FRINGE OBSERVATIONS: 4.15 A Short Story About Love


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 “A Short Story About Love” for the story within the story.


  • The clue for this episode hidden in the previous episode, was indeed the “Burns Unit”, foreshadowing Anson Carr’s skin burns.

  • This establishing shot conveys Olivia’s growing detachment from her life, as she prefers to look in on the burgeoning memories which reflect her better self. The taxi cab (evoking Season 3 adventures) underscores this longing to go back to before.

  • The famous white tulips return. Probably more of a homage to the episode than a representation of forgiveness.
  • However, they’re also symbols of Peter and Olivia’s first real connection (“Subject 13”) — a time also lost to memory. Given what transpires, the white tulips foreshadow a kind of rebirth — a second (or 47th) chance for tu-love.

  • Who observes the Observers? Why, Walter’s teddy bear does, of course. The beady-eyed chap captures the ‘fleet-footed’ Observers taking September from the lab, which explains why he seemed to disappear.

  • The bear/Beacon relationship was possibly foreshadowed in “Brown Betty” through Walter’s book of crazy things.

  • Walter’s teddies weren’t the first Observer-related bears in the story. The fella in red is Christine’s (the girl August ‘loved’) bear from “August”. For what it’s worth, Peter’s teddy bear featured in “Of Human Action.” But enough with the bears, already..

  • As he’s being whisked away by the other Observers, September can be seen zapping something into Peter’s eye. It turns out to be a contact lens with instructions: 228 ½ Morrow Street.
  • Walter magnifies the address over the Massive Dynamic-watermarked Boom-Boom-Machine schematics, which is a nice touch. (after all, we visited the future courtesy of Peter’s BBM-fueled perspective).

  • Walter examining Peter’s eye kinda echoes their meeting in the pilot.
  • Walter suggests the contact lens would have dissolved into Peter’s minds-eye, compelling him to visit the address.

  • When Walter’s not toiling over some freakish lab experiment, he watches Scooby-Doo. Probably a mystery-solving reference.

  • A nice serene visual — filled with arcs and repetition — aside from the blood and shower cap-wearing serial killer.

  • Welcome to Morrow Street. A fitting location for September to rest his head after a hard day’s meddling.

  • September’s apartment has newspaper clippings of historic events on the wall (including the sinking of the Titanic, the Kennedy assassination, the first steps on the moon, to name a few. Clearer view here).

  • Pretty much identical to August’s wall (above).

  • More September items can be seen above. Peter tries out his binoculars (complete with the famous green/red marker), many a fanboy and girl’s dream. Peter didn’t seem that impressed because he’s driven the BBM.

  • The tracker leads Peter to Foxboro where he finds the Beacon. Scheduled to appear or lured to the surface by Peter’s charm?

  • Peter examines the Beacon using Walter’s methods from “The Arrival.”
  • The device eventually activates, allowing September to find his way back to this universe after the other Observers had ‘locked him out.’
  • The Beacon’s activation seemed delayed, triggered by Peter’s touch/examination. Though maybe it was activated by his mood (it seems to turn on when he has a relaxing potato-based snack).

  • Worth pointing out the possible shared relationship between the Beacon and August’s gun (which Peter was able to operate) and, of course, the Boom-Boom-Machine.

  • It’s still possible that the Beacon’s appearance in “The Arrival” is tied to this part of the story arc.
  • It could explain John Mosley’s mission to retrieve it. Perhaps he was hired by the other Observers, like Donald in “August,” to prevent September from locating the universe (or, something). It would add a new dimension to the early Beacon mythology while playing into the cyclical nature of things.

  • Possible clue for the next episode: this porcupine calendar.
  • Olivia: “I just wish time would move a little quicker.” / Nina: “Well that’s a coincidence, because we just filed a patent on that last week.”
  • “Be a better man than your father.” The message has touched Elizabeth (RIP), Peter, William Bell (RIP?), Olivia, and now Walter himself.
  • Walter and Peter both munch potato chips during their respective examinations. The gap between father and son is diminishing.
  • We kinda knew this already, but the episode confirms that the manifestations of Peter in the early part of the season was the result of Walter and Olivia subconsciously refusing to let him fade from their memory (and vice-versa). Or, if you want to distill it down to one word: Love. Oh sci-fi. 😛
  • The glyph code for this episode spelled QUILL. As in Pen (Peter finding his ‘crack,’ timeline ref, etc).

Previously on Fringe Observations: 4.14 “The End Of All Things”


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  1. Ariel says

    Was the 2281/2 street address a Harry Potter reference? The idea of stepping into a magic world hidden just beneath our perception? Or just to match the glyph code?

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  2. Jim says

    I think the glyph code refers to the quills of a porcupine. 😉 They’ve been used as clues for the next episodes a lot lately.

    Also, I’m not sure, but I thought the camera bear was seen before? When Walter showed it to Olivia I somehow knew there would be a camera inside it. Could just be my future seeing ability though..

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  3. Alaina says

    So if Mosley was trying to prevent September from returning, who was September talking to on his phone in the beginning of The Arrival when he says “It has arrived”?

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  4. jade86 says

    It seemed the beacon surfaced only in peter’s presence ad then he was able to activate it without walter’s old methods from “the arrival”. If Peter was able to use August’s gun and activate the beacon with some kind of power, i suspect his connection with the machine is not based only on DNA. Let’s remember the machine now is a result of red/blue machines merged, so i think the connection with Peter will be different.

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  5. OliveOrTwist says

    Has anybody else noticed Olivia’s preoccupation with her hands ever since her memories of Peter started coming up? (See Roco’s screen-captures under the headings “Outside looking in” and “Tulips are better than one”.) I noticed this in “A Better Human Being” in the scene where Walter is examining Olivia after she tells Peter she remembers everything – she is making significant eye contact with Peter, alternating with a sort-of fascination by her own hands. What’s that about?

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