FRINGE: Loose Ends — Did Colonel Gordon Really Predict The Observer Invasion?


When Fringe jumped forward to 2036 in “Letters of Transit” it didn’t just set up the major Season 5 storyline, it also awakened a lingering question from Season 2.

The forthcoming Observer invasion, in which Observers from the distant ‘possible future’ travel back to rule the Earth and oppress humanity, means (as some fans have pointed out) that Colonel Raymond Gordon from Season 2’s “Fractured” installment was right, on some level. In that episode, Gordon mounted an early fight against the Observers by recruiting soldiers to sabotage the data they were receiving from their couriers.

While Gordon didn’t know who the threat was, he believed that:

“The enemy is among us and nobody’s doing anything about it. We don’t have any idea the end is coming. So we had to take matters into our own hands. We had to send them a message. … They are here. Collecting data. Making observations. They’ve been planning for war. And they’ve been passing the information via courier right under our noses.”

At the time Gordon was deemed crazy by the Pentagon, while his views on the threat posed by the Observers didn’t carry as much weight as they do post-“Letters Of Transit”.

Was this always the plan? Not necessarily. Season 4 is a good example of how early seeding can allow for a ton of later story alignment. In addition, Gordon’s bit about the Observers ‘using our science against us’ and wanting to exterminate humanity doesn’t seem to ring true at this stage (though the former could in Season 5, particularly with Etta’s abilities).

On the other hand, it’s certainly not impossible that Gordon’s statement was a rough approximation of where the creators planned to eventually take the story.

How did Gordon know the Observers represented a threat?

Military intel probably put him on September and Co’s trail, while it’s easy enough to see why he might have felt threatened, even with his very limited knowledge, by their abilities and keen interest in human history. In short, Gordon could have been wrong, but ultimately he got a bit lucky in that ‘the Observers’ became corrupt like so many before them with too much power.


  • It’s worth bearing in mind that Gordon was presumably referring to who we now know as being the scientist arm of the larger Observer nation. As far as we know at this time, they were unaware of the ultimate intentions of their fellows until “Brave New World” (in linear time terms), so this further makes Gordon’s claim rather lucky.
  • In addition, September’s briefcase (retrieved from his courier) contained photos of Walter Bishop. So again, Gordon was arguably off-base at the time.
  • The serum Gordon had his soldiers inject themselves with activated into a hardened, crystallized substance — rather like the amber used throughout the series and to transport/preserve the Fringe team to 2036, where they would have a better chance of defeating the Observers. It’s not an exact connection, but an interesting coincidence, perhaps.

In conclusion, while I’d put the Gordon ‘foreshadowing’ on a similar rung as the ‘bad Observers’ in my favorite episode “Brown Betty”, it’s hard to deny that it does sort of connect to where the story heading in its final chapter, even though it might not have been wholly intentional.

Video: FOX | Warner Bros TV | gillybabies

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  1. Surun Tunne says

    I don’t really care if it was intentional or not.
    doesn’t change the fact that is was huge foreshadowing and whenever I rewatch this episode that scene makes me smile :-)

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    • Castle says

      I have to agree 100%. I completely forgot about this, and having this article point it out makes me love this show even more than I already did.

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  2. YourPique says

    I pointed this out near the end of season 4 I think… I think it was always the intention to have the Observers (or at least some of them) as baddies…reason still yet to be written at the beginning of season 2.

    At the time, we thought it was a red herring, to try to throw us off the track, as we thought the only war was with the Redverse. Definitely good to recall all facts from that episode…

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    • Mel Duff says

      Thanks for saying this. There have been passionate remarks made on other sites that the whole point of this series was the war between the universes. When challenged about this POV, said people went nuts.

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  3. Adam says

    I’d imagine this was intentional, if not fully fleshed out (see, e.g., the apparent contradiction in how much September knew). Just think about how the producers thought this out: the Observer story wasn’t in their immediate future in S2, but they probably had at least some idea of what the Observer backstory was, and that would include their malicious intentions. Further distinctions, e.g. September’s role, could easily have been clarified two years later when they started to actually write these stories.

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  4. danielle says

    I think that the idea that the most important fight is between the Fringe team and the Observers has always been in their plan. They had experiments, soldiers, alternate universe and the war between them, but there’s always been a constant: The Observers. They’ve always been there, observing, making sure that everything is happening according to plan. What plan? There’s always been a plan, one that it hasn’t been revealed until now.
    And I think that this scene was intentional, just like the one from “The road not taken” was too. The one with the crazy dude who thought that he was Spock. He said that the romulans, people from the future are coming here to change the timeline and that William Bell was creating soldier to fight this war… or something like this.
    I’m not saying that they planned every little detail. But this to me seems that it’s always been planned as the ultimate fight.

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    • Scully8 says

      Danielle, To add to your oberservation. In one of the season 5 promos Peter says in a voiceover: “this is what we were created for . . . or prepared for”. It all fits.

      I’m going to rewatch a couple of the Observer referenced episodes. Thanks!

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      • Surun Tunne says

        he says: “today is the day for which we were created”

        and it was in the first season 5 promo, the one that was released in combination with the renewal news.

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  5. says

    This is what I love about Fringe. When I rewatch it, there’s so many tiny details that I never picked up on at first, but they turned out to be huge in later seasons. They already introduced the amber and the rapid aging science in the first three episodes, and they had a huge impact on the story in season 3.

    In the ZFT book there’s also talk about the war with the other, technologically more advanced universe (season 1, 2, 3), the slow decay of our own universe, Cortexiphan soldiers (season 1 and 4), “beings” from another world coming as our enemies with knowledge about how to cross over, etc. Most of the things we know about the Observers all add up with what we learned in season 4 as well. It’s really cool.

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