francisco” OR “I Love Science Fiction” or both.
    Either way, i do believe the writers and producers were breaking the fourth wall.

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    • says

      Nice catch. I noticed it but for some reason it didn’t seem too relevant until you mentioned it. I agree that it’s probably a little message from the creators.

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  6. Tom C says

    Firstly this was a great episode. For me definately up there in the ‘best of’ list.

    One thing i noticed, your comment……
    “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.”
    It may just be me reading what you put in wrong, but i noticed when the scene of him being shot at was happening (not the camera footage), when the bullet catching happens he seemed to jolt then continued getting in the car. I noticed the jolt and wondered what it was and then it showed him catching the bullet.
    I thought that this was great episode for the observers, showing that the observers do have ‘powers’ but at the same time can still be killed.

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    • says

      Hey Tom, I’ll have to go back and watch that scene, although I’m not sure we actually see him catching the bullet – he may have jolted but in the video he fully stops. (It’s probably just an editing disparity).

      I could be wrong though, I’ll let you know if I come to a different conclusion.

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      • Sandi says

        It’s been awhile since I watched this episode but I was under the impression that when they watched the camera footage, they slowed it down. Maybe my brain just made that up, though, to explain the difference.

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        • Sandi says

          I just rewatched that part, and it’s just like Tom said: originally, we only see a slight twitch. When Astrid plays the footage, Peter notices it and says “Wait, what just happened there?” Astrid plays it frame-by-frame and they see that he caught the bullet. It should be noted that a motion that fast wouldn’t have been caught over as many frames as they show (the usual rate is 12 frames per second), at least not on a plain old security camera.

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  7. Kawaiiaicat says

    I can’t believe you missed what the episode was a huge nod to PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Come on the use of red. The fact that the girls name was Christine. Also the monkey with the symbols.

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  8. says

    I’ve updated the article (“other clues” section, above) with Paul Revere’s “Midnight Ride”, which Walter referenced in the episode. Somehow I forgot to include it last week.

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  9. Sonofsuns34 says

    I think that Walter made up the Lake story to placate Peter’s persistance for answers. I think that the observers came to Walter becuase he created an anomaly by bringing other-Peter into this world where he should be dead, and for some reason they let Walter keep other-Peter… And when I saw Peter use the other-gun I knew they were going to use it to show us that he is Peter from over there, nice touch though.

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  10. nieniqe says

    Maybe I’m completely off track with this, but I found it worth mentioning anyway. The Observers are all named after months. The names of these months have their origin in ancient Rome (the mentioning of Rome as a travel destination got me thinking that it might have a further meaning).

    The Calendar that we use today, is deriving from the Ancient Roman Calender.
    The list follows the ancient Roman Calendar, a few changes were made over the course of time, the most notable one in 135 BC, when “ianuarius” was established as the beginning of the year.

    Martius: was originally the first month, equivalent to March, named after Mars, the Roman God of War
    Aprilis: equivalent to April, named after the latin word “aperire” – to open, this was meant with regard to vegetation (spring)
    Maius: equivalent to May, named after Jupiter Maius (usually the King of Gods), in this aspect the God of Spring and Growth
    Iunius: equivalent to June, named after Juno, the wife of Jupiter and Goddess of Birth and Marriage, and the Patron Goddess of Rome,
    Iulius: equivalent to July, named after Gaius Iulius Caesar (before it was renamed after Caesar, it used to be called Quintilis, after the latin word for the number five)
    Sextilis: equivalent to August, originally named after the latin word for the number six, was renamed in 8 BC after the first Roman emperor Augustus, since it was the month he got elected consul for the first time. Augustus was an honorific name awarded by the Roman senate, it means “the revered one”. One notable achievement of Augustus would be the initiation of the Pax Romana (the Roman Peace), a time of relative peace in the Roman Empire.
    September: named after “septem” the latin word for the number seven
    October: named after “octo” the latin word for the number eight
    November: named after “novem” the latin word for the number nine
    December: named after “decem” the latin word for the number ten
    Ianuarius: originally the 11th month, equivalent to January, named after Janus, God of Gates, Doors, Doorways, Beginnings and Endings
    Februarius: originally the 12th month, equivalent to February, named after the latin word “februum” – purification, also the month of the underworld.

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    • says

      nieniqe – thanks for sharing all of that. I think you’re on to something, after all it’s unlikely that the creators would name them after months for no good reason. Now we have a nicely laid out reference from which to speculate. Cheers!

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