Welcome to Fringe Observations: the comprehensive Clues and Eastereggs Round-up for episode 15 of season 2 – “Peter”.
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 the bigger picture. It’s not just eastereggs, we also deconstruct large and small moments from the episode in a bid to understand the motivation behind scenes, and we attempt to piece it all together with evidence, logic, or failing that, a dollop of interpretation.
Note: For the purposes of this article, I have used the term “Peternate” when referring to the Peter from the alternate universe (where necessary).
The 80s Fringe intro can be divided into 5 screens which parallel the modern intro. The general idea is that the Fringe Science of the 80s is now pretty mainstream, contrasting with the modern intro which includes sciences that are still in the land of plausibility.
Here’s more on the 80s Fringe Sciences referenced in the intro:
- Cold Fusion, Personal Computing, Cloning, DNA Profiling, Nanotechnology,Invisibility,Genetic Engineering, Laser Surgery, Stealth Technology, In Vitro Fertilization, Virtual Reality.
I’m also intrigued by the fact that the Hand has 5 fingers in the retro intro. This perhaps offers more clarification on the idea behind the 6 fingered hand – are we looking at the next stage of evolution, or perhaps hybridisation? I also like the mirrored/inverse quality of the two intros.
Ticking Time bomb
The clock behind Olivia subtly contributes towards this rather tense scene. For me, it symbolises the ‘ticking time bomb‘ that is Walter’s secret now that Olivia knows the truth about Peter. Will she, or wont she tell Peter the truth? Wonderfully, you can even hear the clock ticking throughout this scene.
Chalk It Up
An Omega symbol can be seen on Walter’s chalk board (C), perhaps alluding to the Omega-ish symbol on the skull of Newton (A, B) – the leader of the Shapeshifters.
Although the symbol isn’t quite the same as Newton’s (could have same meaning), it might imply that Walter actually had something to do with the early design of the Shapeshifters.
The glasses that appeared towards the end of Jacksonville represented a real head-scratcher. It was clearly an intentional reference to something due to the way the scene played out. While I can’t be certain that this is what they were going for, I would be comfortable with the idea that the glasses foreshadowed Walter’s Window (right) which he used to spy on the Other Side.
Both glasses and The Window extend the field of vision and both played into the alternate universe story, making the glasses a possible candidate for the ‘episode clue’ for this episode.
We’ve often spoken about the “Through The Looking Glass” allusions that Fringe likes to play with, and Walter’s Window is probably the most direct reference yet, what with it providing access to the ‘mirror world’ of the slightly different universe. The question still remains, which world is Wonderland?
While watching this episode I wondered why Peternate doesn’t remember the events surrounding his kidnapping, especially since he realised that Walter wasn’t his real father moments before stepping through the portal of doom as a young boy. Then I recalled the information given to us in episode 2.05 “Dream Logic“, in which we learned that Walter used to help Peternate forget his dreams by repeating the mantra: “Please don’t dream tonight”, over and over again. It would be logical to assume that these “dreams” were actually Peter’s real memories – memories Walter was obviously eager for Peternate to forget. (The episode Dream Logic actually does a good job at explaining the idea of dreams being made to seem like reality).
This adds another level of deception to Walter’s act. If I’m right in my thinking, Walter intentionally distorted Peternate’s memories as a boy, which would explain why he doesn’t consciously remember his kidnapping, his lucky coin and a host of other things.
It’s interesting though, because Peternate’s suppressed memories do manage to come through every now and then, such as the time he recalled that the scar on his GI Joe toy was “on the other side”. Which also brings us to….
Nightmare on Walternate Street
I find it interesting that Peternate’s subconscious memory of his kidnapping – being ripped from his bed by Walter (“Dream Logic”), is actually a violent representation of what actually happened. This could be put down to the writers not knowing earlier on in the season how they were going to represent the kidnapping, or it could tie into what I put forward earlier – that Walter’s mantra (and goodness knows what else) distorted Peternate’s memory of events.
So why the nightmarish visualization? Dreams and nightmares are often heightened representations of what we feel in our subconscious. I would infer that Peternate KNOWS he was kidnapped, but that knowledge has been buried by Walter’s manipulation, administered to Peternate after kidnapping him. For me, it would make sense that Peternate would harbor nightmarish representations of what actually happened even though he isn’t consciously aware of it..yet. This probably gives us some insight into how Peternate will perceive Walter’s action when he does finally discover the truth. I can imagine we might hear the word “monster” used.
What I really appreciate about the way this is being mapped together is that we’re not only seeing two different realities or universes, we’re seeing THREE, with the third being the subconscious mind and the reality this creates for the bearer.
*footnote: The Peternate from 2.05 is a different actor – casting reasons no doubt. It’s interesting though, that they decided to originally depict Peternate as being slightly “rounder”, which tied right into one of Walter’s first memories upon being reunited with Peternate in the Pilot.
A tremendous piece of continuity. Let do this by way of a timeline of sorts:
- In 1.20, September takes Walter to his old beach house and shows him a silver Dollar. He asks him if he recognizes it. Walter thinks he does but September tells him that this one is different from the one he remembers and that there’s..wait for it..“more than one of everything”. September stops himself from saying too much. He has given Walter all the clues that he can without interfering too much.
- Later, Walter finds the clue he was sent to find – the silver Dollar belonging to his original Peter. It’s resting on top of the other object that September wanted him to find – the Universal Plug of Death, so that he can stop David Jones from using Reiden Lake (where Walter brought Peternate over) to cross over the the alternate universe and kill William Bell.
- On their way to stop Jones, Walter asks Peternate if he remembers the coin, saying he took to collecting them as a child when he was sick to counteract his fear. Peternate inspects it, frowns, does the coin trick and says that he doesn’t remember it. YET, he is able to do the coin trick – the knowledge appears to be there in his subconscious.
- After stopping Jones from doing his thing, Walter goes to his original son’s grave. As if to say ‘goodbye’ for the last time (and perhaps ‘sorry’ for, you know, replacing him). He places Peter’s coin on top of his grave stone. Walter’s act suggests that he now remembers more details of what he did and realises that this particular coin belonged to his original son – the coin Peter gave to Walter, for “luck”.
- In 2.15 “Peter”, we see that BOTH Peters have lucky Dollar coins and both of them are able to do the coin trick with a little help from Walter and Elizanate. Peter gives his coin to Walter, while Peternate gives his coin to Elizabeth (Elizanate). Elizanate gives the coin back to Peternate..for luck, which he brings over to Our Side as Walter kidnaps him.
What I love about the journey of the coins, is not just the continuity, but the fact that Peternate innately knows how to do the coin trick even doesn’t remember the coin itself. This could be put down to the fact that he’s good at tricks and sleight of hand (i.e. picking locks), but I would argue that he’s good at tricks BECAUSE of the coin. All of this again ties into what I said above about his subconscious hiding the truth.
I also find it meaningful that this was effectively the last thing that his mother taught him – a bond which is both powerful and invisible. If Elizabeth is dead (as has been hinted), then the story will really take on a new dynamic as Peternate would presumably want to know if he real mother is alive on the Other Side.
Room With A View
The Peters rooms tell us a lot about their interests. As previously revealed in 2.05 “Dream Logic”, Peternate was interested in Space – notice the Solar System mobile and Posters in his room (A.). While it seems Peter was into Geography, notice the map of the world on his wall (B.).
This makes for an interesting contrast – Peternate has a map of the Solar System, Peter has a map of our world. I’d like to think this foreshadows or offers insight into the future paths that the Peters would have taken. I’ll also throw in the fact that, somewhat ironically, Peternate became somewhat of a Nomad, travelling the world.
Also, I think it’s worth pointing out that Peternate has a Dinosaur poster on his wall (C.), which ties in with the clue from last season’s “Ghost Network” when Peternate says: “When I as little, I think I wanted to be a Brontosaurus”. As for Peter, he has some sheet music in his room (D) and a guitar. Which is interesting, because we already know that Peternate is musically inclined as we’ve seen him play the piano. The idea may be that Peternate also played the piano as a child, or this may tie into my speculation on the intrinsic connection between the the Doubles.
The Man In White. The Man In Black.
Throughout the series we’ve commented on the color thematics, and how and why certain colors are used to provide hints or to affect the way the viewers feel about the things we see on the show. This episode reminded me of our speculation that Walter’s thematic color is White (“White for Walter”, as he once said), while Walternate’s thematic color is Black. We once again see Walter wearing a light cream jumper, while rather more subtly, Walternate is wearing a black blazer underneath his white Lab coat.
To my mind White and Black (or rather, light and dark) are two parts of the same whole – echoing the duality and balance of the show’s alternate reality concept.
Seeing Walternate in black possibly adds weight to the idea that one of the photos (of ‘Walter’ in a black jacket) given to September in “Fracture” was actually of Walternate and not Walter. If this is the case, the questions moves to whether those photos were taken Over Here, Over There, or both. Perhaps we should drag Colonel Gordon from his hole and question him!
I should also mention that we do also see Walter wearing a black coat, but that was at Peter’s funeral. I consider the Lab to be the Walters central domain, so having Walter in white and Walternate in black (and white) speaks of intention.
We could also look at Walternate’s black and white attire a different way and say that prior to Peternate being kidnapped he was the embodiment of balance. Did Walter’s act throw him off the reservation?
Tin Man: The Return
There is, what appears to be a Tin Man model behind Walter in the scene pictured above. Could this be another Wizard of Oz reference? There have been quite a few in the series so far, the most recent coming with the Yellow Brick Road and another Tin Man reference in “Jacksonville”. In my “Peter” review I mentioned how “Brave” both Peters were – strong of heart. I know that cowardice is the opposite of bravery so I should reference the Lion here, but since the Tin Man wanted a heart, I think the allusion (if it is one) works.
The Tin Man may also tie into Project Tin Man from episode 2.03 “Fracture“.
Back To The Alternate Future
In the alternate universe Back To The Future Movie, Eric Stoltz played the lead role of Marty McFly. On Our Side, Eric Stoltz ended up declining the role and Michael J. Fox eventually accepted the part. Aside from this difference, it’s interesting to note that in spite of the alternate reality apparently being 30 years ahead of us at this point, the movie still came out the same year that it did on our side – 1985. On the surface this isn’t surprising since Walter said that they are technologically advanced in some areas. But I can’t help but think about what December said as he and August were coming out of the movie theatre about their ‘theories being interesting’. If the Other Side was decades ahead of us in terms of science, isn’t it strange how their theories (albeit entertainment) were still very much aligned with our own pace (I’m assuming the movie is conceptually the same as our version). Once again this ties into the constants that seem to pervade the Multiverse.
There some exceptions, of course. The alternate universe Challenger Mission got to Mission 11 by 1984. On Our Side, we got as far as Mission 10 by 1986.
Another quirk of this movie choice is the fact that it’s about time-travel, and we know that the Observers have appeared throughout history, possibly existing outside of our perception of ‘time’ itself.
Observing The Observers / Slush-O
The Observers were in full view in this episode and they brought a famous Bad Robot beverage with them – Slusho. Because everyone knows you need Slusho to wash the popcorn down. And what happened to ‘not being able to taste much’? Those cups are almost empty!
I sensed that the wide shot of the Observers was there for a reason, so I was pleasantly surprised by the double decker car! This ties into the double decker car toy (above) that came over from the Other Side as a result of Walter and William’s experiments.
I think this is the next episode clue due to the fact that I know the title for the next episode. If you don’t want to know what the title is, feel free to skip past this Observation.
Outside the alternate universe movie theatre there is a poster for the 1985 movie, Clue, which is based on the board game of the same name (also called “Cluedo” in some regions). The title of episode 2.16 reads very much like a cue from the game/movie: “Olivia. In The Lab. With The Revolver”. The premise of Clue is as follows:
In 1954, against a backdrop of McCarthyism, six strangers are invited to a party in a secluded New England mansion. They are met by the house butler, Wadsworth (Tim Curry), who reminds them each that they have been given pseudonyms to protect their true identity. During dinner the seventh guest, Mr. Boddy, arrives. After dinner, Wadsworth reveals the true nature of the party: all of the guests are being blackmailed to hide their secrets.
So we can infer that the next episode will involve a murder/mystery type scenario and the continuation of Walter’s secret about Peter being from the alternate universe. To my mind, and this is not based on any spoilers, the title spells out what may be one of the key moments of the season, in that Olivia will be in the Lab with Peter and she will have to make the choice of whether or not to tell him the truth. The titular “revolver” will be the information she holds. Question is, will she pull the trigger and deliver Peter the Multiverse-shattering bullets of truth?
Of course, I could be wrong, but I have to say this one probably makes too much sense to be wrong.
This is such a small thing, but I wonder if the writers had this intention?:
When Walter explains to Carla about Walternate missing the cure, he tells her that he was “distracted by the man in the Lab”. Clearly he’s referring to the Observer, but something about the way he said it reminded me of a famous line from Wizard of Oz:
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”
Perhaps it’s just me, but that connection stuck out.
I am Become Death..
When warning Walter of the recklessness of his plan to go breach the alternate universe, Carla delivers a chilling quote from Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project, speaking about the Trinity, the first atomic bomb in 1945:
“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita… “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Oppenheimer is quoting Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita, in which Vishnu tries to get Prince Arjuna to understand the true workings of the world. You can do more reading on that here. To me, the parallels between Oppenheimer and Walter are that they both played God. They became “death” by assuming the governance of death. Carla is offering Walter a cautionary tale on how science and power can obliterate if “knowledge is not persued without morality”. To my mind, there was no morality in what Walter did, but clearly there was a higher design. Like Prince Arunja, Walter is seemingly an instrument for this higher need for Peternate to survive. The difference is, Walter acted before he was told this information so that doesn’t excuse his actions.
Walter rejects Carla’s ‘Oppenheimer quote’ but accepts the mantle of “God”. Walter has effectively drawn a line around his Lab, separating his domain from God’s.
Although Massive Dynamic was born in the late 90s, it’s interesting to contrast the darker, almost ‘underbelly’ feel to William Bell’s early corporate dwellings, to the sparse, light feel of the Massive Dynamic building interior. No doubt intentional, and once again echoing the light/dark theme.
Kiss & Wish
Walter may not have been a religious or spiritual man at this time, but rather surprisingly, he seemed to request the help of a higher power as he kissed the vial holding Peter’s cure. You don’t necessarily have to be religious or even faith orientated to that, but considering we had just seen Walter proclaim himself GOD, I find it an interesting character note.
I wonder whether the boat imagery in the Alter-Bishop’s home in any way ties into Olivia’s Kayak mystery from season 1?
I just love this imagery of the window. I have to note the sharp contrasts – A mother who won’t see her child again and a father ‘reuinited’ with his; the warm indoors and the freezing outside; the act of taking Peter and the consequences which begun to unfurl.
Then there’s the way that Elizabeth is looking through the window plays into the The Window that gave Walter the ability to pull this whole stunt off.
I do think this was intentional, otherwise they could have just as easily shown her watching from the door (even though the door/portal was a theme, it took a back seat to the Window in this episode)
We’ve often commented on the number of “underground” references that this show has delivered. There are so many. Two of the most famous are probably The Child who was found underground and the Beacon that came through the ground. This episode threw up a couple more subterranean nuggets, most notably in the shape of Peter’s burial and Walter and Peternate falling through the ice after coming through the portal. I’m still not 100% certain that this means anything, but it’s something that I’ll continue to track.
There’s something about this shot that grabbed my attention. Perhaps its the beam of light shining down on a “resurrected” Peternate, or maybe its those big heavy DOORS which tie into Olivia’s own journey of discovery and Walter’s door to the other side. Actually, I think it’s both of those things.
- There’s a book titled “Mama’s Boy” in Walter’s office although the author isn’t clear.
- Nina’s computer, used to communicate with Bell in the alternate reality (2.07), looked similar to the computers at the US Army Research HQ. As mentioned, there’s something special about that era that makes the technology from that period desirable in the modern day mythology of the show.
- As Walter noted, the Empire State Building‘s Observation Deck was originally designed to be a docking station for air crafts. It looks as though the alternate universe found a way to counteract the impracticalities of the updrafts.
- When Walter told Elizabeth that “Somewhere Peter will grow up..somewhere, he will lead a proper life, somewhere he will be happy..” it was almost as though he was reciting the song; “Somewhere Over The Rainbow“, which works in several levels, not least being another Oz reference. Probably not intentional but some of the most satisfying references aren’t.
- In reference to the above – Dorothy’s words: “It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train”, mirror what Walter told Peternate: “We can’t get where we’re going in a car”. Which in turn, echoes Doc Brown from “Back to The Future”: “Where we’re going we don’t need roads“.
- They wouldn’t dare to suggest that the Other Side has a different Solar System..would they? It’s unclear, but I’ll just leave that out there.
- Death and resurrection where themes of this episode. Peter died and was brought back to life – in an emotional sense at least, due to Walter kidnapping Peternate from the Other Side. We also see Walter and Peternate avoid certain death as they were saved from the clutches of Reiden Lake by the Observer. It could be argued that this also served as a Baptism analogy. Of course, this episode also took place over the Easter period, adding further weight to these themes.
- After saving the Bishops, September reads Walter’s thoughts/pre-empted his questions, as we saw him do with Peternate in episode 1.04. I’ll stand by my original theory that this is one way that the Observers tune into people’s frequency. We know they can perceive probabilities, this probably ties into that.
- Carla said that William had “some thoughts about Nina’s arm”. Although Nina lied about the exact details surrounding her lost limb, I wonder if she did develop cancer as a result of her arm essentially being sliced off by the universe. We’ve already seen what ‘huge amounts of energy’ did to the very special David Jones.
- The Glyphs for this episode spelled PETERS, in reference to this episode being very much about both Peters.
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.