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Fringe Season 5: 5 Questions About “Black Blotter”

In last week’s episode of Fringe, Peter rediscovered his humanity and Olivia apparently rediscovered her spine. But does that mean that things are headed back to normal for the show? Well, judging by this week’s episode, apparently so (as long as animated dream sequences are included). Five questions about “Black Blotter,” coming right up…

Was The Monty Python Sequence The Greatest Fringe Scene Ever?
So, let’s just get this out the way first, shall we? Good Lord, but the animation in which Walter remembered “Black Umbrella” was completely unexpected and hilariously wonderful: Accurate for Python fans, but also something that makes complete sense given Walter’s age and cultural references. And I thought that playing Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” was both obscure and wonderful enough…

Who Is The Other Walter?
A running theme this season – and, really, the whole series – is the danger of intellectualism over emotion. The Observers, after all, are so smart that they have no emotions, and as we found out last week, that’s apparently the reason why “we” are going to win (if you believe Olivia). This week, we find that Walter may end up going the same route, but without the aid of technology artificially stimulating his brain… I’m somewhat unconvinced by this as a theory, in large part because it seems to deny the idea that our emotional experiences make us who we are as much as our intellectual education: Is it really believable at this point that Walter would sell out those that he loves for the Observers’ approval? Perhaps that’d be the case if the Observers had just appeared and hadn’t done everything that they have done (Not the least of which is killing Etta), but now…? That seems such a cynical, plot-device-y way of thinking, it just sticks out as being odd and unnecessary.

Why Is Michael The Way He Is?
Actually, talking about the Observers and their artificial evolution: Why is Michael the way he is? Haven’t we been told that the Observers have their abilities (and perhaps their looks) because of the implants? Surely Michael doesn’t have an implant, so why hasn’t he aged in 20 years…? (Also, a random thought: Is Michael a young September? That may explain September’s loyalties, in a strange time-travel-y way.)

So Why Did The Radio Start Working Again?
Why I’m asking questions that may remain unanswered forever at this point: Why did the Fringe team suddenly get the radio signal, if it’s been transmitted every day for the last 20 years? Did Walter fix the radio in between episodes?

What About Donald?
Okay, by this point, we’re definitely headed towards a massive revelation that Donald is (a) still alive and (b) someone we already know/have already met, right…? There have been more than enough Donald hints dropped, and his absence is so unexplained, that it has to be leading up to some kind of big reveal, but what?

And here’s an extra question, just because it’s the Holiday Season:
Should We Consider The Timelines Comments Important?
Out of nowhere, we got two different references to the fact that Peter comes from, and Olivia remembers, a different timeline this week, after that concept having gone entirely unmentioned for some time: First, the reference to Sam Weiss (For those who don’t remember, he was the urban shaman in the bowling alley who helped Olivia in season two), and then Olivia’s original meeting with Michael in the original timeline. Coincidence, or some strange and subtle pointer that we should be remembering the possibility of altering timelines for future episodes? Could time be changed so that Etta lives… or that the Observers never existed at all?


  • Mlm93

     “Was The Monty Python Sequence The Greatest Fringe Scene Ever?”Yes.  Yes, it was.  Scenes like that are what I’m going to miss most about this show, the moments of complete and utter random insanity.

  • Southardlaw

    I was thinking that Michael was either a young September or the child of Peter and Fauxlivia (or both)

  • Kirby

    “So Why Did The Radio Start Working Again?”

    Er, Richard says explicitly in the episode that they turn on the signal every FIVE days. So the Fringe team just hadn’t had the radio on a Day Five yet.

  • Slartibartfatsdomino

    It’s impossible for me to quantify how delighted I was with the Python sequence. 

  • Demoncat4

    the monty python bit showed that even on drugs walter mind is really dangerous. as for young michel would not be surprised if he is september reborn or maybe the observer that sets in motion the whole invasion thing.but thinking september from an earlier time line. as for walter becoming like the observers one never considered he  might never have the parts of his brain removed at all.

  • Thomas Jarrand

    Did you notice the the 4 animals of the Monty Python sequence appear all along in the episode ?We spotted only the dog and the frog but surely the two other (seahorse and cow) have to be somewhere !Did you find them ?

  • Starleafgirl

    The Seahorse is one of the symbols in the pocket dimension (like the apple, etc.) on those doors as well as in the commercial breaks of Fringe since Season 1; the cow, meanwhile, is probably representative of the cow Walter used to have at the lab.

  • Gary

    Interesting that Michael could possibly be the Observer September. Especially since September is played by actor Michael Cerveris. It might be a clue, a nod to the actor, or simply a coincidence. Can’t wait to find out!

  • guitaraholic

    They only turned on the Radio sequence every 5 days:
    So its trying to portray its only been 5 days in real time that the last 4 episodes have ran for including the 2 episodes were Peter had the implant – quite a quick timeline

  • dusk

    Have anyone tried to come up with a timeline for the events that have happened since they’ve woke up from amber in last season’s episode 19, all the way to the latest episode? ‘Cause it seems to me that it’s probably been at most only a month, and they’ve already done more  damage to the Observers than the Resistance have throughout the last 15 years. It’s really strange that the Observers aren’t sending more of their troops out to search for them.

  • dusk

    I don’t believe that Walter turning back into the man he once was would make him betray all the people he loves for the promise of power. I mean, he would do anything for his son, Peter, including stealing him from an alternate world. And this was back before Bell removed part of his brain. Also, the act of agreeing to have the surgery already spoke volume about how he was trying to change himself. Why would he purposely cause harm to his son by joining the Observers?

    Of course, his love for Peter also caused him to neglect the well-being of the universe and somehow led him to do experiments on little children like Olivia, which was arguably inhumane. And, even though Walternate did all sorts of harm to the people of Walter’s world by instigating the Fringe events of the original first two seasons, he did not use little children, because he knows what it’s like to have a child taken from him. So if the condition for becoming god is to sacrifice children or his son, I really doubt Walter would go with it.

  • jimlo24

    I am 100% sure that this season and, therefore, series will end with a happy ending; a timeshift where the Fringe team somehow prevents the observers invasion from coming, and time starts over from the moment in the park with Olivia and Peter are watching Etta play in the flowers.  Whether Peter and Olivia remember the future they prevented is the only thing I’m unsure of.  

  • guitaraholic

    thats exactly what I mean

    Also the idea that it could be 13 eps – say 2 / 3 weeks real time …. so it only took them 3 weeks to wipe out something no one else could do in 15 years? 

    The latest timeline I saw was : but nothing about season 5 yet…

  • Van

    The radio signal isn’t turned on every day — he said it was every “five days.” Apparently, Olivia/Walter/Peter found the radio inside the pocket universe five days before they received the signal.

  • Bill T.

    Question 6:  Did Terry Gilliam contribute to that Monty Python sequence?

  • Brian from Canada

    The way I interpreted it is that this is a third timeline.

    Walter’s late lab assistant asks him to remember that plan. Then, he hallucinates her warning him not to cross that line which he did for Peter. And the flashbacks conclude with her warning that there are consequences.

    Walter didn’t think about the consequences and wanted answers just like the Observers until he let his emotions take over. He is more rational than emotional is the underlying message, and that this whole plan was to show dominance over the Observers, which is something that would play to Walter’s hubris (as reflected in Walternate).

    That they have no memories of the past, but have scattered memories of another timeline, hints that Peter, Olivia, Walter and Astrid transported themselves to this world ahead of the Observers to stop them. That’s where the plan comes from as well.

    It also may explain how William Bell was there at the beginning, even though Billy was dead in the main timeline.

    What it doesn’t explain is whether Terry Gilliam actually produced that sequence for them, or they were just heavily into Monty Python. Because either way, yes — that is the best sequence yet from the series, and a much needed respite from the seriousness of the episode. Congratulations to the Fringe producers on that one!

  • Ebetanco7

    About the radio working again, they did not say they broadcast it everyday. The lady said that they were instructed to turn it on “every 5 days at the same time”. The question is how long was the signal on for at those times. It seems they leave it on for a good couple of hours. The other question is how long have they had it, that they only just now heard it. It sure seems that they have had it for more than 5 days, It seems like they should have heard it by now. Also, about Michael, why are you so sure he doesn’t have an implant. Why not? September had one and he still felt emotions. He would especially have one if you are right and he is September.

  • wongst

    Who is Donald??   In the episode where the Observer named August tries to save that girl, there is a Observer hitman named Donald.   He tells August that his quarrel is not with him and to let him to do his job…   He dies in the original time line but he may be alive in this one.   He was also a guy who knew about the Observers…     :)