Welcome to Fringe Observation Weekly: the comprehensive Clues and Eastereggs Round-up. episode 18 of season 2 – “The Man From The Other Side”.
Below the jump we dig deep into the mythology, make connections and attempt to unlock the secrets of Fringe, as we explore the various clues and eastereggs from the episode.
Hello Yellow Brick Roof
This opening shot of the yellow roof conjured images in my mind of Dorothy and her friends skipping down the Yellow Brick Road on their way to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard.
I’m sure that, on some level, this famous Wizard of Oz symbolism was in mind when crafting this shot. In many ways this episode represented Peter’s journey down the yellow brick road of discovery where he ends up seeing ‘Walter the Wizard’ for what he is – the man behind the curtain. At least in respect of his deception.
As I mentioned in my episode review, the shape-shifters ‘base form’ bears more than a passing resemblance to the Molebaby from “Night of Desirable Objects” (insets).
Seeing the shape-shifters in embryonic form also echoed some of the themes from that episode, with the idea that, like Mr. Hughes, Walter is essentially the ‘father’ of a defective hybrid. I definitely got that sense from the way the defective shape-shifter held Walter’s hand as he apologised (possibly confusing him with Walternate) and from Walter saying that the embryo “looks awfully familiar”.
An interesting tidbit involving the shape-shifters transformation process was brought to light in this episode. When they are in their base (or ‘birth’) form, the shape-shifters are seemingly able to shift into an identity with little or no discomfort on their part. Whereas, from what we’ve seen previously, once they have already assumed an identity (or several), transforming not only causes the shape-shifter a lot of pain, but their facial bones have to be broken in order to facilitate the transformation process. As seen with the shape-shifter from “A New Day In The Old Town” (above).
It’s only a small detail, but it’s pleasing to see that since the ‘Charlie switcheroo debacle’ the writers have really thought about the shape-shifters and the rules of transforming.
Remember the white tulip drawing (C.) given to Walter by a time-travelling Alistair Peck? It appropriately made a reappearance in this episode on Walter’s shelf (A.), where his metronome (B.) is also positioned.
Brendon demonstrated that every so often the universes are in sync with one another, using two metronomes. So I take some interest in the fact that Walter only has one metronome. Does this in some subtle way represent Walter’s one-eyed outlook on life, particularly back when he stole Peter and added to the environmental damage of the alternate universe?
I’m also interested in the other aspect of balance presented in this caption. On one side we have the white tulip, representing (in the context of the show) spirituality and hope. To the other side we have a mechanical object of precision. So in other words, while Walter only has one metronome (to Brandon’s two), there still exists some balance there. As always, it depends on how deep you want to look into these things, but I do believe that the creators do this with intent, or are themselves unwittingly guided by the force. 😉
I should also add that the metronome could well be a candidate for the next episode clue – if that’s the case we have yet more balance, since this episode segue both references (tulip – episode 2.17, metronome – episode 2.19).
We So High
Could the Lemon Zinger be a secondary candidate for next episode clue?
It’s interesting that Newton should have a base in an antique camera shop. The cameras connect right into the Fringe observation themes and the idea that someone could be watching, at all times, including God. Not to mention the quantum mechanic principle that Observation changes reality.
Moving on – One of the shape-shifters gives Newton the secret code line to let him know who they are:
“We’re here to pick up a camera. An Argus. A2B 35mm.”
The Argus A2B was in production between 1939 – 1950 in our universe, but as we’ve seen, things are slightly different Over There. Also, note the old technology, this is an on-going theme that I believe will pay off.
Next, notice how extremely reflective the shop is (this is even more apparent in the video footage) – serving as a metaphor for the alternate universe, or ‘mirror world’ as I sometimes like call it. The yellow panes of glass are also worth noting as we have evidence to believe that Cortexiphan – the drug that allowed Olivia to see into the alternate universe as a child – was yellow, at least in pill form. Although this is a very subtle reference, I think it’s interesting how so many of the alternate universe references converge in the background storytelling.
Also catching my attention was the door – it has a bell, which rings when the two shape-shifters enter. A Bell as in William Bell. Are the creators trying to tell us something here, or is the universe planting clues for them? If William Bell (either version) ends up being behind the shape-shifters, I guess we’ll know. 😉
And of course, the camera shop itself is a throwback to the old typewriter shop from earlier in the season:
We now have a better picture of just how effectively the shape-shifters have infiltrated our universe through various out-posts, tending to be antiquated or out-dated communication device retailers.
If you remember, the typewriter shop also had a secret room containing a “magic mirror” (inset) allowing communication with the Other Side. It’s possible that Newton’s camera shop also contains a similar device which allowed him to receive orders from the Secretary, et al.
The embryonic shape-shifters arrival to our universe brought with them some interference signals from the Other Side. We’ll break them down into 3 sections.
1) First up we see a news report announcing that the White House Gets A New Glass Roof. Now, unless I’m mistaken our White House doesn’t have such a thing. Which makes this interesting – why is the alternate universe presidential home getting a glass roof? There could be a number of reasons, including modernising the White House (they are slightly ahead after all). Or it might be Blight-related.Perhaps it always had a glass roof. Are we sure that the transmission was in ‘real time’ – it did happen before 3.31PM when the universes were in sync.
It could also be an added security measure, allowing better observation from threats, since we already know that the alternate universe’s White House was recently rebuilt after their version of the 9/11 attacks, which also hit the Pentagon:
We first got wind of this via a copy of the New York Post when Olivia travelled to the Other Side to meet William Bell in the season 1 finale – ‘Obamas move into new White House’. So almost a year later, a glass roof is being installed.
2). It’s been a while since we’ve had a direct ‘Lost’ reference, so this came as a nice surprise. We see a quick shot of everyone’s favorite Australian, Claire Littleton, and Seth Norris in a scene from Lost that has never happened, at least not yet. Has the alternate universe given us a glimpse of a future scene from Lost, or is their version of Lost just slightly different from ours? I’m suspecting/hoping it’s the latter.
As well as being Fringe’s ‘sister show’, using a clip from Lost in this way is also clever for another reason, which I wont mention here because if you don’t currently watch Lost but plan to, it would spoil you. If you are watching the final season of Lost then you’ll know exactly what I mean. I hope. 😉
3). The final interference clip shows the alternate universe’s American flag, which as you can see only has 48 stars, when in fact there are 50 stars (representing the 50 states) on the American flag in our universe:
Can we assume that the States of Hawaii and Alaska didn’t join the Union in 1959, or did two States drop out?
Observing The Observer
The oddest-looking Observer I’ve ever seen (minus the photoshopped versions) makes his appearance at the Pinewood Savings Bank.
Red Riding Hood
This could be a complete coincidence (admittedly, it probably is), but the red toy car that Walter used in his demonstration reminded me, thematically, of the red car belonging to Peck’s wife from the previous episode.
It looks like Dunham and Broyles are closet Star Wars fans. They’ve probably got a Star Wars movie club and everything.
The last time we saw Newton check his watch we got a lovely Massive Dynamic themed easteregg in the form of their logo (above). This prompted me to speculate that Newton was working for the alternate universe Massive Dynamic (or perhaps even our MD). No such luck this time:
It looks as though the writers had Newton get a new watch – either they’ve changed their minds on the shape-shifters/Massive Dynamic connection, or they want to withhold that idea from us for a while longer.
I loved this shot of Walter looking at Peternate in his hospital bed through the window. Thematically it resembled the scene from “Peter“, with Walter and Elizabeth looking at young Peternate through the Window device into the alternate universe:
What makes the connection between these two scenes even stronger, to me, is the fact that on both occasions Walter is looking through a window at Peter who is feeling unwell, or sick. Furthermore, they both represent different ends of their relationship, with the scene from “Peter” signalling Walter first getting to know Peternate, and this latest scene marking the possible end of their relationship – for the time-being at least.
What do we know about the Secretary? We can assume that he’s right-handed, since this is the hand he used to thank Newton. We also know that he needed treatment to deal with the adverse affects of crossing over the our universe – including the administering of some medication and breathing apparatus.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that a character has required medical assistance following dimensional travel (or the possible results of):
In “There’s More Than One” we saw an oxygen mask and portable tank in Bell‘s office, which we then saw him use in his meeting with Olivia – “Momentum Deferred”. At the time several of us assumed that Bellie was dying, or at least ill, possibly the result of crossing over to the alternate universe. This idea was made to seem even more likely when Bell revealed that he’s ‘stuck’ on the Other Side.
We also saw David Robert Jones use a hyperbaric chamber after teleporting out of the German prison to Little Hill. He also required several doses of British tea. Because we all know that tea makes everything seem better.:
As Jones soon discovered, this was not enough to stop him from falling apart at the seams – although it also made him very “special” indeed.
With this in mind, its good to see the creators maintaining the continuity regarding the consequences of travel that uses huge amounts of energy.
On the topic of the Secretary’s identity: Walternate is the easy answer, in my view, as we can assume that he wants to see/meet his son again and get some answers from Walterthief. It could also be argued that the bridge of the Secretary’s nose resembles John Noble’s. On the other hand, would Walternate really be a Secretary? (and by Secretary, I mean company or government). Would he really need Newton to explain the consequences of crossing over? (although that was probably for our benefit as well). It just feels a bit early in the game for it to be Walternate, although I fully accept that it could be him.
Another obvious candidate is Bellternate. We know (or can reasonably assume, depending upon whether or not you trust a word that comes out of Bellies mouth) that our Bell is the one Olivia met on the Other Side, so it can’t be him or he would’ve been vaporized like that poor FBI dude. So Bellternate is a possibility, although would he be a Secretary of alter-MD, or anything else?
As mentioned earlier, it’s been indicated that the shape-shifters are created by the alternate universe’s Massive Dynamic, so perhaps the Secretary is the Secretary of alter-MD? If this were to be the case, my instinct would lead me to think that it’s new character to the Fringe Universe, or David Jones, who perhaps managed to gain the recognition his Double never did.
Life Is But A Dream
I’ve mentioned before how I really like the distorted ‘waking up’ imagery Fringe sometimes features, and I knew it was only a matter of time before we saw it used again. In this episode we see it when Peter wakes up to Dunham’s smiling face, as she puts extra emphasis on the “Welcome back” to add to the surreal-factor.
We’ve also seen it in “Of Human Action” and “What Lies Below” – on each occasion Peter is the one who’s waking up to someone hovering over him. It always comes across as otherworldly to me – the creators seem to like this imagery and with Peter’s backstory it’s easy to see why.
- Star Wars reference: Peter says he was supposed to take Walter to a Star
- The glyphs for “The Man From The Other Side”, spelled BRIDGE, as in the bridge brought over from the Other Side which allowed the Secretary to enter our universe.
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.