Welcome to Fringe Observations: the comprehensive clues and eastereggs round-up for episode 3.07 “The Abducted”.
We dive deep into the mythology, symbolism and resonating factors to explore the meaning and unlock the interconnected mystery of Fringe.
A piece of reversed in audio can be found in the ‘previously on’ part where Olivia knocks over the snow globe. The embedded message is the famous Nina quote from “Momentum Deferred”:
“Only one world would remain”
You can compare the normal and reversed audio using the players below:
(warning: audio may be loud depending on your volume settings).
The reversed message is timely given the backwards message suggestion in the previous episode.
The reversed audio has added significance later when Olivia travels once more to the gift shop.
Cause and Reflect
Wyatt Toomy’s prayer speaks of balance and the constant flow of cause and effect:
“Through suffering comes redemption. From sorrow comes exultation. Through the pitch dark comes the cleansing fire. And through the fire we shall find the spring of new life.”
If you notice, it also alludes to these elements being found within one another – “through the pitch dark comes the cleansing fire..and through the fire we shall find..,” rather like the matryoshka doll clue earlier in the season.
The sharpening of the knife up and down the belt also plays into these constant exchanges, or repetition.
The water here represents renewal, rebirth and any other cleansing phrase you want to throw into the sink.
But a question should be asked: can a person be redeemed while hiding harmful intentions? For me, Toomy’s mask symbolizes that while can see the truth through his spirituality, he is unable to apply that truth – he is not free, he’s making the same mistakes over and over again through self-interest.
Same Old Candy
Of course, Toomy’s age regression struggle is a callback to Christopher Penrose, the rapidly ageing clone from “The Same Old Story” (above) who killed innocents so that he could preserve his youth.
There may also be a bit of the ‘Bishop Revivals‘ in there too, though Alfred may have been a time-traveller.
Wyatt Toomy may have been a hat-tip to the genetic mutant serial killer Eugene Victor Tooms from The X-Files. Tooms struck every 30 years to feed on human livers.
“Mommy, there’s a monster in my closet.”
We’ve seen a variety of ‘monsters’ throughout the course of our story. These monsters have ranged from the creepy unknown, vicious animal hybrids, metaphorical beasts, the ill intended – and perhaps most poignantly, the doubles in the alternate universe, who Walternate once described as being, “monsters IN our skin”.
While this relates to the Candy Man – the human monster hiding UNDERneath a mask, it’s worth noting that this fear can be both accurate (as in Max’s case), or misconceived, as in the case of little Ray Jr in “Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?”:
Ray: “Hey Buddy, what are you still doing up?”
Son: “I didn’t sound the monster alarm, but I think he’s here”
Son: “Under the bed”
Ray: “You know, sometimes, monsters aren’t all that bad. Sometimes, if you get to spend some time with them, they can be very surprising. They can be, um, incredibly sweet, and pure, and capable of great great love. And then, one of them might actually become your very best friend”
Son: “But you’re my best friend”
Ray Jr didn’t know the monster he detected was actually his father.
Shapeshifter Ray knew that ‘his son’ would see him as a monster if he discovered who he really was, but he confessed by giving the young boy a story about how monsters could be “incredibly sweet”. It’s interesting that without that knowledge of who his father really was, Ray Jr’s limited perception of ‘the monster in the room’ worked the other way – Ray is his best friend.
Which once again brings us closer to where I think this recurring ‘monster’ theme holds the most meaning. If the existence of a ‘monster’ rests on our perception, then taking all that we know about this story, these monsters represent ourselves. Nothing is blue or red, not least the subconscious.
Where Monsters Lurk
Because, imagine a world where one man is both the hero and the villain; someone who needs to forgive and be redeemed for one act. An action which entangles everything.
That’s what it boils down to, one act that set in motion – or played into – a cycle.
Our characters continually project their inner-realm onto the world – and perhaps two worlds, given that the alternate universe thematically (and perhaps actually) represents the subconscious. And what lies below can sometimes shape the world around us.
“Aunt Liv? Monster’s aren’t real are they?”
Take Olivia, for example. Back in 1.16 “Unleashed” she read the Littlest Ella a bed-time story called Burlap Bear. It was about monsters. Later that very episode our heroine was tasked with slaying a hybrid monster DOWN in the sewers of Walter’s guilt. Had she (or Walter) projected this being into reality? Or was this acute foreshadowing an early indication of her abilities at work, providing her with clues – an earlier version of what we call ‘Projection Peter’?
It’s probably a bit of both, bearing in mind the constant need for duality. As I hinted above, the inner mind can be the monster and in the very same instance be the saviour.
That night, Olivia struggled to sleep – so afraid was Dunham that she had to turn the light on. Maybe there are times when our ‘monsters’ keep us AWAKE for a reason? And you know what they say, “sometimes what we wake up, can’t be put back to sleep.”
As an aside: Is it coincidence that we keep getting the little boy/bedroom thematic? As you know, little Peter died in Walter’s arms. He was about to go to sleep – to travel his subconscious mind, but instead, he slept forever. There’s no doubting the incredible power of this theme – whether the creators are conscious of it or not, it keeps coming back because of this weight.
This tragic event is also lodged in Walter’s mind, and given the nature of projections, who’s to say his subconscious isn’t responsible for some of the cyclical attributes in Fringe.
And given all of this, it’s worth keeping an eye on where Peter is when he finally WAKES UP later in this episode. But first..
In case you were in any doubt of the cyclical nature of things, Burlap Bear spirals on into an alternate universe case dealing with monsters. Sure, these are fun clues for the audience to pick up on – that has never changed, but there’s also a meaning behind them.
And what can we say about how Candy Man was represented here? Well, the masked misfit hides BEHIND a door. And we know how much symbolism that packs in this story. It was a door that Walter used to kidnap Peter – an impossible door that infected Mother Nature from the inside out.
Candy Man then kidnaps Max by going through a WINDOW. It was a magical window that Walter used to glimpse his future son from beyond the void. Playing the literal role of the ‘monster in the closet’, Walter was both real and unreal. Did little Peter ever detect his watchful gaze?
But the most meaningful visual for me, was the close-up of Candy Man’s mask. It literally REFLECTED Max – the little boy’s fear projecting right back at him. The monster, which by the way, could have been real or not, manifested itself into his world.
This isn’t to discount the fact that a very evil man decided to kidnap a child, far from it, but for me the underlying messages (and that’s what we’re talking about here) can be boiled down to this idea of the subconscious and the ways in which we perceive both our internal and external worlds.
One of the “6955kHz” clues foreshadowing this episode was the skull and cross bones avatar from the pirate radio station community, which manifested as the skull and cross bones flag in Max’s room.
Skull and cross bones are often associated with pirates and death. It could be argued that the Candy Man was a pirate in that he stole youth from children. The symbol is also said to represent certain secret societies and is no doubt a reference to Reverend Marcus’ shenanigans.
The two most prominent board games in Fringe mythology – Clue and Operation - can be seen planted in Max’s room.
The other two games on display are Battleship (the “pencil and paper game”) and, rather curiously, Quarantine – perhaps a reference to the ‘quarantined zones’ in the alternate universe.
Deep Space 9
Last season I wondered whether the alternate universe has an identical solar system as the one Over Here. The poster in Max’s room seems to imply that the AU has the same number of planets with the same orbit. Look, there’s Saturn, where the Dunhamnator was forged in its rings.
Last time out in “Olivia”, I focused quite a bit on the cyclical nature of Fringe, and found it interesting that Olivia first met Henry at a roundabout. In this episode she once again finds him parked in the same place. It doesn’t mean anything because obviously Olivia is going to try and find him where she originally met him.
And yet, this design of logic in itself plays into the repeating patterns of the universe. We trace memories back. Memories to help us reconnect (in the case of sights, smells, etc) – memories that can be harmful or helpful. Henry is a helpful memory.
It would be really interesting to find out more about his life – we know why he believes in Olivia, but what brought him to this place where he plays such an important, yet unknowing, role? Is it FATE, or does his own spirituality give him the tools to help others?
For Your Projection
..Who knows, but if the world around us projects the internal, then it’s clear that Henry is a bridge. This is his calling.
“I just need you to get me across the water”.
Question is, how will Olivia return the favor? I have to believe that she will return home with ‘new eyes’ and the understanding that it is IMPERIVITVE that two worlds survive, not just one.
In other Henry-related observations, the news report on his radio said:
“Polls show that most Americans opposed the proposed law to limit the number of children to TWO per family. However, leading politicians from two of the three leading parties favor the law.”
This tells us more about the political climate, while reinforcing the two factor.
Also: “Lingg Eye Group” (L.E.G) on top of his taxi. Could this play into the next episode? It may not be much to stand on, but might as well kick it out there.
Observing The Observer
Observers have to eat too, you know. Poor September, he’s like a hungry puppy looking through the window of a warm bakery shop. Nom nom nom.
Heh. In our previous observations I mentioned the subtle photo references, and in the very next episode we see more photos than we’ve probably ever seen on Fringe in one place. Coincidence, of course. But interesting what the mind picks up on ahead of time.
The Candy Man’s method of stealing youth not only played into Olivia’s spinal tap from “Bound” (and the general Cortexiphan premise), but it also reminded me of James Heath who stole energy from other Cortexiphan subjects so that he could stay alive.
I’ve already spoken quite a bit about the Candy Man themes and the symbolism. But briefly, I also wonder whether there’s a bit of ‘man’s battle with mortality’ being suggested here? The idea that humankind is constantly striving to find ways to delay his or her time on this earth to the point where these struggles begin to impinge upon children, depriving them of childhood.
It’s probably not as intentional a message as the others, but it works on some level. I mean, this notion is already one of the pillars of the show with the Cortexiphan trials.
We are introduced to Christopher Broyles as he listens to a radio broadcast of “The Shadow” (originally “Detective Hour”) – the 1930s serialized radio drama:
“..devotes his life to righting wrongs, protecting the innocent, and punishing the guilty. Cranston is known to the UNDERworld as The Shadow; never seen, only heard – his true identity known only to his constant friend and aid..”
The Shadow is a man of many faces, with the ability to ‘cloud the minds of men’. It’s all there and ties in nicely to the underlying, and sometimes murky, themes of this episode and the story in general.
What I find particularly interesting about this reference is that, leaving the subconscious metaphors to one side, it ties into our question of ‘Who Is The Fringe Narrator?‘.
The Shadow was both the narrator and star of the radio drama series. Does this clue us in on the Fringe narrator’s identity? Who is telling this story of ours? Who is altering our perceptions like the cloaked vigilante himself?
Of course, there may be more than one narrator given the number of characters and universes, but wouldn’t it be interesting if at the end of it all one single narrator was revealed?
“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”
This phrase has an element of duality to it – or if you want, a “monsters in our skin” vibe. Monsters can be full-blown evil, or they can be secrets and lies. They can also be redeemed.
Shadows of Earthlings
Of course, The Shadow is one of the major callbacks, right back to “Earthling”. The Broyles centric episode in which he re-encountered the ghost of his past – the sentient projection from outer space – The Shadow. Tons of parallels and intricate connections there, including the idea of perception.
Glass of the Past
Olivia guides Chris down to the beach of his memories – and to further add reflective quality to the scene, Walternate is framed by glass beakers and tubes (inset). It’s just a surprise that none of them contained red liquid.
Knowing the title of the next episode, I wonder whether the sign: “He That Enters Here Shall Be Saved!” is the foreshadowing clue for 3.08?
Whether one is religious, spiritually inclined or not, I think this is a pretty powerful line within the framework of the story.
“I was nothing. I was lost. And then God came and lifted me UP”.
So much of Fringe is about the subconscious – the below, the underground, the within. We have images of little Peter drowning, and notions of 37 odd pieces of the vacuum buried around the earth, people dreamscaping, and so on. So to counter-balance those thematics with someone being lifted upwards is interesting, and might tell us about where this story resides or where it wants to go.
Olivia goes through the wardrobe and comes out the other side – a clear nod to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. This plot outline should explain the parallels:
The children are evacuated to the country home of Professor Digory Kirke. One day while they are playing hide and seek, Lucy discovers a wardrobe and enters a wintry fantasy world called Narnia. She spends a few hours in the home of the faun, Mr. Tumnus, who explains that Jadis, the White Witch, cursed Narnia, and it has been winter for one hundred years. In accordance with her orders, if a human is ever encountered, a Narnian must bring them to her. However, Tumnus likes Lucy and can’t bring himself to kidnap her so he sends her home. When she returns, hardly any time has passed in the normal world, and when the other children check the Wardrobe, all they see is a normal wooden back – the portal is gone.
While there are of course broader parallels at work with the ‘two worlds’ story, this reference immediately plays into Broylnate’s decision to let Olivia go home rather than out her to the Witch of Walternate. It also ties into the fact that from Peter’s perspective, Olivia hasn’t even been missing. Olivia may find that hardly any time has passed in the ‘normal world’ in the sense that the people she cares about haven’t missed her at all. Tissue?
Not a major observation, but I have to think they were going for some ‘cleansing fire’ symbolism with the light shining through the boarded up window courtesy of a dodged bullet. It’s as though Olivia’s sacrifice had granted her passage home. At least temporarily.
Notice how Reverend Marcus’ mask is different from Toomy’s (inset). It’s shinier and doesn’t cover his mouth. Does this imply that he represents a greater fear in that his misrepresented words are capable of influencing many? I’d say so.
This imagery is clearly one that represents a confessional. But it isn’t Chris who is confessing his ‘sins’ here – it’s the Candy Man as he reveals his true face.
And of course..we have our 5000th box imagery. On top of the box – our burning fire that cleanses.
Return to Liberty
“How’d you plan on getting up there?
In order to go home Olivia has to return through the sea of her subconscious. The return to Liberty Island, the place where she began to lose herself, marks a significant stage in Olivia’s journey home. The is the first time she has been back there fully as herself.
This is not just about going home – the yellow brick road is that way, Dorothy. No, this is about reclaiming her liberty. Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forward.
No Bra. No Panties. What?
When Olivia first entered the warm waters of the AU Bra & Panties Tank™, she was dressed in all white. Her return to those tantalizing waters see her dressed in black. For me, both colors represent wholeness. Together they allude to the balance of the universe, just as here we see a more balanced Olivia (right) than she was prior to “Amber 31422″. Olivia has not shed her experiences – she’s combining them.
Though her experience has been painful, brutal even, it may have been necessary for her to gain the wisdom, skills and duality to progress in her ultimate mission.
Earlier I mentioned the reversed audio over the snow globe intro. This buried clue abided by the internal logic of the story, as this time round, Olivia doesn’t break a snow globe – the reverse happens.
Not only does that mean less glass for Gift Shop Lady (or GSL as we endearingly call her) to clean up, and not only does it signify that Olivia is learning how to travel without going all ‘Nellie The Elephant’ on innocent glassware – but it implies that perhaps neither universe has to end after all.
Maybe there is another way?
Want more evidence of the cyclical nature of things? There’s a picture of the Coney Island CYCLONE roller coaster ride in the gift shop – which seems even more relevant given that one of Olivia’s happiest recent memories is taking little Ella roller coastin’ back in “August”.
Not to mention that, prior to her first dip in the AU B&P Tank™, Olivia as Altlivia said:
“Just like riding the roller coaster at Coney Island, right?”
Talk about projecting.
Add to that the fact that Olivia’s identity is back in a large part to her subconscious memory of Ella’s birthday, and the world around the Dunhamnator becomes ever more a melting pot of internal and external hopes and desires. Throw in the ‘world slipping away’ imagery as Olivia shuttles back to the other side, and you have an interesting cocktail of messages.
In fact I could go on and talk about the locked door and the frustration of ‘childhood yellow’ – it’s all there. Truth is, before Liv can get back, it seems she has to go back round for another dose of Walternate.
Like a hearty sneeze, the blue lights snap us back to the other side as “Dogs” becomes “Cats” and the smell of real coffee fills the air.
Altlivia thinks (or guesses, wrongly) that Ronald Reagan starred in Casablanca. Maybe in the alternate universe he did? Peter scoffs, “No fool, it’s Humphrey Bogart!” Making this the second Bogart reference in recent episodes.
Altlivia’s fantasy ending sees them “running away together and they live happily ever-after”. While Peter delivers a dose of truth and realism to the party, “actually no, she leaves him at the airport and they never see each other again.”
While this may simply tell us that the AU version of Casablanca is somewhat different to the Over Here version, it may also convey what Altlivia and Peter are individually projecting.
And like an ironic reaper, the grim, cold reality of truth was about to land on Peter’s door.
Before You Go Go
And it’s this ‘wake up call’ that is so interesting. Sure, it leaves Peter with visible egg on his face – and we all had a good laugh, I’m sure. But as I mentioned earlier, there’s a recurring theme that could almost be spawned from Walter’s tragic memory of Peter dying in his bed. This moment delivers that meaning, because now, instead of falling into eternal sleep (“Peter”) or resting his eyes (“Northwest Passage”), we see Boy Wonder wake up.
- Olivia wears a pale shade of BLUE for much of this episode, projecting her inner drive home to the blue universe.
- Visual comparison of Toomy’s doll and the one from “Jacksonville” (inset). Clearly different dolls, but both terrifying in their own way.
- Butterflies on Toomy’s dresser.
- “Get The Bugs Out” poster – a reference to Charlie/Charlnate and their bugs/worms issues?
- Quick Update: Shapeshifter Joseph’s eyes from the previous episode may have foreshadowed Christopher Broyles’ sight impairment.
- The glyphs for this episode spelled: “ESCAPE“. As in run like the wind. As in become the wind.