FRINGE OBSERVATIONS: 5.01 Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11

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Welcome to Fringe Observations — your weekly guide through the visual clues and overarching connections in Fox’s Fringe. This week, we’re observing 5.01 — “Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11“.


  • It continues in season 5 from the first very frame with young Etta making a wish from the dandelion pod. She might not have known it at the time but it’s symbolic of her desire to find her parents, a wish that is fulfilled once she’s reunited with Olivia.

  • That this wish is replayed inside Peter’s mind adds an extra layer of intrigue and emphasises his own burning need to find Etta.

  • The famed blue lights scorch the earth as the Observers penetrate our universe — we’ve seen them pass through dimensions before but this was no making angels.
  • The blue lights/flares have largely been used as universe signifies, though in the first season they had a different, more observational quality to them.

  • Etta instinctively reaches for her bullet necklace (as first seen in “Letters of Transit“), which is likely the one Walter used to save the worlds by shooting Olivia, but notices it has fallen from her neck overnight. Just one of several mystical indicators throughout the episode and a sign that she’ll soon find her mother.

  • Those signs continue with Walter next to receive a message from the ‘cosmos’. He wakes to light dancing across a wall, symbolic of his own barriers, beckoning him to come down from his window above (and reminiscent of Bellie’s SOS in Lysergic Acid Diethylamide).

  • Curious, Walter peers through the blinds that further symbolise his blinkered perspective and partitioned state of mind, but is unable to see the possible meaning in the message just yet.
  • But the signal has left an impression on him, and as we’ve seen throughout the story, often messages recur to take effect.

  • In 2036, Egg Sticks (aka “punishment food) are all the rage — though, as Walter discovers to his cost, they’re certainly no substitute for delicious delicious Red Vines.

  • The word “HOPE” can be seen backwards (from our point-of-view) on the scrabble screen. Hope is of course a prominent theme throughout the episode, as is perspective. By the end of the episode, Walter seems to have regained both, as foreshadowed here.

  • Butterflies on the walls — a nod to the famed Fringe butterfly glyph.

  • The last time Walter spoke to Olivia before they were ambered she was in Columbus Circle. According to Wiki, Columbus Circle is the point from which all official distances from New York City are measured, which is fitting given that Olivia is the center of the story, the one who holds the family unit together. It’s also fitting that there’s a clock in the graffiti.


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  1. Charlie says

    I’ve seen people wondering why the observers were so… easy to beat despite having those kinds of ability. My thought on that is that they do have “special powers”, of course, but they didn’t know someone out there has found a way to protect herself from them. They couldn’t possibly know because the only flaw they didn’t thought of was the possibility of someone being able to stop them from reading her. This allowed Etta to keep her beloved and faster gun under the radar. That is until now when she exposed herself.

    The Observer’s greedy is obvious. Watching the dynamic between Windmark and Etta in episode 4.19, I’d hoped Windmark to be a little more surprised about Etta being our little girl. I know they don’t feel any sort of emotion but I’d imagine Windmark taking this as an insult to his intelligence. He surely isn’t happy that someone just slipped under his nose and he wasn’t able to see it.

    Windmark’s next step will be intresting to observe.

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  2. starg8fans says

    Amazing analysis, Roco. Observation Overload indeed. I only got a fraction of these.

    Usually the fact that Etta thought she was 4 when she was taken and that she can’t remember the carousel could be explained by her tender age, very few people have any memories of this stage in their life. But this is Fringe, and I can’t help but wonder if these little snippets could be indications that Etta is not what she seems. We only have her word for it that she’s Peter’s and Olivia’s daughter, and that her mind cannot be read by the Observers. Throw in the Geisha clue, and who knows who or what the long lost daughter will turn out to be. They also make her appear very cold blooded, both when she called shooting a guard ‘occupational hazard’ and in the interrogation scene in next week’s promo. Yes, she’s been ‘at war’ for a long time, but I would expect a little more empathy from her, given her genetic makeup.

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  3. Orionis Beta says

    FYI, there was also a SEAHORSE glyph in the taxi cab at the end of the episode; just before Walter notices the dandelion. Gr8 observations, Roco… I sometimes watch epis to or three times and still don’t catch all of your observations (sometimes after having read your observations already. LOL). Are you by chance an OBSERVER, Roco???

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    • Orionis Beta says

      Sorry, It’s in there! I had thought the observations were only 2 pages…. However, it doesn’t clear any DOUBT I might have about Roco… I think he’s an observer in disguise

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  4. says

    Roco, excellent as always. I love the way your reviews and observations help me understand the episodes on another level and often helps me put words to my own thoughts.

    The scene where Peter tells Olivia “I found her . . . “, Peter’s expression also contained a hopefulness that Olivia would forgive him or prove that it was worth his deserting her. This was one of my favorite moments.

    Looking forward to next week!!!

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  5. jade86 says

    Mmmmm……in his dream/nightmare Peter seemed the only one who was invested by the white light and the only one who saw the explosions in the sky. Given that we were in Peter’s mind, i wonder what it means.

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  6. Aria Mohtadi says

    Thanks for the great observations.

    I liked the notion of wish fulfillment that you mentioned,
    now a lot of the stuff from the episode makes sense to me.

    Also I didn’t know how the Maverick plotline was related to the episode. Nice one.
    Turns out my dad was a fan of the show being re-aired in the 70’s, so when we were watching the episode he noticed it first! :)

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  7. Peanut says

    Always a fan of your “Fringe” observations, Roco. You see so much that I didn’t even notice. This episode’s observations are just outstanding.

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  8. emi says

    Nice observations, Roco!

    I have a few observations myself:
    1. No big white 3D letters indicating the locations of the fringe events, which I really miss. It’s the random detail I love the most in Fringe.
    2. When Markham tells that “he died saving kids in a bus”, makes me remember when Chris asked Our-livia, thinking she was Red-Livia, about saving a scholar bus from a class-three vortex.

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  9. Schoko says

    I’m surprised I haven’t seen anyone mention the Reiko connection with the Geisha in the black market scene. It’s immediately what I thought of, especially when Walter said he almost married her. It helped me better understand the brief, yet significant, role Reiko had in Walternate’s life (which-ever timeline that was).

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  10. Xerophytes says

    Could the partitioning of Walter’s mind happened when September visited Walter in the lab and said they are coming?

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