Fringe Observations: 3.12 Concentrate And Ask Again

Welcome to Fringe Observations: the comprehensive clues and eastereggs round-up for episode 3.12 Concentrate and Ask Again”.

We dive deep into the mythology, symbolism and resonating factors to explore the meaning and unlock the interconnected mystery of Fringe.


Some of Bellie’s most prized ancient artifacts. Providing further context for his knowledge quest, in particular the First People and their Machine.

Bellie’s knowledge of the FP and Machine adds further brush strokes to his ‘you’re holding up better than I’d thought’ comment to Peter in the season 2 finale. Oh Bellie, you and your secrets..


Interesting book collection Bell had there. Each one offering some further insight into Bell and some of the themes being explored in the story. Of the books visible:

  • A Separate Reality – Further Conversations With Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda (Amazon Link)

The main focus of the book centered around Don Juan’s attempts at getting Carlos to See, a practice best described as, in Castaneda’s own words, “perceiving energy directly as it flows through the universe” (more)

  • The Second Ring Of Power by Carlos Castaneda (Amazon Link)

“A warrior doesn’t seek anything for his solace, nor can he possibly leave anything to chance. A warrior actually affects the outcome of events by the force of his awareness and his unbending intent.” (more)

For generations, parents across the world have relied on Dr. Spock’s expert pediatric advice. Now, In this fully revised edition of his timeless bestseller, you’ll find all the information you need to meet the changes and challenges of childrearing in the new millennium — including entirely new chapters about international adoption, coping with terrorism and disasters, college planning, autism, and other such topics

  • In The Wake Of Chaos by Stephen H. Kellert (Amazon Link)

Chaos theory has captured scientific and popular attention. What began as the discovery of randomness in simple physical systems has become a widespread fascination with “chaotic” models of everything from business cycles to brainwaves to heart attacks. But what exactly does this explosion of new research into chaotic phenomena mean for our understanding of the world? In this timely book, Stephen Kellert takes the first sustained look at the broad intellectual and philosophical questions raised by recent advances in chaos theory—its implications for science as a source of knowledge and for the very meaning of that knowledge itself.

  • Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter (Amazon Link)

This groundbreaking Pulitzer Prize-winning book sets the standard for interdisciplinary writing, exploring the patterns and symbols in the thinking of mathematician Kurt Godel, artist M.C. Escher, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

  • The Tao Of Physics – An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism by Fritjof Capra (Amazon Link)

“Physicists do not need mysticism, and mystics do not need physics, but humanity needs both”. (more)

  • Cell And Molecular Biology – Eighteenth Edition

As an aside, Carlos Castaneda was also referenced in Bad Dreams when Walter explained perception being the key to transformation.

Source Code

Some hocus-pocus to reveal Bellie’s secret safe, and then Nina enters to the code to open sesame: 05-20-10. This is the same code that Walter used for the Cortexiphan Day Center (5-20-10), a code that referenced the season 2 finale which featured the Machine (and FP clues). It was also the ‘day’ that Bellie died. RIP old fiend.

Toy Story 4

This red toy car obviously had sentimental value for Bellie (and perhaps Nina). Bellie would BEEP, Nina would TOOT.

You’ll remember that Walter has a similar toy car – as seen in “The Man From The Other Side”. He used it to demonstrate harmonic exchange between universes.

You may further recall that Walter has a blue double decker toy car that came from the other universe in one of these ‘harmonic’ experiments.

Going back to the red car, as we know, red is the thematic color for the alternative universe, and has been used to denote memory throughout the story. Then there’s Alistair Peck who used time-travel to die with his wife inside a distinctive red car.

So while red is red, it has been intentionally used to communicate meaning without dialog. Had the car been pink we would have thought cool, but we wouldn’t have felt the connection.

Never Die

The inception of Massive Dynamic represented by the conception of the logo.

Bell and a man. Is this someone famous or relevant to the time the picture was taken?

(Update: Thanks to vlada_vvv in the comments for suggesting that the other man is a young Walter/John Noble).

Bell and a Nina. Oh, they had some times.

Tangent: This season has definitely featured a higher than usual number of photos. I noticed it early on in the season, and I guess it was something intentional? At any rate, this photo kinda reminds me of Altlivia’s one of her and Peter that she tried to sneak back to the alternate universe.

‘Because one day, all we’ll have left is photos’. Or something like that.

To All My First Peoples

Bellie’s German copy of the First People’s book. That makes four copies – including the English, Spanish, Hebrew and ‘other’ text.

It’s no real surprise that Bell had the German version, given his connections with Germany. The story has given us the sense that he was often away on ‘business’ in Germany. While the Bishops also have German connections, and David Robert Jones spent some time there.

Is this the only copy that Bellie has? Possibly, but not necessarily, as he doesn’t strike me as the kind to keep all his eggs in one safe. If the story needs him to have more, he’ll have more.

Don’t Eight

The Magic 8 Ball returns. No, not Ella, although it was the Littlest One who gave Olivia a Magic 8 Ball back in season one’s “Bound”.

The Magic 8 Ball is used for fortune telling or gaining advice. In “Bound” it led to Olivia finding out that Mitchell Loeb was the mole (baby) and her kidnapper. In “Concentrate” Simon is very much the human Magic 8 Ball. He is able to read people’s minds, offers Olivia some heart-felt advice, and ultimately tells her that Peter still harbours feelings for Altlivia.

And lest we forget, 8 is Olivia’s ‘number’ – having been implied on many occasions throughout the story.


Look at that, at least Intrepus’ pharmaceutical division is still alive, even though the outlook doesn’t look so good.

You might remember Intrepus from such episodes as “The Cure” (foreshadowed in “Power Hungry”).

Their leader David Esterbrook was put behind bars by Olivia, and was notable for his mystical lapel which also appeared on Olivia’s uncle’s kayak. He was also a bit of an ass to Olivia.

Suit Up

Our team in cool red protective suits..

..a call-back to What Lies Below. Which is interesting for another reason, given that this episode mirrors 2.12 both in terms of episode number and the manner in which Peter’s secret feelings (which…lie below) were extracted by Simon for Olivia’s eyes only. And ours, I guess.

Horny Balloon

Can’t be certain but it looks like a Fringe Horn Glyph on that balloon. Is Peter feeling..horny?

The Road Forsaken

Is it just me, or has there been a lot of road accidents or near misses involving motor vehicles recently? Peter nearly getting Peterized by a truck in “The Firefly”, Broyles almost getting de-Broyled by a careless driver in “Reciprocity“, and now Peter chasing Mr. Dowey into a car who clearly wasn’t looking where it was going.

Like I said before, it’s worth keeping an eye out for those roads forsaken.

Mind Thoughts

Walter tries to prevent Simon from reading his mind by encrypting his thoughts with random waffle. Though barricading the mind is not as simple as not talking. Here’s what I could make of the conversation between Walter, Simon and Olivia (all brackets refer to Walter’s mind!thoughts):

Simon: No, I wouldn’t call it wonderful at all. Bacon..unicorns [Peter] Peter’s birthday..dash of cinnamon..z2=z1 squared+c..[Reiden Lake] What does that mean? What are you trying to do to me? [Nothing].

Walter: Nothing, just my mind does that sometimes.

Walter’s thoughts [..nightmare].

Simon: “You need to leave”

Olivia: “Put your gun down”

Simon: “Why can’t I read you?”

Walter’s thoughts: [..Cortexiphan subject]

Walter: She’s another Cortexiphan subject. Sometimes you children are immune to each other’s abilities.

Walter’s thoughts: [I know what it’s assume that we’re the first homosapiens. How can we be so arrogant? unclear…zero..unclear…you’ll never know what’s it’s like to lose..]

Give or take a few words.

Some of Walter’s thoughts are impulsive, while others are memories of conversations past. On a broader scale, this informs us how accurate Simon’s ability to read Peter might be. In my opinion, Simon is right and there’s little reason to doubt that Peter has feelings for Altlivia.

Sure, feelings may derive from the heart (if you want), but they are processed by the mind (take a look at when Olivia tells PB to come back with her in 2.22 for an example). There’s worthwhile arguments on both sides, but from a storytelling point of view (which is the important thing), I think it makes sense for a veteran mind reader like Simon to be able to accurately interpret Peter’s feelings based on the thoughts running through his head. At any rate, I don’t think Peter’s feelings for Altlivia should be a surprise.

Aside: In my review I mentioned that I detected a hint of contempt from Peter towards Simon. That makes more sense when I factor in the notion that Peter wouldn’t want a mind reader digging through his thoughts.


You might remember agent Edwards from such episodes as…

“Earthling”, where he confronted Broyles and seemed way more mysterious than he does now that he’s revealed as being Nina’s Lap Boy. Though to his credit he does retain an air of..something about him.

The point is, we can now connect the whereabouts of the shadow entity with Nina and Massive Dynamic. Far more close to home and story-specific than the CIA.

That Nina, where there’s a pie, she will have her robot fingers in it!

Inner Circle

Circles within circles. Does this say anything about the nature of Fringe to you? It’s a way of using interesting imagery to reflect both nature and story thematic.

Observing The Observer

The Observer gets really close to Dunham, but not close enough for her to notice. He wanted a close-up view of how she rocked that dress. I guess?

Locke & Key

This shape is surely too prominent and weird-looking not to mean something? If we see it in episode 3.13, we’ll know that it was the ‘next episode clue’.

And it’s on a door – does that add any further context? Hm..KNOCK KNOCK.

Word Play

Nina figures out that the author of the various First People’s books – Seamus Wiles, is an anagram for Sam Weiss. ‘Bout time too.

Funny, when you think about it. We were put on high Sam Weiss alert at the end of season two, courtesy of an anagram on Walternate’s board, which read:


And it was Sam Weiss, who, back in “Dream Logic”, set Olivia the task of collecting business cards from people wearing red. At the end of it all he told her to take one letter in every name, both first and last, and to write them down. He then told her to jumble them to find the phrase that she needed to hear:

That phrase was “YOU’RE GONNA BE FINE”. These were Charlie’s first words to her on the job. They held special meaning because she was still coming to terms with his death and the fact that she didn’t know he was even gone before she killed the shapeshifter who had taken his identity.

So, we have a the first of three Sam Weiss related anagrams, as well as his ability to help heal people through his cryptic ‘games’, if you will.

Not to be overlooked is Olivia’s ability to find the answers – almost manipulating reality to her will. She needed to hear/see those words because she was grieving over Charlie, and she instinctively managed to find those words against the odds and without even trying.

And I guess we also have the cyclical nature of the story rearing its beautiful head.

I’m sure you can see what’s being implied here without me spelling it out for you. I think it’s worth laying it out like this though, because sometimes to know where you’re going, you have to remember from whence you came.

What’s Your Angle?

Interesting directorial choices with the slanted camera angles when Nina meets Sam. This reminds me of another slanted thematic – the lights, used the indicate the alternative universe/energy.

To me, the Nina/Sam rendition conveys a sense of unease, a feeling of being all at sea as our perception tilts one way and then the other like a ship caught in a storm or some kind of first wave.

There is some serious tilt-age going on – and it’s interesting that this happens when these two meet, and not necessarily when they are in scenes with other people. Again, this could be directorial preference and styling (and it is that), but it also plays into the slippery, mystical nature of these two characters.

This visual reiterates one of Sam’s key messages in this conversation. Just in case it slipped us by, it was “it depends on your point of view”. The sharp angles, if they could speak, would be screaming the word ‘perspective‘.

As for “Don’t Trust Sam Weiss” anagram thing – notice the way he turns his back to Nina? A deliberate sign that he is concealing something? Though it might also tell us something about Nina? It depends on your point of view.

Perhaps Sam is conveying the notion that Nina also needs to look within for the answers. Sam can tell her so much, but she has to ask the right questions and use the knowledge he gives her wisely.

Bearing in mind that Sam is basically telling Nina that whichever Olivia that Peter ends up with, it’ll be her universe that survives. Nina assumes that Peter will choose Olivia from Over Here. Sam cautions her, “I wouldn’t be so sure about that”.

Nina must concentrate..and ask again. Heck, Sam literally shows her a giant Magic 8 ball:

Again, notice the camera angle. I would suspect this was chosen because it looks interesting, while conveying the perception that Sam is operating at a higher frequency – perhaps from a higher realm? Remember, he’s ‘taller than he looks’.

Sam – as if he were an Observer – then sets the ball in motion. A metaphor perhaps? Yes. The ball collides into the red ball (Over There) with a clink and a ‘spark’.

Concentrate..ask again

Other Clues

  • I’ve already spoken quite a bit in my review (and throughout the series) about ‘wish fulfilment’ and the subconscious changing reality. This episode has a lot of direct references, including Olivia bemoaning the fact that Altlivia gets to wear a dress once in a while – and hey presto, the very next case sees Olivia realize her dream to wear a sexay dress. This is just one example. Finding out what Peter is thinking is another. This is not accident. It’s about the mind, the inner-self creating, or re-creating reality. It’s a self-help tool that may reveal the truth about the reality of the story’s reality. It’s an inherent part of our heroes journeys, but also the writing itself.
  • The glyphs for Concentrate and Ask Again spelled HATCH. As in Swan Station. As in air-locked. As in DUCKLING!. As in eggs. As in embryo. As in creepy-crawlies.


  1. vlada_vvv says

    Great article as usual)) Thanks for your thoughts Roco!

    BUT I was pretty surprised by this:

    “Bell and a man. Is this someone famous or relevant to the time the picture was taken?”

    Isn’t it clear that this is Walter at the picture? Just young and with beard.

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  2. Blind says

    Did the note on the safe “Stay Out – This means you!” remind anyone of the note on the Bra and Panties Tank? Maybe they were written by the same person.

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  3. Peanut says

    So Bell also had a “treasure trove of mythology porn”? Someone pointed out on Fringe-Forum that the items represent the various continents (except Antarctica?).

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    • Peanut says

      I note that one of the alt-universe articles is regarding the genetic resurrection of the SABER-TOOTHED CAT (TIGER), or Smilodon fatalis. “Smiley” was to be housed at the New San Diego Zoo. One of the items in Bell’s mythology porn stash is the skull of a saber-toothed tiger!

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      • fedorafadares says

        I agree. My favorite crackpot theory is that inter-universe travel makes those with “natural talent” like Olivia (and maybe Sam) a little smaller and possibly even younger looking because their molecules are compressed, more sticky, than others.

        Brandon said the danger with crossing was the opposite issue — molecules lose their cohesion with crossing too many times. Remember the coffee cup in Over There 1 — or William Bell, for that matter?

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    • fedorafadares says

      I was thinking about INtREPUS being reintroduced as the manufacturer of a chemical that made a viable pregnancy impossible.

      David Esterbrook, whom Olivia confronted in season 1, threatened Olivia that if she someday wanted a family “it would be a shame if something got in the way.”


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      • Peanut says

        Possible. References to the company keep cropping up in episodes.

        On the Other Side, Henry the cabbie was listening to the news on the radio & there was an item about restricting the number of children that a family could have or something to that effect. Jasika, the spoiler in chief, mentioned something about what pregnancy meant Over There compared to Over Here so there must be something different in the AU that we don’t know about.

        The glyph on one of the interview pages showed the apple glyph–I wonder if that means twins or two children are involved?

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        • fedorafadares says

          I forgot about the news report in Henry’s cab. Interesting. If there were a two-child limit and Fauxlivia were carrying twins, it would be her one shot to have a family. Would she feel conflicted having them with a father who is far beyond out-of-town?

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        • Kira says

          “…Jasika, the spoiler in chief…”

          I guess we knew it, but until now no title was formulated. (that I know)
          I like this one. 😉

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  4. Cortexifan says

    Great observations. I saw the baloon with something on it but it didn’t register that it could be a glyph. When I saw the floorplan of the museum layed out in the barn, it reminded me of the ladybug picture on Christopher Broyles’s nightstand in The Abducted. It looked odd then and I thought it might mean something.

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  5. lizw65 says

    “Remember, he’s ‘taller than he looks’.”
    Interesting–that was one of the first things I thought of in the scene with Sam and Nina. Nina was wearing very tall platform soles–which the camera took a moment to linger on–and Sam STILL towered over her (possibly with the help of those wonky camera angles everyone commented on) whereas in every past scene with Olivia, he appeared about the same height as her. Okay, the obvious reason is that Anna Torv is tall and Blair Brown is short, but given this show’s obsession with preception and individual perspective, I thought it was pretty interesting.

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  6. Inter-dimensional Dave says

    “Don’t Trust Sam Weiss”

    I sometimes wonder if Sam Weiss is running some sort of long con wherein he is playing both universes against each other as a means to his end. Is he working for the First People so they can cycle back to their existence? Or is he working for a third universe that needs the Red=verse or Blue-verse to go away for whatever reason. (Or are they the same thing!)

    I wish he had echoed Nina’s snow globe smashing metaphor by rolling that bowling ball down the alley and hitting a difficult 7 – 10 split symbolic of taking out both universes. That would have been great.

    As for Peter’s “frequency”. How do we know if the BBM will read Peters conscious decision (Olivia/Fauxlivia) correctly? What if it reads his subconscious vibe istead and eliminates the wrong universe.
    (See the Krell machine from “Forbidden Planet”)

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  7. says

    -Did anyone else think it was significant that the balloons at the first victim, Warren’s, office party were all blue, red or yellow? Could yellow represent the possible 3rd universe? Or are they just balloons. :)
    -Also, what about the fact that the poison that was emitted was blue. Probably nothing, but thought it was a fun color choice to make (since that’s usually representative of our ‘verse).
    -Also there was a red, blue and yellow light on Simon’s desk when we first go into the cabin for tea. Again, with the 3 colors.
    -The farm at Pembroke, the lights on the emergency vehicles were blue, red and yellow. Probably standard, but interesting.
    -Also, just seems like there was a lot more blue used in this episode. Or maybe I’m just now noticing. Lots of blue lighting in the lab, in the CDC suits onto their faces, punch buggy blue, blue floor in the FBI building, hospital seemed to have lots of blue hues too, blue lighting on the drive back to Simon’s at end of the night, at the fundraiser there were lots of women in either red or blue dresses (if not in standard black), lights in Sam’s bowling alley are blue (with accents of red paint)

    Sorry for rambling, I may just be overly sensitive to the colors used in this episode! :)

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    • says

      I noticed the three colors also. Many have speculated that yellow is the color of a 3rd universe that just hasn’t been introduced yet. And Olivia doesn’t like yellow…..

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      • Fringie6989 says

        Ooh I’ve heard that yellow may represent a third universe and Olivia made it clear on several occasions that she hated that color…I just never heard those two put together. So maybe the war will be even bigger than previously thought…ooh another thing to keep me up at night thinking about :)

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  8. Jenn Hoff says

    Ohhh, interesting! “…she was still coming to terms with his death and the fact that she didn’t know he was even gone before she killed the shapeshifter who had taken his identity.” Why, Olivia! You mean you DIDN’T realize that he wasn’t him? That he was someone who had taken his identity? How very un-observant of you. Don’t tell Peter…..

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    • Wikiaddicted723 says

      ohoho, I like this….maybe someone should tell her that? come on Sam, you know you want to….but then again, he’s not to be trusted.

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  9. Dana Hale says

    Not that I want to bring up BABY again, but when I saw the Intrepus logo in the first scene, I did immediately think of David Esterbrook threatening Olivia with the words “You’re still young, I’m sure you’ll want to start a family some day.” …or something to that effect.

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    • Ric says

      Me too! I laughed out loud-
      as for the pediatrician side: I don’t think the good doctor had a chapter on injecting Cortexiphan into a naughty child….

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  10. Jaq says

    As for the photos… remember Blade Runner – Photos are all we have to prove we have lived, they are our memories. Without the photos how do we know it really happened?

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  11. Mike Mike says

    The shot of Sam with his hand on the black bowling ball indicates that he can influence which universe survives. “He’s got the whole world in his hands, he’s got the whole wide world in his hands.”

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