FRINGE OBSERVATIONS: 4.12 Welcome To Westfield

fringe-obs-welcome-westfield

Welcome to Fringe Observations — your weekly guide to the clues, symbolism, parallels and connections throughout all four seasons of Fringe. In this week’s guide we comb through “Welcome To Westfield” for the story within the story.

THIS EPISODE CLUE

  • As speculated, the clue for this episode was the Quimby signage foreshadowed in the previous episode. The team takes shelter in the bicycle store on the corner of Cyprus and Quimby.
KINDA BLUE

  • Olivia’s dream is kissed by an abundance of blue, thematically tying her subconscious to the original timeline.
  • A similar ‘blueness’ was apparent when Peter woke up from his dream in “ATWLB.” Side-by-side these two moments present an interesting offset — Olivia’s unconscious connection to the original timeline, balanced by Peter’s conscious connection to it — in-keeping with this season’s narrative.
BEFORE YOU GO-GO

  • Peter wakes Olivia from her original timeline dream, as though the only way home is through her.
  • Alternatively, we can look at this as another example of Olivia ‘prompting the world around her’ — her dreams evoking reality, as the very person who incepted her mind, wakes her up.
LET’S COOK A TIMELINE

  • More thematic references to the other timeline as Walter mixes a new blue cocktail. Like the journey back, it’s not quite ready — “needs more butter!” Olivia declines a sip.
TEARS IN TIME

  • Further clues that the old Olivia is emerging — she does her faux tear wipey thing, memorably dispatched in “Grey Matters”. :)
GO-GO GADGET

  • Walter has created a biological interface so that Peter can interact with the BBM. Of course, the BBM also had such a biological interface calibrated to Peter’s DNA in the other timeline.
OBSERVING THE OBSERVER

  • The Observer watches flight 591 crash in Vermont.
SKYLINE

  • The crashed airliner adds alternate universe red to the over here blues, foreshadowing the merger between the over here and over there Westfields.
META META META

  • The “We’ve Missed You!” message on the Westfield sign doubles as a reference to the team becoming more like their old selves again over the course of the episode.
NEVER FORG–

  • Our team find themselves going around in circles, unable to leave the town. This helps inform the idea that our heroes have forgotten their original lives prior to the timeline being re-written in “The Day We Died.”
  • It further implies that they are trapped in this course of history. Interesting that it takes a sign (from the narrator?) to make them aware of the fact they are travelling in loops.
BRIGADOON

  • Walter compares their inability to leave Westfield to Brigadoon, a 1947 musical described as follows:

It tells the story of a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years, though to the villagers, the passing of each century seems no longer than one night. The enchantment is viewed by them as a blessing rather than a curse, for it saved the village from destruction. According to their covenant with God, no one from Brigadoon may ever leave, or the enchantment will be broken and the site and all its inhabitants will disappear into the mist forever. Two American tourists, lost in the Scottish Highlands, stumble upon the village just as a wedding is about to be celebrated, and their arrival has serious implications for the village’s inhabitants.

THAT TIME IN EDINA

  • Olivia taps into her other timeline memories when recalling the military experiment that went wrong in Edina. In this timeline, Fringe Division didn’t investigate Project Elephant. [Diff between timelines].

  • As well as highlighting the return of the original Dunhamnator and a difference between the two timelines, it perhaps brings back into question the role of the enigmatic narrator.
  • In this instance, Olivia can be deemed unreliable because she’s tapping into experiences from the other timeline, while Walter (of all people) serves as our anchor, reminding her that they never went to Edina.
PERCEPTION

  • You’ll probably remember that a key aspect of the Edina case was perception, with the true identity of the town’s residents hidden in plain sight courtesy of an electromagnetic pulse.
  • This reflects Olivia accessing her original experiences and the idea that the two timelines are one in the same. As Walter said in Johari Window, “what changes, is our perception.”

  • Johari Window also represented Walter confronting his fear by venturing outside the lab. In WTW, Walter takes the lead by joining the investigation “in person.”
THE WALKING DEAD

  • A ‘zombie-esque encounter’. Zombie Brandons were discovered in Olivia’s subconscious in the LSD-sode.
IT IS WRITTEN

  • An open book — another nod to the narrator? Certainly, the flipping pages illustrate the various timelines.

  • Another possible narrator-tinged nod comes when Walter summons Olivia and Peter through an intercom. This evokes memories of him guiding Olivia through her Bra & Panties Tank™-facilitated dreamscapes.
BZZZZ

  • Coolidge Killer Bees — possible next episode clue.
OBSERVING OLIVIA

  • Walter notes that Olivia has always been very empathetic. We know this to also be true from the other timeline.

  • Moreover, it seems her acute empathy is allowing her to connect with the original timeline, as well as explaining her intuition as an agent.
  • We know this stems from her Cortexiphan trials and subsequent dosing, but she was also predisposed as a child, suggesting empathy as one of the ‘natural’ reasons Walter and Bellie chose her as their mythical gate-keeper. “You were always the strong one. ” Strength through empathy.
  • It could be suggested that Olivia is finally empathising with herself, in a fringey sort of way. The road to self-actualization is fraught with fringey encounters.
OVERLAP

  • Walter realizes they are trapped in the overlap, explaining the mystery behind their predicament, and, possibly, the landscape (so to speak) of the new timeline.
TWO-FACED

  • The ‘merged man’ is a reminder of the themes explored in Jacksonville.
STORM-PROOF

  • Peter is in the center of the triangle created by the bike’s golden frame — they used a triangle to locate the bicycle shop at the ‘center of the storm’. Reference within a reference.
OZ AGAINST THE WORLD

  • The battered Westfield sign and the aftermath of the storm reminds me of the tornado from Oz that flattened the Wicked Witch of the East.
OBSERVATION OVERFLOW
  • As noted, the Oz references continued in this episode, with Olivia joshing that the BBM will allow Peter to ‘click his heels and think of home,’ while Peter directly refers to this timeline as “Oz”.
  • The plane crash site carried echoes of The Transformation. This is the third plane that has crashed on Fringe.
  • In “Making Angels,” Altstrid noted that Astrid summons Walter remotely. In this episode he manifests in the flesh after she bellows his name.
  • Suitably, there are lots of cyclical objects and references in this episode.
  • “How does a man drive all the way from Boston to Vermont and not even know he’s there?” Another reference to our heroes finding themselves lost in a new stream of time without knowing it.
  • The concept of two entities existing in the same space is an extension of a common Fringe theme (the collision of the two universes, Olivia being pumped with Altlivia’s memories, the whole Bellivia thing, etc, etc).
  • Walter says his blood type is O negative, however in Reciprocity,” he claims to be A positive. Continuity error or intentional?
  • Olivia’s arm starts shaking as a result of the Cortexiphan dosing. Worth noting, perhaps, that Nina suffered from hand tremors in the season 1 episode “Ability”. Whether this becomes a tie-in remains to be seen.
  • Phase II in this episode represents the obliteration of the two Westfields. With such a direct reference it would seem to inform the larger Phase II mythology tied to Olivia.
  • While the episode focuses on the emergence of the old Olivia, Walter also undergoes his own journey back. Not Cortexiphan fueled like Olivia, but driven by his growing bond with Peter, illustrating once again the impact he has on the lives on those around him.
  • Depending on how things go, could Walter find it difficult to let Peter go?
  • The glyph code for this episode spelled OLIVE. The shortened version of Olivia’s name most commonly referenced during those childhood Cortexiphan trials. Seems like things are ..coming together. Dun, dun, duuun.

Previously On Fringe Observations: 4.11 Making Angels

Comments

  1. Rae` says

    I knew I wasn’t the only one who caught onto the ‘bloodtype’ thing. I also have this sneaky suspicion that Walter and Peter having created a biological interface is, in fact, the original biological interface for the BBM. I have a theory, that in this show, time is expanding backward more at times then forward, a ‘chicken before the egg’ type of thing. Like, because A happened, B happened, but B caused A to happen in the first place, therefore, time isn’t necessarily linear, but constantly looping, and it’s all the different choices made that dictate where it goes.

    Well-loved.: Thumb up 11

    • Avatar of Roco says

      I think that’s a big possibility, Rae. Having Walter create a BBM interface at this stage seems like a big pointer. Given the show has yet to confirm Peter’s belief that Walter created the BBM, this could certainly be a step in that direction.

      As for the chicken and egg, most definitely. If time is happening in a flux then it stands to reason that events are predicated back, forth and sideways, rather than in a straight line. Good thoughts.

      Like: Thumb up 1

  2. Roneo says

    I loved this “observations”. I had perceived some of them, but not many. I think it’s the one that I’ve enjoyed and and that’s moved me the most in time, clearly of the season. Thanks Roco for making me enjoy even more such splendid an episode.

    I also noticed the blood group, but since could not remember whether it was Walter or Peter the one with the A + group, I let it go. I guess it was the group that they found convenient for an emergency transfusion.

    We still need to find the Wizard (Walter?), but won’t Nina be a great Wicked Witch of the West?

    Like: Thumb up 3

  3. nora says

    The blood type change was weird, but what’s with Walter’s comment about schizophenia? I couldn’t wrap my mind around that one. Because the mental illness Cliff descibed in the restaurant – it’s Multiple Personality Disorder, not schizophrenia. They often mix up the two in film industry – did this happened here, too? Walter said he knew the symptoms well (does this mean it was why he ended up in St. Caire?) – I doubt he could have had MPD, but schizophrenia seems to be logical in his case. Am I wrong, overlooking something, or just being too finicky?

    Like: Thumb up 3

    • Avatar of Roco says

      nora, I don’t necessarily think you’re overlooking or being finicky, it’s certainly ripe for disucssion. I just took it as being Walter’s take on what was happening based on his experiences, and how the writers wanted to define the issue.

      Like: Thumb up 0

  4. Pwnsauce says

    Roco, you seem to be suggesting that you think that the show is trying to tell us that Walter is the narrator. Do you agree or disagree at this point?

    Like: Thumb up 1

    • Avatar of Roco says

      Pwnsauce, at this point I think it’s between Walter and Peter. Peter has found himself in a unique position in terms of the overarching narrative, but much of the evidence so far points to Walter, so I’d plump for him at this point.

      Of course, that’s assuming there’s only one narrator..

      Like: Thumb up 0

      • ndolo says

        Great observations roco. Thanks for the narrator tease in the ep review ;)
        What has always confused me regarding the narrator topic is the evolving sympathies (empathy?) displayed towards the core characters.
        My guesses so far are : plot device Peter, Astrid, September.

        Like: Thumb up 2

        • Avatar of Roco says

          ndolo, no worries ;)

          “evolving sympathies” — I like the way you phrased that.

          I think September’s an interesting choice. His perception of time and growing attachment to our heroes may yet put him in line.

          Like: Thumb up 1

  5. says

    Kinda Blue … Peter and September

    Me and my shadow,
    Strolling down the avenue,
    Me and my shadow,
    Not a soul to tell our troubles to . . .

    Like: Thumb up 5

  6. lost_stef says

    “The glyph code for this episode spelled OLIVE.”

    where can you find the glyph code in the episodes? Might be a stupid question but im just wondering?

    Like: Thumb up 0

  7. Andre says

    I think you missed an observer. Now i may be crazy but at the end of the episode when they were all running in the bike shop, I swear i saw one of the observers in the group that was being hurried to the back.

    Like: Thumb up 0

    • darquemode says

      I saw the Observer in the beginning of the episode when the cars stalled on the road and the plane was going down. As the stranded people turned to watch the plane, you could see the back of the Observer as he was looking at Westfield.

      Like: Thumb up 1

      • Andre says

        Oh, i am not saying he wasn’t in the beginning of the episode because clearly he was as the pictures shows above. What i am saying is there was a second appearance of an observer which wasn’t noted in the write up. Now i don’t remember if every sighting of an observer is mentioned in the reviews, i was just pointing out that it may have been missed if that was the case.

        Like: Thumb up 0

    • Avatar of Roco says

      @Andre — thanks for the tip. I know the guy you’re referring to but it’s just a man wearing an Observer-ish hat. I’ll try to post a screencap later for reference.

      Like: Thumb up 1

  8. Sofia says

    Great observations, wow, I love it! Thanks Roco.

    But what if Olivia is not empathising with herself, but with Peter? An empathic person, could absorb feelings from others, and because of their connection, the cortexiphan and what was happening in Westfield too, she was able to have his memories (remember, she was scared and with the confused feelings for Peter, always the trigger for her abilities). Because, if blue Olivia is not existing parallel with amber Olivia, she can’t has this memory, because she never lived it. But Peter did, he could’ve been providing this for her. I don’t know, my head hurts lol

    Like: Thumb up 6

  9. T-Rox says

    At the end of the episode Walter makes crêpes and refers to dinner as the “second most important meal of the day”. It is a reference to “6B” when he says that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day” while he is making pancakes (which are basically the same as crêpes). But I’m not sure whether it was just coincidence that he said that, or more proof that the original bond he forged with Peter is (re)emerging. I’m going for the latter.

    Like: Thumb up 4

  10. fedorafadares says

    I took Olivia’s arm shaking and speech slurring as an indication that like the teenage girl who died of a stroke because of her gift of precognition, Olivia may also be killed by her “gift.”

    Like: Thumb up 3

    • T-Rox says

      I seem to remember Walter explaining that Olivia’s symtomps were of psychosomatic nature, that she experienced them because she thought she was suffering from the same “disease” as the others.

      So as much as I’d like to see an episode about someone who kills people by spiking their empathy, it seems unlikely that Olivia dies because she puts herself in the position of a dying person.

      Like: Thumb up 0

    • wikiaddicted723 says

      I thought it was more of a marker of Olivia’s abilities being just around the corner. She has suffered the same symptoms (slurred speech, shaky limbs, dizziness, etc) in a variety of occasions throughout the show, but all of them have one thing in common: Cortexiphan. They are all directly, or indirectly, caused by it or (in Bell’s particular occasion) by the invasion of her consciousness, in itself made possible by the drug’s presence in her brain. It is also reminiscent of “Momentum Deferred” when Olivia regains her memories of her first visit to the Other Side.

      Like: Thumb up 2

      • T-Rox says

        Interesting, I hadn’t thought of that. So if “Bluelivia” seems to reappear then so should her knowledge of her being treated with Cortexiphan and the knowledge of her abilities (telekinesis etc.). The possible repercussions of that make my head hurt.

        Like: Thumb up 2

        • JodyA says

          But Bluelivia does not remember being treated with Cortexiphan while AmberOlivia does. Bluelivia will know about her powers because she was activated and learned to control them in her timeline up to 2026. AmberOlivia thinks her powers have gone dormant or was only active when given Cortexiphan. We know that the powers can still manifest without Cortexiphan as seen with Cameron in “Subject 9″. Olivia is afraid of her powers coming back. AmberOlivia remembers the fireball so far as we know. What else may have happened she has not enlightened the audience with as of yet.

          Like: Thumb up 0

  11. dALTnielle says

    So many clues in this episode… WOW!!! Great job pointing them out Roco! Always a delight to read your “observations”.

    Also, I have to say, I love that how you always refer to Olivia as the Dunhamnator! It sounds so cool and so her :D

    Like: Thumb up 1

  12. says

    Terrific job, Roco…you always spot things I don’t and help me make sense of all the intricacies of the episode!

    Was I the only one who thought of “Lost”? Westfield reminded me of the island in that people couldn’t get away, the electromagnetism, etc.

    Cindy @Notes in the Key of Life

    Like: Thumb up 0

  13. Xerophytes says

    Nobody pointed out that:

    It is possible that the merging is NOT between two universes but between two timelines (ie this timeline AND where Peter came from timeline). No proof that the merge is in between two universes except for Walter’s intellectual GUESS.

    Nobody also pointed out that:

    At the end of the episode, Peter might unknowingly crossed back to his timeline; that the Olivia we are seeing is no longer the Olivia of the new timeline, but Olivia in the blueverse and Peter IN the blueverse.

    Just Saying.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  14. Ariel says

    It’s interesting that Walter appears at the crash site in the beginning after Astrid calls his name out three times.

    Also, the look of Olivia’s dream at the starts, with all of the lens flares is very reminiscent of the visions she’s had in the tank in season one.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  15. scully8 says

    “You’ll probably remember that a key aspect of the Edina case was perception, with the true identity of the town’s residents hidden in plain sight courtesy of an electromagnetic pulse.”

    This reminds me of Walter’s mouse demonstration in the Wallflower episode. If you remember, Yoko was invisible in the maze and when Walter used the blue light you could see her. What stuck out to me was when Lincoln said ‘. . . so she (yoko the mouse) was there all the time . . . ” I immediately thought of Olivia — that Peter’s Olivia was right there in plain sight. Just a thought . . .

    Like: Thumb up 2

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