Fringe Observations: 2.18 The Man From The Other Side

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.

Night Shift

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?

Camera Shy

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.

Car Wars

The licence plate on Olivia’s car reads: 1R2D21, which is a reference to Star Wars and the character R2-D2. Meanwhile, Broyles’  plate on his car reads: 1C3P01 – a nod to C-3PO, also from Star Wars:

It looks like Dunham and Broyles are closet Star Wars fans. They’ve probably got a Star Wars movie club and everything.

Time Shift

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.

Other Clues

  • Star Wars reference: Peter says he was supposed to take Walter to a Star Wars Trek convention.
  • 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.


  1. Lauren says

    Great observations, as always! We know next week’s episode is a musical, so can we go ahead and consider the metronome this week’s clue?

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    • says

      Lauren, I agree. I didn’t give the metronome it’s own section but I mentioned it as the next episode clue under the “Two-lip” observation. Looks like we’re on the same page with that one!

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  2. Bishop Takes Queen says

    Roco, I thought Peter was supposed to take Walter to a Star Trek convention? Or maybe you’re right and it was Star Wars? Eh, I need to go back and re-view the episode. But I could have sworn he said Star Trek…

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    • says

      BTQ – Oops, total typo. My mind thought Trek but my fingers typed Wars. 😛

      Thanks for letting me know – corrected above.

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  3. Randy says

    Just want to point out that the LOST scene in question is a deleted scene from a prior season (season 2 I believe). It was a flashback sequence that didn’t make the show, but was part of the bonus material on the Blu-Ray set.

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  4. says

    Ah, thanks for the heads-up. I can’t remember seeing that scene, although it’s been a while. I’ll have to go back through the Lost Season 2 extras. 😉


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    • Randy says

      Actually, after digging around on Lostpedia, it was a deleted scene in the bonus material for Season One, not Season Two. Funny that it is a deleted scene – I guess it made the cut in Season One of LOST in the alternate universe??

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  5. says

    Love reading these, Roco.

    Have you ruled out that giant blue tree sign as a clue? It’s pretty close to the tree in Oregon’s license plate, and if it’s an Evergreen tree, Washington State is nicknamed “the Evergreen State” (it’s on our state quarter). I know that Brown Betty is the next episode, not Northwest Passage, but I think it’s a mighty big coincidence.

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    • says

      Hi Rachel,

      I wavered on whether or not to include the tree sign. In the end it seemed a bit obvious and I couldn’t think of a logical connection, but I like your reasoning. As you say, the next episode is BB, but they have been known to include clues for the ‘episode after next’ – like the brown betty teapot that was in “White Tulip”, which is a clue for..”Brown Betty”. (I guess they do this just in case the episode order is changed around before it goes to air).

      Anyway, nice shout, I think you might be on to something!

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  6. Inter-dimensional Dave says

    In your “Camera Shy” section you mention how someone could always be watching including God. That, coupled with Walters relaxation technique of counting cars reminded me of the old “Dishwalla” song “Counting Blue Cars”. Part of the lyrics to that song were, “Tell me your thoughts on God ’cause I’d really like to meet her”. An alternate gender for God in an alternate universe? A bit of a stretch but this is Fringe!

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    • says

      I like that line of thinking. The producers have said they will only illustrate the ‘significant’ differences between the two universes, and having the Other Side typically refer to God as being a “She” would certainly be a significant, and interesting, difference.

      Since were on Blue cars – here’s Miranda Green’s blue car. It doesn’t mean much within the context of this discussion, but I love how even our discussions are interwoven!

      Thanks for the share.

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      • LMH says

        The car from the beginning of this episode is also blue. If it’s been mentioned already I didn’t see it.

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  7. LizW65 says

    “Does this in some subtle way represent Walter’s one-eyed outlook on life”
    Okay, now I have this mental image of Walter as Odin and Peter as Baldur. Probably not what you intended, but…

    “Could the Lemon Zinger be a secondary candidate for next episode clue?”
    I don’t know much about pot, but in North America, at least, Lemon Zinger is a variety of herb tea made by the Celestial Seasonings company. Could be a play on the word “tea”, which again ties into the Brown Betty teapot used by Peter Weller in “White Tulip.”

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    • says

      LizW65: “Okay, now I have this mental image of Walter as Odin and Peter as Baldur. Probably not what you intended, but…”

      No no, that’s totally what I intended.. 😉

      LizW65: “I don’t know much about pot, but in North America, at least, Lemon Zinger is a variety of herb tea made by the Celestial Seasonings company. Could be a play on the word “tea”, which again ties into the Brown Betty teapot used by Peter Weller in “White Tulip.””

      I agre Liz, considering the nature of the next episode it can definitely work both ways – be it a pot or tea reference. (teapot, heh). Nice catch.

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  8. patricia says

    re: the tree logo at the bank:

    It looks JUST like the tattoo Nick Lane had. You could see this huge, honkin’ tree on his arm when he was working out in the morning. Is the pine tree a symbol of anything, other than the state of Oregon, of course.

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  9. hal says

    In your part Observing The Observer:

    Notice the blue tree symbol on the wall?… Is that symbol not the same as Nick Lane’s tatoo.. on his arm? I’m watching that episode now and just noticed his tatoo and remembered that symbol in this episode, cuz I thought it was kind of peculiar.. who knows

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    • says


      After reading the comments made by Rachel, patricia and Silent Storm, I’m beginning to think that the pine tree logo does indeed carry some significance.

      Here’s the pine tree symbol on Nick Lane’s arm:

      There are only so many ways to depict a pine tree, but I agree, there could be a connection. I’m just trying to remember whether the tattoo is David Call’s (Nick Lane) own, or one he got for the show. Hmm..

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      • says

        If you look on David Call’s IMDB, you can clearly see the roots coming out from under a t-shirt he’s wearing for a press shot.

        Cool that they’re working it in, though.

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  10. hal says

    oh damn, i didnt even realize other people spotted that before me.. but you know what they say about great minds converging on..stuff.. but not really

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  11. Alison says

    “If William Bell (either version) ends up being behind the shape-shifters, I guess we’ll know.”

    Exactly! That’s what I’ve been thinking. You know, the “Secretary” could be “Bellternate”. It’s just a theory that I’ve been trying to stress and I know I could be wrong but, as I’ve mentioned before on the 2.18 review page, there are so many reasons it could be him, one being the fact that we have had NO insight as to what happened to him. Too many people are convinced that it’s Walternate, and I thought it was too right after I watched the episode, but once I let it sink in it seemed waayy to full of holes to be certain.

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  12. Iván says

    I said in the review and i repeat know (in the correct article). Observation, the device in this episodes have 3 rodes to send/receive something from the otherside. The door device in “Peter” S02E15 have 3 legs, one in the front two in the back. The device who teleport Mr. Jones, have 3 legs/rods (S01E10) two in the back one in the front.

    The observation is, the way to teleport to the other side in all the devices is with sound frequency (Walter told us in the last episodes how it works), now we know how to make a door, and how it works; always with 3 rods in the specific positions.

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  13. ghostjon says

    “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.”

    hey in ‘White tulip’ Walter wrote the letter using his left hand. :)

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  14. says

    Not in a position to check my facts atm, but wasn’t Walter a lefty? I seem to remember him writing the letter to Peter with his left hand, it struck me because of the way lefties curl their hand above the pen.

    On the other hand, on thursdays I usually watch three or four series in one go so it might have been another show. Maybe someone can verify?

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    • LizW65 says

      Well, I’m not sure about Walter, but I’ve definitely noticed that Peter writes with his left hand. During the flashback scenes I was watching the hands of the boy who played young Peter very closely, as I thought it would be interesting if Peter #1 was right-handed, and Peter #2 was left-handed, but it looked as though they both were lefties.

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  15. SilentStorm says

    I really don’t think the “Secretary” is Walternate or Bellernate. The writers are smarter than that, they know that, almost everyone, is just going to assume that that it’s one of them. I think, whoever the “Secretary,” is it’s gonnna be pretty unexpected.

    Is anyone even consider Olivia’s uncle of even her stepfather from Over There. I know it most likely will not be either of them, but I just wanted to throw in my opinion.

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  16. JustForFun says

    Maybe the music Alistair Peck is listening in his lab is the link with the story of this episode. It’s a song by Tubeway Army : “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”.

    About the song they said on wikipedia :

    “The lyrics were inspired by a failed relationship with Beggar’s Banquet employee Susan Wathan (cryptically referred to as “S.U.”) mixed with and filtered through imagery drawn from Philip K. Dick’s science fiction story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (later the basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner). ”

    And about the album (Replica) :

    “Something of a concept album, Replicas was based on a book Numan hoped to complete someday, set in a not-too-distant future metropolis where Machmen (androids with cloned human skin) and other machines keep the general public cowed on orders from the Grey Men (shadowy officials). Whilst the album’s setting and lyrics were directly inspired by the science fiction of Philip K. Dick, particularly his seminal work Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the title was, surprisingly, not. Though similar to ‘Replicants’, the term used for androids in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, based on Dick’s book, Scott’s film came out three years after Tubeway Army’s album and Dick never used the word ‘Replicant’ in his original 1968 novel.”

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  17. LizW65 says

    “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.”

    I just thought of another possible reference: Olivia’s dislike of the color yellow in Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night”: “tis a colour she abhors…” two characters from very different works, both named Olivia, both of whom have a distaste for yellow…coincidence? (I have Shakespeare on the brain this morning, having spent the better part of last night watching David Tennant as Hamlet.)

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  18. SF says

    Both Walter and Peter are left-handed. I’m left-handed too and it’s something I’ve always noticed.

    I question the notion that Mr Secretary is left or right handed because it’s normal – expected – to shake hands with the right hand anyway.

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  19. Count Screwloose says

    I’m going to put a little money down on the Pine Tree being a shout-out to the upcoming “Northwest Passage” episode, which itself is going to tip its cap to “Twin Peaks” (my guess). “What do you call these trees you have around here, Sheriff?”

    Extra wacky theory for today: Olivia and Peter share the same mother (or, perhaps, alternamothers), but not the same father.

    Although those fathers were fairly well acquainted.

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  20. Stefan says

    One thing about the 48 star-ed flag: We know Obama was born in Hawaii, and that Obama is President in the AU, so if Obama wasn’t born somewere else in the AU he couldn’t be President because only people born in the US can be President of the US. Also we know that coffee in the AU comes from Hawaii, and it wasn’t mentioned that there’s a toll making the coffee more unaffordable then through it’s rareness.
    So my suggestion is that Alaska and Hawaii are part of the A-USA and that North and South Dakota are just Dakota and also that Noth and South Carolina are just Carolina.

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    • Alison says

      “So my suggestion is that Alaska and Hawaii are part of the A-USA and that North and South Dakota are just Dakota and also that North and South Carolina are just Carolina.”

      That’s what I thought too.

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  21. LMH says

    Roco, for your “Life Is But a Dream” section (love the Row Your Bow nod btw),

    The flashes that Peter sees right before his eyes are able to focus reminded me of Olivia’s hospital experience in the Pilot. She sees flashes of light and hears waves of sound (I think?) as she arrives in the hospital after the explosion at the storage facility. Maybe the producers just really like it, I think it is a very cool effect.

    Great observations as usual. I thought I made some good connections, but man did I miss some goodies! That tree was bothering me, I thought it= Northwest Passage but I love the Nick Lane tattoo connection. Forgot about than darn tattoo. The Lost scene, American flag, and the glass roof of the WH blew my mind lol. Glass is such a big theme in Brown Betty.

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  22. LMH says

    I think it’s Walternate, but how about David Robert Jones 2.0 as the Secretary? Just throwing it out there. In some interview I read, they did remind us that there is another Jones on the other side. Don’t know if Jone’s face could fit that profile though. Oh well, fun thought.

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