Unlike standalone stories, serialized television is enriched by the ongoing mysteries that emerge over the course of episodes and seasons. As questions are answered, more mysteries are set-up – a consequence of characters interacting with their external and internal worlds.
Fringe is a great example of a mystery-enriched serial. But what of those nagging loose ends (questions raised by the show but yet to be answered onscreen)? Will they ever be resolved, or have they long been aborted in favor of more exhilarating escape hatches?
As we gear up for Season 4 and our bid to find Peter, we thought we’d compile our top 30 “unanswered mysteries” from the first three chapters. Some are small questions that pique our curiosity, while others are major mysteries that we hope the show will satisfy.
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30. Why Did Broyles Send Olivia to the Storage Facility?
In the pilot episode Broyles sent Olivia to the storage facility – a move that felt somewhat conspicuous, especially given John Scott’s subsequent demise at the hands of Richard Steig’s toxin.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Broyles sent Olivia along because he had an inkling that she had a connection to the Pattern (and hence William Bell) and wanted to test his theory. (Though he might also have wanted her out of his hair, given the tetchy start to their relationship).
While this is one of the show’s more minor embryonic mysteries, it would be nice to think that we might one day get an answer. “I always knew you were special, Dunham”. That’s all it would require.
29. Who Was Sanford Harris Working For?
Ah, Harris AKA “Agent Harassment”. Drafted in to watch over Olivia and the Fringe Team; essentially hindering their investigations into the Pattern and other strange goings-on, all the while activating Cortexiphan subjects on the sly.
We never did get a conclusive answer as to who he was working for. Was it William Bell or David Jones?
28. The Decoder Key
Well, it seemed like an important plot element at the time. Peter spent an entire episode secretly murdering shapeshifters to get his mercury-stained paws on their storage devices, only to be thwarted by the fact they were encoded with the Multiverse’s most secure encryption.
William Bell’s appearance at the end of “Os” seemed to imply that we’d soon get some follow-up. However, after telling Peter the decoder key was in his office, it wasn’t mentioned again.
Until further notice we have to assume that there was no great plan for the decoder key or the storage discs. Or, more likely, that it had to be abandoned. In which case, the end of “Os” will stand as a cool but ultimately contrived way to signal the return of Bell.
That being said, it would be nice to know where this storyline would have gone. What important information did the shapeshifters have on their storage devices? How would it have affected Peter’s situation with the Machine?
When describing the Cortexiphan subjects in “Bad Dreams”, Walter implied that they were “predisposed” to something that made them viable candidates for the clinical trials. I’ve always been curious as to what he specifically meant by this.
Were Olivia and the other Cortexitots emotionally predisposed (since we know Cortexiphan works largely on emotions), or were they suitable in some other important way which has yet to come to light?
While this question may not have originally held great intent, the way the third season ended puts it right back in play – at least in my mind.
Peter and Broyles obviously shared a significant event in Detroit in the now ‘defunct future’. It was important enough to convince Broyles to see things Peter’s way and grant Walter a temporary pardon from prison. The only real clue we have to go on are Peter’s words: “If what we lost in Detroit means anything to you..”
I don’t expect the answer to this mystery to be all that earth-shattering, but it’s open-ended nature is extra intriguing because it would suggest that we’re not done with the 2026 story.
25. Future Broyles’ Eye
What happened to Broyles’ eye in the now nixed future? In Peter’s peek into 2026, Senator Broyles is missing his right eye. This is likely a storytelling device to further illustrate the entanglement between the two universes (in the alternate universe, Broyles son is blind).
With that in mind, it will be interesting to know how Broyles obtained his visual impairment (Detroit?), and whether there was any way to avoid the universe ‘appropriating balance’ in the wake of the other side being destroyed.
An adjoining question would be whether we’ll see this version of Broyles again, which of course may tell us whether the averted timeline still has a direct role to play. Again, these unanswered mysteries from 2026 suggest that we will, although it’s quite possible they will simply serve to inform the larger themes.
24. Alternate Nina
Nina is the only main character yet to have a doppelgänger referenced in some way. Olivia, Walter, Peter, Broyles, Astrid. Even alternate William Bell had a mention.
Is there an alternate Nina out there somewhere? If so, in what ways is she different from Nina?
23. Are Altlivia’s Memories Completely Gone From Olivia?
While being held prisoner in the alternate universe, Olivia was made to think that she was the alternate version of herself courtesy of Walternate and Brandonate pumping her full of Altlivia’s memories.
She eventually reclaimed her identity, thanks to the will of her subconscious (“Projection Peter”), and escaped the parallel universe. However, it’s unclear whether Altlivia’s memories have been completely flushed from Olivia’s mind.
22. What Happened To Brenner?
In “Bad Dreams”, Walter watches an old VHS recording of an incident triggered by a young, frightened Olivia. A voice on the tape says that “Brenner” is unaccounted for.
What happened to Brenner? Did Olivia unintentionally transport them to another universe? Did they get burned to a crisp?
21. Kayak / ZENO
Appearing in Olivia’s dream during her synaptic transfer with John Scott in the Pilot, the significance of the kayak has remained a mystery ever since. Is it just one of those early, unformed mythology elements that wont ever come back into play? Perhaps. However, Olivia’s uncle is one of the few positive male influences in her life, it would be strange should the story not refer back to him at some point.
Furthermore, the kayak contained several clues: the ‘aleph symbol’; later seen on David Esterbrook, the word “ZENO”, and the famous green-green-green-red pattern. The latter of which does appear to have some legs.
But the question at this point is how many stock cubes we should place in the kayak itself?
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