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Fringe Season 4: 5 Questions About “The Consultant”

We’re heading towards the endgame for the fourth season of Fringe, so it’s no surprise that Friday’s episode brought a few revelations, a little bit of confusion, and, of course, nowhere near enough of David Robert Jones. Here’re five questions about “The Consultant.”

What Price A Man’s Soul?
With so much of Fringe‘s uber-mythology built on what a man can do to save his son – and whether the price is worth it – it was both surprising and well-done to see those questions play out again in miniature as Colonel’s Broyles’ betrayal was explained and then taken to its conclusion in “The Consultant,” not least of all because it gave Broyles a believable reason for working with David Robert Jones outside of his being a shapechanger. I liked seeing the return of Chris, and the self-loathing that Broyles felt in selling out his beliefs in order to keep his son alive… but I’ll admit that the climax of the episode, with Broyles turning himself in for the greater good, brought more satisfaction because… well, ever since last year, I’ve liked to have thought of Alt. Broyles as a man who understands the big stakes better than most.

What Does Broyles Know?
It was interesting to see Nina call Broyles just another pawn, because it underscored the fact that Jones seems to be holding all of the cards in whatever game he’s playing… which then made me wonder whether that’s really the case, or whether Jones himself is a pawn of sorts. Sure, he clearly has some idea about what’s going on, but is he enough of a genius to be inventing all of this technology himself, or is someone else helping him? If that’s not the case, then how did Jones become such a genius about the crossover between the universes in the first place…? (This again reminds me: Do we have any idea what’s happened to William Bell since the timeline was re-written…?)

Why Collapse The Universes?
More grist for the “Someone is working with/telling Jones what to do” mill: What’s the point in collapsing the universes? Unless Jones has somewhere else to go – or somewhen, perhaps – then won’t he be destroyed with everyone else in both universes? There doesn’t seem to be an endgame beyond destruction in collapsing the universes from what we know – So, as Walter pointed out, maybe it’s time to start considering the lack of evidence we have. Who benefits, as all of the famous detectives would ask, from collapsing the universes? Another universe? A universe that would grow to replace the collapsed universes? Something altogether different that we haven’t thought of yet?

(I can’t shake the idea that time travel is involved in here, somehow, if only because the Observers and the tease for next week’s episode have placed time travel right in the center of the core Fringe mythology this season. So is someone from the future helping Jones? And if so, why would they want to collapse the universe?)

(While I’m at it, what does it mean to collapse the universes? Will both be destroyed, or would they collapse into one universe…?)

What Built The Device In The New Timeline?
A small question, perhaps, but one that still niggles. In the timeline we’re in now, there was no Peter – So how, exactly, did the device that is now powering the bridge come about? That device can collapse the universes, apparently, which kind of makes me wonder: Is it the universes that need to be collapsed, or the device itself? Is the device the thing that saved Peter from being entirely erased from history? We know that it has reality-warping powers and “shouldn’t” exist – what’s to say that it’s not something that the Observers need out of the way in order to make sure that Peter doesn’t come back a second time, and collapsed universes are just collateral damage in the process…?

What Does The Other Universe Have Against Detectives?
And this really is a small one, but it’s a weird coincidence that I wonder whether or not it’s an easter egg thrown in by writers knowing people pay too much attention to things on the show: Last week, we found out that Batman doesn’t exist in the alternate universe, and this week, Sherlock Holmes also turns out to be absent from the cultural lexicon. So should we read something into the lack of famous fictional detectives in that universe? A meta-commentary on the act-first, think-later responses of the Fringe Division on that side, perhaps… or just something that no-one really noticed and I’m thinking too much about? It’s probably the latter, right…?


  • Juan

    Um Batman exists. He’s just known as the Mantis….

  • Yanks5179

     Mantis was a nod to an old FOX show where a scientist was shot by a sniper and crippled and then became a superhero wearing an exosuit.  But he wasn’t a detective to my recollection, that’s what Graeme means.  Two very popular detectives seem to be missing in that reality.

  • John

    David Robert Jones is an Observer!

    He is one of the Good Guys looking to repair the future.

  • Juan

    When Lincoln described Batman, they said he was called the Mantis in their universe. So the Mantis was a scientist in our universe, but in their universe he’s basically their Bruce Wayne/detective. The detectives in their reality just have different names, that are nods to other characters from our world, although Sherlock Holmes as a whole, like you said, seems to be missing from their reality.

  • WindyCityGamer

    (While I’m at it, what does it mean to collapse the universes? Will both be destroyed, or would they collapse into one universe…?)
    I believe Walter said it would destroy both.
    BTW, if Jones’ endgame is to destroy the universes, why bother with the hybrid experiments?  Why bother with ANY experiments, for that matter?  It’s just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • WindyCityGamer

    DC actually HAS a Mantis (but I think he’s a villain.  Either way, he’s a small-time character).

    IMO, it would have been hilarious if they’d have said he was Owlman.

  • WindyCityGamer

    What I’m wondering is if this is all a war between Jones and the Observers.  Remember way back, that military guy waging war against the Observers?

    I’m glad this season is addressing the Observers.  Aside from the FBI naming them that, it’s never been stated they are simply observing.  And this season’s revelations make it seem more like they’re there to ensure a specific outcome.  However, we don’t know what that outcome is yet, so we don’t know their actual agenda.

    Guess we’ll see more this week!

  • WindyCityGamer

    And I also wanted to know what happened to “new timeline” Wm Bell.  Also… why has there never been an Alternate Wm Bell?

    However, I think most of the lack of Wm Bell is practial real-world issues, rather than story related.  As in, they might not be able to have Leonard Nimoy on the show any more (for either budget or personal reasons).  It was cool having him on, but story-wise they might have been better off going with a different actor.

    Also #2 (or #3)… what happened to that dude Olivia saw on the blimp, the one she said was going to kill her?

  • davie

    I think this episode may be foreshadowing why Peter and Olivia’s baby was important, and why September told Peter that he had his son with the wrong Olivia. Maybe David Robert Jones is working for the other Observers, to try and find a way to merge two people’s Universe-Frequencies because that’s the key to their eventual-existence. September messed up by distracting Walternate in 1985, which led to Baby Henry, which led to The Observers messing up by erasing Peter after he built the bridge because now Olivia is fated to die in any possible future. Peter and Olivia’s baby would’ve had both the Redverse and Blueverse frequencies in him..which is most likely the key to the Observers coming to fruition.

  • FringeFan247

    Batman DOES exist in the alt-universe, as seen in one of the first appearances of the alt-universe in a “Death of Batman” comic book that was meant to be their version of “Death of Superman” from the 90’s. The cover had a bleeding bat symbol instead of a bleeding S-Shield. 

    We can only assume that the Mantis is much more popular there, and Batman is just relatively unknown (like the Mantis here). 

  • Demoncat4

    besides johnes proably because he can rule the new universe if he collapses the two benfiting most would be the obeservers since they do not like peter being around plus  one version of each character and the tech johnes uses could be maybe he is bell in this time line 

  • Tenormadness365

    Jones asked Broyles to cripple/destroy the machine that was healing their worlds.  I thought, “Well, that’s stupid of Jones.”  Broyles had no motivation to do so, as his son might live a little longer, but the universe his son is living in would eventually be destroyed by the rifts/holes/whatever-they-are-called. 

  • Lion_okitkat

    They need to wrap it up. The past four episodes I really didn’t care. Next episodes I think I’ll skip. 

  • Edward A Rex

    The question about the machine being built doesn’t make sense. The device was built in both the prime and alternate realities, and the building it is stored in, is the place that joins those two realities, so even if you go with the belief that because Peter was erased from the prime reality, he still existed in the alternate reality where the machine was also build. 

  • Anonymous

    I did a webcomic about 5 years ago called The Waiting Room about deaths meant for one world that accidentally slip through and kill people on other versions of Earth. It was really cool to see something so similar played out on a TV show that I like.

  • Egnirf

    What I dislike about Fringe more and more is the constant importance of Father-Son an the sacrifice of Father for Son, where as the women are more and more objects, with the one exception left Fauxlivia.
    All the men are heroes, supersmart and keep their dignity in place.

    Olivia amberversion had to sacrifice her memory.being for Peter, how was that shown?
    Olivia and Nina, what have they done with that? Nothing.
    Olivia and her backstory, her mother mentioned once, ending series we still know nothing about Olivia, except for a few facts.
    Meana was supposed to be really mean and important, where is she?
    Nina was supposed to have an important role, where is she?

    Since Jones seems to need Olivia, and some remarks in this episode and earlier when he faced Fauxlivia in 4.08, I think that Jones will turn out to be the father/creator of Olivia, knowing all her abilities, and knowing that he needs her for the final battle. With the 4 seasons of Fringe him testing Olivia. So jones will not really be the bad guy, he just prepares for the really big battle that is to come.
    Although it still means Olivia being used by a man (after Walter, Bell,Peter) it also would mean that all th testing and cortexiphan will have been for something and Olivia will get her Hero, Chosen One status back.

    And can I just say that Fringe has always poorly written for Olivia, but this season since the return of Peter, it was bad, Thanks to the brilliance of Anna Torv Olivia Dunham (and Fauxlivia) is this great character, not the writing.

  • Anonymous

    Lol @ objects. People will whine about anything that isn’t overtly feminist. Give me a break.

  • Kevin B

    If you’ve been watching the show this long and believe the first theory a character proposes, you haven’t learned much.  It’s highly doubtful Jones is trying to collapse both universes, as Walter states.  More likely, he has some completely different agenda that hasn’t been hinted at yet.

  • Karjam

    I want to know why Sam Weiss told Nina that Peter had to choose one Olivia. What ever happened with that?

    And if in this new time line or whatever, it still turns out that fauxolivia switched lives, how did Olivia eventually get back? Didn’t colonel broyles help her escape and therefore dying. I wonder how she made it back.

    And If Olivia is supposed to die according to September, why tell Peter that they are meant to be together and have this wonderful future etc

  • Ian

    I think we are now going to see that there are good Observers and evil Observers.  The evil one’s are using David Robert Jones to attempt to artificially create the dual vibration creation of Henry, the intended son of Peter & Olivia.  Meanwhile I think that September is a direct line decendent of the Bishop family tree, after all he stated that September was a codename, not his real one.

    All the major characters of the show have been shown to be family of some sort, it took three seasons but we now know that Nina is an adopted mother of Olivia & Broyles is a dad-like figure for Olivia, etc.  September is a part of this greater Bishop/Dunham family as well.

  • Passive Viewer

    With the next episode featuring a not so Observers, I believe they are directing Jones. Remember, September said that the Observers “are but one of the many possible futures.” What if to ensure they are the future that they need to collapse the Universes . . . just sayin.

  • Passive Viewer

    Actually, Josh Jackson mentioned the whole — Olivia lets go of her amberverse memories in the name of love for Peter — as being out of character. Now, I don’t know if I totally agree, but this season ‘our’ Olivia has lost some of her swagger . . . thank goodness for AltLiv who has it in spades. 

    With that said, I still think Olivia is the better investigator between she and AltLiv.

  • G Devan Smith

    actually, if you remember earlier seasons–when we saw the RED Lantern and RED Arrow comic cover, you also see the cover of the Batman issue dripping with Blood– because of the Death of Superman (Batman there.)  

    But another reason why that might be retconned:  Copyright issues.  Mantis–the superhero– was shown on FOX.  

  • WindyCityGamer

    Oh WOW, that’s something I never noticed.  I’ll have to look into that, thanks!