Welcome to Fringe Observations: the comprehensive Clues and Eastereggs Round-up for episode 13 of season 2 – “The Bishop Revival”.
Below the jump we dig deep to explore the various clues and eastereggs from the episode and try to figure out what it all means.
See Right Through..
Walter tells Peter that Olivia Dunham is the girl for him:
“She’s exactly what you need. She can see right through you”
This seems like an underlying reference to Olivia’s ability to see through to the alternate reality – as was the case in 1.19 “The Road Not Taken” (above, left) – and of course, Peter himself is from the other-side.
Observing The Observer
The Observer was easy to spot this time round – strolling past the restaurant as Alfred Hoffman prepared to launch his second toxin attack.
Bad Robot are quite keen on eye imagery – they’re reflective portals into the soul, or something. Which is why the world IRIS (above, right) caught my..eye. We even saw Walter open the eye of a toxin victim, which instantly reminded me of…
..the Walter/Peter eye check we mentioned in the previous episode observations. For context: Walter checked Peter’s eyes in the Pilot episode, presumably as an automatic response to Peter being from the alt-universe and the original Peter having different a eye color. (or simply to check his health).
Down the Hole We Go
Walter has a ‘lucky rabbits foot’ on his keyring (above, left) – I believe we have previously heard him say that he’s “superstitious”, so it makes sense. It’s probably worth noting that William Bell was depicted as the “White Rabbit” from the Alice tales in the season 2 promotional material (above, right), so there’s probably a connection in that as well.
An apple glyph can be seen on the chair in Walter’s Lab. Among other things apples are symbolic of knowledge and youth.
8 it Dice-y
Olivia’s lucky number makes an appearance with the sides of the die (3+5) adding up to 8.
From my perspective, this episode had two visual cues that invite us down various paths:
1. The skeleton (above, left) represents the skeletons in the Bishop family closet with the revival of Robert’s work. Peter even says as much in the episode.
2. The Rubix Cube (above, right) represents the multi-dimensional puzzle element of Fringe, and the interconnected pieces at play in the episode. The object of Rubix is to form a solid pattern..
The Winding Path
As revealed in the episode itself, Alfred Hoffman was around when Robert Bishop worked as a scientist for the Nazi’s. As the photo above shows, he hasn’t aged a day in what has been at least 66 years.
As I mentioned in our episode review, there would appear to be 3 main possibilities as to how he was able to achieve such a feat:
- Eternal youth
Let’s have a quick look at each one and its relation to what we know, or can surmise..
1. Time-travel. We know that it exists in the world of the show on some level. Walter built a device (Diz-Ray) which would, in theory, allow him to reach back through time to grab physician Alfred Gross (died 1936) to save Peter’s life. According to Walter he didn’t need to use the device in the end because Peter got better. Whether he’s to be believed or not is up for debate, but what we do know is that the device was used by David Robert Jones to teleport out of his German prison in episode 1.10 “Safe”.
Was Walter’s device based on Robert’s work? Did Alfred use such a device to time-travel to our present day?
2. Cryonics also exists in the show – the shape-shifters leader, Thomas Jerome Newton, had his head frozen, presumably so he could be woken once science had caught up with the alt-universe’s ambition. If that sounds familiar it’s because Walter said the same thing of the Nazi’s in TBR:
“It seems science has finally caught up with Nazi ambition”
Was Alfred put in big freeze until science caught up to revive him? If so, who defrosted him and where are they?
3. Eternal Youth. For me, this is the most intriguing because it has existed in the show (in various forms) for a long time with extreme subtlety.
Walter explicitly mentioned “eternal youth” in the episode, and I’m of the opinion that we see it hinted at again when Alfred Hoffman takes a bite out of a red apple (from the Bishop’s fridge, no less). As we’ve mentioned before, apples are, among other things, symbols of youth..
..and knowledge – as illustrated by the Biblical account of Eve taking a bite from the apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
In the alt-universe, I reckon that pears carry the same representation – hence the otherwise unnecessary focus on shape-shifter Smith chomping down on a pear in “Momentum Deferred” (2 scenes).
At any rate, over here, pears are also symbols of youth.
It seems like eternal youth is also represented in the show through the frequent appearances of the number 8 (above), as well as being Olivia’s ‘lucky number’. In this context it is interchangeable with the concept of “infinity” and the multiple reality aspect of the show..
..Also represented through the circle – a symbol without beginning or end.
The infinity symbol (above, right), or sideways “8”, also appeared on Mitchell Loeb’s van (above, middle) and in Dreamscape (above, left). Loeb worked for David Jones, helping him to teleport from his prison in Germany to a field in Little Hill. Jones and Loeb also kidnapped Olivia at the end of season 1 episode “Safe”. This eventually led to Jones to become something of an immortal:
“It does something much worse than kill you” (Walter, paraphrased)
“Your bullets go right through me..” (Jones, 1.20)
But their plan was hatched long before that…
Jones and Loeb developed a complicated strategy to lure Olivia to Germany and used Walter’s past work to get hold of the time-travel/teleportation device – “Diz-ray”. It involved implanting a parasite into Loeb – a parasite Walter noted as being perfect – too perfect. It had a signature – the hallmark of a human creator.
In TBR history repeated itself as Walter noted that Alfred’s toxin also had a signature – that of a seahorse (below, left)..
As we know, the seahorse is one of the Fringe glyphs that appear during ad-breaks (above, right).
It was Robert’s signature. He was nicknamed “The Seahorse” because he was a great swimmer.
But not everything we know about Robert adds up..
Back in the season 1 episode “Arrival”, we first get mention of Robert when Walter hides the Observers beacon in his grave to protect it from John Mosley (Rogue). Mosley forces Peter to read Walter’s mind and take him to the hiding place. Upon reaching the grave we can see that Robert was born August 21, 1912 and died December 11th, 1944.
However, in TBR, Walter tells Peter that Robert came to the States in 1943. Did he really die a year later, or did Robert, Walter or someone else falsify his date of death? We already know that Walter “fudged” the date of Robert’s arrival to the States, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.
In any event, at Robert’s grave Mosley tells Peter:
“Shame you never met him”
Which seems to imply that Mosley knew Robert Bishop personally. But if Robert died in 1944, as his grave stone suggests, Mosley would seemingly have needed to be around 65 years old to have known him..
He doesn’t look 65 to me.
Was Mosley a time-traveller, or was eternal youth bestowed upon him? Was – as I suspect – he an Observer?
Which almost brings us full-circle – tying into the Observers ability to observe time and their apparent inability to age.
Speaking of the Observers, it’s worth mentioning September, who saved Peter when Walter brought him over from the alt-universe. An action which no doubt resulted in Walter being under green, green, green, red threats from the head Observers.
End of path, for now. (to be clear: the above is logic, speculation and guess work – all of these elements might not be related at all).
Another Alice In Wonderland reference:
Peter: “Where are the books you bought from Markham?”
Artist: “The one’s with all the creepy stuff inside..the Alice In Wonderland meets the Evil Nazi Experiment?”
That’s quite a convergence – Alice In Wonderland is trippy enough without Robert’s science giving it added context. No doubt this is a metaphor. If we take AIWL to represent the show’s alternate universe concept, perhaps we have a hint as to how the elements from this episode will connect to the overarching mythology?
In The Bag
The previous episode’s pointer for TBR was the “World Tolerance Conference” logo that was on the couriers bag (above, left). We get a look at the logo in TBR as Peter holds it up to the camera (almost breaking the 4th wall), and at the conference itself (above, center).
The Bishop Revival (bottom) wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Walter holding the figurative ‘smoking gun’. A similar thematic also appeared in the season 1 episode “Unleashed” (top) after Walter slayed the hybrid beast that was about to rip Peter and Olivia to shreds. The common denominator that caused Walter to such actions – protecting his son.
Here are the books Markham recomments to Olivia:
- What Color’s You Parachute – A guide to discovering personal goals and interests explains how to apply that information toward obtaining satisfying employment.
- Do What You Are – Occupations to suit personality types.
- The glyphs for “The Bishop Revival” spelled FATHER, in reference to Walter’s father, Dr. Robert Bishop.
- Alfred has a similar typewriter to the one William Bell used to write the ZFT manifest. Might be a clue. (I’ll add a screencap at somepoint).
As always, if you have any thoughts relating to this article, or you think that we’ve missed something out, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.