Fringe Review: 3.10 The Firefly

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.


  • 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?


  • 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.”

*JAB* 😮

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!”

Find the book – take the challenge

  • 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?”

Broyles: “No”

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”

Walter: “How?”

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’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?”

Walter: “PETAH!”

  • 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’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 spoilers ruiners. 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?

Peter: “Olivia”

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

You can find all of our reviews here. Our episode Observations can be found here.


  1. real1 says

    I still believe that the Observers are watching Peter and Olivia , and good point .. why the observer didn’t hurt or did anything to Olivia .. instead September did guide her to where Peter was ?

    Nice review as usual :)

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  2. Leonardo Souza (Brazil) says

    “Did September take Bobby through time to meet his father ‘before’ he died or was it a retroactive decision?”

    Im REALLY curious about this. It looked like he did it before Bobby died, but it doesnt feel right, because the Observer could prevent Bobby´s death…

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    • says

      Time for the Observers is like reading a book for us: we can see the pagenumbers and move in an instant to a certain page to read it. If you live in the book called ‘Time’, you live page by page only, from word to word.

      Therefor, perception of time and what we call reality, is so much different for Observers. The Observers read the word ‘Autumn’ on page 2011, but it’s only when they go ínto the book, they can experience the concept of an autumn.

      As for the time paradox with Bobby meeting his father: the Observer took the word ‘Bobby’ from page 1985 and put it on page 2011 with a simple mission: meet your old father with a message. After that, the word ‘Bobby’ was taken back to page 1985. So in fact, it has happened and therefor it will happen, and for an Observer, will happen again.

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    • LMH says

      uh yeah they do! Love it. I wonder if they had an idea of what the yellow orbs were going to be way back in the day, or if this was just an opportune way to connect them (intentionally or unintentionally). Very cool indeed.

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  3. italianstalian says

    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”

    ok so the episode with Christopher Lloyd(aka Dr. Emmit Brown) in it has a line that refers to going, “back to the past” !! i hope i’m not the only one that noticed that! and also that everything revolves around 1985. the year in which Dr. Brown invents a time machine and screws up their whole time line! that can’t be a coincidence! i seem to remember in Back to the Future that Dr. Brown wonders whether the year 1985 is “Almost as if it were the junction point for the entire space-time continuum. On the other hand, it could just be an amazing coincidence” i dont know if this is all just a coincidence but it’s amazing how it all ties in!!

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    • McFly says

      “i seem to remember in Back to the Future that Dr. Brown wonders whether the year 1985 is “Almost as if it were the junction point for the entire space-time continuum.”

      I think the line you’re referring to is in Back to the Future Part II and they are returning to 1955, that November 12, 1955 could be the junction point of the entire space time continuum, but it was absolutely amazing to have “Doc Brown” in an episode dealing with time-travel and 1985 ! I was hoping to hear a “GREAT SCOTT!” come from Lloyd ! Although i think the character was a little more Rev. Jim than Doc. Nonetheless a great experience for a BTTF & Fringe obsessed fan.

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  4. Fringie6989 says

    So interesting. I am still struck by the line spoken early on….you will have a million answers but a million and one new questions. It seems like one thing finally makes sense but ten other things are now a mystery. But that is why Fringe is such an amazing show!

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  5. Page 48 says

    Roco, I’m glad you pulled the trigger on the “save the cheerleader, save the world” reference. I had it teed up in case you opted to let it slide.

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  6. KLA says

    Thanks Roco. Great review as always. The funniest line was:
    “It’s not easy fighting crime while wearing a fedora. But one has to look the part” That was a GREAT line.

    Nice to hear your perspective on what September meant with the father comment to Peter. The speculation (and disugust) is rampant about the possibility of Altlivia being “preggers” and you at least gave some other possiblities. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

    Can’t wait for tomorrows episode!!!!

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    • Fringefan1991 says

      I have an idea that the father comment could refer to Peter fathering a new Universe. After all it has been mentioned that the First People machine has the power to create and destroy. Once he creates the new Universe he is connected to it like a father is. Just a random thought. I also agree that if Altivia has a bun in the oven I would feel discust.

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      • KLA says

        Fringefan1991- WOW!!!!!!!! Fathering a new universe. I think you are the first one to say it that way. Well done!!

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          • runpaceyrun says

            Fringefan1991…….Peter fathering a new universe….very insightful comment. Love the idea…..[spoiler removed – Ed]. I think you may be onto something here. Very wise indeed!!!

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      • Laura says

        Absolutely, that’s what I tought myself. Nice one, Fringefan.
        It can’t be merely a question of pregnancy, no way.

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        • lizw65 says

          Interesting–I posted a very similar theory in another thread yesterday. I’m really hoping that the Altlivia pregnancy thing will turn out to be an enormous red herring on the part of the writers…but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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  7. Fringe It says

    Knowing now that the Observers can travel through time this way makes me revisit the idea that The Child is a young September. Why not? If he can time travel then he may have originated at any time: past, present or future. Perhaps his aging appears so slow because he exists outside of time when he isn’t observing particular events and that’s how he is able to magically disappear from view. Being The Child may also contribute to why he is focusing so closely on the events surrounding our team, and why he has never harmed Olivia, unlike Peter.

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  8. Peanut says

    Maybe Peter is the baby daddy to the third universe? In which case, he leaves Olivia to run off with the Bowflex of Doom–must be a female!

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  9. charliefan19 says

    Thank you Roco! (blows kiss)

    When September (who was truly wonderful in this ep) said “It must be difficult being a father” it never occured to me that it was a reference to Peter fathering a child. I thought he was talking about Walter…or maybe something more twisty… I may be totally missing something, but that’s the direction my thoughts were headed. Honestly, I’ll be disappointed if Alt-Liv ends up pregnant or something like that. That’s a little too obvious, and unfortunately, expected and I think Fringe is above that. Little too much like a soap to me, but we’ll see. Fringe likes to surprise us, but overall I’ve been un-impressed with the whole love story. 😛

    I feel bad for Jasika Nicole. From her interviews she obviously loves the show. Her character has been just bothersome to me lately. Really hoping that my two year theory pays off and that she is a mole or something, haha…just to make Astrid a little more interesting! I’m getting rather tired of “Walter, it’s NOT your fault…!” every week.

    I love Fringe. Nuff said. :) Can’t wait until tomrrow night!!!

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      • FinChase says

        She really is, isn’t she? I will hardly even read her interviews now because I know she’ll give away more than I want to hear. Lance Reddick does too. They need to take some lessons in giving interviews from Anna and Josh.

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  10. Ben says

    Lot of love for Michael Cerveris in this Observations column, and it’s all deserved. He really did cover all the bases in this one.

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  11. Megan says

    Just in time for tomorrow’s episode. I really enjoy your reviews Roco, they are insightful and funny. Can’t wait for your observations!

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  12. mlj102 says

    “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.”

    It surprises me to see many people accepting that the events of this episode were in fact all part of an elaborate plan by the observers to save Walter. Personally, I didn’t come to that conclusion at all. I think the whole idea that Walter presented was nothing more than an attempt from his limited perspective to explain what happened. Walter was unaware of the conversation between the two observers. He didn’t realize that September was putting him to the test. He’s interpreting the events in the only way he knows how. In reality, I think the events set in motion by September were completely separate from Walter’s milk experiment. It was just a convenient coincidence that it helped set things up so that Peter would drink the milk. I don’t think September ever intended for Peter to drink the deadly milk. It wasn’t part of the plan. It wasn’t his focus. It was simply Walter’s theory from trying to understand all these events. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

    “Interesting to hear Walter confess that he’s ‘not the equal of his equal’.”

    This was an idea that really stood out to me in this episode. First, we have Olivia who feels that she is inferior to alternate Olivia. She’s incredibly hurt by the idea that Peter might have loved the alternate version of her because she was better than she is. Everyone seemed to get along with alternate Olivia just fine. The experience has served to point out what could be considered as Olivia’s weaknesses. Similarly, here we have Walter feeling a need to improve himself so that he can match Walternate. He feels that Walternate is better than him: smarter, powerful, more successful. I think all of this could be leading up to a sort of idea centered around one’s identity and self-worth. I think the ultimate realization Olivia and Walter need to come to is that, while their alternates do possess strengths in areas that are their own weaknesses, that doesn’t make them inferior, because they have strengths that are weaknesses to the alternates. It doesn’t mean that they are not as good or worth as much as their alternates. In fact, I would argue that both Olivia and Walter are the stronger, better versions than their alternates. Olivia may not be as cheerful or carefree as alternate Olivia, but she is trustworthy, compassionate, driven, and she makes things happen. Walter may not be as successful as Walternate, but, at the moment, he is helping to bring about more good without hurting people. He is the kinder, gentler Walter. I’m excited to see where they go with this story and how they expand upon it.

    BBM, BRBB, JSG, MAG… All these acronyms are starting to become too much for me to keep up with… I hope you don’t include one of those on the next quiz!

    “I think this is interesting in itself – are people more compliant, open-minded, while in a dreamstate?”

    I’m sure you made the connection, though I didn’t see it specifically mentioned in the review, so I thought I’d point it out. One thing that stood out to me was something Walter said when hypnotizing Roscoe. He instructed him that “At the count of three, you will open your eyes, but you won’t be awake. You’ll still be open and receptive as you are now.” I thought that line, though innocent enough, could also be interpreted as a subtle, indirect reference to this whole idea that you have explored several times about dreams and sleep and that sleep allows one to have a clearer mind and to consider things in ways they don’t allow themselves to do when they are awake and limited by logic and laws. Walter is essentially suggesting that a person is more open when asleep than they are when awake.

    “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 understand what you’re saying, and you make a good point that Olivia should be willing to let Peter share his side. But despite all that, give the girl a break. She needs time and, frankly, Peter has to earn back her trust. His actions have essentially said that he doesn’t know her at all, and he doesn’t care about her as much as he seemed to let on. She is hurt and broken up inside. She trusted in him and believed him, but his ignorance to the switch essentially shattered that. Now they have to start over again. It’s going to be a slow process and Peter should be understanding of that. She’ll let him share his point of view, but it’s still a very sensitive subject for her and it’s hard for her to face those emotions head on. She’s not the kind of person who openly admits and confronts feelings like that, and every time Peter brings it up, that’s exactly what she’s doing. Of course it’s going to be hard for her. I think Peter’s doing a pretty good job at giving her some space, but not giving up on her. And I think that’s how it should be at this point. I was actually very pleased with how they handled that story in this episode.

    “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.”

    Care to elaborate? I just don’t see the whole disconnect you mentioned. He seems pretty stand-offish and distanced as far as I can tell. Sure, he puts on a good face to look confident and easy going, but how much does he really open up to people? He doesn’t really share much of his thoughts, his past, or his feelings. Yes, there have been moments, but for the most part, he changes the subject when things start to go that way. We really don’t know much about HIM.

    “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.”

    I get what you’re saying, but I disagree. Yes, the two situations are difficult to separate, simply because alternate Olivia was the one here, and she’s the one who asked, prompting him to send the book. But he never intended it for HER. If he’d known who she was, if he’d known she wasn’t the person he has gotten to know over the years, he wouldn’t have opened up to her. It was only because, for some contrivance reason, he thought she was Olivia. In that way, it was intended for Olivia, and for Olivia alone.

    “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.”

    I’m surprised you didn’t point out the fact that Astrid once again dropped the ball, got suckered in by Walter’s quirkiness, and left him and Roscoe alone. Seriously Astrid, will you never learn?

    “The question is, why they can’t undo that action by making sure that Peter didn’t catch the firefly?”

    That would be interfering, wouldn’t it? And once something happens, doesn’t that make it something that was supposed to happen? So once they allowed Peter to stay Over Here, that act changed everything that was originally supposed to happen. It would be impossible for them to stop all the consequences of every action in Peter Bishop’s life. To do that, they would have to lock Peter up and not let him do anything or interact with anyone. So I think the real question is why they let Peter stay over here? Maybe that goes back to them interfering enough to save him, but they drew the line at interfering enough to return him. They had to let things play out as they had changed by the fact that September interfered. They intervened only enough to make sure that Peter lived as he was supposed to. Anything beyond that they couldn’t justify interfering. I don’t know… it’s all rather complicated.

    As a somewhat related topic, there have been questions and speculation since season one about who the Observers were observing and why. I think it’s safe to say they’re watching the whole team very closely (they have shown an investment in the whole trio), but in particular, I think they’re mainly watching Peter. Why? Because Peter’s the variable. Him being here has changed everything. If the small fact of him catching a seemingly insignificant firefly can escalate into such drastic changes, then I would imagine they would be very concerned to know what else is going to change because of him being here. And as Observers, they would want to watch that happen first hand.

    “The Observer OBSERVERNATES! him for getting bright-eyes preggers.”

    So you’re of the opinion that alternate Olivia is pregnant? I don’t know… I’m not convinced they would go that route. Peter and alternate Olivia in a false relationship is bad enough for me, but I can move past it. But bringing a baby into the picture? I don’t think I could accept that. And until there’s something more concrete, I refuse to believe they would go that far.

    “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’.”

    Maybe people so rarely notice them because it takes a certain person in a certain frame of mind to be able to notice. Kind of like how you won’t notice something unless you’re looking for it. A person can drive the same route to work every day, pass the same buildings and signs, but unless they really pay attention to their surroundings, they likely couldn’t tell you about a specific billboard they passed. Maybe sometimes, though the Observer is there, they go unseen because a person isn’t looking or isn’t open to seeing them. Olivia picked up on them in a matter of weeks, where it took the rest of the officials months to notice them. Perhaps that’s because something about Olivia made her more open to noticing them, so she could see them where others couldn’t. Does that make sense? I’m not saying they’re invisible or anything, but just going off of the whole disappearing ability, and the “real” concept, maybe there’s something more there. They go unnoticed by the average person. It would explain why people don’t see them more than they do. It could also explain September’s “mistake”. Maybe he wasn’t used to being noticed, and he thought he could be in the lab and observe and continue to go unseen. But for whatever reason, Walternate did see him. Just a thought.

    “What? That didn’t happen? In which reality are you watching Fringe?”

    Clearly not in your reality… So by all means, continue. What else happened in the version you saw?

    As always, thanks for the fantastic review!

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    • BB37 says

      mlj102 – I agree with everything you have said here. especially about the book, Peter and Olivia. I don’t think Peter dropped the ball at all when he said the book was in intended for “his” Olivia. I think that was a great explanation, much like Astrid’s explanation to Olivia. It rings true.

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    • Pam says

      “Maybe that goes back to them interfering enough to save him, but they drew the line at interfering enough to return him. They had to let things play out as they had changed by the fact that September interfered. They intervened only enough to make sure that Peter lived as he was supposed to. Anything beyond that they couldn’t justify interfering”

      Interesting point, especially in light of the fact that September says in Northwest passage (?) that Walter has apparently forgotten his warning of never to let Peter return to the other side. If that is the case, they tried to stop Peter from getting entangled with the machine. Then, why save him in the first place? If they meant for him to live, then, it follows that they expected him to fulfill his destiny by becoming part of the vacuum device. It is a little confusing when you think about the observers’ motives (and comprehension of things that need to come to pass)!

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  13. runpaceyrun says

    I take my hat off to Michael Cerveris in this episode (no pun intended). He was simply outstanding. When September was talking to Walter in the park…i was mesmerised. Michael made September more ‘real’, more human….added more depth to his character. I loved the way he said ‘upset’ as in ‘upset the balance’….and the head tilting slightly… such a quirky and quizzical thing to do. To me, the head tilt is Septembers way of expressing emotion…even though the observers are supposedly unable to do so.
    As for the comment of ‘it must be difficult being a father’….i think September was referring to Walter and Walternate (to a lesser extent). He has observed how losing a son has effected both men…the things that have happened because of the choices they have made…how they have changed…how they have effected those around them. I refuse to believe that Alt-liv is pregnant …Fringe is not a soap opera!!!!! Wont go into further detail…as i have written reams on this already.
    I really loved this episode… the ‘Marionette’ it left me with a lot to think about…and a lot to be hopeful for. In my opinion, i thought the entire cast performed oustandingly well. Was thankful and appreciative of the character development in Walter, Peter and Olivia during this episode.
    I have watched ‘The Firefly’ 10 times and i will be sitting down to another re-watch this evening.
    Once again, thanks Roco for the detailed review.

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  14. hal says

    Nice review, gave me some lulz.

    This may be one for the observations, but my good friend informs me that the Walter blue-red glasses was a blatant TWIN PEAKS reference. It went over my head anyway, since I haven’t watched that show much, but we all should seeing as it was the original weird serialized show.

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  15. Matt-ernate says

    So…you’ve asked the question a few times about why the Observers didn’t just go back and change something else, for instance, why not go back and stop Peter from grabbing that firefly? With all the outcomes, and they choose which one they think is most likely, perhaps there choice limits them? I dont know if I’m explaining this exactly as I want.

    So, the Observers, as we are trying to understand, perceive time fluidly. Because of this, they see ALL outcomes which are, well…a lot. So they base their decisions around which outcomes they believe are most likely to move with the natural flow. Essentially, they just show up to the outcomes they think will happen and watch. But their powers are much more than just that. Now, after 1985, they find themselves trying to fix a mistake. So now they are going into one of those specific outcomes and trying to resolve to fix their mistake instead of simply observing. (This is where I get into my question/point). There are rules to what they do, but they are also trying to bend them and fix a mistake. My wonder is, when an Observer makes a decision, is that decision final? So, September grabs Bobby out of 1985 and takes him to 2011. But then he looks back and sees something else he could have done. It’s too late though. He already made his choice, therefore, his history will be to bring Bobby to 2011. He can’t change that. It’s written. So while they can see time fluidly, when they make their decisions, it’s final.

    Does this make ANY sense? I feel like I’m re-reading my own words and confusing myself.

    As for the Father comment to Peter, I actually didn’t take that to mean that Peter knocked up one of the Liv’s. I thought, being Septembers more emotional side (as compared to the other Observers besides August, of course), he was referencing Walter out loud, while at the same time acknowledging it for himself. He is already seen taking in the park earlier, something he doesn’t really understand. Could it be the same with the father comment? He’s simply acknowledging an interest in something he doesn’t understand and doesn’t comprehend? Probably a dumb question and I may be proven wrong, but that’s okay. It’s part of the fun of it all, really.

    Loved this episode. Great review, as always!

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    • augusta says

      Hey Matt-ernate,

      I just wanted to say I totally agree with what you are saying here — thanks for sharing it. It makes sense to me that the observers can’t go back and change their own actions once they are done. They don’t see time as linear, so how could they even “go back”? Being outside of time makes their existence far less malleable than human existence. Tough luck for them i guess… Further explains why its such a big deal for them to get involved at all…

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  16. Mariví says

    Thanks for this excellent review, from “Queremos que la Vaca de Fringe tenga una estrella en el Paseo de la Fama” in Facebook we follow your posts with great interest. Greetings
    Sorry for my bad english

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  17. Rogue151 says

    Just wanted to say, I felt the comment the Observer said to Peter was in reference to the Observer thinking about Walter and knowing all that he knows, assuming “it must be difficult to be a father.”

    The fact that he tries to put himself in Walter’s “shoes” in a way is what has me interested.

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  18. number six says

    “I appreciate that the book was meant for Olivia, but it was also meant for Altlivia.”

    Very true, but thinking about it, from the two, Altlivia was the only one, who expressed some willingness to get to know him, even if it was for her own vagenda. And it’s possible, that because of that she got to know him better that Olivia, maybe.

    Peter: “Get to know me a bit!” (Snakehead)
    Olivia: “You are very cute, but I prefer to stare deeply into your very pretty eyes and imagine, that I know the depths of your soul. And you should do the same. Because I’m worth it.”

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    • real1 says

      Which mean … don’t waiting the others to get answers .. you should find it in yourself , which mean to know the others even if they will let you see themselves .. the matter will be what you get in yourself .

      Peter : Ok .. I can’t see the difference she was you + quicker with the smile and less intense .. I thought you did change for me ..

      Olivia : you better go or you will not get any chance to know who really I am .. go !

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  19. augusta says


    Just wanted to say thanks for putting your review out — I am in anticipation for it as soon as the episode is over, and it is always a thought-provoking read — I may not agree but I always enjoy. Thanks for adding so much to the pleasure that is watching Fringe!

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  20. matt says

    I agree about Roscoe being a kinda thirdwheel plot device… kinda weak overall but not at all on Lloyd’s part.

    I’m wondering whether or not September took Walter back in time to tell Bellie to remove parts of his brain so, (maybe unlike Walternate?) he would be eventually willing to let Peter die?

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    • lizw65 says

      “I’m wondering whether or not September took Walter back in time to tell Bellie to remove parts of his brain…”

      Interesting. That’s one possible explanation for why Walter has no recollection of the event.

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  21. Jane says

    I think Gene must be the mooooooole hehehe…. nice review Roco… but don´t you feel every time Observers appear they bring more questions than answers? when we will start to get some answers…
    and now for them the “the boy is important” is over?

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    • Pam says

      The boy is still important – he has to die (sacrificed) in a particular time and place in a particular way (read BBM) and cannot be allowed to die say, in an accident.

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  22. Pam says

    One important question is, why should Walter “allow” Peter to die? Is Peter not capable of making his own decisions and orchestrating his own death, if need be? Why should Walter’s decision in this regard matter at all, and matter enough to warrant a whole experiment by September? Is there more to this than meets the eye?

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  23. ApplesBananasRhinoceros says

    Great review!! Great thoughts from Roco and everyone, I love reading all the comments!

    Here is one thought I have:
    Another Wizard of Oz reference!! Are they all asleep in the poppy field, right before they get to OZ??? Ha ha, maybe mice (Observers?) will come and whisk the Fringies from their blissful sleep. Anyways.

    As Peter sat on the couch, nursing his head, this bit of the song “If I only had a Brain” came on:

    “My head all full of stuffin…”

    At the time, it made me think it was significant somehow. Why choose that line at that moment?? And also, why that song?? Is Peter’s head all full of metaphorical stuffing????

    And then you pointed out this line in your review:

    Walter: “Roscoe’s mind doesn’t work like ours, his creativity is expressed through music”

    So the straw I am grasping at is, maybe they will find out Peter’s mind doesn’t work like ours either??

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  24. Peanut says

    Another witty, thorough, & insightful review. Thanks Roco!

    What was happening up on that rooftop—are we seeing another universe, or is some universe hopping going on (graffiti changed & reversed, for example)?

    Roco—I picture OldOlivia & OldPeter as guzzling scotch, snacking on Twizzlers, & maybe having some pie—with coffee, of course.

    What is it that the Observers are up to—their “ogenda,” as I think someone called it? Are their motives benign? They seem to have—maybe not affection or attachment—but possibly an affinity for certain individuals or we wouldn’t have seen them so often around the Bishops and Olivia. They’re practically chatty with Walter.

    Roscoe didn’t seem to react to the Observer’s arrival. Was he distracted by the unicorns that Walter occasionally sees running through the lab? Or maybe Olivia told him that she sees Observers all of the time?

    We know that the Observers can bring people along when they go on their time-traveling junkets. Perhaps Robert Bishop has been one of their passengers?

    Walter says that the Observers are not human—how does he know that? Walter is not an anthropologist (neither is MD’s “Head Nerd”—thanks to Therese Odell for that term—Brandon, but that’s for the next episode’s comments). In an earlier episode, Walter says that we’re arrogant to assume that we’re the only homo sapiens to have been on earth— I’m not a scientist, but even I can see the error—there were no homo sapiens preceding dinosaurs as far as the science indicates. Now, it is a different thing to say that possibly other sentient beings or humanoids occupied the planet before we did, which is possible.

    If the Lil Observer-like being (“Inner Child,” 1.15 ) is believed to be a genuine Observer, then no one seemed to detect that he was a nonhuman—and I’m sure that the doctors examined him thoroughly because his origins were such a mystery. We know that the Observers can bleed & die as August did (“August,” 2.08) so are not immortals. As someone else pointed out, Milo in “The Plateau,” 3.03, had several Observerlike characteristics so maybe that is an indicator of how Observers may have come into existence.

    As Peter remarked, that was a complicated experiment for testing Walter that the Observers devised. It seems much more likely to have affected ensuing events than Peternate’s catching of the firefly.

    I disagree with Roco because I think that Peter really is closed off although not as obviously as Olivia has been. The sarcastic & snarky remarks that he makes are a way of pushing people away while presenting the veneer of being an outgoing guy.

    At the end of the episode, Walter fixes Peter rosemary chicken soup. In the language of herbs, rosemary is for remembrance. Walter definitely needs to treasure this moment because things are about to change.

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  25. TomC says

    Fringe is finally back in the UK so the first thing to do at work was read the Fringebloggers review…… its been too long and both have been greatly missed!

    Great episode to come back to as well and i dont know if im just late on picking this up but i like how the observers dont just observe events but people themselves as they are the ones who actually change the paths of the universe, to me in previous observery stuff it seemed they were always just looking at the events and the people were just there (and sometimes interfered).

    Great to be able to come back…. now for the observations.

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  26. Tash says

    You know what would be cool – an episode titled “Blink”, featuring the Observers and those beguiling Weeping Angels from Doctor Who.

    haha that sounds strange
    i quite like dr who

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