Welcome to our review for episode 10 of Fringe season 3 – “The Firefly”.
In this review we provide honest opinions on the good and the bad aspects of the episode. We identify the answers that were provided and the mysteries that remain locked away. We take an in-depth look at other aspects of the episode that made an impression on us, before rounding off the review with our final thoughts, hero of the week, and episode rating.
- Broader perspective on the Observers with more hints to their overarching function. Our follically challenged fellas didn’t just support proceedings, they moved them forward in interesting directions.
- Michael Ceveris. Perhaps it’s easy portraying the Observer? But I would imagine that, particularly in an episode like this, a lot of thought goes into realizing September and maintaining a level of continuity, while still throwing out interesting glimpses and glances that keep the character fresh. Michael Cerveris is utterly believable as The Observer, and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance.
- Incremental Love. Like Alice down a hole, I became rather invested in the so-called love story that has perpetrated the season. But I could do with a breather. I thought they got the balance right by giving us incremental development of the Olivia, Altlivia and Peter triangle, while concentrating largely on the mythology of the Observers, the central arc, and the good stuff I signed up for.
- Blending. I appreciated the way the two stories bled into one another. Understanding why the Observer brought Bobby through time and how this affected Walter’s ambition to save Peter from his future. It was nicely done and well balanced.
- Action. When you have Observers catching bullets and sending people through glass, you know it’s going to be an episode that keeps you engaged. Some really good action sequences in this one – much needed after the slow earn that was “Marionette”.
- Cinematography and Visuals. Visually, I would compare this episode to “Ability”, but with greater range and more meaningful story elements. I enjoyed the way that the characters and action were captured. A couple of sequences were filmed and decorated in ways that I found interesting, enhancing my overall enjoyment of the episode.
- Walter’s Change. It’s been a big issue for me as far as Walter goes, so I’m glad that he FINALLY showed signs of change. I’m also pleased that the story has recognized it as something that will define Walter’s true measure. He’s still got a long way to go, but the first brick is in place. I await his arrival with open arms and a box of cakes.
- The Story. I never read anyone else’s thoughts before I write these reviews, so it will be interesting to see what the community made of the storytelling itself. Personally, I thought it was charming, intriguing and wonderfully timed. While it wasn’t perfect in its execution, there’s an inherent ‘quality’ to the storytelling and the way that ideas and concepts are translated. It’s like a stronger, more realized version of “August” and “White Tulip”.
- While I liked the Roscoe Joyce storyline, he felt a bit like a spare wheel at times. Providing an interesting plot without the character integration I was hoping for. I would have liked a bit more Joyce for my dollar, as I didn’t quite believe him as either a former musician or a nursing home patient. Roscoe was good and useful to my understanding of the story, but there was just something missing. I struggled to see him as a realized character. No Alistair Peck, he was.
- Contrivance Street. I think Walter arriving at the scene of the crash so quickly is pushing things a little bit. The scene gives the impression that he was there within the minute. Walter is many things, but he is not The Flash and the BishopMobile is not the MoleTank.
- The Serum Plot Device. The contrivance of the serum is washed away slightly by the fact that there was an broader point to it – the Observers experiment, part geared towards saving Walter’s life. However, it’s still one of the episode’s weaker elements because it seemed so ‘matter-of-fact’. The idea that Walter would have died in this episode is ridiculous given the fact that the story didn’t carry that kind of weight, certainly not in that direction. More embellishment was needed. The show has managed to raise stakes pretty well (of late) considering how unlikely it is that any of our main three will die any time soon. But this element didn’t work, even though I understand the larger point being made.
- Got Milk? I may have wanted more embellishment, but not the kind that overplays the focus on the milk as Walter puts it in the fridge. It’s about fractions and finding the right balance, but I think they overcooked that goose. Kinda dumbed things down a bit. There were a few other examples, such as December stating the obvious. A minor quibble.
- No, After You. No, After You. The Fringe Team seem to be waiting around for Walternate to do his thing. I just think there’s something fundamentally wrong with that. Sure, this happened to be a main arc investigation (no thanks to them), but there’s little evidence that the team are doing anything proactive about the End of Days scenario that looms like an eagle over Mole Field. It’s a story, I get that, but it’s to the show’s credit that I would expect more from it in that sense. Perhaps “Marionette” didn’t help in this regard, but don’t expect me to invest in love triangles when the reality of the war is not tangible.
THE BIG MYSTERIES
- By what method do the Observers transport people through time?
- The Observers believe that Walter has changed enough to be willing to sacrifice Peter when the time comes. When will the time come? Will that sacrifice result in death for Peter, or is it a gamble?
- What did September mean when he told Peter that it must be difficult being a father? Who is, or will become pregnant out of Olivia and Altlivia? Or is he referring to something more trippy? Why will Peter find the experience ‘difficult’?
- What is the Observers means of travel? In simple terms: how do they do it?
- What would have happened to Jewellery Store Girl (JSG) had Walter not given Peter the keys. Would she have died? Seemingly, the Observers conclusion regarding Walter’s ‘capacity’ would have been different – how would this have affected the timeline?
- At which point did September realize that Bobby would die as a result of Peter catching the firefly – when did the picture become clear?
- Did September take Bobby through time to meet his father ‘before’ he died or was it a retroactive decision? Does it matter, given the non-linear way in which the Observers see and interact with time?
- Is the Observers interest in the Bishops merely part of their larger goal, or the very reason for their existence?
THE BIG ANSWERS
- Bobby Joyce died in 1985, the result of a complicated sequence of events triggered by Walter taking Peter from the alternate universe. Basically, Peter caught a firefly that he wasn’t supposed to.
- Roscoe says he broke up Violet Sedan Chair due to creative differences, but it’s really because he lost hope once Bobby died.
- September put this chain of events in motion to test whether or not Walter had changed. It was an experiment to see whether Walter was willing to let Peter die. By the end, the Observers conclude that Walter will be willing to let Peter die when the time comes.
- Walter says that the Observers are not human – and reiterates the idea that their minds are not like ours.
- December has observed Walter for just as long as September. Just not as..closely. *shivers*
- Now that’s a sight you want to see in the morning. Very strange opening, not so much because walter was in his underpants (that’s par for the course, right?), but the incorporation of the music – hard to tell where it was coming from.
Walter: “Peter, you’re up early.”
Peter: “Oh no, I’m still asleep upstairs in my bed, you’re just talking to an astral projection of me”
- You’re growing on me, Peter. You’re really growing on me.
- Interesting to hear Walter confess that he’s ‘not the equal of his equal’. I took this as him seeing Walternate as a realized, perhaps ‘better’, version of himself. It’s also good to see Walter finally being proactive – I’ve said this for a long time, the BOOM-BOOM-MACHINE (BBM) problem wont fix itself and we Walter to stop cowering in self-interest. Glad to see the story is moving in that direction.
Walter: “Walternate. If I can think like him, then I can figure out what he’s trying to do with that device”
- Dude, I think he’s trying to push the Big Red BOOM Button (BRBB). But, maybe there is more to it than that.
“..and how to keep you safe.”
- Ah, the caveat.
- Despite my interest in Walter taking hold of the reigns, I realize that the task is not without hazards. Like I’ve said before, to get back from the fringe, you have to cross a few lines. So it’s good to see Peter remind Walter that he asked William Bell to remove pieces from his brain for a reason, “because you were afraid of what you were becoming”.
- I do love that: ‘afraid of what you were becoming’. We all have a sense of what it means, but at the same time it’s still fairly ambiguous because it’s an introspective statement. How did Walter see himself, and what was his primary motivation for stripping his cognitive infrastructure?
Peter: “I don’t want to see you hurt yourself”
- Yes, move the needle away from your ass, Walter.”
Nurse Friendly: “That’s Mr. Joyce. He’s a sleep walker “
- There’s that sleep reference cropping up again.
Nurse Friendly: “Mr Joyce, are you awake? Who were you talking to? That boy, where did he go?”
Roscoe: “I was talking to.. Bobby”
- Bobby died in that most famous of years, 1985. It was clear where this one was going. As alluded to by the online graphic novel. But I still found the ride interesting.
- Really nice direction as the camera sweeps across Roscoe’s slightly crazed expression and the scene transitions to Bobby with September on a little hill.
September: “Did you tell him?”
Bobby: “What now?”
September: “I take you back home, I gotsta catch Fringe at 9.”
- I thought this was really interesting. The idea of the Observer taking someone through time came with dreamlike connotations is not far removed from Walter talking young Peter back with him through the portal. As Roscoe later reveals, Bobby doubted the ‘reality’ of this event – he winds up believing it was just a “strange dream”. This is quite similar to young Peter’s experience.
- In fact, it would be useful to know whether Bobby believed he was in a dream throughout the experience, or whether that perception only came afterwards. That’s the thing about dreams – how do you know whether you’re in one, unless the top keeps spinning? The very notion of the Observers using dreams as a ‘means’, causes me to look more closely at their methods. The word insidious comes to mind.
- I think this is interesting in itself – are people more compliant, open-minded, while in a dreamstate? I think that’s been suggested many times already, and I continue to wonder whether some of what we are actually seeing is indeed a ‘dream’. I continue to question the reality of both realities in the grand scheme of things.
- And..the Observers can bring people with them through time? Nice reveal. One wonders whether this has been done or implied previously in the story without us necessarily realizing? I have a few ideas of where the writers could make that be the case. It also gives us a much broader perspective of how the Observers see time. As we know, it’s not linear, but it’s extremely fluid. It’s not out of the quesiton, I think, for them to be ‘constantly’ bringing people through time, rearranging the picture.
- How cute, Peter bought Olivia a present to say sorry for sleeping with her shadow. Thank Molebaby it wasn’t that nurses outfit you came so close to ordering, huh Peter. How would he have explained that one?
Peter: “I’m not the easiest person to get to know. I thought that you should dress as a nurse to get inside my mind. It was meant for you and me, Olivia. You’re the one I wanted to share the outfit with. I even shaved my legs. Now NURSE ME!”
- Actually, the book was an interesting little side story, giving us enough of the infernal triangle without swamping the episode with woemance. Poor Olivia, though. How about a bunch of flowers and some chocs, Peter? Actually, that would probably make it worse. What’s a boy to do?
Olivia: “The Observer? It’s been a while since we’ve seen him”
- Yes, well Observers don’t grow on trees you know! Well, maybe they do, who knows? I didn’t like the way Olivia said that line. So matter-of-fact, as though they’re just waiting for mythology to drop into their laps!
- Nice parallel with Walter and Roscoe both having spent time in a ‘home of care’, shall we say. You can see how Walter’s Zero Event tied them together in ways that couldn’t necessarily have been predicted.
- What’s particularly interesting about this is that Roscoe was Walter’s musical idol. I’m getting a flash of ‘wish fulfillment’ here which plays into my belief that some, if not all, of the events in the story are manifested by the subconscious mind.
- It’s as though some force, be it nature or the subconscious mind, uses one’s internal infrastructure as a guide – presenting an illusion of coincidence out of the true nature of things. And of course, this plays into the cyclical nature of the show – which I’ll keep mentioning until the wheel stops. *still spinning*
Peter: “You ever heard of Violet Sedan Chair?”
Peter: “It’s Walter’s favorite band. Roscoe Joyce is their keyboardist, he’s a hero of Walter’s, he’s up there with Einstein and Tesla”
- Roscoe says something that’s probably meaningful:
Roscoe: “It’s a curse not remembering a miracle. It was a miracle, seeing him again. Can you imagine what that’s like?”
- Sure he can Ros, better than you know. Walter explains to Broyles why a ghost isn’t a ghost:
Walter: “The Observer doesn’t see time like we do. If we can accept that he can travel from the past to the present, back to the past again, then it’s not inconceivable that he could bring others with him”
- Which really opens up the possibilities. We’ve all speculated it of course, but to get some more hints on the Observers is very useful.
Peter: “Why would the Observer drag a dead man 25 years through time just to talk with his father?”
Walter: “I don’t know, but every time the Observer shows up it has something to do with you. And every time something bad.”
- It would be interesting know how the script directed John Noble to deliver that line, as it seemed to contain a wee touch of bitterness. As though Walter is plain tired of having to worry about protecting his son. I like that, because as much as Walter wuvs Peter, it must be one heck of a burden having to play this game of perpetual chess. I’m not saying that Walter hates Peter, but he certainly hates the game.
- Thing is, these are the seeds that Walter sowed in nature’s garden. As is later expressed in the episode, you just don’t get second chances like the one he wrangled out of Mother Nate, so he has to accept the consequences and strive for redemption. That being said, he’s not alone.
- I wonder what consequences await the Observers? Altruistic, perhaps, but it would be a lot more interesting to me if they are also burdened by their mistakes. We know they are capable of emotion – heck, we saw an Observer cry. So hopefully we’ll explore this extremely interesting possibility in more depth. This episode certainly touched on the idea.
- Again, poor Olivia. She thought her and Peter would grow old and grey together, eating toffee with their gums and laughing about the time Peter wore than purple tux. Though I’m surprised she let Peter see her looking at the senior couple. I guess she thought it was a good segue to give him the book, while also sticking the knife in a bit. You don’t fool me, Livvy! Though I don’t blame her. Peter is hopefully man enough to suffer a bit more.
- Olivia keeps saying “It’s OK”, when clearly it’s not. You have to feel a bit sorry for Peter though, the guy just can’t get a word in edge-ways. Now, I’m all for Olivia finding her way through this, but shutting the guy down like this, giving him no means of explaining his side of the story – well, that’s cold, and somewhat mean. I have your back, Livvy, and I know he hurt ya, but maybe he has something to say that’s worth hearing. Give it a try when you’re ready.
- Hee! Trying to fight the Observers is a fools errand. Gotta love September kicking ass and breaking glass. Gotham can sleep easy tonight.
- I guess ‘not getting involved’ is not always an option, for the Observers. We’ve seen it with Peter and Christine, and once more we see direct Observer involvement in events. My interpretation is that though there are multiple paths constantly appearing through every action and choice, there is a preferred, or ‘natural path, that exists. This is the one they are trying to steer ‘reality’ towards.
- Though it continues to beg the question of choice and freewill. If there is one natural path, could that imply that on some level freewill is an artificial concept, brought into being by some kind of irregularity? Or perhaps we’re looking at them rectifying the ‘original’ order of things where initial freewill still resides. Speculation is f.u.n.
- To fully explore this we need to know more on the Observers overarching objective, or more to the point, whether theirs is a subjective directive borne out of a perceived necessity for the survival of reality (impeding apocalypse?), or one that truly is ‘nature’s law’ – whatever that is these days.
- The fighting style of the observers is also interesting. It’s basic, with a just touch of flair. It’s not easy fighting crime while wearing a fedora. But one has to look the part.
- The inhaler thing. It almost plays as though it wasn’t originally part of September’s plan. That it was an opportunity, from the sea of opportunities, that presented itself. I guess there were various means he could have used to get Walter to choose between a life and Peter, this one came into view and worked for the purpose of the experiment.
- It illustrates how their view of time works. Though this is marked by the notion that some occurrences are far more difficult to see – such as Peter catching that firefly. The most famous non-famous firefly EVER. Made important by Peter. And by extension, Walter. And by further extension, Walter’s original Peter. And by… ah, you get the idea.
- September helped the JSG to breathe. A metaphor in waiting, perhaps? Notice his expression changes from one of distant intrigue, to one tinged with emotion. Michael Cerveris does a convincing job here, adding little details that really bring the character to life. I wonder whether that tilting head movement is something he came up with on his own, or something that was originally in the way-back script?
Walter: “Roscoe’s mind doesn’t work like ours, his creativity is expressed through music”
- Walter also contrasts the mind of the Observer.
Olivia: “I thought maybe the traffic cameras would have picked up the Observer, but no such luck”
- Thanks Olivia. Because you said it, now I don’t have to see it as a contrivance. That’s how it works, right?
- LOL. So much body language going on between Olivia and Peter. Keep it to yourselves, guys!
Pete Sake: “I just want to try and explain the book”
Olivia: “You don’t have to [you better, if you want to come out of this episode alive]”
Peter: “She asked me what my fave book was. I understand she was probably just trying to gather information on me, but I also know that I’m not the easiest guy to get to know. It’s always been easier for me to keep people at arms length. Which is actually something that I think we have in common”.
- Nice, Peter. Not sure I buy into all that, but I can see you’ve put a lot of thought into what you were going to say. Nothing wrong with that, but there’s a disconnect because as much as the ‘story’ wants us to believe that Peter is very stand-offish, he’s not really portrayed that way. Not really.
- Even taking into the account the very real idea that people project different sides of themselves as a way of defending the fort, I don’t believe the reality of that line as much as Peter hopes Olivia did. That being said, he’s no fool is our Peter, bridging the gap by identifying his nature with Olivia’s, caused a response. It thawed the ice. You can tell because she glanced up at him when she heard something she wanted to hear. Is it enough? Not yet.
Peter: “The book wasn’t meant for her. It was meant for the Olivia Dunham that I’ve spent the last couple of years of my life with. Because I wanted you to read it. You’re the person I wanted to share it with”
- This is where Peter falls down in my book. He’s essentially writing off his experience with Altlivia because he’s unsure whether she was just using him. What about when he finds out that, in actual fact, she did have feelings for him? (contrived as that is, it’s what the story implied back in “Entrada”).
- I appreciate that the book was meant for Olivia, but it was also meant for Altlivia. It’s virtually impossible to untangle the situation like that. And if Olivia would stop and think, she’d realize that a guy who is so quick to dismiss the investment of relationship in one woman, could easily do the same to her. I’m not painting Peter as a villain. It’s an unfortunate situation, but he’s really not doing himself any favors. Still, glad Olivia finally let the man speak.
- Speaking of speaking, she can barely bring herself to speak:
Olivia: “You know I feel like Rip Van Winkle. Everything is different. Even you opening up to me is different. And this book is just a reminder of all the things I missed. Conversations we didn’t have..”
- Exactly. Well said, Olivia. She presented herself very well. We didn’t need to see another garden freak-out. Though someone needs to teach Astrid the art of timing. Seriously.
- And good to see Peter actually feeling the weight of his actions. He was far too care-free in the previous episode, downing milkshakes and yukking it up with Daddy. I don’t want the guy the hang himself, but show that it matters. Because, apparently this storyline matters.
- A nice scene right here:
Roscoe: “Bobby. I didn’t believe it was him. I’ve been so lost since I’d seen him. I asked him if he was real. He took my hand. He was real.”
Roscoe: “He told me, I would meet you – Walter Bishop. He called you by name. Bobby said I was supposed to help you.”
Walter: “Help me? How?”
Roscoe: “I don’t know”
September: “It has begun. I have set everything in motion”
December: “I have watched Doctor Bishop as long as you have. Perhaps not as closely, But I think you’re wrong. He wont do it.”
September: “I disagree. I believe he has changed”
- Again, fascinating. They can see some choices, paths in broad strokes, while others are more difficult to foresee. I think it’s just worth illustrating that point again because it’s important for understanding why there are certain limitations on what the Observers can and can’t perceive. It makes them fallible, which continues to be a wonderful concept for the story.
December: “You think he has changed. I don’t believe he has. In either case, I suppose we will find out soon enough”
- Spells it out a bit too much, but love this. Not to go on about it, but since so many disagreed, it vindicates what I’ve been saying about Walter needing to change. I realize that some people don’t see that as a necessity, but it’s one of the reasons I am unable to embrace Walter. I’m also glad for more embellishment on the idea that the Observers themselves can come to different conclusions. They sometimes see things differently, their perspectives tilted at different degrees. How very interesting.
- What are these different outlooks based on? Are their perspectives shaped by their experiences in life or forged by their inherent ‘design’? We often talk about the impact of nurture vs nature in terms of the ‘human’ characters in the story, so why not the Observers?
- Perhaps it has to do with what December said – on how close they are to certain people and events. We saw the impact that being close to Christine had on August. Ultimately, he was vindicated in his view that she didn’t have to die – he found a way to save her life by making her important. He essentially cheated fate. An Observer cheated fate.
- Perhaps it’s a number of these things that cause Observers to see time and people (I can’t emphasize that enough) differently, even if they’re all plugged into the same goal.
- I also took away from the scene that (relatively speaking) September seems to have ‘matured’ since 1985, when he made the ‘mistake’ of interrupting Walternate as he was about to discover the cure for Peter. Dare I say he’s become obsessed with undoing that mistake? It’s personal to him – at least that’s how I like to view it – particularly with the ‘August’ foreshadowing.
- I’m also struck by just how often December is wrong. Dude is probably one of the senior Observers and he’s just wrong all of the time. Maybe it’s time for him to hang up his hat? (I jest, I jest).
- There you have it, folks. The scoop on why Violet Sedan Chair broke up. “Creative differences”. I sense that Walter and Bell suffered similar difficulties. Walter knows all too well how unforgiving time can be:
“I spent years away from the things I love. I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of it ever since”
- JSG says she didn’t think the Observer was “real”. Thanks, I’ll take that away and store it in my brain.
- September interrupts Walter like he did Walternate all those years ago. Of course, he could have just told Walter not to drink the ‘POISEN ME’ milk, but that would have ruined his experiment.
- I still wonder what exactly September said to Walternate back in 1985. Was it anything important? Did he say he was looking for Poly Sci? Further makes me wonder why September made such a mistake in the first place? I would say he was relatively ‘new’ at the observer game, but it seems as though it was a mistake that another Observer might not have made. Perhaps it was just a difficult event to foresee – but again, I ask why it was so difficult?
- Could the unpredictability of the moment have been influenced by Walter watching from the other side? Perhaps it wasn’t so much the ‘moment’ that was unforeseen, as the sequence of events that led up to it? Either way, it’s something worth thinking about.
- One of the best scenes of the season so far. I love September’s curiosity:
September: “You call it Autumn, is that right? Lovely word”
- This tells us a little bit of something. Wherever the Observers come from, whether it’s the perceived future, another universe, or someone’s crazy mind, they’re unfamiliar with the word ‘autumn’, and seemingly autumn itself. I would suggest that they don’t have trees, or leaves where they come from. It’s also quite something to see the Observer so relaxed. Sure, he’s contained at the best of times, but here he’s soaking up the world around him, appreciating something beautiful.
- When Walter grabbed his arm I thought he was going to go nuts on big W’s ass. Love his “exsqueeze me!?” expression. It’s a detail that intrigues me. He could have blankly ignored Walter’s aggression, but it informed him of Walter’s anxiety, almost as though he didn’t expect..or see it coming.
Walter: “We had a deal. Don’t take him from me. The drawing. Peter and the device. You know the future. Tell me how I can save my son from dying”.
September: “There are things that I know, but there are things that I do not. Various possible futures are happening simultaneously. I can tell you all of them. But I cannot tell you which one of them, will come to pass”
- The Observers can see all futures – they can even describe ALL of them (it’s as simple, if you will, as listing everything that could possibly happen). The difficulty comes in working out which are most likely to happen. Further adding context to why September made his mistake with Walternate and the cure, and his efforts to fix it.
- It could be said that September saw the potential outcome, but didn’t consider it to be a likely outcome. Of course, once it happened it influenced future paths by degrees or miles, as does every action and decision. The question is, why they can’t undo that action by making sure that Peter didn’t catch the firefly?
September: “Because every action causes ripples. Consequences both obvious, and unforeseen. For instance, after I pulled you and Peter from the icy lake, later that summer Peter caught a firefly. I could not have known he would do that. Or that because he did, a young girl three miles away would not. And so later that night, she would continue looking, trying to find another one. I could not have known that when she didn’t come home her father would go out looking for her, driving in the rain, so that when the traffic light turned red, his truck skidded through the intersection at Harvard yard, killing a pedestrian”
Walter: “Did that happen?”
September: “You and I have interfered with the natural course of events. We have…upset the balance, in ways I could not have predicted. Which is why, now I need your help”
September: “When the time comes, give him the keys and save the girl”
Walter: “Give him the keys, what do you mean? What girl?”
- One of the most rhythmic pieces of dialogue this season. There’s a flow to it that I find almost poetic. Again Cerveris excelled, bringing so much restrained, yet authentic emotion to the Observer. The way he almost smiles as he recalls the cherished memory of young Peter catching the firefly, before his face washes over in sorrow at the consequences that action brought. Actually, it’s not so much as though he’s remembering these events, it’s as if he is observing them at the same time that he’s describing them. Apologies, but I simply have to use the F-word: Fascinating.
- It is matched by what I took to be personal regret at his own failings. September becomes more emotional as he reflects on the fact that with Walter he has helped ‘upset the balance’. Imagine what that must be like for an Observer? To upset what you were tasked to balance. It’s quite a confession from September, and makes him seem human for a brief moment.
- It’s pretty much a 10/10 scene – acting, writing, directing, setting, context, resonance, and with just enough sentimental music to push it across the finishing line. It’s a keeper.
- And of course, if you take your eye off an Observer, you are no longer observing him.
- I spoke about Bobby’s ‘dream’ earlier. I find it interesting that this was the last conversation Roscoe ever had with his son. September calls Bobby’s death an ‘unforseen circumstance’, but given that he took Bobby through time ‘prior’ to his death (relatively speaking), this suggests that he may have been able to prevent Bobby’s demise (ala August/Christine) if it wasn’t for those darn rulez. He saw the event, he just didn’t see that Walter kidnapping Peter would lead to it. That’s how I’m taking it, although I’m also open to retroactive Observer tampering – going back to slightly manipulate (not change) what had ‘already’ been set in motion.
Roscoe: “They said it wasn’t anybody’s fault. When I lost my son, nothing seemed to matter anymore. That’s the reason I broke up the band.”
- Two things: In this scene Roscoe most clearly becomes a substitute for both Walternate and Walter himself – illustrating once more the interconnected consequence of an action, and the way that it envelopes those involved forever and ever.
- Secondly, it’s significant on a character-level that Walter is technically responsible for the break-up of his own favorite band. Talk about killing false idols – that’s exactly what Walter has done. Not just literally, but you could argue that he killed them subconsciously – through an intuitive guilt process. That’s where this story resonates most, in the meaning within its meaning.
- It must be so hard to constantly come face-to-face with reminders of the irreparable damage he has done. An entire universe or two may be difficult to relate to. But its these intimate, personal encounters that must surely burn Walter the most. Again, this is why I’ve been banging on about his need to change. Run around in your underpants all you want, but you might as well be sticking the middle finger up at all the lives you’ve ruined, Walt. And I get it, sometimes things are so crazy that automatically our defence systems kick into gear. I understand, Walter. But that’s not to say you don’t need a little push, or a kick up the backside.
- Roscoe says that ‘playing again felt good, felt right’, and that maybe that’s why Bobby came back. There’s significance in that idea – doing something that genuinely feels good and unexpectedly receiving something good in return. It’s cyclical. Walter needs to take this advice – indeed, he finally makes steps in that direction.
- This might not be true, but I’d rather like to think that the Observer performed his experiment not only to test Walter, but also to give Roscoe one last meeting with his son. I think I’ve seen enough of September to know that he’s a sentimental SOB underneath that hat.
- Walter immediately tells Astrid his realization:
Walter: “I know what the Observer is doing. The day I crossed over and saved [stole] Peter, I set off a chain-reaction. I set the universe off-balance. Two of them. I’ve seen the damage with my own eyes, but it’s not enough..it’s not enough to understand the suffering I’ve caused.”
- How interesting. When I made the earlier comment about the ‘intimate suffering having a greater impact on Walter than the meta-suffering’, I made the note based entirely on the earlier scene, prior to getting Walter’s confession. Spooky.
Astrid: “Walter we’ve been over this, you couldn’t of known”
Walter: “That’s the point – the unforeseen consequences, but my fault just the same. That man, has lost a son, because I was unwilling to lose mine. The Observer is trying to restore balance and he wants me to help him. To help undo all the damage I’ve caused but I can’t do it don’t you see, doing that I will lose him all over again”
Astrid: “Lose who?”
- Astrid’s beginning to grate on me. I’m tired of her making feeble excuses for everyone and saying stuff just for the sake of saying stuff. She’s in danger of becoming season 1 Astrid all over again: “lose who?” – are you serious, Astrix?
- Walter arrives at the scene of the accident veeery quickly. Did the Observer pull him through time?
Peter: “Save the world, save the cheerleader”
Walter: “Say What?”
Peter: “I said give me the keys and save the girl”
Walter: “He told me you’d say that. The Observer. This is him. This is his plan, this is what he wants”
Peter: “You spoke with the Observer?”
Walter: “YES! He is course-correcting, I don’t know how but he’s done some kind of a chain-reaction, it started from the moment that we walked into that nursing home to meet Roscoe..”
- As we understand it, all actions manifest another reality – the road not taken concept. We know that the Observers can see all of these future possibilities. The question I have now, is whether the Observers are present in all of these realities, or are they only present in the realities they physically observe, thus bringing these paths into some kind of conscious ‘reality’. It’s the old tree falling in the rain forest thing that we started with back in season 1. It could be interesting to look at perceived reality vs actual parallel universes, and where the demarcation line rests in that regard.
Walter: “..everything since has been the sequence culminating in this very moment, and if I save this woman and let you go then I’m afraid [of] the consequences..you’re gonna die, Peter. They’ll take you from me”
Peter: “Walter, you can’t predict the future and neither can I, but if you don’t help that girl right now then she’s gonna die in the street, can you dig it?”
Walter: “They’ll take you from me..”
Peter: “Walter..give me the keys. Give me the keys, Walter”
- I hope an Observer was there to record that moment. December was probably up in a tree somewhere taking notes. I think I’ve been waiting for such a moment for longer than the Observers. Walter’s selfishness ’til the last was difficult to stomach, but he got there in the end. And that’s good enough for me because change is not easy.
- Letting go and placing faith in a higher power, the natural flow of events, or whatever, is not easy. That’s why it’s called a leap. That’s why these particular challenges keep on happening to Walter – because they’re his personal challenges. It’s not about what anyone else will do in this situation, as I’ve often heard people say – it’s about what he would do.
- Back in 1985 he put the first crack in a pattern of cracks in the fabric of the universe. Today he put the first stitch in what will hopefully become a pattern of stitches in the fabric of the universe. This is what I need to see from Walter. As I said a long time ago, it may very well cost him Peter, but he’s had a second chance he should never have had. He saved the boy, hopefully one day that will be enough for him to make the ultimate sacrifice, should he need to for the common good.
- Though the Observer put events in motion and Walter made the decision to save the girl, it’s worth noting that it was Peter who all but asked Walter to let it be, to let fate decide. The classic father/son image reminds us that we are not masters of our own fates, but we can be kings, queens, and moles of our own destiny – we can influence the way in which we get to our destinations, and how we feel about our choices.
- Not being able to predict the future can, in many ways, be seen as a blessing. Because how could we choose, knowing what we’d know? Would we have the responsibility, the morality to do what’s best for the common good, or would we help ourselves, and in the process harm ourselves and those we love, those we don’t even know? Not even the Observers can get it right all the time, and I think that’s a meaningful ‘reflection’, to be filed away with all the other little reflections from previous installments.
- That’s not to say it’s easy – it’s not. Neither is catching a firefly.
- Never thought I’d see an Observer run. There are some things that should be reserved for mere humans. I do love the idea though – there’s something about seeing the Observer run through a crowd of people, with the pavement being pounded behind him by the DUNHAMNATOR. Someone give her a red eye, already. I find it funny how the general public don’t seem to notice the Observers.
- Holy Moley! We almost lost Petah! I did love his: I’ll just crouch down like this and the truck wont hurt me pose. Clearly the “Boy Wonder” tag has gotten to his head. You’re not a machine y’know, Peter! Oh, wait..
- What did this mean though – what was the point of this scene? I think it was a succinct way to illustrate that Peter is on a road that wasn’t supposed to have been taken. It may also do a couple of other things in terms of allusions to his observation being impaired, foreshadowing his own fate, triggering another chain reaction, or of course, setting up more Faux!Peril ahead with Mr. Observer.
- The meeting Peter has been waiting for since “The Arrival”. He’s NOT gonna leave Peter on his ass this time!
Peter: “What is this all about? You know it, don’t you? The picture of me and the device. What does it mean? What’s going to happen to me?
September: “It must be very difficult..being a father”
- Unfortunately, this moment carries the weight of a feather for me, courtesy of unofficial
spoilersruiners. Not cool. That being said, it’s an interesting development with seeds foreshadowed earlier in the season.
- From knocking down doors to knocking up Altlivia. The Observer OBSERVERNATES! him for getting bright-eyes preggers. Or could it be Future Olivia who’ll be swinging low? Or perhaps it’s something even more twisty than that? “Walter, I am your father”.
- September’s line is intentionally ambiguous. An alternative idea is that it doesn’t relate to Peter directly. September may be making reference to Walter, thus opening Peter’s mind and heart to the ‘difficult’ decisions that Walter will be ‘willing’ to make when the time comes. Preparing, enabling him to relate, to understand. Likewise, it may be a reference to Roscoe. It could even carry some meta significance.
- But for it to hold the most weight and to make the most sense, it should relate primarily to Peter. But multiple meanings is what Fringe does.
- Oh, how I laughed. The Observer is always zapping Peter about the place. Do I sense some animosity there, Mr. September? Not sure that’s actually true, but it would be interesting.
- Olivia checks if Peter is still alive (she might still have use for him later, okay?), then chases after her Observer – who acts differently around her than with Peter. That seems to be a conscious decision on his part. He could zap Olivia if he wanted. Does it have something to do with her ability, or is he an Olivia supporter like the rest of the world?
- In the first season it certainly seemed as though it was Olivia who he was observing most closely. Either the writers changed their minds, or the onion’s outer ring has barely been peeled. Actually, I suspect it’s a bit of both.
- Again, it’s interesting to note the Observer’s ability to disappear when he goes out of sight, giving more credence to JSG’s ‘throw-away comment’ that he didn’t seem ‘real’. Reality is subjective, no doubt there’s something being implied here, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find its roots in actual science. Quantum Powa!
- Peter wakes up from his daily dose of ass-whooping. Olivia looks around, turns back to find that her bald friend has made like thin-air and disappeared. She can barely believe her eyes, yet she’s not completely gobsmacked.
- You know what would be cool – an episode titled “Blink”, featuring the Observers and those beguiling Weeping Angels from Doctor Who.
- And let me just say how great it was to see Olivia up on the roof, roof, once again. That Steig chase from the pilot will always been one of my favorite Fringe moments.
- Walter did the right thing, and his boy came back to him – just as Roscoe had subconsciously told him earlier. Interesting that Walter thought Olivia was talking about Peter when she said, “we lost him”. As if Olivia would be so matter-of-fact with Boy Wonder’s life! *cough*
- Snark aside, it was important, I guess, as it showed that Walter genuinely believed that his decision had cost Peter’s life. It’s no good doing big morality tests if you know that the stakes aren’t real. Walter needed to experience this event.
Olivia: “Why would you think we lost Peter?”
Walter: [“it doesn’t make sense. Why would the Observer do all this?”]
- Maybe he wanted to kill a few hours before lunch. Come on, Walter. You’ve conducted enough experiments in your time.
- As W. and Roscoe hug, a nice, natural interlude:
Roscoe: “I forgot what my son felt like, what he smelled like. How I felt to be around him. But now I remember. Nobody is supposed to have a second chance like that.”
- If you want, this episode provides Roscoe with his own version of “white tulip” – a miracle that offers him a semblance of peace. The question here isn’t science or faith. The mechanism is not important – the internal peace what matters most.
- Leave the book alone, Olivia!
Peter: “You ever feel like every time we get close to the answers, somebody changes the question”
- And who might that be? Interesting to actually hear one of the characters say it out load. Cookie for Peter to go with that milk, stat!
- But Olivia’s not listening. She’s TRANSFIXED by that darn book. What does it mean? She asks herself.
Peter: “It’s a metaphorical question. You see, I like to pretend that I’m smarter than I actually am, so I tell everyone it’s my favorite book”
Olivia: “No. What does it mean. You wanting to share this with me but giving it to her.”
Peter: “Listen, I’m just here for the milk and the cookies. Now where are my COOKIES!?”
- What? That didn’t happen? In which reality are you watching Fringe?
Olivia: “So why is this your favorite book?”
Peter: “Because it talks about not depending on other people for answers. That you can only find the answers inside yourself. Which, given our currently situation is kind of amusing, if you think about it”
- Peter does have a tendency to speak sense when he feels like it. The truth can only come from within – external reality is just an illusion. This is why I talk so much about the ‘inner Olivia’ and other such metaphors. And he’s right, it does relate to their situation. How does one find the truth? It wouldn’t be the ‘truth’ if someone told you.
- And Peter almost dies. The universe punishing him for drinking directly from the bottle. Didn’t your mother teach you to use a glass, Peter?
- Peter’s day goes from bad to worse. Poor boy has been through it all. Emotionally beat up by Olivia, drained by Walter, almost run over by a truck, MAGGED by September’s Magic Air Gun (MAG), and now poisoned by Gene. I always knew it would be the cow..
- And I always knew that Olivia would be pulled into a situation where she has to save Peter’s life. Thankfully we didn’t get any goo-goo-eyed nonsense at the end of it.
- Also. A word for Peter’s glass shattering. It’s not quite up there with Astrid’s, or Olivia’s, but it deserves a mention.
- Two occasions in one episode where Walter thought he’d lost Peter. A complicated sequence of events designed to test Walter and keep him alive. Had he sipped the DRINK ME he would have died. Had he not let Boy Wonder take the keys, he would have proven himself incapable of change, and September would have ended up with egg on his face.
- This in itself begs the question of what the alternative would have been had Walter failed the test. The girl would have presumably died, but more importantly (sorry JSG), September’s perception would have been proven to be flawed, and the future may have been more bleak for it.
- Though we should stop to ask whether there is an alternative. Will the Observers use this information to shape a different path based on the result of the experiment, or will it serve to make an upcoming decision less of a gamble, on their part? It could go both ways, but I’m more compelled by the idea that this slither of knowledge will inform the Observers future course-correcting. Likewise, simply making the internal shift within himself may have already set events in motion. Now that he knows he can do it, Walter may be more able to let go once more when the time comes.
- I should add, I find it disappointing that in his final scenes Peter didn’t show more intrigue regarding what the Observer told him. But I’m assuming that in the current climate either he didn’t want to raise that particular tidbit with Olivia or Walter, or he forgot – courtesy of the multiple bumps and bruises he received. Hopefully following episodes will yield more pro-activity on his part.
- Walter thanks Peter for the Observer using him as a plot device to save his life. Peter questions the complexity of such methods. Walter says he’s NOT HUMAN, “you can’t expect him to think like us”. We can possibly take this as the writers giving confirmation that the Observers are not human, which is interesting because that narrows things down a bit. Though I think the writers also had Altlivia call Newton a vacuum cleaner, and we all know that they can dream just like humans.
- That being said, the Observers are approached from a different direction, so there’s possibly less intentional ambiguity with Walter’s statement. Personally, I kinda like the idea that they’re droids of the First People, or Avatars of some kind. Oh, I’ve got a whole bunch o’ theories!
- Walter looks pretty sharp in his Violet Sedan Chair T-shirt. He may have destroyed Roscoe’s life, but he’s still a fan.
September: “I must admit, I feared my experiment would fail”
December: “But you were right. He’s changed. He was willing to let his son..die”
September: “Yes. And now we know. When the time comes, he will be willing to do it again”.
- This is such a good scene. It leaves us hanging, but not without a satchel of very interesting treats and a pair of gloves to help our grip.
- I just love the idea that September harbored secret doubts about his belief that Walter could change. That’s revealing on a character level. There’s also this look he gives December. I’d call it a look of pride, but it’s so faint that it could almost be his natural expression. And December congratulates him, ignoring the fact that September was less certain than he made out. He knows that it’s just a matter of perception – September perceived something he could not.
- Both (all) possibilities were open – in the end it came down to choice, despite September’s meddling. And it’s that freewill which sometimes blindsides them. Probably made all the more difficult due to the ‘opening of the gate’ – the blending and bleeding of the two realities.
- Though I say that with caution. We don’t yet know where the Observers stand on that front. We have this, dare I say, ‘physical’ alternate universe, and we have the ‘roads not taken’ within them concept (not to mention the subconscious elements). It’s interesting for sure, but it’s time to close this Hovercraft Mother up.
A truly memorable and meaningful episode. Most Fringe episodes are these days, but this one is quite distinct.
As for the title – “The Firefly” – it’s a metaphor. Fireflies are delicate creatures that illuminate, their light coming from within, just as the truth, or answers, must also come from within. It also refers to young Peter, who caught the light that wasn’t meant for him, but light which he now has as a result of Walter stealing Walternate’s light.
In terms of a character reference, I’d say they are all fireflies in their own right – all susceptible to the winds of change, all capable of influencing others through positive and negative deeds. Yet it works most strongly here, of course, with Boy Wonder.
Of course, there’s also a Firefly TV series reference to be had. The Joss Whedon show was canceled by Fox many Fridays ago. Firefly, indeed.
Best Performer: Michael Cerveris.
Best Line: “Because every action causes ripples. Consequences both obvious, and unforeseen.” – September’s full explanation to Walter
Best Moment: September/Walter autumn stroll, epic discussion.
Episode Rating: 9/10