Jane After Dark: Fringe, season one - pudding, ZFT, and The Observer
by Jane Boursaw, posted Sep 21st 2009 9:00AM
In anticipation of the season two premiere of Fringe last week (read my review and your comments here), I revisited season one to refresh my brain. There are so many subtleties that connect seasons one and two, and it was good to go back and watch it again.
While there were a few creature-feature episodes that appeared to be stand-alones (but who really knows with this show?), for the most part, much of season one was devoted to weaving an intricate mystery and setting things up for season two. It's too much, really, for one small blog post, but a few things sprang to mind ...
1. Olivia's near car crash. In the season one finale, episode 20, "There's More Than One of Everything," Olivia had a near miss en route to a meeting with Nina Sharp and William Bell, but nothing happens randomly in this show. After Olivia smashed her way through the windshield and into the season two premiere, it became (sort of) clear that she really entered the alternate universe at the site of the near-miss-in-the-other-universe / car-crash-in-this-universe. From there forward, Olivia was in the other universe, and that's why Nina wasn't at the meeting, because she was "out of the country." She wasn't in that universe.
2. Walter visiting Peter's grave. I've speculated that Walter visited Peter's grave in this universe, after losing him here and retrieving him from the other universe. But we don't really know that for sure. It's possible that Walter made the switch before anyone knew Peter had died in this universe. Thus, Walter could have made it seem like the alternate-universe Peter had died, meaning Walter could have been visiting the grave there and not here. This is like trying to wrap your brain around the idea that Terminator's John Connor was conceived in the current time after his father time-traveled back here and made love with Sarah. It twists your head around -- but in a good way.
3. The proof is in the pudding (?). It's been a continuing thread throughout the series. In the season two premiere, Walter was hell-bent on making custard-not-flan for Peter's birthday. Maybe it was a childhood favorite of this-universe's Peter (though he didn't recall it, but then, he wouldn't if he's actually the alternate-universe Peter). But, as Bruce commented, the word "pudding" is used in the ZFT manuscript, which we've speculated Walter typed up with the skewed-Y-key typewriter. The exact words in the ZFT manuscript are: "What we know as reality is only a fragile membrane on ... a larger multiverse ... a skin on a bowl of pudding..."
4. Mysterious child. In episode 15, "Inner Child," a boy was recovered from a secret chamber that had been sealed for more than half a century. The child had empathic skills, and was helpful in solving The Artist storyline, but the child also frowned when he saw The Observer. I speculated at the time that perhaps this was another Observer (they did look similar, after all), created in the alternate universe. Now I wonder if perhaps there's a separate "army" being made in the other universe, and this boy might be part of that group. The CIA guys said they'd found "another one."
5. The Cortexiphan Conundrum. In episode 14, "Ability," commenters were speculating on who actually had the ability to turn off the lights -- Peter or Olivia -- and whether both of them were given Cortexiphan as children. But if Peter was the one with the abilities, then it would have to have been the alternate-universe Peter, which means there are similar things going on over there with regard to Cortexiphan being given to children.
6. My Two Walters. In episode 8, "The Equation," Walter returned to the mental hospital to visit a patient who may have been kidnapped by the same people who kidnapped the musical genius. Walter kept seeing himself. Was it a hallucination, or was it the alternate-universe Walter? Aaron thought perhaps someone inside was trying to drive Walter mad, while SassylilB considered the idea that Walter was actually seeing a real person and "that 'Walter' was the head of Massive Dynamic, and the Mental Ward was experimenting on all these super smart 'crazy' people."
Other questions from season one:
Is John Scott still being held in a vegetative state at Massive Dynamic? Could there be a reappearance of John Scott in the form of his alternate-universe self (though I realize he's moved on to Human Target)?
What's the purpose of the cylinder from episode 4, "The Arrival"?
Why does The Observer like spicy food? Kris noted that the main characters in Roswell liked spicy food, as well.
Are the other people with manipulative powers -- such as in episode 5, "Power Hungry" -- connected to Olivia's (and/or Peter's) abilities to manipulate lights.
Why is someone trying to kill and/or save Olivia? In episode 11, "Bound," she's abducted by Mitchell Loeb, who says, "We were actually trying to save you. We were going to let you go. You have no idea what you've done. Not a clue."
I look forward to reading your thoughts.