Fringe Rewatch: 2.17 Paradigm

Welcome to the rewatch for episode 17 of Fringe season 2 – “White Tulip”. Join us as we travel back in time to change the future to alter the present.

We have renamed this episode: Paradigm.

Newly Observed Perspectives

  • In rewatching I decided to focus on an aspect that I touched on in my original review for ‘White Tulip’: The possibility that the events in this episode were literally constructed by Walter so that he could essentially forge Gods forgiveness.
  • For this idea to make sense, it has to be assumed that Alistair Peck is Walter’s creation – be it an idealized subconscious manifestation or even an imagined entity – something that would represent Walter’s struggles (a scientist playing god, regret at losing a loved one, etc) and would enable him to find the resolution needed to tell Peter the truth – that is, receiving indication of Gods forgiveness.

  • For me, the red balloon thematic is an indication that the world of Alistair Peck is not necessarily real. We previously saw such a visual employed in the episode “Bad Dreams“, where it was used to confirm that Olivia’s dream was actually reality. I think it is possible that ‘White Tulip’ borrows from that device, but in the opposite direction. At any rate, I think it’s interesting that both episodes feature red balloons as used as markers, signposts.
  • So how did Walter receive the white tulip in reality? He mailed it to himself and conveniently sectioned off the memory of doing so. He might even have participated in some bong activity to help distort his reality. It’s not a great answer, but it’s a possible answer meaning that there are other answers out there.
  • If this notion is on the right lines, then Walter essentially constructed Peck to guarantee Gods forgiveness. Which, in reality, was Walter forgiving himself through his own constructed and idealized paradigm.
  • The other aspect that makes me think this notion could at the very least be possible, is the “God Is Watching” sign signposted at the beginning of the episode. Is this Walter’s subconscious becoming nervous about what he was doing? Is this a clue that Walter is conscious of the fact that this self-created forgiveness from ‘God’ will not go without punishment? I just think that there’s a lot of interesting perspectives to be gained from this, if it is true.
  • While I’m quite happy to take this episode at face value, I thought it was worth expanding on some of the ideas that I had when this episode first aired. Even if these ideas never even entered the writers thoughts when creating the episode (and I think they may have), I still find value from this question: if Walter could create such a scenario to self-engineer Gods forgiveness in this way, would he?

Best retrospective performer: John Noble.

Best retrospective moment: Walter and Alistair taking different approaches on God

Retrospective episode rating: 8/10

Useful Links

Next rewatch episode – 2.18 “The Man From The Other Side” – TBA.


  1. says

    One of the best episodes of season 2, no doubt.
    Even without your personal thoughts on the God and forgiveness theme (which i think are great to discuss and think about) the guest appearance by Peter Weller once more, was great to watch.
    Alistair Peck getting more and more deranged, crazy even, with the fact of losing the love of his life and therefor becoming some sort of cyborg travelling through time.

    I found the ending especially beautiful, and endless moment that lasted a second, without sound, just in that moment of time being once more with his wife.

    Peck could travel through time. Thát is very interesting, because he almost gets to the level of becoming some sort of Observer. So, even his death at the end of the episode, doesn’t have to be final for us lineair creatures.
    In other words: we will probably see him back in future episodes, as i’m convinced we will see August again too.

    The White Tulip. The note. Walter remembering things. All very important for things to come. Peck will be back.

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  2. number six says

    It is very possible that this was a construct by Walter. I actually like that possibility.

    Beautiful episode and performances. 9/10

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  3. Count Screwloose says

    You’re working too hard on this one, I think. You have to take it at face value or you lose the point: in the end, the sign from God that Walter wanted came about through Science, thereby fusing the two together. One of the best episodes they’ve ever done and certainly the best standalone.

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    • says

      Count Screwloose,

      I wouldn’t say that approaching a rewatch from a different perspective loses the point. I find that it gives me a broader view of the show.

      You also have to bear in mind that the point of this rewatch (for me at least) was to look at new perspectives and to expand on aspects that I’ve previously flirted with. That’s why I’ve included links to my original reviews so you can see where my starting point is.

      While I agree that the ‘God through science’ answer is the likely intention, there are plenty of other viable possibilities that are worth considering. My plan was to experience this retrospective dip into the Fringe pool with an open mind, and to challenge my own preconceptions.

      But of course, we can disagree on the viability of such approaches. :)


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  4. Inter-dimensional Dave says

    It was interesting to see Walter endure the “silence of God” as his penance for his sins while ultimately persuing absolution. In the classic Ingmar Berman film, “The Seventh Seal” the “silence” is a major theme of the film. In this case Walter can be seen in the role of the Knight (in the film) who asks, “Is it so cruelly inconceivable to grasp God with the senses? Why should he hide himself in a mist of half-spoken promises and unseen miracles?…What is going to happen to those of us who want to believe but aren’t able to?”

    If we use Roco’s new perspective, Walter would find the silence unbearable and turn to someone whose route to absolution is more direct. Peck is a “self-flagellist” whose penence is paid through mutilation of the body. In doing so, Peck was able to endure the pain necessary for absolution and was willing to ultimately sacrifice himself to rejoin his loved one. One could say Walter took the easy way out in “self-engineering” his forgiveness.

    Perhaps we can forgive Walter because he endured the loss of the “original” Peter and is now more inclined to engage death and defeat it rather than submit to it. I often see chess as thematic in Fringe. The two Bishop boys protecting the White Queen that is Olivia. Chess was another major theme in “The Seventh Seal”. While Walter often plays the role of Bishop in his defense of Olivia he takes on a more aggressive role as Knight when it comes to Peter. In the movie the knight thwarts death by upending the chessboard allowing his loved ones to escape. Will Walter ultimately resort to such a tactic to preserve his world?

    BTW, if Olivia is the White Queen does that make her auburn haired doppelganger the Red Queen? I’m not going thay rabbit hole here!

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  5. Phawks says

    In this episode I noticed that Peter says he has never gotten the feeling of Deja Vu. Walter takes specific note of this. In an earlier episode it is said that Deja Vu is actually a glimpse into the other universe. Food for thought.

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