It’s a bit later than usual, but welcome to Fringe Observations: the comprehensive Clues and Eastereggs Round-up for season 2, episode 10 – “Grey Matters”.
Below the jump we explore the various clues and eastereggs from the episode and try to figure out what it all means.
As also noticed by some of you, the shape-shifters leader Thomas Jerome Newton is named after David Bowie‘s character in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell To Earth (based on the novel, 1963). Here is a brief synopsis (film/novel spoilers):
Thomas Jerome Newton is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet. Newton uses advanced technology from his home planet to patent many inventions on Earth, and rises as the head of a technology-based conglomerate to incredible wealth.
Here’s the original trailer:
The parallels are there – they are both humanoids who visit earth to gather resources to save their dying planets. For “The Drought” see “The Blight”. It seems like a nod from the writers, giving us more context with which to understand the shape-shifters and what could be happening on their side.
This diagram of the central nervous system from “Snakehead” looks like being a good bet for the “Grey Matters” ‘next episode clue’, which dealt with the brain and central nervous system:
This shadow of a bell rings a Bell.
Is that a kangaroo on Walter’s cup? Tentative next episode clue submission. Actually, we just want that cup!
Wing and a Prayer
After Snakehead‘s leaf glyph sighting, we spotted a butterfly glyph on the window inside Dunwich Institute. One of these days they’re going run out of those stickers.
Chalk and Cheese
Given that Deborah Crampton was implanted with some of Walter’s memories, are the drawings on the board also from Walter’s mind? Is that a car crashing into a frozen lake and a laboratory on fire? I doubt this is the case, but hey, it would have been cool!
As I mentioned in our review, the directing of this episode was fantastic. I really love this shot. We have this brightly lit tunnel view of a forlorn Peter, dressed in black and grey, and behind him Olivia opens a doorway. There’s no Walter, and yet the scene is all about him, and they are both there because of him. Great symbolism, whether intentional or otherwise.
The picture in the background resembles a burning/dying landscape – a nod to the Blight or the impending war?
Another environmental reference to the Blight, seeing as it caused the trees to die?
Custardian of Memories
Newton shows Walter a picture of what I’m assuming is a bowl of custard. Walter associates it with Peter, who used to love custard as a child. Except he didn’t. Original Peter did. As we learnt in “A New Day In The Old Town”, our stolen-from-the-other-side Peter doesn’t like custard and never has. This is just another brick in the Walter and Peter abduction storyline which is sure to come crashing down at some point.
What I find immediately interesting about this though, is that Walter clearly loves his son. And by son, I mean his original son. That’s not to say he doesn’t love our Peter because he does, but how much of that love is rooted in his love for original Peter? It’s an uncomfortable question, but I think it’s equally fascinating to see where his love for his dead son ends, and his love for Peter begins.
Green and Red
The green and red color thematic was present again (although not in classic form). This time it was used to indicate the re-mapping of Walter’s old brain pathways. This was probably the green/red theme in its simplest form: red for disconnected, green for connected. Perhaps that could give us some insight into to overarching green,green,green,red mythology?
Just Good Eights
The number 8 just wont leave Olivia’s life! Here it is making an appearance on the window of her car.
Observing The Observer
The Observer chose to watch events from afar this time round.
Head-shot? Check! Mercury blood? Check! Thanks for the memories, guys!
Our World Is Their World
Perhaps the most significant clue of the episode – Newton is wearing a watch with a Massive Dynamic logo. Does this imply that the Massive Dynamic of “over there” are the one’s behind the First Wave? It would make sense on many levels. It could also be a diversion – it would be pretty silly of them to plaster their logo on watches given to their secret undercover spies. Then again, Newton only got a body 2 months ago, so I’m not sure how much we can read into this easteregg – it just depends how tricky the writers want to get.
The blue lights were all over this scene with Bell visiting Walter before his brain op. Significantly, they only appear from Walter’s point of view, when we see the two of them in the shot together the blue lights are non-existent. Could this be a clue as to their true meaning? Certainly the presence of blue lights in a memory is corroborated by Olivia visiting John Scott’s memories (The Dreamscape):
As well as Olivia’s Kayak dream from the Pilot episode:
However, strangely we didn’t see any blue lights as Peter’s mind drifted back to his kidnapping (“Dream Logic”):
Perhaps the blue lights denote observed or tampered memories/dreams. Or maybe the simplest answer is that they represent the covergence of realities – memory being an alternate reality in its own right? At this stage, we also shouldn’t yet rule out travel and the pattern as an explanation for some blue light appearances.
It’s Djed Symbol
I could be wrong on this but after analysing the symbol on Bell’s wrist, it could actually have some meaning. The symbol resembles the ancient Egyptian Djed Pillar, which is said to represent stability or endurance. This is interesting because we know that the shape-shifters have been tasked with opening a corridor from over here to the other side, and one of the issues associated with crossing over could be keeping the portal stable. We saw David Jones run into such problems prior to successfully getting a lock on the other side in the season 1 finale.
In relation to Fringe, the symbol could suggest that crossing over has ancient connections. Without wanting to get too Stargate-ish, could the ancients have used portals to cross between worlds?
The fact that Bell is wearing the symbol as he purges Walter’s memories of The Door could signify that, at this stage, Bell advocated the gateway between worlds, despite what he said to Walter. If that’s the case his view has now changed. Or has it?
Another thought: perhaps this ties into the infinity theme? Stability…infinity.
- As mentioned by Page 48 in the comments, the number 47 showed up again on the CCTV timestamp. 47 is a famous number on the Bad Robot scene.
- At his old Cambridge home, Walter says that the last time he was there it was a different season and the leaves were falling. This is plausible as Walter didn’t accompany Olivia and Peter when they visited the Bishop’s old home last season (to look for the Halo contraption) in “The Ghost Network”.
- It was a nice touch to show Walter’s hand trembling before his MRI scan, just as it did when we first saw him in the mental institution in the Pilot episode.
- The word “connection” was used frequently throughout this episode. Given the context, I couldn’t help but remember, Peter also has a “weird connection”.
- Old Walter goads Newton when he asks: “how are things on your side?“. This suggests that prior to getting his memories removed 14 years ago Walter was aware of “The Blight”. So presumably he still had contact with the other side after bringing Peter over. Did he cross over more than once? Did September tell him about the consequences? Did he use Nina’s 2-bit computer to communicate with someone over there?
- Is the Blight in any way related to Bell’s use of an oxygen tank when Olivia visited him over there? (note: we don’t yet know for sure that he was puffing on oxygen, but I think it’s a fair assumption at this stage).
- Incidentally, Newton tells Walter that things are “worse” on his side. This could go both ways – he could mean worse than the last time he [Newton] was there, or worse than things currently are over here. The latter would be more interesting to me because it would suggest that BOTH worlds are suffering the environmental degradation, only the other side has it at a worse, and possibly, more advanced stage. As we know, they do seem to be ahead of us with a lot of stuff.
- The blue, yellow, red color thematic isn’t as overt as the green, green, green, red, but it has been in the background of show for some time. This episode all but confirmed it as a theme with Newton’s neurotoxin antidote.
- In our “Grey Matters” review I mentioned how I wasn’t sure if Walter told Newton how to build the door, or whether the brain mapping process gave Newton the information he needed. Thinking about it now, it could still go either way, although they did make a point of showing Newton’s camera gizmo which allowed him to see which parts of Walter’s brain could make sense of data stored in the brain pieces. That would slightly lean towards the idea that Newton will be able to read or download the information somehow.
- This is probably nothing other than a coincidental thematic, but the show’s circular imagery always seems to catch my eye.
- There were a few decent reflections, mirroring the alternate reality quality of the show. Here’s one such reflection featuring the dearly departed Smith.
- The glyphs for Grey Matters spelled PORTAL, alluding to the door, gateway, corridor that Newton’s planning to open to the other side. It’s also interesting to note that the “August” glyph word was “BLIGHT”, which seems a better fit for this episode than “August”. Snakehead’s glyph word, “HIDDEN”, also fits this episode quite well.
As always, if you have any comments on the above, or think that we’ve missed something out, feel free to let us know in the comments. You can find our previous Fringe Observations and Clues here.