Fringe 4.19 – Letters of Transit

Categories: Fringe, Television
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Published on: April 23, 2012

Letters of Transit


Season 4 – Episode 19
Original US Air Date – April 20, 2012

Anna Torv . . . . . . . . . Olivia Dunham
Blair Brown . . . . . . . . . .Nina Sharp
Seth Gabel . . . . . . . . . .Lincoln Lee
Joshua Jackson . . . . . . . Peter Bishop
Jasika Nicole . . . . . Astrid Farnsworth
John Noble . . . . . . .Dr. Walter Bishop
Lance Reddick . . . . . . Phillip Broyles

In the year 2015 the Observers stopped watching and seized control of the planet. The surviving humans, dubbed “Natives”, tried to rebel but were quickly crushed. Some of them became Loyalists and joined forces with the Observers. Fringe Division was allowed to continue, but only to police the Natives. The Observers believed that the all resistance was crushed.

Blueverse(?) – 2036


A blonde woman enters what seems to be a run-down building but turns out to be a dance club catering to both humans and Observers. One of the Observers grabs a woman and the club owner intervenes, saying he needs to keep some women on his staff. When the Observer tells him to just get a new girl, the owner hits him.

Several security guards grab the owner and another Observer, who we learn is called Captain Widmark, comes over. He starts to scan the owners’ mind but the owner spits in his face. Widmark concentrates and blood spurts from the owner’s ears.

The blonde woman comes up behind the owner and knocks him out. She introduces herself as “Etta” and reveals that she is part of Fringe Division. She tells Widmark that human crime is her responsibility and places the owner under arrest. Widmark scans her and comments that she is what she seems to be.

I’m going to save most of my observations for the end, and holy frell are there a lot of them. But note that the Observers have apparently abandoned naming themselves after months. Probably because there are more than 12 of them now…

Etta and the girl get the owner outside. The owner tells Etta that he deliberately pissed off the Observer so he wouldn’t read his mind. He asks how she got away with it and she says she was lucky, though he doesn’t seem to believe her. He says that if the Observers knew about her or people like her then they would kill her.

He leads her to a van and shows her what seems to be a covered body. He says there were two more but that he couldn’t get them. Before he can continue, he is shot by a Loyalist sniper. Etta jumps into the van and drives away.

After some distance she stops and looks in the back of the van again. She removes the cover to reveal Walter Bishop, encased in amber.

Quarantine Amber did exist in the Blueverse; Olivia and Nina discuss using it near the end of season 2.

The next day Etta goes to Fringe Division and meets with her partner, Desmond Simon. She tells him about the death of the club owner and, when he questions her, admits that she had an “open order” with him. Desmond Simon tells her that the old Fringe team is gone and won’t be coming back. She surprises him by saying that she has found Walter.

She takes him to see Walter and they realize that he is holding a Quarantine Amber device and that he encased himself. Etta says that the owner told her that there were others with him and that if they can free Walter then he can lead them to them.

Meanwhile, Widmark comes to Fringe Division and contacts Broyles, apparently still in charge. (Broyles has a Loyalist tattoo on his face.) He talks about the owners killing and tells Broyles that if he cannot keep the Natives under control then he will be forced to do so himself and that Broyles won’t like his methods. When Broyles asks what Widmark did to get assigned to this time Widmark says that he likes animals.

Simon is played by Henry Ian Cusak, who also played Desmond on Lost. Desmond’s nemesis there was named Widmore and I wonder if Widmark’s name is intended as an homage to that.

Desmond Simon examines the amber and determines that he can turn it into gas, but only briefly. Etta goes to a locker to check out a piece of “Level 2″ technology. The clerk there warns her that not everyone trusts Simon because they think he lets the Resistance operate too freely in the city and warns that his friends are keeping an eye on both of them. She promises to be careful.

The device she has requisitioned is a crowd-control weapon that emits a blast of air. Simon converts the amber and she blasts Walter free. They then give Walter an injection to revive him and inform him that he has been trapped in amber for 20 years.

Etta has blueprints for a device which she says Walter and his team designed that was intended to get rid of the Observers and asks Walter if he can build it. Walter seems confused, thinks that Desmond Simon is Peter and asks for licorice and ring-dings. Simon does a brain scan on Walter and announces that the proximity to the amber blast horizon has caused his neural pathways to degrade.

Well… Walter doesn’t seem that much more confused than normal.

Etta goes to the Ministry of Science where she meets with an elderly, wheelchair bound Nina Sharp. She asks about an order but Nina says it isn’t a priority then asks Etta to help her to her car.

Outside, Nina tells Etta that she has to be careful because she can’t hide her thoughts from the Observers the way Etta can. Etta leads her to Walter but Walter does not seem to recognize Nina and wanders off. Nina says that Walter and his team once saved the world, but that there were consequences.

Presumably “saved the world” refers to whatever the team does to stop David Robert Jones, since they obviously didn’t stop the Observers.

Nina tells them that there are pieces of Walter’s brain stored in the old Massive Dynamic building and by using them they may be able to restore his mind, but the facility is near where the Observers are headquartered and that they will need letters of transit to get there.

The pieces of Walter’s brain stored at Massive Dynamic were stolen by the shapeshifters back in second season. Apparently no one ever bothered with them in the revised timeline.

Penny and Desmond Etta and Simon get the letter and take Walter into the city, but he sees an Observer and starts yelling that he is a monster. The Observer ignores him but a Loyalist guard stops them and asks to see their papers. Etta and Simon manage to convince him that Walter is their grandfather, that they are taking him to see his wife’s grave and that he is mentally disturbed. The guard grudgingly lets them go but warns if he sees them again he won’t be so lenient.

Etta and Simon are Fringe Division agents. Why can’t they simply claim to be working a case? It seems that the “letters of transit” thing is just an attempt to keep the “Nazi Germany” feel.

The three arrive at the old Massive Dynamic building and enter through the parking garage. They have an entry code but an alarm still alerts security. The agent on duty notifies Broyles of the break in and Broyles informs Widmark.

Etta, Simon and Walter find where the brain tissue is stored. They prepare the tissue and inject it and Walter passes out. While they wait for him to recover Etta and Simon talk about their past. Simon says he was at Stanford in 2015 when the Observers invaded. He saw the invasion on TV and didn’t know until then that his parents were part of the Resistance and that they sent him away for his own safety. For her part, Etta says that she was 4 when she last saw her parents and can’t even remember what they looked like.

So… Etta and Simon have been partners and opposing the Observers for some time but never discussed their past with each other until now?

Also, Simon says his parents sent him away to protect him because they were part of the Resistance. But, they sent him away before the invasion occurred! Remember, he is already at Stanford and watches the invasion on TV. How were they part of the Resistance against something that hadn’t happened yet?

In the parking garage, an Observer and several Loyalists find the three’s footprints. The Observer tells them to shoot first and that he will scan their minds later.

Walter wakes up and it is immediately obvious that he is much more stable. Etta and Simon introduce themselves again and Walter seems to recognize Etta but instead asks if the Observers are still there.

Walter tells them that the Observers come from the year 2609 where they did something that poisoned both the air and the water and that they have come back in time to retake their planet. Etta shows him the blueprints and Walter confirms that he can build the device but that it will take time. Etta then asks if he knows where the rest of his team is and he says that he does.

They hear the approaching Loyalist team and Walter opens a panel, saying that he and Bell always had secret ways out. They escape, but the Observer sees the panel and blows it open. Walter stops and assembles an anti-matter device, leaving it in a storage room. The three then complete their escape. The Observer and his team arrive in the room and he sees the device, but too late. The device explodes and the building collapses.

Walter leads them into the sewers where at least two figures are encased in amber. Walter starts working on the amber and Simon asks Etta how he could have recognized her but she does not answer.

Back at Fringe headquarters, Broyles gets a report about Simon being seen at the transit station. He gives orders to activate Simon’s tracker and to assemble a team.

In the sewers, Simon is saying that Walter is who they have been waiting for; someone who can defy the Observers. Walter, becoming more irritable as his old brain patterns take back over, tells him to shut up. They activate the device and pull the first figure from the amber. It is Astrid. As Etta gives her an injection Simon realizes that he has broken the amber device.

Astrid recovers and looks into the amber where we see a second figure; William Bell. Astrid notices that Walter is holding something but he indicates that she should be quiet.

Bell? Isn’t he dead? Well, he was in the Blueverse; we don’t know about the Redverse. Raises more questions about which universe or timeline we are in though.

Etta and Simon are attempting to fix the amber device and discover that a signal is interfering with it. Simon realizes that his tracker has been activated and gives the device to Etta, telling her to activate it on his signal. She hesitates but he insists and she does.

Some time later, Broyles and his team arrive to find Simon embedded in the amber, seemingly in the act of pushing someone out. Broyles looks around and finds a piece of licorice.

Elsewhere, on a subway train, Astrid asks Walter why he left Bell in the amber. Walter says it was because of what Bell did to Olivia and says that he has the situation in hand. As he does, he opens the bag he is carrying to show William Bell’s hand, severed at the wrist and still encased in amber.

Etta is standing at the back of the train, looking behind them. She is fingering an amulet hanging around her neck (as she has done multiple times during the episode) and we now see that it is a spent bullet.

Someone comes up behind her and we see that it is Peter. He sees that she appears upset and assures her that they will do everything they can to rescue Simon but that does not seem to be what is bothering her. She asks him if he recognizes her and he says he doesn’t know how he could, given that he has been in amber for 20 years.

He suddenly stops and realizes that her full name is “Henrietta”.

“Hi Dad.” she tells him.

Father and daughter embrace as the train leaves the city.

Holy… Frelling… Shit…

I was pretty sure where they were going with “Etta” but it was still a major reveal. We still don’t know what happened to Olivia, though what we do know implies that it wasn’t good. Probably it is related to the bullet Etta has around her neck, but there is also Walter’s line about what Bell did to Olivia. He might be talking about the Cortexiphan trials again, but…

Anyway, some analysis…

We know that September interfered to save Peter (when he pulled Peter from Reiden Lake).

We also know that Peter is important because he and Olivia have a child together. And it has to be Blueverse Olivia that he has the child with. The child he had with Redverse Olivia in the original timeline (Henry) was the wrong one.

Finally, we know that the other Observers wanted September to completely erase Peter from the timeline and punished him when he didn’t.

So is Peter/Peter and Olivia’s child important or not? September seemed to think so but the rest of the Observers didn’t. Remember the line “No one must ever know the boy grew to be a man?” So Peter and/or Henry/Henrietta are important to September, not the rest of the Observers.

Henrietta is unique. Her father is from one universe (and was joined to The Machine) and her mother is from another (and was dosed with Cortexiphan). The Observers don’t seem to be able to read Henrietta’s mind either. It seems to me, at least, that September’s real interest is not Peter or Olivia, it’s Henrietta.

So, has the Observer’s invasion been the plan all along and is September working against them? Has he needed Henrietta to be born so that the “natives” of the 21st century will be able to fight against the Observers?

Speaking of plans all along, way back in season 1, when we first encountered David Robert Jones, we were also introduced to the concept of the ZFT and how Jones was preparing soldiers for an upcoming war. (Thus him trying to activate Olivia and the other Cortexiphan kids.)

At the time everyone assumed it was the coming war between universes, but a few episodes back he was back with his box of lights and was trying to get Olivia to turn them off with her mind again. Why? The war between the universes is over. There’s also the fact that Jones is creating the shapeshifters, the porcupine men and the other creatures we saw on the ship at sea at the end of the episode a few back.

Suppose Jones has been doing this, not to prepare for a war between universes, but to prepare for the war with the Observers? He has to be in opposition to Fringe Division because they (except for a few moles like Henrietta) are working for the Observers in the future.

Suppose we find out that Jones has been a good guy all along!

A few more ideas…

First, notice that there is no evidence of there being a Blueverse and a Redverse in 2036. Also assume that the Observers have made changes to the timeline along the way.

In the original original timeline (with no Observer interference) Peter dies in the Blueverse but survives in the Redverse. Remember, Walternate did discover the cure in time but September distracted him at a crucial moment, causing him to miss seeing the color change in his experiment and making him think the experiment was a failure.

Without interference, he sees the change and cures Peter. Walter is thus never driven to cross over to the other universe and the whole universal war thing never starts.

But he did interfere, so we wind up with the original timeline. Walter takes Peter from the Redverse and brings him to the Blueverse, causing damage to the Redverse in the process. Peter’s presence affects Walter, Olivia and others so things like the Cortexiphan trials continue and other experiments of Walter’s and Bell’s continue which escalate the war and the damage to both universes.

This eventually culminates in the future we saw at the end of Season 2 where both universes are pretty much being destroyed. It appears that Peter somehow uses The Machine to repair the damage to the universes but in reality what has happened is that the Observers have interfered again. (Or more precisely, they have undone their interference; September decides to not rescue Peter from Reiden Lake.) Perhaps it was necessary for Peter to be in The Machine in order for this to happen.

At any rate, we now have the current timeline. Peter does not survive so some portion of Walter and Bell’s work develops differently. The Cortexiphan trials do occur, but even if Olivia transferred herself to the Redverse in this timeline she couldn’t tell Walternate about Peter because she doesn’t know who he is so the Redverse never develops a view of the Blueverse as an enemy. (Remember, a few episodes back we saw that they consider the Blueverse team to be heroes.)

There are still two universes and The Machine still exists. And so does David Robert Jones. He died in the original timeline but he’s back in this one.

So, what is Jones up to? It looks like he is trying to collapse the two universes together. Remember, last episode (The Consultant) he was causing things that affected a person in one universe to affect their counterpart in another. And a few episodes before that (Welcome to Westfield) he caused a town to move from one universe to the other (with catastrophic effect). And he wanted Redverse Broyles to attach a device that did something to The Machine.

I’m pretty sure that Jones wants to merge the two universes together and that he has a way to do it that won’t be completely destructive to both. And I suspect we’ll see it happen by the end of the season.

So, why did the Observers pick 2015 to invade? Because it was after the merge between the two universes! They for some reason needed the two universes to become one before they could come back. (Maybe some of them were in one universe and some in the other? Or maybe the merge “changes” the universe in some way again (Walter admits that their universe crossing has changed both universes) that allows them to travel through time in mass?) The Machine is needed for that somehow, so they needed Walter and Bell to build the machine (presumably for their cross-universe studies; remember that Nina identified the blueprints for The Machine as looking like Bell’s work) and then they needed Jones to implement his plan to merge the two.

It’s currently either 2011 or 2012 in the Fringeverse. Assume that once the merge occurs it takes a few years for the universe to “stabilize” or the conditions to become right for them to do their mass time travel and invade. So 2015.

What happened to Central Park? Well, the club the Observers were in was called “The Epicenter”. Maybe Central Park is the center of where the universe merge occurred and so it was destroyed the way Westfield was. Or, maybe it was the center of their invasion and their mass time travel disrupted it. (Remember the effects of time travel in things like White Tulip where it destroys everything around it.) So I’m pretty sure it has something to do with one or the other.

So, predictions. The producers have stated that they have filmed two endings for the final episode; one if they are renewed and one if they are not.

If not, the universes merge and everyone lives happily ever after in the new, merged Purpleverse…

If they are, the universes merge and everyone thinks they will live happily ever after, then they get a warning about the impending Observer invasion. (Maybe September warns them. Maybe Henrietta sends them a message from the future somehow. Who knows, maybe David Robert Jones knows what will happen and tells them.) At any rate, the next season will be the team (along with help from the future maybe). So the next season will be them trying to stop the invasion before it occurs.

OK, I’m not sure if all my speculation here is accurate but, if it is and the whole series has really been about the Observers manipulating events to allow for their eventual invasion, then the whole series holds together incredibly well. Even the discussion of “The Pattern” that was important back in Season 1 and never got mentioned again could be the pattern of manipulation by the Observers directing things towards their invasion. They either knew where they were going all along or they’re incredibly good at fitting things in and making them work. I’m impressed.

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