Fringe Rewatch – 1.04 The Arrival


The Arrival Rewatch

Synopsis: After a deadly explosion rocks a construction site in New York City, Broyles solicits the aid of our unlikely threesome to investigate a strange cylinder mysteriously found at the scene completely unharmed by the surrounding devastation. After Olivia uncovers an unbelievable commonality between disturbing events, Dr. Bishop takes matters into his own hands and Peter is forced into field duty, it almost seems as if the untraceable object is triggering the series of odd behaviors, unexpected events and surprising revelations in “The Arrival”.

General Thoughts: This is episode where Fringe quite literally arrived – as the beacon exploded its way up from the earth’s core, the show elevated with it. In rewatch terms. Arrival held up extremely well; opening my mind to new perspectives and possibilities.

Below the fold I share my new observations and perspectives, explore the unresolved mysteries, highlight the mysteries closed by information gained in this episode and cap it off with my final thoughts on this episode retrospective.

New Observations & Perspectives

Beacon of love1.) I believe this rewatch has given me better understanding of the beacon, specifically with the idea that the it appeared to not only be transmitting a signal..but an undetectable signal.

This immediately took me back to the previous episode, in which a “ghost network” -  a series of waves beyond the known spectrum, allowed for ‘private’ communication. The relationship between these waves and signals is surely no coincidence – the first season made a habit of building upon themes with increasing momentum as a way of slowly introducing us to the major concepts.

This further leads me to speculate whether there’s a connection between Walter’s knowledge (i.e. the early premise behind the “ghost network”) and the Observer’s technology?

There’s also the question of what, exactly, the beacon was transmitting. I’m wondering whether the beacon, during its limited stint above ground, might simply have adjusted our connection - dilating our means of communication. Could it be a coincidence, that after the beacon did its thing, John Scott was able to fully ‘appear’ to Olivia, whereas previously his attempt at communicating was met with static (bad signal) and an untraceable transmission? Hmm..

2.) After he hides the beacon, Walter says something which screams out FORESHADOWING:

Walter: “Have you ever taken something that didn’t belong to you because you knew it was the right thing to do?”

It’s almost certain that Walter’s subconscious memory is alluding to obtaining Peter from an alt. reality after Peter 1.0 had died. The next piece of dialogue is even more interesting, and possibly recontextualizes the nature of Walter’s actions in obtaining a replacement son:

Peter: “this isn’t about me.”

Walter: “Maybe it is, Peter.”

Sooo, not only could Walter’s act have been an altruistic one (at least in his own mind), but this suggests that the beacon could have direct significance to Peter. I have a crackpot theory brewing, but I’ll save it for when I have more pieces in place. ;)

3.) I find it interesting that Peter and Walter are mentally linked (as evidenced through Peter unknowingly telling Mosley where Walter hid the beacon) considering they aren’t actually related. Perhaps this draws on my above point slightly, in that there are ‘unknown’ methods (spectrum’s) of communication which are channeled through proximity, or emotion, or love or sheer ability. Indeed, this reminds me of Walter’s comment to Peter – “open your mind son, or someone will open it for you”.

We often consider psychic communication to exist between twins, or those who share a deep bond. Peter and Walter’s bond isn’t particularly deep in terms of their time together. But perhaps we can pull the lens back on their unrealised ability to read each others thoughts – maybe the writers were playing with the idea that we are all human ‘ghost networks’ (exhibited to a degree by Nick Lane)? Maybe we are all part of one giant organism (super-reality), in which we not only broadcast to each other, but also to our ‘twins’ across the wider alterverse? Perhaps this explains the beacon’s importance..maybe its signal enhances one’s ability to connect..or could it have transmitted interference..distorting that ability..

4.) Whatever the beacon was transmitting, it seems possible that Mosley wanted to stop it. Does this necessarily make him a ‘bad guy’? Nope, as we’ve come to learn, there’s more than one side to every story. We can, however, derive this much – both the Observer and Mosley are linked by a pattern. Although for some reason, the green dots appear to be missing in this shot.

5.) The model, and more importantly, the year of John Mosley’s car could be worth looking into. For some reason, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the car Walter was driving when the ice gave way on that fateful night.

Unresolved Mysteries

Beacon1.) It goes by many names – cylinder, capsule, suppository, can of magic space soup, I prefer “Beacon”. We can assume that it is transmitting a signal and that it is of great importance to the Observer, but we are yet to discover the root of it’s purpose, where it originally came from or why it came from underground.

2.) We get two helpings of the green-green-green-red color sequence in this episode – on the Observer’s binoculars and on Mosley’s hat (the first appearance is on the kayak in the Pilot). We later have an entire episode dedicated to this same sequence (“The Equation”), however we still don’t know the larger significance and how it connects these seemingly disparate elements.

3.) The Bishops ‘near death’ at the lake. We are told that the Observer saved them, but which Peter experienced this? Peter 2.0 clearly doesn’t remember the event – he only recalls what Walter told him, and even that was a lie prior to Walter fessing up that it was the Observer who actually swam them to shore.

4.) The word “Osmosis” drew my attention. Coupled with Walter unknowingly knowing the frequencies of the beacon’s vibrations, I’m wondering whether Walter has osmosis with alter-Walter? Or was this just an example of the cobwebs in Walter’s mind clearing?

5.) Who is Kyle Richard Beltrane? (birth certificate Peter grabbed).

Cup of life

6.) In the FBI holding room, Walter can be seen playing the 3-cup shuffle game. In retrospect, this seems to be a subtle metaphor for the latter part of the season – alternate realities, multiple Peter’s, fate/determinism, and of course, it prefaced Peter’s ‘slight of hand’ coin trick in “Safe”.

7.) Robert Bishop – who is he and why did Mosley appear to know him?

8.) With the Observer being so observant and all, how on earth did Peter manage to sneak up on him? Could this have something to do with Peter’s origins or storyline convenience?

9.) Here’s a head scratcher – if the beacon came from another reality (popular opinion), why did it cause physical damage (i.e. mini earthquake) when it arrived, instead of passing through like the truck did in the season finale?

I can think of two possibilities. a. The beacon actually resides inside the earth’s core, where it lies dormant until triggered, or b. The beacon came from a reality which is substantially different from ours, crossing multiple layers of ‘fabric’ and making the journey much more difficult than the one witnessed with the truck in the finale. Hence requiring more force on the part of the beacon and causing physical damage prior to arriving. If anyone has any other ideas, I’d love to know!

Closed Mysteries

Observing1.) This episode confirmed that the Observer was indeed part of the overarching narrative.

Prior to this episode we had spotted him lurking in corners and such, but Arrival brought him center stage and connected his mythology to the Bishop’s, thus solidifying the speculation that Observers Are Indeed Here.

Final Thoughts

True Believer?The Arrival drew on the themes from the previous episodes a lot more than I originally thought. It also does a good job in setting up the next episode (“Power Hungry”).

Much like the faith themes from TGN, Arrival spoke to me on a spiritual level. Peter’s transformation from blinkered cynic to wide-eyed believer served the story well. The younger Bishop wasn’t looking for a reason to believe, and yet it came his way anyway. His world was turned upside down in an instant, just like Olivia’s was in the pilot episode.

Sometimes when you want out, something amazing happens to pull you right back in – this is what happened to Peter, his closed mind was quite literally opened for him. Was it fate, good timing or sheer coincidence? Who knows, but I do believe that things happen for a reason – especially inexplicable things. This is why Peter couldn’t walk away from the Pattern or his father, after meeting the Observer in the woods. He now wants answers as badly as Olivia needs them. Thing is, I don’t think that Pater was only blown away by the Observer being ‘inside his head’, I think it’s more than that – a subconscious recollection, perhaps not even directly, but through some kind of osmosis? A spark ignited within Peter, one which may have died when the alternative version of himself perished.

So now we have three believers, seeking answers, truth and redemption. Their journeys are personal but with multiversal significance. And as the beacon exploded back into the earth, I once again got the sense that this was when the “rabbit hole” officially opened.

Best Performer: Michael Cerveris

Best Moment: The opening scene with the Observer – cool, calm, contained..explosive!

Retrospective Rewatch Rating: 8/10

You can find our original Arrival Eastereggs here.

Next Rewatch Episode: Power Hungry – Thursday (ETA)

Comments

  1. mlj102 says

    It surprised me when I rewatched this episode just how many quotes there were that seemed to have a double meaning or to be foreshadowing other things we find out later. You pointed out two of them between Walter and Peter – I thought that discussion between them was so significant. There was also another one between Olivia and Peter at the beginning of the episode as she is trying to convince him to stay and that he is needed and such. At one point he comments that, “There’s nothing special about me.” That alone stood out to me as significant and somewhat ironic in that we find out later how he’s actually from another reality. That fact alone makes him pretty special and unique. But I believe that there is something else about him that makes him special – an ability of some sort – that we have yet to learn. To his comment, Olivia simply replies “You’re his son.” I thought it was ironic in many ways. First off, if you look at it literally, he’s not this Walter’s son. And yet he was special enough that Walter went to great lengths to bring him back from another reality. You can see that, despite him not being his actual son, he is extremely special to Walter – probably the only thing that Walter still cares about after all those years in St. Claire’s.

    Later, when Walter meets up with the Observer at the diner, he is enjoying his root beer float and mentions that it’s been seventeen years since the last time he had one. Later on, the Observer comments, “Seventeen years. That’s a long time to go without something you love.” It could just be an innocent observation regarding root beer floats, but I kind of got the impression that it was more than that, perhaps referring to Peter or something else that Walter loves that he had to sacrifice. It just stood out to me as a somewhat cryptic comment.

    I found it rather amusing that Walter mentions several times in this episode (and in other episodes, if I remember correctly) that Peter needs to open his mind and not be so small minded. And yet at the end when Peter is talking to Olivia at the hospital, he comments that he’s a “fairly open-minded guy.” I think it just goes to show that Peter and Walter have very different ideas of what exactly being open-minded is. In my opinion, Peter could be as open-minded as the real world gets, but when it comes to Walter and the kind of work he’s involved with, it requires a person to take it up another level– to imagine the impossibilities as well as be willing to believe in the possibilities.

    Again we hear Peter’s mom mentioned and we get another example of how important she is to Peter and how protective he is of her. The whole episode we see Peter fighting this inner battle of feeling like he doesn’t belong and isn’t contributing anything and can’t stay in Boston any longer (likely due to a combination of his father, him not liking to settle down in one place for too long, and having to watch out for people from his past) while at the same time being unable to leave (because he wants to help Olivia, wants to take care of his father, and wants to contribute). It’s interesting to watch this inner battle take place because it’s as though he desperately wants to get out of there and leave it all behind, but there’s something that keeps holding him back so that he can’t quite bring himself to leave. Almost as though he felt obligated to stay. And yet when Walter lost control and insulted Peter and his (Peter’s) mother, that was enough to push Peter over the edge and convince him to actually take that step and leave. I think it’s a big indication of how protective Peter is of his mother and that it’s a touchy subject for him, given that before that, Peter had plenty of reasons to leave, yet still couldn’t do it, but one negative, angry comment from Walter about his mother was all that he needed to feel like he could leave and not feel guilty.

    Also, regarding Peter’s mother, Walter describes her saying that she was “small-minded and constantly questioning [his] judgment.” From that description, it doesn’t sound like she much approved of his work.

    I always figured that Peter was able to sneak up on the Observer because the Observer was so focused on the beacon and reporting the departure that he momentarily neglected to observe the other things that were going on around him. I do wonder if there is any special connection between Peter and the Observer. It was very interesting to see the Observer’s reaction when Peter confronted him. From what Walter says, it seems to be just part of the Observer’s abilities, to know people and interpret their thoughts/feelings. But I wonder if the connection with Peter – where he was able to literally read Peter’s thoughts and say them even before Peter could say them – was something that usually doesn’t happen. It just almost seemed as though the Observer was just as startled by it as Peter was.

    And then there’s all the questions surrounding Mosley. Who was he and what did he want? He just stormed into town with the sole purpose of finding this beacon – he didn’t care how many people he had to kill in order to find it. Why did he want it so badly? How did he know that it had arrived again? What had happened in Seattle? It also seems as though he knew the Bishop family. He seemed aware of who Peter was and what his relationship with Walter was like. He gave off the impression that he knew who Robert Bishop was. In the next episode, Walter mentions that he looked very familiar. It all makes me wonder how involved Mosley was, what all he knew, and what he was after. I’ve played with the idea that he could be some rogue observer (hence the episode’s glyph code) – that would connect him to the Observer and make his actions make a little more sense. Plus, he had all sorts of equipment that didn’t seem to be very standard, much like the equipment the Observer uses. And he was always wearing that hat, so he could be bald (although he did have eyebrows…). I don’t know, but it is a possibility.

    I’m also curious about Colonel Jacobson. How does Olivia know him? She seems to have a good friendship with him, though her reaction when Broyles mentioned him seemed to be almost a combination of surprise and like she wasn’t looking forward to having to face him. It seemed odd to me that he was so aware of Olivia, that her partner had died and all. Did he know more than just that? I also got the impression that he seemed more aware of the beacon than he let on. He was genuinely concerned to learn that it had returned and he was very direct in his warning to Olivia. I wonder if there had been more that had happened or that they had learned the first time it arrived than he told Olivia. Finally, I wonder if Mosley actually killed him, or if he had just stunned him as he had when he first showed up at his doorstep. I figure Mosley killed him, but then I would expect that someone would have mentioned it later on, so I’m not sure.

    I also have many questions regarding the phone call from John and his subsequent appearance in Olivia’s apartment. Walter explains it as side effects from being in the tank, and maybe that’s all it is. But I can’t help but wonder if it might be more than that. Perhaps it’s an alternate reality John trying to contact her and help her with the cases she’s working on. I imagine you wouldn’t be able to trace a phone call from another reality. And there’s never any indication that no one else sees or doesn’t see John – there’s never any time where Olivia sees him while at the same time she’s with someone else who can’t see him. He only appears to her while she’s alone, so it’s possible that he’s actually there.

    I also got the impression that Walter knew more about the beacon than he told the team. His behavior seemed a lot like his behavior in Unleashed where he had suspected the creature was a result of his work with creating a genetic hybrid but didn’t want to tell Peter and Olivia. It was as though he knew what the beacon was, or at least had a good idea, but wasn’t willing to share that with the others.

    Lastly, just because I’ve been keeping an eye out for reflections, I thought I’d mention that I found it odd that, given the very obvious and deliberate reflections we’ve seen in the other episodes so far, this episode was noticeably lacking in reflections. The only ones I was able to find were a partial reflection of Walter in the table in the interrogation room, and another one of Olivia in the windows at the hospital when she’s talking to the nurse, and later to Broyles (which was actually a pretty good one). Again, not nearly as noticeable as the ones in the previous episodes, and they could just be coincidence, but I still like to look for them.

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    • says

      “Later, when Walter meets up with the Observer at the diner, he is enjoying his root beer float and mentions that it’s been seventeen years since the last time he had one. Later on, the Observer comments, “Seventeen years. That’s a long time to go without something you love.” It could just be an innocent observation regarding root beer floats, but I kind of got the impression that it was more than that, perhaps referring to Peter or something else that Walter loves that he had to sacrifice. It just stood out to me as a somewhat cryptic comment.”

      I agree that there’s some hidden meaning there. It could also refer to the Observer – perhaps he also had to sacrifice something he loves?

      “I’m also curious about Colonel Jacobson. How does Olivia know him? She seems to have a good friendship with him, though her reaction when Broyles mentioned him seemed to be almost a combination of surprise and like she wasn’t looking forward to having to face him. It seemed odd to me that he was so aware of Olivia, that her partner had died and all. Did he know more than just that?”

      I got that impression too. I’m not sure what the writers wanted to convey exactly, but I ended up thinking that Olivia wasn’t looking forward to facing someone who might have an inkling about her and John. The fact that Jacobson had the newspaper open at John Scott in the obituary’s solidified that idea home for me.

      I also wonder whether Jacobson is dead – I got the impression that Mosley killed him, but you never know!

      “I found it rather amusing that Walter mentions several times in this episode (and in other episodes, if I remember correctly) that Peter needs to open his mind and not be so small minded. And yet at the end when Peter is talking to Olivia at the hospital, he comments that he’s a “fairly open-minded guy.” I think it just goes to show that Peter and Walter have very different ideas of what exactly being open-minded is. In my opinion, Peter could be as open-minded as the real world gets, but when it comes to Walter and the kind of work he’s involved with, it requires a person to take it up another level– to imagine the impossibilities as well as be willing to believe in the possibilities.”

      Nice catch. I find Peter to be fairly cynical in spite of what he has seen and experienced. But he can be open-minded once he gets going.

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  2. Gil_Cdn says

    So here is another installment of “Kill Report” # 4

    Note: I am adjusting the # of death in Kill Report#3 to 13 (with 11 total on the bus, counting the DEA agent Evelina as one of the innocents.)

    Crane Collapsed (according to Broyles, 3 dead 2 dozen injured) = 3
    Agent outside Kramer Manufacturing (killed by Mosely)= 1
    Military guards, Kramer Manufacturing (warehouse) = 6
    ** I was debating whether they are just stunned or dead, but was later confirmed by Olivia’s phone call to Peter mentioning the entire team is “dead”.
    Colonel Henry Jacobson (Mosley adjusted the stun guy, I believe he intended to kill Jacobson) = 1
    John Mosley = 1

    Cumulative Death Toll = 149 + 3 + 13 + 12 = 177 (up to and included ep.1.04)

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    • says

      “Colonel Henry Jacobson (Mosley adjusted the stun guy, I believe he intended to kill Jacobson) = 1″

      Yeah, it’s hard to say whether he killed him or not, but the scene suggested that Mosley meant business.

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    • Gil_Cdn says

      Hi DocH,

      Here is a summary of what I get thus far …

      Here is the data for ep.1-01 Pilot
      - Morgan Steig + Glatterflug Airlines Flight 627 = 147
      - Richard Steig (Bio-Chemist, ex-employee of MD) = 1
      - John Scott(killed in car crash, kept at MD lab)= 1

      Here is the death count for ep.1-02 The Same Old Story:
      - Loraine Daisy Alcott (impreganted, die during childbirth) = 1
      - Stacy (girl at Dance Club, retrieve image from eye-ball) = 1
      - Christopher Penrose (Penrose’s clone,die of rapid growth) = 1

      Here is the death count for ep.1-03 The Ghost Network:
      Evelina Mendoza (dead EDA agent) & innocent passengers on the bus = 11
      Grant Davidson (handler, shot at train station after hand over) = 1
      Matthew Ziegler (back onto the path of the bus) = 1

      Here is the death count for ep.1-04 The Arrvial:
      Crane Collapsed (according to Broyles, 3 dead 2 dozen injured) = 3
      Agent outside Kramer Manufacturing (killed by Mosely)= 1
      Military guards, Kramer Manufacturing (warehouse) = 6
      Colonel Henry Jacobson = 1
      John Mosley = 1

      Am I missing soome?

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  3. FlashWriter says

    After all this intense analysis of the re-watch, I feel that what I have to say is pretty trivial, but, it’s “what’s on my mind”, so here goes.

    Part of the fun of “Fringe” is that many times we don’t know if any given detail is placed in an episode for a specific reason, or if it’s just there for stylistic reasons, or just what. Since I love food (especially food served in greasy spoons like we saw in the opening), I must admit I have this fascination with the opening of the episode on a few levels. One of the most interesting were the series of contrasts that continued through the whole sequence.

    First of all, the music. “Crazy” by Willie Nelson. They just didn’t give us a short hint of the song, we heard darn near the whole thing as if it were almost a theme for the opening. There was much discussion about this during the first run of the episode, and I had hoped that something would come around that would explain it beyond what people were positing here. But nothing really did, so this is one of those details that kind of dangle out there. Meaning or style? I just don’t know…

    Next, there was this great juxtaposition between the demeanor of the waitress (who really did a great job and lends a little to the saying that “there are no small parts”), and the Observer who walked this fine line between super politeness and rudeness. It gave me this feeling of “there’s something due any day, I will know right away, soon as it shooooows…” Which, of course, is exactly what JJ and company wanted to convey.

    Then came the Observer’s “instruments”. First he pulls out this watch that looks like it came from the 19th century, then he unlimbers a 24th century pair of binoculars. Again, there’s this contrasty pair of two objects.

    So, here we have this very straight bald guy who’s already caught the eye of the waitresses as being a weirdo, being served a practically raw roast beef sandwich. Here Mr. Observer covers it in pepper, drowns it in hot sauce, decorates it with 11 jalapeños (interesting specific…), and then proceeds to wolf it down (as the two waitresses watch him with a little smile of fascination). (When I first saw the episode, I half expected him to order a fire extinguisher on the side!) The contrast here is this completely straight guy doing this thing with his sandwich, then eating it like he was starving. He makes that thing look so good, too…

    Then there’s that rumble way down in the ground and everyone in the place starts panicking…another contrast. Everyone is panicking except the Observer, who calmly holds up the water as if he’s measuring it (almost looks like he’s toasting someone), downs the water, calmly pulls out a twenty and puts it down on the table before making his exit.

    Contrast, contrast, contrast…

    Another comment here is the production work done on the toppling crane. Man, that looked fantastic. I’d give a pretty penny to know the details of how they did that—model work? CGI? A combination of both? At any rate, the crane topple, more than anything else in the early going of the series, tipped me off that this show would be something special.

    And it has never disappointed.

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    • says

      “First of all, the music. “Crazy” by Willie Nelson. They just didn’t give us a short hint of the song, we heard darn near the whole thing as if it were almost a theme for the opening. There was much discussion about this during the first run of the episode, and I had hoped that something would come around that would explain it beyond what people were positing here. But nothing really did, so this is one of those details that kind of dangle out there. Meaning or style? I just don’t know…”

      With a song like that and the length of the scene, I agree that it suggests deeper meaning, with a bit of style thrown in for good measure.

      “Next, there was this great juxtaposition between the demeanor of the waitress (who really did a great job and lends a little to the saying that “there are no small parts”), and the Observer who walked this fine line between super politeness and rudeness. It gave me this feeling of “there’s something due any day, I will know right away, soon as it shooooows…” Which, of course, is exactly what JJ and company wanted to convey.”

      I have to agree, the waitress was really good. As you say, it was just a small part, but she added value to an intriguing scene.

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  4. Elliot says

    Still one of my favorite episodes.

    And I am more and more interested in the “old tech” angle; those 24th century binocs are housed in a pair of opera glasses exactly like a pair my grandmother had, not new when I played with them in the early 60′s. (Besides this, the watch and the cars, the other big piece of old tech is the light box test. Walter’s toys hail from the same time period as well.)

    Peter is Walter’s son, just a few atoms off. . .a few choices off. . . though there will likely be fireworks when Peter finds out what those choices were, I’m confident in the end the bonding they have done will keep them together.

    For more on the colors and reflections, peek in at the forum, we’re collecting instances and cataloging.

    I’m not sure Mosely wanted to stop the beacon, just that he wanted to have it. And while he may have been ZFT, it’s not clear; good to widen the cast of players.

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    • mlj102 says

      “For more on the colors and reflections, peek in at the forum, we’re collecting instances and cataloging.”

      Elliot: Nice idea to have a place to compile them all, though I see that you just started and that you don’t have a whole lot of examples. From rewatching episodes, I’ve compiled a pretty big list — I’d be happy to share if you’re interested (though I don’t have an account over at the forums)…

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