FRINGE OBSERVATIONS: 4.01 Neither Here Nor There

401-observations-fringe

Observations, clues, easter eggs and interpretations from the Fringe season 4 premiere — “Neither Here Nor There.”

Exchange

The alternate universe FBI had been defunct for more than 10 years in the original timeline. The opening scene suggests the same is true in the new timeline (NT).

PETER SIGHTINGS

Peter makes three appearances in the episode, seemingly triggered while Olivia and Walter experience moments of contemplation or familiarity. Future episodes should help determine whether there is indeed a pattern.

ORANGE

The new orange title sequence represents a reality without Peter, as confirmed by the Fringe producers. This marks the seventh variation (view the others here.)

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The major fringe sciences being explored in this timeline are: Existence, Quantum Entanglement, Philosophers Stone, Psychometry, Viral Therapy, Etheral Plane, Gravitons, Time Paradox, Psychogenesis, Bilocation, Psychic Surgery, transgenics.

The “Observers Are Here” clue also remains embedded within the sequence.

OBSERVER TRAINING

Could the new Observer (listed as the much sought-speculated “January” in the credits”) be a matured version of the child (inset) from Inner Child?

Walter as a remote Observer.

ONE OF THESE THINGS

At Nadine Park’s crime scene Lincoln says “one of these things is not like the other,” which is a reference from a Sesame Street Sketch.

It’s also a callback to “Stowaway” when Lincoln said the same thing to Peter in reference to a book called The Afterlife of the Soul. The saying also featured in “Momentum Deferred,” referenced by both Rebecca Kibner and Walter.

OLD PARTS

The Observers association with everyday ‘old tech’ continues as September uses old parts to construct his Peter Erasing Machine (PEM). Among the components he buys is an electron gun from a television set. Interesting that Peter should appear in a TV at the end of the episode.

They also made a point of showing him spark the soon-to-be switch for his PEM. We’ve seen similar abilities before.

There are symbolic implications of Walter hiding from Peter inside the Bra & Panties Tank. Given its OT associations with connecting Olivia to memories and propelling her across universes, it seems appropriate that Walter would seek refuge in the tank.

The tank also acts as a kind of rabbit hole (a very wet one – awakening), representing the beginning of Walter’s journey to rediscovering Peter.

MAN IN THE MIRROR

Walter refers to Peter as “the man in the mirror” which carries reflective connotations and references the 1936 British film and Michael Jackson’s 1988 single:

I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change

The point of Peter’s “sacrifice” was for them to fix the problems in their worlds, to find another way and to change things.

Does ‘Peter’ need Walter to initiate a change? In some respects he’s gone backwards from the progress he made in the original time.

TOUCH

Olivia calms Walter down through touch — much like Peter was able to do in the OT. This is an interesting detail and something to watch out for as the story continues.

Olivia tells him: “Whatever it was, we’re all here now, you’re ok.”

Similarly echoing her speech at the end of season 3: “Whatever you’ve both done, we’re here now. So maybe it’s time we start to fix it.”

A spooky connection is made between the pair.

PATTERN & BREAKTHROUGH

FOLLOW THE TRACKS

“Brain Freeze” is grafftied on the train behind Lincoln — a possible next episode clue?

The butterfly glyph makes its first season 4 appearance.

SHAPESHIFTER ABILITIES

The human shapeshifters appear to possess additional abilities. In the above capture we see a spark coming from Robert’s body as the shifter touches him.

We later see a second shapeshifter torch his research papers, seemingly by striking his hand over them.

As foreshadowed earlier, the human shapeshifters make the breakthrough they were looking for — they are now able to appear more human. This is clarified through the above shot of the third shapeshifter whose skin gradually becomes less translucent.

She then turns and walks up some stairs, perhaps a symbolic hint in its own right.

NOT CHINA

While examining the human shapeshifter, Walter finds a piece of tech (power device) resembling the memory discs found inside the biomechanical shapeshifters in the OT. He suspects Walternate, claiming that the tech isn’t from here.

MASSIVE DYNAMIC

The leaf glyph appears on the security scanner outside the BBM room entrance. Famously seen in the pilot (inset) as John Scott’s ‘dead’ body is wheeled deeper inside the bowels of Massive Dynamic for “questioning.”

The second Massive Dynamic clue is not long in coming..

Inside the BBM room we see the Massive Dynamic logo, confirming that the company was still created in the NT irrespective of Peter’s absence.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS
  • Prominent focus is given to the bell above the door of the restaurant upon September’s arrival. Traditionally used to signify William Bell. Walter also utters another bell reference.
  • Green and red color-coding inside the restaurant, thematically playing into the Observers relationship with the green/red pattern mythology.
  • The scene with Robert and Lincoln searching for the runner is reminiscent of the shapeshifter chase from the season 2 premiere.
  • Lincoln, with a gun to his head, pulls a quick reversal – another intentional parallel to Peter when he encountered the Observers assassin in August.
  • Walter tells Astrid: “..there has to be another way. The thing about playing devil’s advocate is that your client is the devil himself.” Astrid replies: “Walter, we’re fixing the world, what other choice do we have? Thank God that Machine didn’t blow everybody up, you know it could have.” Some additional insight into their perspective on how the Machine created the bridge, and a callback to Peter’s famous words from 6955kHz.
  • Walter brings the dead bird “back to life” (momentarily) — several parallels can be made there.
  • The soul gets its first season 4 mention when Walter tells Astrid that he’s looked into Walternate’s eyes “into his soul,” and doesn’t trust him.
  • The episode contains several references to signals. Might be nothing, but could relate to Peter attempting to break through.
  • Lincoln ends up killing the shapeshifter who stole his partners body, much like Olivia when she killed shapeshifter Charlie in Momentum Deferred.
  • Book Reference: Walter mentions “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” in reference to the shapeshifter burning his research to cover his tracks. Here’s some background on the book:

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold occurs during the heightened-alert politico-military tensions that characterised the late 1950s and early 1960s of the Cold War, when a Soviet–American war in Europe (Germany) seemed likely. The story begins and concludes in East Germany, about a year after the completion of the Berlin Wall.

  • The process of entering the BBM room has shades of AliasSD-6 biometric scan.
  • Zeppelins still mark the AU skyline in the new timeline
  • September presses four red buttons to power-down his PEM — as opposed to three green and one red.
  • The glyph for this episode spelled: APPEAR, primarily in reference to Peter.
  • The episode title “Neither Here Nor There” seems have several possible meanings, as is usually the case. Strong shouts include the timeline, Peter, the BBM room, etc.

If you missed our review for this episode you can find it here.

Additional Observations for this episode can be found here.

Comments

  1. Red Balloon says

    The scanner to enter the BBM room, has replaced the blue flashlights that they used when changing universes. (I think).

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    • RoSull says

      ” the blue flashing lights…”

      Do you think we’ll still see them in some way? Considering there is now a bridge between the ‘verses. It makes you wonder if they still will serve a thematic purpose or if they will be used to signify something else from now on.

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      • Red Balloon says

        Thanks for correcting me; English it’s not my native language… :)

        Yes, I think they’ll return, mostly because we all know that the verses’ will team up, solving new cases into each other universes.

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        • Rick Terry says

          I know they’ll return as it is a JJ Abrams signature cinematic effect. All his bad robot productions use them liberally. He calls it flare, as a play on words to glare. So yeah my money is on we’ll be seeing those flares again and again.

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  2. starg8fans says

    Excellent analysis as always, Roco! Your attention to detail is amazing.

    I just beg to differ on one point. Walter did NOT bring that bird back to life. Actually, when Astrid said that he did his reply was something like “Oh no, it is quite dead.” Which in itself is very intriguing – something dead that gives a semblance of being alive.

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    • says

      “Walter did NOT bring that bird back to life. Actually, when Astrid said that he did his reply was something like “Oh no, it is quite dead.” Which in itself is very intriguing – something dead that gives a semblance of being alive.”

      Oh I know, I used quotes to highlight the fact that the bird wasn’t actually alive. :)

      I agree, it’s intriguing in its own right. I guess we could say the bird’s status was was neither here nor there.

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  3. says

    Roco, your Fringe observations are always my favorite part of your work.

    I have to admit I was disappointed (and surprised) not to see the three green and one red when September powered down his PEM device. I wonder if that signifies anything.

    I’m a big fan of John LeCarre’s books. When “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” was referenced I thought of it as a connection to Peter. How he is on the outside looking in. It makes you wonder who is playing the part of “Leamas” from the book. Is it Peter? Leamas was duped by his own organization into protecting someone who was deemed more important to them despite his poor repute (traitor). Could this be some foreshadowing?

    It seems to me Walter needs his rock, Peter, to center his morality. He is back to playing God again by re-animating that dove. Are the bodies kept by the Fringe division next? It is something I explored myself.

    http://interdimensional-dave.blogspot.com/2011/09/fringe-modern-prometheus.html

    Keep the good work coming Roco!

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    • says

      “I have to admit I was disappointed (and surprised) not to see the three green and one red when September powered down his PEM device. I wonder if that signifies anything.”

      It could well do. Perhaps we’ll look back on this scene at some point and be able to say for certain. Let’s wrap it in Amber for safe-keeping.

      “It seems to me Walter needs his rock, Peter, to center his morality. He is back to playing God again by re-animating that dove. Are the bodies kept by the Fringe division next? It is something I explored myself.”

      Very true, and at the same time he seems to be filling that ‘Peter hole’, but how deep does it go?

      Thanks for the tip btw, I’ll check it out when I get the chance.

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  4. Underseer says

    Speaking of songs that are both relevant to Fringe and may even have inspired plot elements in the series, I think I might have mentioned before, a song by Band of Horses, ‘Is There a Ghost’, was used in the ‘Northwest Passage’ episode in season 2:

    “I could sleep,
    when I lived alone,
    is there a ghost in my house?”

    Originally I thought it was just symbolic of Peter’s sense of despair and alienation when he discovered his true origins. But these lyrics take on a new relevance – were they also meant to foreshadow Peter’s upcoming ex-chronal status?

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  5. Samuel says

    Thanks, Roco!!! Great post!
    I always enjoy your reviews and observations.

    Just wanna mention one point.
    I find it curious that in the title sequence, which is orange this time,
    flashes green when the hidden “observers are here” flashes…
    Means anything???

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    • says

      Samuel: I’m not sure it means anything, per se. If memory serves it flashes blue in the normal credits, so it’s probably just the different color scheme making it look different.

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  6. wild blue jimbo says

    i can’t believe no one has realized peter is the main shape shifter in this episode!
    he injects himself w/ human blood or serum then grows a fingernail and is very pleased about half way through and he is finally shot by lee in the train station…
    then he is on the autopsy table in walter’s lab!! c’mon people
    walter is the ultimate dr. frankenstein. remember the quick re-animation of the bird early on in the episode? anybody see where this is going?

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  7. Karen says

    I think the the girl shape-shifter who walked away at the end is the same girl in Walters’ lab who was about to be autopsied and was wearing an engagement ring.
    So these may be more a clone thing, hence the different tech.

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  8. M says

    I’ve been trying to figure out whether the timeline actually changed or just the characters’ memories of how they got where they are. Maybe it doesn’t make a difference either way because our perception of reality governs what’s real, so everything the characters remember is real regardless. Thoughts?

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    • says

      M: September’s phrasing is interesting. He said the timeline has been “rewritten”. But I’ve seen nothing at this stage to change my mind that it’s essentially a bit of both. More specifically, I’d say they’re in a ‘different’ timeline, if we can look at it that way. (it may also be a case of semantics there.)

      There could be an argument that says we’re not looking at the same “characters”, but the fact that we traveled with them at the point of Peter’s deletion suggets that, for all story intents and purposes, we are.

      I agree though, underlying all of this is the concept of perception equates reality.

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  9. Cerulean says

    In “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, it starts out “I’m gonna make a change, For once in my life”.
    Hint-hint at Olivia’s song from Brown Betty?

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  10. TomC says

    Being as im from england im not too up to date with US police car lights, but did anyone else notice in the scene where lincon and olivia ‘first’ met, the flashing police car lights behind them. 2 blue lights around a yellow/orange light. That could be normal and just a coincidence but i found it interesting.
    There also seemed to be a lot more yellow/orange about.

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  11. TheOtherMe says

    Walter actually explains to Astrid that the bird wasn’t alive—IMO I think it must have been reanimation, but Walter must be suggesting that the bird doesn’t have it’s “soul” (memory/former identity) any more –it was temp. in motion, but it wasn’t alive (quality verses quantity, ect) – it was pitiful, which kind of then mirrors the upgrade (if can we even call it that) of the humoniod shapeshifters (although I attribute a lot of FRINGE things, such as shapeshifters, Milo Stanfeild, flash tech like the electrolight bombs, ect to ‘the evolution of the Observer aka ‘Super Human Soldier’)

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  12. TheOtherMe says

    also I think the opening reflects AMBER and AMBER will become ‘the philosophers’ stone’ (immortality, preservation, gold, type of wealth) because in all cases, including “real” amber, Amber is a preservative –(Think Jurassic Park–>mosquito–>DNA and then think about the Rose brothers and the Olivias hair colors (blode/gold and Auburn/red/orange/brown = amber)

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  13. Cats says

    Rick Terry September 30, 2011 at 2:42 PM
    I know they’ll return as it is a JJ Abrams signature cinematic effect. All his bad robot productions use them liberally. He calls it flare, as a play on words to glare. So yeah my money is on we’ll be seeing those flares again and again.

    Actually Flare (lens flare) is a film/photography term

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lens_flare

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