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Fringe Season Five: Five Questions About “The Recordist”

Friday night’s Fringe followed up on the revelation that there were tapes out there explaining how to save the human race in the only way possible: Getting our heroes out of the city, and back to nature. Not that they were alone out there, of course. Here are five questions about this week’s “The Recordist.”

Is Anyone Else Getting A Lost Flashback?
Watching the Walter videos is really reminding me of that other Uber-Successful JJ Abrams Show, especially with the faux aging and “warped” parts that just so happen to hide important revelations, answers and information that would change the course of the episode/storyarc/series. I don’t know if the videotapes – And, really, considering these were recorded at some point after the Observers invaded Earth in 2015, is it in any way plausible that Walter really used Betamax video cassettes? Really? – are intended to be a shout-out to Lost, but that’s certainly what they feel like.

The Plan Is To Undo The Environmental Change, Isn’t It?
Again, we get a plot that makes mention of the Observers’ attempt to toxify the atmosphere in order to make it more palatable for them… Even though we don’t know what the magic Macguffin rocks are actually supposed to do, what’s the betting that they’re somehow involved in a plan to purify the atmosphere, saving humanity and dooming the Observers? Happy Endings All Round!

Why Didn’t Walter Want To Go To Philadelphia?
I’m not quite sure what to make of Walter’s reluctance to visit the co-ordinates from the tape – And, for that matter, did Olivia get the co-ordinates wrong when she repeated them? Accident when making the episode, or some kind of plot hint that makes no sense just yet? Walter’s “My feet hurt” seemed obviously a lie, so what were we supposed to make of that, considering he really didn’t remember anything about what they found there? Was he expecting something else? Was he a coward, and so didn’t want to put himself back out into the field? Or was it just an off note from John Noble for once…?

Why Haven’t The Observers/Loyalists Discovered Astrid?
No, really; she’s just hanging out in Walter’s lab, which is in the middle of an Observer base and no-one has found her yet? Even if you buy into the “Walter’s lab was abandoned” part of things, that’s still just a little unlikely, especially when she calls and live streams information from that location. You’re telling me that no-one is tracking that kind of thing? Really?

Who Was Donald, And What Happened To Him?
The most obvious question of the episode: Who was the man who had visited the mine before, and was kidnapped by the Observers? Walter hypothesized that maybe he was September, which offers an interesting possibility: Could September be traveling through time, seeding the clues that Walter needs to defeat the Observers? But if so, why would he be called Donald? Despite the story moving on from this surprisingly quickly, I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot about Donald in the future…


  • Malc

    Walter didn’t want to go to Philadelphia beacause he wanted to get baked instead.

  • Heck13r

    Yeah you totally missed that haha.. Walter just found his bag of hash it was fairly obvious he just wanted to hang back and get lit.

  • spider jerusalem
  • Mrsnowden

    Lol. The Walter question has been answered, but I somehow see you bringing it up all season a la Lincoln last year. Sometimes I wonder if we are watching the same show.

  • dusk


  • dusk

    Walter said the rocks were crystallized quartz. When their potentials are unlocked, they will provide an energy source. Without them, there’s no hope of implementing the final phrase of the plan.

    Also, the watching of the tapes reminds me of the scene in Back To The Future, where Marty shows 1955 Doc the video recording of the 1985 Doc, saying they’ll need 1.21 gigawatts to power the flux capacitor.

  • Dave

    Ahh, you septics with your bongs and pipes, anywhere else in the world he woul have just flipped some joints for the road trip! Saying that, Brown Betty must be some good stuff to survive twenty years without rotting!

  • Demoncat4

    walter did not want to go to philie because he proably new why the people there got that way plus he wanted to start getting high to help his memory. as for why astrid has not been found is because the observers are to busy looking for travelers like the team and are too lazy to go checking the activity in the lab. as for the rocks they are no doubt the energy source for what ever the plan is . as for walter using beta tapes easy so no one would get suspcious of an out dated tech  . donald could be september or maybe walter from the future .

  • Xaos

    My assumption is that they plan will involve rewriting history and removing the Observers from the timeline, or displacing them to another one.

    Also, I recall the material being described as being able to be processed into a power source, so is there any reason to believe (other than the fact that none of the team members called it out) that it isn’t well-established Macguffin amphilicite?

  • ERPest

    Did anyone else think that these guys “observing” important things could be proto-Observers? …..I got that vibe

  • Rick From Over Here

    The only Donald I could find in any Fringe Episode was the Observer Assasin in “August”. According to Fringepedia his name was Donald Long.

  • Ireactions

    Why did Walter want to hang around the lab? Were the shots of him inhaling from his plastic bag not sufficient to make this mindnumbingly obvious to anyone who watches the show? Honestly, Graeme McMillan, why are you writing articles about this show or about television in general if you can’t absorb clearly communicated visual information with any degree of accuracy or competence? Do you just not know how to assimilate content provided in visual form?

    And should you really be writing a column about FRINGE’s ongoing mysteries when you can’t even remember who Donald is?

    The only thing that saves this installment of “Five Questions” from being yet another demonstration of your near non-existent observational skills is that you caught an editing error where Walter on the tape says 49 degrees but Olivia reiterates it as 41 degrees. But I’m sure you’ll be back to your usual standard by next week.

  • sandwich eater

     I did not see that, but now that you mention it, it makes perfect sense.

  • Mathieu Doublet

     About the third question, it seems that Walter wants some “alone time” to appreciate again his “medecinal” habits. ;)

    And Olivia did get the coordinates wrong. At least, they’re not the coordinates given in the video. As Astrid manage to show them the entire video, it’s strange that they don’t realise they have the maybe wrong rocks.

  • DrHiphop85

    I literally thought that too…that perhaps that mutation from the cave will eventually set the seeds for the Observers.

  • Verssago_DeLarge

    Donald probably was just a man in the wrong place at the wrong time. He saw some cool red rocks and decide to grab some, probably just for fun, curiosity or something like that.

    I think the Observers know the power of the rocks, and arrest him to discourage any intention of investigate the area and accidentally discover about the rocks.

  • Verssago_DeLarge

    I think the same thing… Maybe the disease it’s the cause of all observers been bald and have a strange skin. And someone says that the air in the camp area is similar to the conditions of Observers planet… looks like another clue.

    And if you want to theorize more, the boy name is River. It’s a curious name to a boy who lives in a forest…people tend to have names that match with their background.

    The thing on the mine probably will kill that forest. With the isolation, maybe they start to give generic names to children, and after decades of isolation, surrounded only by a dead forest and technology, a society based just in time and records maybe start to gives names like September.

  • The Doctor

    Walter found his bong and a bag of primo weed
    He had his day planned!

  • Shu

    Donald might the observers assassin from the episode “August”. Remember he was the one who killed the observer August. And Walter did not want to go to Philly because he wanted to stay back and smoke the weed he found