Welcome to Fringe Observations: the comprehensive Clues and Eastereggs Round-up for episode 14 of season 2 – “Jacksonville”.
Below the jump we dig deep into the mythology, as we explore the various clues and eastereggs from the episode and try to figure out what the heck it all means.
Arms and Legs
The sight of the Ted Pratchet’s (above, right) reminded me, somewhat, of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (above, left) – a multi armed and legged image of the perfect proportions of man:
Leonardo’s famous drawings of the Vitruvian proportions of a man’s body first standing inscribed in a square and then with feet and arms outspread inscribed in a circle provides an excellent early example of the way in which his studies of proportion fuse artistic and scientific objectives [..] This image provides the perfect example of Leonardo’s keen interest in proportion. In addition, this picture represents a cornerstone of Leonardo’s attempts to relate man to nature [..] He believed the workings of the human body to be an analogy for the workings of the universe.”
I’m not sure whether the producers were trying to convey this idea with the above image, but its similarity to the Vitruvian Man certainly seems to tie in with some of the broader aspects of the show, particularly the premise of design, harmony and proportion. We’ve seen it referenced through Walter’s obsession with the dimensions of his Lab, and in “Jacksonville” with his comment about God intending for nature to keep us separated from the alternate universe. Once again we have the concept of balance..
..also represented by this device.
You Can Leave Your Hat-on
Some clues that the opening scene actually took place in the alternate universe: over there they have “MANHATAN” (above, left), whereas on our side, we spell it “MANHATTAN”. Over here, coffee is not in short supply, but in the alternate universe they are suffering from something called the “Blight” – which has stopped the trees and plants from growing. Therefore luxuries like real coffee is scarce (above, right) – unless you have an aunt Mildred who has been stocking up for 10 years, or something.
Going back to the Blight for a moment: In the episode we have it pretty much confirmed that the general public in alternate universe believe that the environmental anomalies are a consequence of Global Warming. For me this is such an interesting detail. Not just because it makes me wonder what the writers are saying about our own version of Global Warming, or other anomalies (within the context of the show), but also because it ties in with what Broyles told Olivia about the media being able to make the public believe anything. In other words, the general public on the other side haven’t been told the REAL reason for the Blight/Global Warming, yet clearly, some people over there do know the truth (Bell, the shapeshifters, their programmers, etc). So it’s a game, or war, where most of the players are completely clueless. I just think that’s worthy of some thought.
Another signpost that we were in the alternate reality is the picture of the Twin Towers (above). As we first discovered during the season 1 finale, the alternate universe 9/11 attacks hit the Pentagon and the White House, and not the Twin Towers, where William Bell is currently hiding out.
The reason for these subtle differences between our world and the other side? I’d like to borrow Walter’s phrase and suggest that ‘any scientist or creator repeats his or her experiment’. Did God, or if you prefer, the Big Bang, always set our worlds on a slightly different path? I would think that this is very likely. However, we also have to take into account people like Walter, who have crossed between worlds and initiated changes. For example, the opening of The Door resulted in the kidnapping of Peter, but also seemingly caused The Blight – this caused drastic environmental changes on the other side, which no doubt led to increased famine and natural disasters, but on the flip side probably resulted in increased scientific endeavor in a bid to solve the problem. As I mentioned in our Jacksonville review, we have cause and effect – Walter’s one act may have, in part, influenced the other-side in becoming slightly ahead of us in terms of science and technology (than they otherwise would have) out of necessity.
Observing The Observer
The computer generated Observer can be seen walking past the police car as our team arrive at the scene of the Manhattan incident.
- You can find every single Observer appearance – in and out of show – over at our Observer Files page.
Walts and All
How did Walter realise that they were standing in two buildings, one of which was from the other side? We see him analyzing the painting on the wall and realizing that it ‘wasn’t quite right’. He also sees the plans for the “New Pentagon Anix”, and finds out that our Ted Pratchet was never married – thus figuring that the wedding-band-wearing Ted he was speaking to was from elsewhere (above, right, top).
Eight No Stopping Us Now..
The number 8 makes a prominent appearance once again. We believe that “8″ is Olivia’s lucky number, as well as being a reference to the “infinity” theme that is bubbling under the surface of the show (see our 2.13 observations for more on that).
The crooked “2″ is also interesting – the number 2 represents DUALITY, so its unhinged formation seems to allude to the ‘unnatural’ convergence between the two realities that has just taken place with the buildings. The “0″ is also worth mentioning because it’s another reference to infinity.
Jar Jar Bishop
The green/red color sequence makes an appearance in the jars. They also appear behind Peter before he and Dunham almost kiss. The red/green sequence has wider ties to hypnagogia, the Observers and Olivia’s uncle, but we’ll see how it plays out in future episodes.
Also, notice how the green and red jars balance one another out.
Height of Potential
Some encouraging continuity as the names of the other Cortexiphan kids that we met in season 1 appear with “Olive” on the height chart – Nick Lane (“Bad Dreams”) and Nancy and Susan Lewis (“The Road Not Taken”).
Nick was Olivia’s partner during the Cortexiphan trials:
“This pairing kept them from becoming frightened or feeling isolated” (Walter, “Bad Dreams)
Nick is a reverse empath and Nancy and Susan had the power of pyrokinesis. Olivia, being the “strongest“, has displayed the ability to connect with, and even influence, their powers on some level. (Funny, because that’s what we also suspect Peter can do).
I guess we can expect to meet some of the other names on the wall at some point in the future. Be on the look out for a Julie H, Ken T, Tessa E, Rich N, etc.
And It Was All Yellow
Lots of yellow in Jacksonville. Linking back to Olivia’s dislike of the color from the Cortexiphan trials (inferred in “Inner Child”).
It’s good to see that the writers are paying attention to the mythology they have already laid down. From this we can also infer that the dislike of yellow survived in Olivia’s subconscious mind because her time in the Cortexiphan trials was an unhappy one. She may not remember it directly, but the COLORS, she clung on to. Which is about right, since Fringe gives the audience a lot of specific colors to influence the way we see the show (blue, green and red, red-yellow-blue, black and grey, etc). Like I keep saying, this show works on many levels and I wouldn’t be surprised if we were being tested..in some way. Only joking of course. Kinda
Back to Olivia….
Follow The Yellow Brick Road
She also sees the Yellow Brick Road. Now I’ve been wondering when they’d give us this metaphor. If you’ve read the Wizard of Oz then you’ll probably know that it’s essentially a journey of discovery and a journey home:
Dorothy Gale, a 12-year-old farmgirl, longs for “a place where there isn’t any trouble”, rather than her mundane Kansas farmhouse existence. After being knocked unconscious during a tornado by a window which has come loose from its frame, she begins to dream. In her dream, Dorothy, her dog Toto, and the farmhouse are transported to the magical Land of Oz. There, the Good Witch of the North, Glinda, advises Dorothy to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City and meet the Wizard of Oz, who can return her to Kansas. During her journey, she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, who join her, hoping to receive what they lack themselves (a brain, a heart and courage, respectively). All of this is done while also trying to avoid the Wicked Witch of the West and her attempt to get her sister’s ruby slippers from Dorothy, who received them from Glinda.
Olivia is similar to Dorothy in that she’s searching for a way home. In doing so she follows the yellow brick road to the Emerald City (which could be used as an analogy for our alternate universe). We see Olivia return ‘home’ to Jacksonville, but I wonder whether there’s another type of ‘home’ that Olivia is unknowingly longing for? This is just a suggestion, but could Olivia be from the other side? We know that Peter is from the alternate universe, so the metaphor also applies to him. As for Walter, he’s already been established as the Cowardly Lion in “Johari Window”, yet he also seems to represent The Man Behind The Curtain – this was reinforced when he found his old spectacles (and previously when he was reacquainted with his missing brain pieces) and appeared to transform back into the Walter of old for a moment or two.
Also, if you look closely at the yellow brick road canvas above (I’ve adjusted the contrast to make it clearer), you can see a reflection of a WINDOW. This is pretty interesting because we have one ‘journey home’ metaphor overlaid with another. My interpretation is that this provocative combination represents the two routes to the “Emerald City” (aka the alternate universe) that Cortexiphan provides – the long and winding path (perception)…or the window (physical crossing). I’d also love to hear any other ideas of what the creators are trying to convey (unless of course you think a reflection is just a reflection, in which case I don’t agree, in this instance – but I’d still like to hear your views).
This was an interesting scene. Much like the double metaphor of the yellow brick road and the window, we have the double-whammy of Walter’s old glasses and his reflection. It’s interesting that they decided to use both items to convey Walter’s introspection.
Blue You Believe Us Now?
I’ve long campaigned that the blue lights do have meaning within the show. I think we got another good reason to believe in this episode when they once again act as a ‘bridge’ between reality and Olivia’s dream world (subconscious). As we’ve mentioned before, the blue lights could mean one or all of the following: memory, observation, convergence/collision, travel, change/alteration. For me, it’s pretty clear that in this instance they represent both observation (Olivia observing her past self/fears) and travel (she crossed over into her subconscious), with maybe a bit of memory thrown in.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the blue lights have been seen in every single dreamscape that Olivia has been on..
..in the Pilot..
..in The Dreamscape..
..and in The Transformation.
To further illustrate the significance of the blue lights in denoting an action – we, the audience, cross back from Olivia’s dream world and into her present “reality”, before the blue lights ease us back across into the dream. I don’t think there would be a need to include such a marker during so many important occasions if it didn’t carry meaning.
- You can find all of the blue lights from season 1 and season 2 over in our Blue Lights Page (to be further updated during the Lowatus).
The freaky-eyed Olive was a nice touch, perhaps representing the distorted way in which Olivia sees herself, helping to foster her anger towards Bell and Walter. This visual reminded me of a similar ‘dream’ scene from Bad Robot’s other show – Lost (above, right).
Under Lock and Key
A red apple and a set of keys – two of the objects from Olivia’s test. In our previous set of Fringe Observations we mentioned the apple of temptation from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This seems to relate to that concept. The keys further play into the idea that some things are meant to remain hidden: Walter and Bell have broken the rules by crossing over to the alternate universe – they have taken massive bites from the apple – a fruit which also has ties to the infinity theme..
Olivia In Wonderland
We already know that Alice In Wonderland is used to help reflect some of the thematic workings of the show. In many ways, Olivia is essentially our Alice archetype, and “Wonderland” is the alternate reality and the journey between worlds. If you’ve read AIWL, you’ll know that an underlying theme in the story is Alice feeling lost and struggling with her transition from child to adulthood. This is represented, in part, through Alice’s dramatic size changes throughout the story. I’d say that Fringe used a similar concept to emphasise Olivia’s displacement as she journeyed back home to Jacksonville:
From the “tall trees” in her dreamscape which she goes out of her way to describe.
To meeting her younger, smaller, scared self.
To Olivia and Walter looking incredibly large*, as they squeezed into tiny beds and chairs, during certain scenes in the Day Center.
(*clarified sightly – 10/02/10)
To the conclusion of the chapter, where a small-looking Olivia appears to grow [back to normal size] as the camera comes up towards her – representing her maturity upon completing this particular journey.
Seeing Is Believing
As Olivia tries to identify the alternate universe objects one last time, she picks up the scary-ass doll. You know the one. Anyway, Peter seems to react as if to suggest that he knew that Olivia was on the verge of identifying one of the other-side objects. Now, either Walter told Peter (off-screen) what the correct objects were, Peter was just reacting because he thought Olivia had made her choice, or..Peter himself is able to see which items are from the alternate universe. The latter is a looooong shot and riddled with inconsistencies, but it’s not the first time that it’s crossed my mind that Peter was keeping a secret of his own. Just sayin’..
Outside. Looking In
The episode featured some amazing scenes that put ‘distance’ between us and the characters – be it through characters walking past doorways, or us looking in on them through closed windows and doors (some examples above). I think this was to heighten the sense of observation and to convey the ‘gap’ between realities. Either way, I liked it.
This is an odd one. The guy running from the hotel bumps into Olivia and drops his glasses. Olivia spends too long a time looking at the glasses for it not to mean something. She then looks back at the guy, who has either continued running or disappeared. Like I said – strange. Perhaps the idea is simply to illustrate the tremors caused by the fabric of the universe rubbing together? But if anyone has any idea, including crazy ideas, I’m open to suggestions.
Broyles asks Olivia: “What finally activated it?”. This is probably an innocent question from a concerned friend and boss. But the way he asked it, and the manner in which the camera lingered on his face for a second longer than it needed to, makes me think that Broyles may have a hidden agenda for asking. That’s not to say it’s necessarily a clandestine reason, I mean, just look at those eyes, they’re filled with concern, compassion and perhaps a tinge of regret (that Olivia has activated? Does he know what lies ahead for her?).
It casts my mind back to the Pilot and John Scott’s ‘dying’ words to Olivia, where he basically implies that Broyles sent her to the storage facility for a not so good reason. Personally, I’, excited that we may finally be on the road to finding out what that was all about! I knew the producers wouldn’t let us down.
In our previous observations we put quite a bit of focus on the Bishops Rubik’s cube, and said:
The Rubik’s cube represents the multi-dimensional puzzle element of Fringe, and the interconnected pieces at play in the episode. The object of [the] Rubik’s [Cube] is to form a solid pattern
It seems we may have been on the right lines because, as you can see from the screencap above, the Rubik’s Cube now has a solid red side. Red has played an important role in Olivia’s journey, occasionally used in memory (i.e. “Momentum Deferred”) on her way to finding clues. This time we glimpse the color on the Rubik’s Cube moments before she discovers that Peter is from the alternate reality. Red alert, indeed!
In our previous Fringe Observations we picked up on Walter’s reference to Olivia ‘seeing right through’ Peter – an allusion to Olivia being able to see through to the alternate universe, and Peter being from that world. Although it happened sooner than I anticipated, Olivia was able to see that Peter ‘doesn’t belong’ thanks to her ability of heightened perception.
Ironically, it was Peter himself who helped unlock this ability as the fear of falling in love with Peter (or her letting her guard down) seemed to activate it.
It does beg the question of why Olivia was able to see the alternate reality last season, without the Cortexiphan top-up. My view at the time was that it worked on emotions – in “The Road Not Taken” Olivia was very stressed out. Over the course of this season Olivia has become somewhat subdued – desensitized even, so this perhaps explains why she needed to re-find her fear in order to spark her ability back into action. It’s not quite as seamless an explanation as I would hope for, but I guess it just about works.
It’s also worth comparing the glow that Rebecca Kibner (“Momentum Deferred”) saw around Peter with the glimmer that Olivia saw. Why the difference? It’s probably more thematic than anything, plus the producers probably want to distinguish between Rebecca’s psychedelic-enhanced vision and Olivia’s Cortexiphan induced ability.
- Peter is back to wearing his jacket with the Number 2 on the shoulder – the timing of which is certainly no coincidence. We had some ideas on this earlier in the season and I see no reason to think differently now.
- Peter is also back in grey, wearing his GREY M.I.T sweater – a throwback to the “black and grey” reference – part of the Cortexi-kid gear, first mentioned by Nick Lane.
- Walter’s combination – “5-20-10″ will surely come into play in the season finale which airs.. you guessed it – 5.20.2010.
- Broyles mentions 147 buildings and 147 is also seen on Olivia’s monitor – the number 47 is one of the special numbers in the show and the wider Bad Robot mythology.
- There were at least a couple of globes in the episode – representing the dual reality concept as well as providing a service to geography teachers everywhere – here are two of them.
- There were seahorse, frog, butterfly and hand prints all over the Jacksonville Day Care Center, probably in reference to their respective glyphs.
- Bell, as in William Bell reference.
- The glyphs for this episode spelled REVEAL, as in Olivia finding out that Peter is from the alternate universe.
- Other games referenced in the episode: Connect 4 (during the Jacksonville item test) and Monopoly (Peter tells Walter that Astrid is coming round to play with him)
- Movie references: Singing In The Rain and Indiana Jones Raiders of The Lost Ark (Brandon compares the universe mass for mass balancing act with Indy’s Idol/bag of sand switcheroo).
As always, if you have any comments on the above article, or you feel that we’ve missed anything out, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.