Fringe Observations: 2.19 Brown Betty

Welcome to Fringe Observation Weekly: the comprehensive Clues and Eastereggs Round-up. episode 19 of season 2 – “Brown Betty”.

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.

Over And Over Again

In my opinion, this close up shot of the record player served, once again, as a reference to the cyclical themes and nature of the show – particularly in regard to Walter losing Peter all over again. Interesting that the song playing was “Roundabout“, further bringing home that idea.

Heart U

The Operation game was referenced twice in this episode, both serving as different metaphors for Peter and his heart. We have Walter yanking Cavity Sam’s his heart out while ignoring “the sides”, representing his desire to fix both his and Peter’s broken heart. Contrasted with Olivia, mindful of the “nerve endings” as she delicately supplies Peter with batteries so that he may survive while his heart is missing. The different approaches taken by Walter and Olivia seem true to their characters.

The other sense I get from this is that maybe Walter needs Peter’s heart, not just because he loves him, but also because their lives are interconnected in a deeper sense, perhaps.

We Were Children Once

Broyles singing “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” by Traffic stuck out to me because of the line:

“We were children once, playing with toys”

This takes me back to the Cortexiphan storyline and the children who were selected to protect our world. This conveys the vibe that we can all identify with the Cortexiphan kids – ‘we were children once’ – we are all in it together, in a hockey sense.

While the song has it’s own context, my interpretation of its use here also extends to Broyles’ position. He seems to be someone who is fighting ‘the good fight’ but has had to make some sacrifices in order to do that (see “Earthling”). The “Low Spark” may relate to Broyles’ ‘quiet spirit’ and could be why the writers chose this song for him. That or they thought it would suit Lance Reddick. Probably the latter, but I’d like to think there was a deeper level of thinking behind the song choice. 😉

Red-y Made

In Walter’s made-up world, the Massive Dynamic logo is red and black, instead of the normal white and black. Is the presence of red indicative of their stealing fire from the Gods?

(note: the original name for Massive Dynamic was The Prometheus Corporation before the writers changed it).


The Glass Man poster, which looks like being an in-show creation, could easily be a reference to Peter’s glass heart. This in turn seems to thematically align with the Tin Man from the Oz tales:

Of course, the Tin Man was also on a quest to find a heart – just like Peter and Walter where on a quest to keep theirs.

One of the many transferable themes from Oz is the idea that the characters on the journey to Oz each unknowingly had what they were in search of. Peter may also one day come to realise that, despite not being “from here”, his heart very much is.

That Peter’s “special heart” was made of glass seems indicative not only of the fragility of his emotions, but also the mirrored and ‘reflective’ quality of the alternate universe theme. Peter is a child of two worlds and glass has always seemed a useful metaphor in that regard.

The World As I Sea It

Thematically, the scene where Olivia is in the coffin as it fills with water mirrors her numerous excursions in the Tank:

Particularly the “Pilot”.

Though the two voyages, for the most part, held contrasting emotions for Olivia, both scenes are also connected to death. In the Pilot, Olivia used the Tank to contact the almost deceased John Scott, while the coffin imprisonment would have resulted in Olivia’s own death had Peter not saved her.

Speaking of which, both scenes share that very parallel – Peter (and Walter in the Pilot) pulling Olivia out from the respective boxes and virtually cradling/protecting her.

I also found it interesting to consider the possible significance of Peter rescuing Olivia in a boat.

Since Olivia’s uncle’s raft (which she saw during her first synaptic transfer inside the Tank) was one of the very first mysteries represented on the show.

Pine Tree

Olivia went out of her way to refer to the coffin as a ‘pine coffin’, possibly explaining the clue-like nature of the pine tree logo from the previous episode.

Back Around

Another mirrored moment came between Olivia and Broyles.

  • Olivia is prepared to overlook the fact that one of Broyles’ agents once planted evidence to get promotion, in return for Broyles giving her some information on the Peter case.
  • This is a callback to the “Pilot” episode, where Olivia believes that Broyles is being hard on her because she busted his pal Sanford Harris when she was a US Special Marine Investigator.

So we have what is basically a recurring scene slightly tweaked, the difference being that in “Brown Betty” Olivia is prepared to let her ethics slide in return for answers, whereas in reality (the Pilot) she was prepared to fight for both.

Both scenes have one significant commonality: Olivia has come to Broyles because she’s looking for someone – Peter Bishop.

Another slanted take on an Olivia/Broyles moment came later when Broyles tells Olivia:

“I want you as far away as possible [..] leave things to the big boys”.

This contrasts directly with his plea in the Pilot for her to join his investigation:

“come work for me and I’ll get you clearance [..] you’ve seen it now, you know..”.

In both situations there’s an underlying idea that Broyles knows that Olivia has an talent, an ability to affect the things around her – in “Brown Betty” this isn’t a good thing for Broyles, whereas in the “Pilot” it’s something he wants on his side.

Another ‘looking glass’ scene came between Olivia and Nina. Again it’s a moment mirroring a scene from the Pilot. Contrast Nina’s advice to Olivia on both occasions:

“You should proceed with caution. I meant it when I said that Peter Bishop was dangerous”. (“Brown Betty”)

“You should know what you’re getting into, Agent Dunham. I would say this to my own daughter: “Be careful and good luck.” (“Pilot”)

Both sentences are structured in a similar way, consisting of advice and warning, while accepting the fact that Olivia is going to investigate no matter what. Olivia’s reaction in ‘Betty’ also echoes her reaction in the ‘Pilot’.

The final mirrored scene that I’m going to highlight is perhaps the most significant in terms of the broader story. In ‘Betty’, Olivia discovers that Walter effectively hired her to find Peter. This reflects the ‘Pilot’, where Olivia’s investigations reunite Walter with his estranged son. Walter’s very first words in the show still seem eerily relevant:

“I knew someone would come….eventually”.

Once again, the ‘Betty’ parallel is a slightly slanted take on the ‘Pilot’, but the level of intent permeates. Remembering that this episode is holding a mirror up to how Walter perceives things (in a heightened sense) further adds to the pull of these references. If reality is all about perception – how we see and feel about the world around us – then isn’t it somehow significant that Walter is effectively recounting our entry-point into this journey?


Unlikely to be intentional, but the focus on the camera instantly reminded me of Newton setting up base in an antique camera shop:

The show is dense with so many different levels of observation – from the quiet nods to God, to Newton’s camera shop, to September worryin’ about the boy, to Olivia putting the pieces together, to Nina peering through to the alternate reality, to the audience observing the clues and nuances. The list goes on. How deep do you want to dig? 😉


An Animated William Bell seems to indicate that the alternate universe in this fairy tale world is in fact animated or computerised (see Peter’s motorized heart). Somewhat interestingly, we see the Window being used as a two-way communication device for the first time. How does this work on Bellie’s end. Does he also have a Window that can work from any location, or does he have to be in the same relative location as Nina? I guess it doesn’t matter since Walter was high while telling the story, yet like a Cortexiphan child his senses were heightened, so perhaps it matters completely.

More Than One

Interesting that September should be called “Gemini” in Walter’s fairy tale world. On first inspection it would seem to make more sense if he was called “Virgo” or even “Libra” – the star signs covering the month of September. But Gemini works because it is the star astrological sign for the Twins – referencing the fact that “there’s more than one of everything”. Also, Gemini has been ‘closely associated with the planet Mercury and is considered to be ruled by it’. Does this tell us something about the relationship between the Observers and the shape-shifters, or is it just a coincidence?

Heart 2 Heart

The little doorway to Walter’s heart reminds me, symbolically, of the DOOR to the alternate universe that he created:

It was this doorway to the Other Side which somewhat healed his and Elizabeth’s hearts, while sowing the seeds for Peternate’s current heartache at the deception and betrayal of it all.

Meanwhile, the opening to Peter’s heart resembles a GATE. We’ve heard this word mentioned before in relation to Olivia being the supposed “gate-keeper”, prepared by Walter and Bell to safeguard our universe. The creative team could have made the opening on Peter’s chest more like Walter’s had they not wanted us to further consider the possibility that Peter might also be an assigned “gate-keeper”. Although, with Peter being from the Other Side and feeling sore right now, who knows, maybe he could be (or go on to become) the gate-opener. The Anti-Olivia.


We’ve spoken about this a lot throughout this season and last, so I’ll make this quick: Peter touches Olivia to calm her down. Just as he did with Walter in the previous episode to put him at ease (and on numerous other occasions). The message: Peter has an ability – a calming influence or perhaps something grander that shifts or unlocks the emotions within people (see “Jacksonville” and “Ability” in particular) he comes into contact with. This also ties into the ‘heart’ metaphor, and the idea that Peter is “important”.

One Becomes Two

Symbolically, Peter splitting his heart in two so that both himself and Walter could live encapsulates the idea of forgiveness, and perhaps taps into something even deeper. As touched on earlier, does Walter’s life-force in some way rely on Peter’s? Have they become intrinsically connected like the two realities of the show?

Again, on an emotional level the answer would probably be “yes”, but I wonder if there is something else being hinted at.

The splitting of the heart also reminded me of the apple glyph with the two embryos. Probably because the apple is also split in half, or maybe because the apple, to me, symbolises knowledge. Knowledge with Peter know has in relation to his origins.

Observing The Observer

September appeared earlier in the episode as Gemini, but since that all took place in Walter’s head, it’s only right that we give him his proper recognition. 40 consecutive episodes and counting..

Other Clues

  • When Ella first enters the Lab she tells Olivia that the snack machine swallowed her Dollar. Although this probably has little significance, it immediately made me think of the lucky Dollar coins belonging the The Peters.
  • Ella says “Hi Cow”, as she presumably plays with Gene. Walter goes off camera to the other side of the Lab to stop Gene from licking Ella, however we can clearly see that Gene is in the background behind Olivia, and not on the other side of the Lab. Production error. Or Gene has a new friend called Jean.
  • I found it interesting that Waltercal was in a wheelchair for the entire story – perhaps reflecting his demobilized emotional state in the ‘real world’.
  • Walter referring to the singing corpses: “why not bring a little life to the dead, I say”. He has been known to bring people back to life – the defective shape-shifter embryo and, of course, Peter (in a roundabout way). To name only two.
  • Bad Robot’s infamous number 47 returned. Nina’s parking space and 147 pins on Peter’s hilariously titled “pattern of destruction”. (which also resembled the actual Pattern map from the season 1 finale).
  • The glyphs for this episode spelled HEART. As in Peter’s glass heart, and all that jazz.

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. mlj102 says

    I was so excited to see you had finally been able to post your observations for this episode! I have really been looking forward to seeing what you’d found. And I was not disappointed — you had some really great insights in this episode.

    I really loved your analysis of the use of the Operation game, and I thought it was brilliant how you compared Walter’s technique with Olivia’s approach. That concept never crossed my mind, but I think it’s a great insight into how that was portrayed in the episode.

    Thanks for sharing your interpretation of how the song Broyles sang could be significant. Personally, I believe they were very deliberate in the songs they chose, so I have tried to look at each of the songs and identify the significance of it. But “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” had me stumped. I think your explanation is as good as any!

    The Glass Man — I agree that this poster seems to have been made up specifically for the show, which makes me even more convinced that there’s a deeper purpose for it. However, I also discovered that there’s a book called The Glass Key, written by Dashiell Hammett, who is one of the authors that Walter identifies as one of his mother’s favorites. I’ve never read the book, so I don’t know how it could connect to Fringe, if at all, but I thought it was enough of a connection that I would at least mention it.

    “Olivia is prepared to overlook the fact that one of Broyles’ agents once planted evidence to get promotion, in return for Broyles giving her some information on the Peter case.”

    This was how I first interpreted Olivia’s comment, as well, but when I watched that scene again, it sounded almost more like a personal reference — like it was Broyles who had planted evidence in order to get a promotion, and she agreed not to report it. So her bringing that up was almost more personal, more like a threat, and certainly proved her point that she may be asking for a big favor, but he owes her a big favor. I guess it’s open to interpretation, but if it is meant to imply that Broyles was the one planting evidence, it would bring up a lot of new questions and I would find it interesting that Walter sees Broyles like that. Of course, it does seem to me that Walter is slightly uncertain of Broyles. Broyles seems to intimidate him and it could be he doesn’t completely trust Broyles. Remember in The Ghost Network, when Walter’s explaining the Ghost Network and he essentially says that it could be used to communicate with anyone involved with the Ghost Network — then he suggests that Roy is communicating with Broyles. I always felt it was a bit odd that he singled out Broyles like that… And yet, with the other interpretation, you make some really great parallels between Olivia and Broyles in this episode, and in the Pilot, so it’s just as likely that that’s the way it was meant to be interpreted.

    As for Nina, you provided two specific quotes, one from the Pilot, and one from this episode. I thought I would add that in this episode she also tells Olivia, “You should know what you’re getting into, Miss Dunham” which is essentially word for word what she said in the quote you used from the Pilot.

    “Walter goes off camera to the other side of the Lab to stop Gene from licking Ella, however we can clearly see that Gene is in the background behind Olivia, and not on the other side of the Lab. Production error. Or Gene has a new friend called Jean.”

    I think it’s simply a matter of convenience for how to get to that part of the lab. If you notice, he pointed in the direction right behind Olivia where Gene is located, before he went running off, and I think he only went off in a different direction because there was a table/desk between him and Gene’s stall. So, unless we wanted to see (or hear) Walter jumping over tables to get back there, I think it makes sense that he left the direction he did.

    Additional things:

    Bell on Desk: I noticed that, in Walter’s story, on Detective Olivia’s desk, there’s a small bell, which reminded me of the bell that was in the classroom in Jacksonville. I don’t know if it’s important or not — it may not even be the same bell, and if it is, it’s probably just an issue of reusing props — but there’s always the possibility that it was intentionally included in that scene…

    Blue Moon: So, at the end of the story, after Peter forgave Walter and split the heart, and they all started dancing, I noticed that the song playing was an instrumental version of the song “Blue Moon” (at least I’m 99% positive that’s what the song is, though anyone can correct me if I’m wrong). Then I realized that this same song was also playing in the background at the beginning of Walter’s story, when Rachel first approached Olivia. I thought this song choice was very clever and fitting as a sort of “bookend” for the story. In the beginning of the song, the person is describing how he is alone and, consequently, sad, because he hasn’t found love in his life. But as the song progresses, he meets someone, and by the end of the song, he’s singing about how everything has changed because of finding love — instead of being “alone” and “without a love of my own” it’s not “I’m no longer alone” and no longer “without a love of my own.” I thought this was very appropriate for Olivia since, at the beginning of the episode, she was much like the person at the beginning of the song — alone and sad and very closed off. But at the end, when she’s found Peter, and they’re dancing, it’s like all that has changed — she’s no longer alone or sad. I was just really impressed with how well that song fit with the story, and so I thought I’d point it out.

    Reflections: It wouldn’t be an observation comment from me if I didn’t point out the reflections in this episode. There were some good ones in this episode, from the obvious one where Olivia looks at her wound in the mirror, to the more subtle ones like when Olivia is reflected in the window of Nina Sharp’s car or how Nina is reflected in her desk at Massive Dynamic (though that last one is rather dark, I actually think that adds to the significance of the reflection, bringing out the darker side to Nina Sharp.).

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    • FlashWriter says

      Dear MLJ,
      I find this letter hard to write. Walter was right when he told Olivia that emotions affect perception. I might add an extension to that and say perception affects reaction. I should have listened to myself when I said that I shouldn’t write those “Brown Betty” comments in the mind set I was in. I very much need to modify them and, actually apologize for some of them.

      First, concerning the comments I made about the episode:

      Let me say that on watching it for a second time (and actually a third), I must change my stance. This episode didn’t crash and burn, it just sort of came in for a hard landing, which is to say that I now think that it was far better than what I made it out to be in my original comments. In fact, I wish that I hadn’t known anything about it before I watched, that way I wouldn’t have braced myself for the torrent of (not so good) music that I was sure would hit me at any moment. On the second viewing, knowing that this wasn’t anything like a “musical”, I stopped watching through my fingers. I realize now that I was judging this only on what I wanted to see and what I thought I would see, rather than what was actually on the screen. The comments originated from my frustration and mindset at the time rather than what I was actually watching.

      I still think my biggest problem is with their approach, in that they didn’t just go ahead and do the episode without the music. The vocals were distracting as hell when they happened, and they pulled me right out of the flow of the story every single time.

      In my third viewing I edited out the songs (good or bad) and suddenly I was really diggin’ the ep. (With one very notable and surprising exception—Olivia’s number at the end. The story as we saw it on the screen actually needed that little song. Non-musical idea: instead, how about Olivia’s eyes starting to fill with tears. She brushes them away, then reaches out and, as she grabs his vest, she shakes him slightly. OLIVIA (quietly pleading) “Common Peter. Common back, baby. I want that dance. Please…I want…that…dance…” Peter coughs, rolls his head and his eyes flutter open and the Sun comes out on Olivia’s face. Hmmm. I kinda like that…)

      Anyway, after really trying to look at this with different eyes, I’ve got to stick with what I said regarding the film-noir aspect of this particular episode. The songs by the cast tripped up the flow of the narrative. I still have the opinion that they just plain should not have approached it the way they did. But—and this is a VERY big but—I think the CORE of the episode is very good. Certainly there was much to think about and appreciate. This episode isn’t nearly the throw-away I originally thought it was.

      On another point I made: I must confess my continuing uneasiness with the increasing visibility of drug and alcohol use by the main characters (my two favorite characters to boot), but I’m overlooking that for the time being. I have real-life reasons for my uneasiness. But, as an alien in one of my stories once explained it, “I just do not understand why anybody can accept themselves as being something less than they can possibly be. What’s worse is that they’re doing it to themselves.” (She had been the only escapee—and only survivor-from a POW camp where there were no walls and very minimal guards. None of that was needed. There was only their drugs which ripped your consciousness away, which turned you into mental putty—for any purpose. But, as always, I digress.)

      So, MLJ, I must tip my hat to you and ask for your (and anyone else who read it) indulgence. I was un-necessarily harsh, and, on subsequent viewings, and a little “operation” on the footage on my own, I ended up actually liking it. You were right, I was wrong…

      Which leads me to:

      Section Two–My comments on Anna Torv.

      How do I start this? God, crow tastes terrible when it’s cold.

      Well…my frustration boiled over and landed right on Anna Torv. She’s a good, solid actress and I have really been an Anna Torv fanboy from the first (with the exception of that photo spread, but that has nothing to do with what we see on Fringe and I should really keep my mouth shut when it comes to anything else). I’ve said in other places how much authority she adds to every scene that she’s in. Then I turn around and say what I said. For essentially the same reason. Emotions affect perception, perception affects reaction.

      I had pre-thought what I wanted to see and how I wanted to see it. The first time through, I’m not sure if I paid attention all the way.

      On my second viewing, I had an authentic “ahaa” moment when Olivia said to Broyles, “What you sayin’ there, chief?” I flashed on what we were really getting Anna Torv. I’m not sure if she was meaning to do this, but what we were getting was a very good Jean Arthur. …And she carried that characterization consistently through to the end. Lauren Bacall be damned (that’s the way only I thought it should be played). It was like I “sync’d-in” to the channel she was broadcasting on. The rest of the episode and the rest of her performance went from something very fuzzy and clicked into focus. Like I said before, I really started diggin’ it. Once again Anna Torv was really, subtly, calling the cadence for the episode and I was totally, utterly blind to what was going on here.

      Anna Torv is an actor who is given a script and a director. She does the scene with what she has and does damn well at it and I must have been temporarily insane to say otherwise. I really can’t tell you why I wrote what I wrote.

      So, again, apologies to you and to the rest of the people who where very polite in telling me that I was crammed full of fresh blueberry muffins. I was. I just needed to look at her performance with better eyes.

      What, with screwing up my spelling in one post and my dumping on Anna Torv in another, I think I have proven in real life how flat-out correct Walter and other people on this blog can actually be.

      –This is FlashWriter

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      • mlj102 says

        Dear FlashWriter:

        Wow. How does one go about responding to a letter like the one you just wrote? I’m really not sure I know the proper way, but I’ll do the best I can.

        First things first: I read the opening line in your post, about it being a hard letter to write, and my first thought was “Oh no. He watched the episode again and still didn’t like it, and now he’s got to break the news to everyone.” So I was pleasantly surprised as I kept reading to realize that wasn’t the case at all, but you had actually come to say you have a new opinion towards the episode. I’m so glad to hear you’ve had a change of heart! And what’s even better is that you aren’t ashamed to admit that! No worries — as far as I’m concerned, all your previous, hasty opinions are forgiven. :)

        A couple additional comments regarding your revised opinion of the episode:

        I agree that the episode could have been done without the music, and maybe it would have even been better. My first time watching, I wasn’t too sure I liked the musical aspect of it much at all. But after watching it again, I found the singing didn’t bother me so much. I think the only performance I still find to be distracting is when Astrid starts singing at her job interview. It’s just so out of the blue and brief that it does seem odd and like it slightly disrupts the flow of the episode. But even then, Jasika Nicole has such a lovely voice and terrific talent, I’m willing to accept it.

        As for Anna Torv’s song, your suggestion with how it could have played out without the singing certainly sounds like it would have delivered a satisfying scene… Though I have to say, I’m really a fan of that scene with the song. Yes, singing to a seemingly dead Peter is rather strange, but the lyrics of the song were just so appropriate and, combined with Anna’s lovely singing and acting, I actually think anything less than using that song just wouldn’t have carried the same meaning with it. Just something about the use of that song allowed “Olivia” to express herself and her feelings in a way we haven’t seen and possibly won’t see again. Your scenario is good, but it neglects to address Olivia’s feelings in the scene — WHY Peter is so important to her.

        That said, I’m glad they apparently decided to remove the Nina song, just like I’m glad they didn’t use Michael Cerveris’ many musical talents by having an Observer musical number. I think either of those would have been pushing the limits of what is acceptable and would have crossed the line to become distracting and taking away from the actual episode. I feel okay with what we got.

        Essentially, I’m saying I understand the objections towards the musical aspects of the episode but, at the same time, I really think the writers and producers managed to make it work. But if it’s necessary for some people to watch it without the songs in order to enjoy the episode, by all means, edit out the singing. :)

        As for the drinking/drugs depicted in the episode/show: Personally, I am not fond of either plot device, either. I’m actually quite opposed to it. However, it’s been established since day one that doing drugs is as natural to Walter as breathing. It’s part of his crazy scientist character. So I can just shrug my shoulders, shake my head, and move past it. As for Olivia’s drinking… well… yeah, that bothers me. And if they dare to develop that into any sort of addiction or problem, then I will be the first to come here and express my frustration. But right now, it’s a pretty minor thing. Really, though she has a glass of something quite frequently, she doesn’t ever actually drink much of it — it’s more just a prop. So I’m okay with viewing it as rather innocent. Actually, in some ways I think the people on the show view it as a bit of a joke — like they have to show Olivia with a drink at some point during every episode. I don’t find it amusing, and I hope they’ll eventually let it go, but as long as they don’t develop it into a anything, I can overlook it.

        “But—and this is a VERY big but—I think the CORE of the episode is very good. Certainly there was much to think about and appreciate. This episode isn’t nearly the throw-away I originally thought it was.”

        I think this pretty much says it all. Even if you still had things you disliked about the episode, I’m glad that you were able to see that the episode wasn’t simply a throw away and that there was a lot that it did right. Really, that’s all I expect. Certainly everyone has their own opinions and, consequently, some people are bound to absolutely hate the whole approach towards this episode. But I don’t think anyone can watch this episode with an open mind and still claim that it was a complete train wreck that had no purpose, because that’s just not true. The people involved in creating this episode had a very specific goal in mind with what they wanted to communicate and, personally, I think they conveyed that message very clearly and in a brilliant way. I think that’s why I was initially surprised by your previous comments about the episode because I had expected you would be one of the ones who would be able to appreciate the episode for what it was meant to be. So I am thrilled to know that you have a new perspective on it all!

        Finally, regarding Anna Torv’s acting, I was relieved to see you had changed your mind regarding those comments, as well. Really, I was more puzzled by those comments than anything. I knew you had always praised her acting in the past, so I couldn’t figure out why you were suddenly claiming her performance to be lacking and even disappointing. It makes sense that you had expected something different, so when that’s not what you got, it tainted the whole episode. I’m glad that you were able to realize and clear up the misunderstanding in how you viewed the acting in the episode.

        In conclusion, FlashWriter, it’s always a pleasure to read your comments on this site and I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and insights as long as the show continues (and beyond)!



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        • FlashWriter says

          Hi MLJ,

          Just a short note to say “thank you” regarding my letter.

          I was particularly interested in your comments about Olivia’s song. I whole heartedly agree and did verify how important the song was experimentally (you’d die laughing if I told you the lengths I went to, but I sure had fun!). As I mentioned in my letter, I did find how essential that song was to the episode both specific to the ep and those in the future. It was the only song that I couldn’t delete with impunity. Within the framework of the episode it’s just too important.

          Anyway, thanks for your comments and I will stay in touch.


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  2. Anjali says

    “Olivia is prepared to overlook the fact that one of Broyles’ agents once planted evidence to get promotion,

    The whole planted evidence gets me thinking back to the pilot when John asked Olivia ‘Why Broyles’? Why did he send her to that warehouse? Possible foreshadowing from the writers that Broyles knows more than he lets on (which we are sure of)?

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  3. jade86 says

    Hi Roco! I loved how you described the opening to Peter’s heart! I also believe that he could be a sort of “gate-opener” (and maybe a soldier like Olivia too) from the AU. I also found interesting that Walter, Nina and Bell were looking for Peter’s heart because of its huge power source.

    Walter : “he’s capable of many wondrous things”

    This sentence sounds very familiar to me. I remember the episode of the first season, where Walter tells Peter “you have no idea what you’re capable of”.
    In “Brown Betty” we learned that Peter has this powerful glass heart since his birth. This could mean that Peter, in the real story of Fringe, could have something extremely precious in his body…maybe in his blood or DNA. This could be one of the reasons of why Peter is “important” to the Observers :)

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  4. Ric says

    One thing that stood out to me in this episode was the army of Observers. These timid men who usually just watch and are often too shy to talk, were fighting and kicking. Wow!
    Why would Walter perceive them in that way?

    Rocco, do you have any thoughts on this? (Since you were able to explain things I didn’t know had anything to explain about.)

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  5. Inter-dimensional Dave says


    How intriguing to learn that MD was originally to be called the Prometheus Corp. Stealing fire from the gods always comes with a price. An even closer parallel would be the tale of Frankenstein or “The Modern Prometheus”. Bell or Walter Bishop fit nicely into the role of the mad doctor playing with fire and over stepping their bounds. (Walter even re-animated the corpses during “Brown Betty”.)

    While Prometheus eventually had Heracles to rescue him from the chains of his punishment who will fill that role for Walter? Or will Walter suffer the fate of Victor Frankenstein who pursued his creation to the ends of the Earth only to suffer more heartbreak and death. I’m thinking Walter will have his Heracles while Bell will suffer the fate of Dr. Frankenstein. Fascinating stuff.

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    • Inter-dimensional Dave says

      I decided to dig a little deeper into the tale of Frankenstein and his monster. As punishment for his relentless pursuit of his creation the Monster returns to extract his revenge on the doctor and murders his bride. Her name, Elizabeth.

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      • LMH says

        Interesting, especially since Peter also refers to Walter as “Dr. Frankenstein” in the Pilot. I’m sure there is at least some thematic connection even if only in the sense of using science to overstep boundaries and play God.

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  6. LizW65 says

    Re the game of Operation: I interpreted its use in Brown Betty as a metaphor for the entire series. The Fringe team digs around inside people–their brains, their hearts, and their guts, both literally and figuratively, seeking answers, trying not to do too much damage but sometimes touching the nerve endings or edges or “fringes”, if you will.

    As for The Glass Man, could it be a hybrid of The Glass Key and The Thin Man, both novels by Dashiell Hammett?

    “I found it interesting that Waltercal was in a wheelchair for the entire story — perhaps reflecting his demobilized emotional state in the ‘real world’.”
    Also, more prosaically, the image of the wheelchair-bound mad scientist figure is a familiar cliche of mid-twentieth century film. (I thought of Doctor Strangelove, myself.)

    Very interesting observations, Roco!

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  7. Elaine says

    Roco, great observations as usual. I really liked the one you made about the opening on Peter’s chest resembling a gate. I noticed that while Walter’s looked like a door, Peter’s was two-sided and held something not only something Waltercal (Hee!) was in need and search of, but Olivia as well. It also made me think that while Olivia may be a gatekeeper between worlds, Peter is that gate which gives access between which places him in constant peril, but uniquely important because he could end up being a decider of which world survives depending on where his heart ultimately lies.

    I’m actually surprised you didn’t comment on the beacon from ‘The Arrival’ making an unexpected and unusual return. I was really looking forward to what you thought it might mean. Looking at the pulsating, illuminated vein that separated Peter’s glass heart put me in the mind of the illuminated grooves of the beacon. It’s probably just a coincedence, but I wonder if we’re meant to make a connection between the beacon locating him and his heart. Probably not, but it’s a thought.

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  8. ApplesBananasRhinoceros says

    Also, don’t forget this line also found in the song “Low Spark of High heeled Boys”–

    “And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
    From the profit he’s made on your dreams”

    –which kind of goes with the whole stealing dreams thing…

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  9. Jodie says

    “In my opinion, this close up shot of the record player served, once again, as a reference to the cyclical themes and nature of the show — particularly in regard to Walter losing Peter all over again. Interesting that the song playing was “Roundabout“, further bringing home that idea.”

    I’ve also wondered if the events themselves that are happening are also cyclical. That everyone is in a time loop. The repeated clues are: the number eight (referring to the infinity sign), all of the spheres planted through out the episodes (representing more endless loops), the constant referencing to Walter’s record collection and to record players, Walter and Bell’s first glimpse into the alternate universe and seeing a future war between the alternate universes, the ZFT manuscript stating that “what was written will come to pass”, and the repeated references to deja vu. I’ve always thought that the Observers were trying to prevent a collision between the two worlds. Since they are not bound by time, if they failed once, then they could try again.

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  10. Tony says

    My interpretation of the Operation game scene is how Walter relentlessly pursues his goals without paying any heed to the “Sides” as in Our Universe and the Parallel Universe… None more true than when he started it all by rescuing Peternate.

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    • Elaine says

      That’s what I thought, too. Walter’s singlemindedness that led to getting what he wanted, but causing untold damage in his pursuit.

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      • mlj102 says

        See, I agree that that is a valid interpretation, but I also see it in a more direct sense with how it relates specifically to the damage Walter caused to Peter. In a way, because of his love for his son, he wanted Peter’s heart — he wanted to have that father/son relationship. And when his Peter died, he ultimately went to the other side and stole Peter, and things just went downhill from there with the constant lying and negative consequences from his actions in trying to get Peter’s heart. His careless, hasty, desperate attempts to fix his own broken heart and win Peter’s heart ultimately caused Peter a great deal of pain. I like how Roco described it as “yanking out his heart” He didn’t care how he got it out, as long as he got it out and could say he had Peter’s heart — he still had his son. As Ella pointed out, you’re not supposed to touch the sides, and the sides in the Operation game represent the delicate procedures involved in a real operation. If you make the cut too big, or if you’re not gentle and precise, you will cause the patient additional pain, and you could also cause them a great deal of damage — perhaps a damage so great, it can’t be repaired. And that’s exactly what happened to Walter and Peter. I think it’s a great metaphor for both Walter and Peter personally, as well as the two sides in the war.

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        • Elaine says

          And they were hasty, careless, desperate moves on Walter’s part when he crossed over or touched sides of another universe, weren’t they? All of it has been so terribly tragic, especially when we discover that his Peter died in his arms. I would imagine felt his heart would never heal without his son…no really. It really was a perfect metaphor.

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  11. JXiang says

    Hey hey, I read from another Fringe-dedicated website that there is another ‘next-episode’ clue to consider. Going back to the previous episode, there is one scene where Walter left an old photo of the Bishop family (with Peter’s mom in it) on the kitchen table. Just by the edge of the photo is an egg carton. And on the carton reads “FOR YOUR HEALTHY HEART”, foreshadowing the HEART theme that revolves around this episode.

    I thought this observation was pretty logical and believe this is a more suitable candidate for the ‘next-episode’ clue!

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  12. FringeFan2009 says

    Is it just me? Or does William Bell look a little too much like Abe Lincoln, in this episode? obswindow copy.jpg

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  13. Stefan says

    I may be the only one, but the AniBell-scene reminded me of this scene in a film adaptation of George Owell’s “Nineteen-Eightyfour”. The Background reminded me of the 1927 movie “Metropolis”, by Fritz Lang (German movie, only movie that is a world heritage). Maybe Walter or the writers are throwing “that’s what influenced us”-refernces at us.

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    • Inter-dimensional Dave says

      Stefan, I read this in the Boston Globe recently.

      Metropolis ” Fritz Lang’s still incomplete, oft-restored futuristic masterpiece now has 25 found minutes located 2 years ago in a Buenos Aires museum. Bring champagne.”

      That’s big news if you’re a fan. There is a theatrical release date of June 4, 2010.

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      • LizW65 says

        O/T but good to know. I’ve always wanted to see this and resisted buying the DVD until a more complete version came out.

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      • Stefan says

        Wow, that news took a while to get over the Atlantic Ocean – it was all over the media in Germany (I think rest of Europe, too) when it was found. I suppose it’s one a few heritages Germans can actually be proud of…
        And to get even more of O/T: I never watched it, actually. I think 2 months ago it was shown in Berlin and Frankfurt as public viewing thing and on the “network” arte – but I missed it and railed a few days 😉 I’ll probably get it when it’s released on DVD – but thanks for the heads-up!

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        • Inter-dimensional Dave says

          I got the news out of the “Summer Movie Preview” section of the newspaper. Doubtless the news broke over here a lot earlier concerning the Buenos Aires find. I think rather this was just a way of telling people they can see the movie in its reconstituted form this summer at a theater near them. I’m always happy to share and I enjoy your posts Stefan.

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  14. ApplesBananasRhinoceros says

    I’m curious as to what the clue is for Northwest Passage in this episode. Any thoughts? Could that be the pine tree

    I also was seriously creeped out by the Metropolis-like version of Bell (that movie scares the pants off of me). Only to me it looked like an episode of the old Twilight Zone and he was Rod Serling…

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  15. ApplesBananasRhinoceros says

    Sorry, I hit submit before I looked back and saw the pine tree was from the previous ep…

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  16. LMH says

    I’m going to make a rough prediction here, given all of these clues related to glass in this episode in connection with Peter’s specialness and windows, eyeglasses, etc., that Peter may have one of those glass discs in him somewhere. Several people have had them including John Scott and Nina Sharp–in Nina’s case it was a “powerful energy cell” which Jones used to open a doorway to the other side in order to get to Bell. Newton is looking to build a stable doorway between the two sides and is after Peter.
    OR that Peter’s innate ability functions much like those glass discs or energy cells and that might explain the possible parallels being made here. Remember how important energy is in this season and Peter’s gift with electronics and affecting people through touch…
    I find this really intriguing. Anyone else care to take it further?

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    • Elaine says

      Man, there’s nothing in this post that I don’t like as a possibility. As far as speculating further, I’ll have to wait until I get home. 😉

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      • ApplesBananasRhinoceros says

        I have an interesting thought along the lines of the mirror imagery that seems to be so prevalent in Fringe in general. The glyphs for O & P are the butterflies with bones and they are mirror images of each other. P for Peter, O for Olivia. Are Peter and Olivia mirrors of each other in some way? Or perhaps opposites? Place two mirrors facing each other and they reflect to infinity.

        Also it is interesting that their initials are represented by the butterfly and they are the only letters in the code represented by butterflies. A butterfly undergoes a transformation, they start life as an ugly caterpillar (no offense to caterpillars), then spin a cocoon, a tough shell, then struggle to get out of it (the struggle toughens them up and makes them what they are) and become something totally new. An allusion to the ‘hard times’ the Observers mentioned maybe? Butterflies are also delicate creatures by nature, but in the glyphs they have bones making them stronger. Is this a natural occurrence or were they made this way? Does this allude to something special inside them, much like Peter and Olivia? Makes ya think…

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    • Xochitl says

      THis is going to sound so fringe, I just watche again “The transformation” and I had exactly the same thought, which brings me to think what someone has alredy mention, Peter has something that is essential for crossing or the war in general.

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  17. LMH says

    Roco, I love the emphasis on the deep connection Peter and Walter, sharing halves of a special heart. Perhaps it was not just the transference of ideas between people in general that was alluded to by Walter in The Arrival, but a particularly special and deep connection between Walter and Peter. It’s Fringe, so who really knows right?

    Oh and heart door vs. gate, very nice!

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  18. Count Screwloose says

    Here’s my candidate for a line that will resonate more deeply after tomorrow

    “As in all good detective stories, things are not as they seem.”

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  19. Melissa says

    I was somewhat intrigued by Ella saying “Peter and ALL HIS MIGHT.” And not just because Josh Jackson was in The Mighty Ducks, lol. I mean, we obviously have reasons to think Peter has some sort of power but coming from Ella it was kind of funny.

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  20. Xochitl says

    “Meanwhile, the opening to Peter’s heart resembles a GATE. We’ve heard this word mentioned before in relation to Olivia being the supposed “gate-keeper”, prepared by Walter and Bell to safeguard our universe. The creative team could have made the opening on Peter’s chest more like Walter’s had they not wanted us to further consider the possibility that Peter might also be an assigned “gate-keeper”. Although, with Peter being from the Other Side and feeling sore right now, who knows, maybe he could be (or go on to become) the gate-opener. The Anti-Olivia.”

    This together with what LMH said makes me thing that yes, Olivia and Peter are almost for sure enemies, or they should be, they are suppouse to be on opposites sides of the war, and it would fit with something my sister pointed out, in JJ show there is always the chosen one and another always present cliche that goes together on other stories is a son raised by the enemy which is basically what Walter did, so yes, I think Peter was predetermined to be the enemy of olivia and possibly who ultimately will decide the end of all

    an of course in a shippers side, reading my depressing comment and the fact that Walter once said that the universe seek balance I just don’t think those two are never gonna be together, I don’t think they are suppouse to be. :(

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  21. Vadim says

    Also, in a recent observation you mentioned that Tin Man is accociated with Peter.

    P.S. Sorry for my lame english =)

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