Fringe Rewatch: 2.20 Transmission

Welcome to the rewatch for episode 20 of Fringe season 2 – “Northwest Passage”. Join as we stop off from a piece of Krista’s sweet pecan pie before heading to the other side with Walternate.

We have renamed this episode: Transmission.

Newly Observed Perspectives

  • If you’ve been tracking the sleep references with us along the way, this episode should be like candy to you. Were all, or some, of the events happening in Peter’s head? I said it at the time, and I’ll say it again:

Are things really as they appear, or is there an extra level of something involving dreams and consciousness bubbling under the surface of the show?

  • That’s not to say that I think Peter was necessarily hallucinating. I think there’s a difference between what Peter experienced and agent Mathis’ theory.
  • One way that I like to look at the events in this episode is that they were manifested by Peter himself, due to his sleep deprived state and his recent disconnection with his adopted universe. I could see how such an experience could play havoc with his ability, just as being frightened would activate Olivia. And as we know, there is an unspoken element to this story that involves the sleep/waking state. Alternatively, the events could be explained by Newton doing something to disorientate Peter. We know that they sent him some kind of transmission – I can’t imagine this was included for no good reason on the writers part. Did they do something to his perception? Did they transmit code to his subconscious mind that will unlock at some point in the future (a pre-emptive plan by Walternate)? Were they preparing the coordinates for his journey back to the other side? Were they attempting to download information from Peter’s mind ahead of the journey? I think all of these ideas are possible, although I think that this episode was intentionally ambiguous.
  • I still find the ending to this episode extremely powerful and satisfying. Peter has to fall asleep to fully wake up. It’s almost as though he had been in an interim state of mind since realizing the truth about his origins. And Newton, what can I say about The Newt? He is the personification of cool. And then the entrance of Walternate – still a bit early for my liking but necessary given the ultimate direction of the season. And I’m glad they didn’t have Peter say, “Daaaad?”, because you know that LOST (RIP, my sweet) would have. 😉

Best retrospective performer: Joshua Jackson

Best retrospective moment: Peter sleeping/meeting The Newt’s gun/meeting Walternate.

Retrospective episode rating: 6/10

Useful Links

Next rewatch episode – 2.21 “Over There – Part 1” – TBA.


  1. Elaine says

    “Were they preparing the coordinates for his journey back to the other side?”

    I certainly hope that will be the answer we’re presented at some point during S3. I don’t know how we’re meant to make the connection between Peter and Walternate being star treked out of that motel hallway, and it taking Peter three days to recover once he returned to his home world, but it seems logical that those phone calls served a very specific purpose besides raising Peter’s paranoia flag even higher than his lack of sleep had raised it.

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  2. Ann_Louise says

    I really wish they’d found a bit more time to show Peter saying “yes, let’s go” at the end – was he affected by a transmission? Was he angry and eager to leave this world?

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  3. number six says

    So much to like here! Joshua Jackson and Martha Plimpton gave great performances and had great chemistry. If there was a spin-off with Peter and Sheriff Mathis as main characters, I’d totally watch that show. I liked Sheriff Mathis, her patience with Peter and her need to believe, which didn’t prevent her from questioning him and his methods. I also enjoyed the Twin Peaks meets The X-Files meets Fringe atmosphere.

    I loved how Peter was portrayed here. He was obviously in a very poor state and he was just keeping a facade, while trying to deal with his identity crisis and paranoia. Any mooning over Olivia or having a break-down, however minor, would have been unbelievable at this point, although I liked the hints, that he was missing family back in Boston.

    Peter on his own was amazing and very much like Walter: unconventional and, let’s face it, insane. I also loved the fact that they showed his darker side: his selfishness in not wanting the help of the FBI. While it is true that, in the end, the the FBI wasn’t needed, he couldn’t have known that at the time. He also thought that the murders were about him, and they probably were, but it’s still rather self-centered. He was really harsh with Sheriff Mathis at times and downright scary.

    I liked that Olivia wasn’t written out of character, either. She didn’t show any sadness or guilt. She was focused on her task at hand.

    Walter’s scene in the supermarket. Only Walter could make me laugh and 3 seconds later make me tear up.

    Broyles. So this is why Nina likes him so much. He obviously wanted Olivia to know he had information on Peter’s whereabouts. He found a way to support both Peter and Olivia without betraying any of them. Fantastic!

    The whole lab scene with the adrenaline spikes explanation was amazing. Peter scaring Sheriff Mathis and pinpointing the killer’s location was so very Walter!

    The scene, where Mathis gives Peter the “Find the crack” pen is beautiful.

    And, of course, Walternate meeting his son after 25 years and Peter’s reaction. Fantastic!

    I disliked:

    – Walter putting in the wrong numbers, because he was scared of finding Peter and Peter might not forgive him. Then why the meltdown in the supermarket? And worse, why was he wasting Olivia’s time? Olivia was looking for Peter because of Walter, she had no reason to go after Peter otherwise.

    – The killer. “I wanted to be close to them.” Worst line in the show so far.

    Finally, I think Newton influenced the killer, an already disturbed individual, to remove the temporal lobes, in order to keep Peter in that place and I also think that Peter picked up Newton’s presence in the area in a subconscious level and his mind interpreted that into visions and phone calls.


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  4. Alex says

    I’m usually more a fan of Olivia-centric eps (eg. Bad Dreams, Ability), but this one really took me by surprise. Peter seems so driven to find Newton but also so lost in himself. Martha Plimpton was brilliant too, and her interactions with Peter revealed so much about his pain. But that final scene in the motel room was solid gold – Band of Horses is one of my fav bands of all time, and the song really showed how he just needed to escape from the nightmare that is his life, but then it all gets interrupted by the creepy by suave and sophisticated Sebastian Roche (also brilliant). But the look on Peter’s face when he sees Alter-Walter is beyond brilliant.

    A solid 8.5, methinks

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  5. Johnny says

    So I was watching Raising Hope yesterday, and kept telling myself “Where have I seen this lady before”, the actress who plays the mother of the son, it was driving me insane, then I re-watched this episode of Fringe and found my out my answer.

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