FRINGE OBSERVATIONS: 4.19 Letters Of Transit


Welcome to Fringe Observations — your weekly guide to the clues and connections throughout all four seasons of Fringe. This week, we dig through “Letters Of Transit” for the story within the story.


  • The opening crawl once again raises the question of the narrator, while hat-tipping a variety of famous movie crawls.

  • Both the introduction of Etta and the title sequence are bathed in blue, establishing that the episode takes place in the over here universe.

  • The foreshadowing clue for this episode, planted in the previous episode, was indeed the 20-36 “checkpoint,” in reference to this episode taking place in the year 2036.

  • The “EPICENTER CLUB” poster is likely to be the foreshadowing clue for the next episode.

  • Add mind-wiping to the list of Observer abilities. Etta, however, is able to block Windmark’s attempt to read her.

  • Rick is killed just as he’s about to tell Etta where the other amberized Fringe Division members are. Simon reminds her: “black market tech gets people killed.”

  • Coffee Chews — chocolate covered coffee beans. Simon notes: “I used to remember when we used to be able to drink this stuff,” to which Etta responds: “you are old.”
  • While environmental degradation could be the root of this apparent scarcity, it possible that the Observers have outlawed the drinking of coffee. A notion perhaps strengthened by Windmark offering Broyles a sip of his water and the ensuing angst.

  • The team encased in amber represents a callback stretching all to way back to “The Ghost Network”. Walternate later devised the concept of using amber to hold his world together.

  • Simon and Etta use a combination of augmentation buffers and a crowd control wand to ‘push’ Walter out of the auto-sealing amber.

  • Blueprints for the device Walter was working on to “get rid of the Observers.” Simon mentions that he thought it might have been a beacon. Now, there’s already one Observer-related beacon which helped September to return to the universe. Whether this is a clue to the nature of Walter’s device remains to be seen.

  • Walter in the MRI scan is a familiar image that calls back to “Grey Matters” where it is revealed that Dr. Simon Paris (aka William Bell) removed portions of his brain at Walter’s request, leaving him somewhat ‘damaged’. Here, another Simon is discovering that Walter has brain damage as a result of the amber blast.

  • Simon re-stimulates Walter’s mind with the missing portions — bringing Walter ‘full circle’ with his original mind restored. The Walter who momentarily surfaced in “Grey Matters,” rises.

  • The team need papers to head into the city – as with the episode title this is a nod to Casablanca.
  • Walter tells the “loyalist” guard, who calls him a prisoner, “I am not a number, I am a free man!” This is a nod to “The Prisoner
  • Walter then tells the guard “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” in a Star Wars reference.

  • Chili peppers on the stall — a callback to the Observers’ love for the hot stuff.

  • Observer projections.. as well as offering a psychological glimpse into the mind of the invaders it has the feel of many a dystopian vision, including Blade Runner.

  • Simon enters the code: 092112 at the former Massive Dynamic. This is a Fringe Friday (September 21, 2012).

  • Walter says it’s quite the adventure, “like The Guns of Navarone”. A nod to the 1961 movie based on the 1957 novel of the same name.

  • Walter: “Neither Bellie or I ever left ourselves one way out of a room..” I imagine this also serves as commentary on the writers’  storytelling.

  • Etta observing Peter and Astrid in the amber. Walter was in the center prior to being extracted, giving us a sense of what happened here..

  • William Bell was also caught in the amber. He’s striking a very similar ‘live long and prosper’ pose to when he ‘sacrificed’ himself at the gates of over there. It raises the question of what he was trying to do in this moment (if anything) and whether Walter triggered the amber specifically (or partly) to put the breaks on his old friend. It does, however, make it easier for Walter to remove his hand, which he’ll presumably use to access something.

  • Green and red callback. Also seen on Walter’s amber trigger — a nod to “6B” as well as the wider green/red mythos.

Etta’s crushed bullet — was Olivia shot with this bullet, perhaps by Man X?


The train symbolises the future direction of the story as our heroes head off on unresolved business. What will they do?..what wont they do. Yeah, we brought it back.

  • Etta half-jokes that she “loves being special”. A word closely associated with David Robert Jones *swoon*, and the Cortexiphan peeps.
  • “Native” curfew is not long after 8PM. Really, Observers??
  • The “Observers Are Here” easter egg appears to have vanished from the opening sequence.
  • Etta reminds Simon that “black market tech replaced your eyes.” Casts the mind back to Broyles’ 2026 optical injury.
  • Simon tells Etta that the original Fringe team didn’t “vanish.” This could be a nod to the First People book, which claimed that the advanced ancients (i.e. our Fringe team) disappeared.
  • Simon tells also says that they’re not in the “desert, or Peru, or immortal.” The mention of Peru could be an nod to Peter/Aymara people connection.
  • The Windmark/water scene is another nod to Observers’ penchant for the fluid.
  • It seems that Nina oversees the Ministry of Science in 2036. Unlike the previous two episode 19’s, Nina seems more trustworthy here.
  • Nina confirms that the original Fringe team saved the world (perhaps in reference to defeating DRJ) but adds that it wasn’t without “great consequence.” ..Ooh, do spill, Nina..
  • World building convenience aside, seems like the Observers may have put the freeze technological advancements, which ties in with their preference of old school tech.
  • Walter enters the code 052010 to access his old brain tissue at Massive Dynamic.
  • Walter: “Like in the game, Simon Says”
  • Simon stuck in the amber is somewhat reminiscent of a certain famous scene with his character from LOST.
  • Unless I’m mistaken, a tweaked version of Olivia’s ‘death score’ plays when Etta and Peter hug. From death to life..hope springs eternal.
  • The glyphs for the episode spelled QUAKE.

Previously on Fringe Observations: 4.18 “The Consultant”

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  1. Dac says

    Is her name Etta or Getta? I’m confused.

    I think it’s important to note also this is the first Fringe episode without Anna Torv.

    I love that the passcode is a Friday this coming September. Hopefully it will be a good omen.

    Like: Thumb up 3

    • Whitney says

      Please correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t Anna Torv absent in ‘Subject 13’? If she was, this would then be the first episode with an incarnation of Olivia absent.

      Like: Thumb up 2

      • Fringe Fan says

        Yes, Olivia wasn’t present in “Subject 13” in Season 3. So, this is the second episode that Anna Torv wasn’t in. I think that the actress who played Etta (Georgina Haig) did a great job channeling Olivia in her scenes and so although Olivia wasn’t there, she was definitely there in spirit, in the form of her daughter.

        Like: Thumb up 6

  2. Lennyg says

    When Etta said she loved being special, I thought it was a Hat Tip to Henry Ian Cusick and LOST. Faraday told Desmond he was special.

    Like: Thumb up 4

  3. jmm4 says

    Roco: The crawler is a clear reference to Blade Runner, even the red text on Observers (Replicants in BladeRunner).

    Like: Thumb up 5

    • Underseer says

      Sorry to be a smartass Roco, but I 100% agree with jmm4. I said this in a previous post. The music playing in the background is also extremely similar to Blade Runner intro music by Vangelis, right down to it descending an octave or two near the end.

      This is unquestionably what the Fringe guys were making a tribute to.

      If you look for “Blade Runner (Opening Titles)” on YouTube you’ll see what we mean.

      Like: Thumb up 5

      • WaySeeker says

        It’s fine to reference the famous crawl from Star Wars because there are more Star Wars references later on, but I’m sorry I have to agree with these guys, it is more similar to Blade Runner. I just watched part of it last night.

        Another Blade Runner reference is when they talk about the tech eyes. Fairly early in the film we watch the Replicants go see a Eye Tech guy.

        Like: Thumb up 0

  4. ToxicCrusader says

    Dont think this was covered in the observations, but when in scenes together Simon wore a blue jumper/sweater white Etta wore a red top. Obviously these could be referring to the two universes, and maybe even to the fact that the two universes have been merged. Obviously we know that Etta isn’t from the redverse since she is olivia’s daughter (not stated but definitely assumed) but it’s something interesting I noticed on the whole.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  5. Jim says

    “Simon stuck in the amber is somewhat reminiscent of a certain famous scene with his character from LOST.”

    I blame my lack of sleep, but I can’t remember what scene you’re talking about!

    Like: Thumb up 1

    • says

      I think Roco was referring to Desmond being stuck in The Hatch and his experiences with electromagnetism, and leaping back and forth between time.

      Like: Thumb up 1

      • TRapp73 says

        I was thinking of the “not penny’s boat” scene kinda similar gesture with the out stretched arms and sacrificing him self for someone else. I could be wrong though

        Like: Thumb up 2

  6. Jeff says

    Great catch on 092112. That would most likely be the Season Premier if we’re lucky enough to get a final 5th season. I wonder if it’s a clue that they’re planning for the premier to be in 2036 and continue this story. I’d be down for that.

    Like: Thumb up 1

  7. Manu says

    This is a great read!

    Have to add that Henry Ian Cusick is Peruvian, so the Perú mention might have had something to do with that.

    Like: Thumb up 0

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