Fringe Fries Special Edition: "Mirror, Mirror".

I received a tweet from "Lostweatherguy" Christopher Waits not long after the Fringe episode, "An Origin Story" played.  In it he discussed the proliferation of mirrors we saw in the episode.  I thought to myself, "Yes, mirrors, again!"  I was dismissive of the repeated imagery but then I thought more of it.

Even though the use of mirrors is an often used trope of Fringe, especially when the Alt-universe was in play, something seemed different this time and it was an itch I needed to scratch.  Bear with me here as I go on another flight of fancy that you are all used to seeing on these pages.

One of my favorite Star Trek episodes from the original series was "Mirror, Mirror".  In it, Captain Kirk found himself on the bridge of an Enterprise that was not his own.  In fact, it represented a universe that was wholly different from his own and a lot more brutal. 

How does this connect with Fringe?  Something changed.  Something, I thought, nearly imperceptible. 

I first felt the "itch" when I saw all the posters of Etta in the alley way where Olivia stood.  "That was fast" I thought to myself, "The Resistance doesn't waste any time."  Was it too fast?  Even Olivia seemed stunned by the counter iconography to the Observer posters. Earlier in the episode Peter said to Olivia, "I want everyone to know that Etta is responsible for the world being saved."

You got your wish Peter!  Will it change the world or has the world already changed!

Remember when the timeline changed in season four and many of us groaned about it.  The Fringe writing team took a few lumps for that.  So what if they changed the timeline again and this time they decided not to tell us.  Take that obsessive fandom!

I cite as my, admittingly, slim evidence the delivery of the CO2 machinery delivered from the future.  How could it be?  Peter and Olivia used the anti-matter in the wormhole of their own making to create a black hole in the Observer future to totally disrupt their evil machinations.  Why didn't it work???!!!

"You don't even know what you don't know."

It seemed the captured Observer was just taunting Peter.  But was he hinting at a larger truth?

When the "CO2" shipment suddenly appeared at the end of the alley (the one with no visible Etta posters at that point by the way) I was just as flabbergasted as Peter.  But taking into context what the captive Observer said I thought to myself (here we go) "Can the Observers modulate what timeline or time stream they exist in?"  At a flick of a switch, can the Observers manipulate the course of the future?  As a whole, maybe not.  But subtlety, maybe so.  Maybe an event like a catastrophic black hole can be changed as long as they catch it in an instant.  If you follow or subscribe to the String theory of quantum mechanics then a variable time stream is not only possible but probable.   This will also lead to subtle changes of the time stream into the past as well as the future.  The ripples go both ways.  The Observers may be willing to accept these changes as long as the larger picture stays the same.

Pictured above is the wormhole as created by the Observer device.  Do you recall where you may have seen this before?  You did if you ever watched the original Star Trek series!

One of the most preeminent Star Trek episodes ever put to Beta Max (kidding) was, "City On The Edge of Forever".  In the episode an illness crazed Dr. McCoy sprints into the past and the crew has to follow him in order to affect his rescue.  In doing so they change the time line and must go to desperate lengths to change it back. 

So case closed right?  Do you see what I mean?  Easy!

With time travel nothing is ever easy (See what happened to the Ponds in the last Dr. Who episode).  But I think I am getting my point across.  If you travel through time you've already altered its events.  The crew of the Enterprise did so during "City" and Kirk experienced the same in "Mirror, Mirror."  I submit to you that the Observers can either manipulate the time stream to suit their needs or are aware that invoking a subtle change along the way in order to save their own hides.  I'd like to think the have a "time manipulation device" to vary the time line but since they are experience time travelers a little trip here and there may fix the problem.

You may say to yourself, "Then why don't they affect this change to save their awful future?"  Like I said earlier.  Subtlety is the key.  They need our time-line, changing the future en masse may obliterate them altogether!

We may have gotten a hint of this when we learned in "The Recordist" that all the libraries have been destroyed.  Why do that?  What would we have to learn from studying our own past much as the Observers did? 

How about that subtle change!  If the Observers destroy our recorded past they erase that subtle clue that will lead to their demise!  So easy yet so diabolical.

"You don't even know what you don't know."

OK, I've rattled on enough about mirrors let's enter the fun house!

In the above image Peter is fixing a hole where the rain gets in and starts his mind to wandering.  (Sorry Beatles!)  Did you see his wedding ring hanging on a chain to the left.  The opposite of hope is despair and when Peter symbolically sepertated himself from Olivia here he fell into despair.

Olivia is the avatar of hope as we saw in the episode, "In Absentia".  She turned Etta from the dark side and convinced the Loyalist to help the resistance.  They saw that one thing in Olivia that had been missing before, "Hope for us all."  In the above picture we see the symbolic opposite of hope in the mirror, despair.

Speaking of Olivia's mirror, did you catch the "No.6" at its base?  Number Six was the moniker assigned to Patrick McGoohan's character in "The Prisoner" TV series.  A little foreshadowing no doubt as we were introduced to the Observer prisoner not much later in the episode.

As long as we are talking of foreshadowing check out the fluid colors for putting the Observer on ice.  Green, Yellow and Red!  Remember when everything was green, green and red Observer wise?  Is this a clue to`their demise?  Does the yellow stand for Cortexiphan?

Sticking with our prisoner Observer friend, there is the "empty chair" again.  A favorite device of mine and one often repeated in Fringe.  What does it represent this time?  I'm thinking it represents Olivia or rather her absence.  Without her as hope, Peter falls into despair.

Also present in Peter's house of horrors is an unhinged door.  Representative of Peter's state of mind?  I'd say so. 

Doors were used to great effect in the old Twilight Zone series.  They represent portals, escape avenues, dimensions and things not of sight and sound but of mind.  In "Little Girl Lost" a door to another dimension opened in the girls bedroom.  Not their best episode but the ideas were amazing.  A lesson not lost on the writers of Fringe.  (See below.)

One more item in Peter's House of Horrors.  There is a ladder leading to nowhere on the set also.  Jacob's Ladder perhaps?  A ladder that like Jacob dreamed of that led to Heaven and allowed him to escape from his brother Esau?  Surely Peter needs a way to escape the Hell he is living in.

Lastly!  (applause, applause) No mirror reference this time!  Do you see the name of the cafe behind the raggedy man here?  The "Brown Shirt Cafe"  Brown shirts were the names given to the henchmen of Hitler in the days preceding the Second World War.  Not long after this scene, the Brown Shirts of 2036 appear.  The Obsever's Loyalist toadies arrive on the scene.  Some clever foreshadowing there also.

Phew! I'm tired!  That's it for now and yes I saw the "Go ask Alice" graffiti behind Anil.  Who didn't see that!  If I write any more I won't be able to look myself in the mirror for days!

That's either a good thing or a bad thing.  Especially in Fringe.

(BTW, thanks Chris!)


  1. Dave! Once again, you done good :) I loved your mirror finds and how you pieced them together. Here are my thoughts on the episode, and perhaps they go in line with yours:

    So, I too was focusing on the Observer line "You don't even know what you don't know", and I too was focusing on time travel, but I think our paths separate here (correct me if I'm wrong).
    What if Peter doesn't know what he doesn't know, ie. He isn't aware of the knowledge the Observer is refereeing to, because it hadn't happened yet? The title of the episode is "an origin story", so could this episode be the origin of what the Observer knows but Peter clearly doesn't?
    I think what the Observer was referring to with that line, and I'm sure many jumped to this, is Peter is the beginning of the Observers. Him sticking that tech in his neck was the origin.

    So what does this mean? I'm going to try and explain simply without making my nose bleed lol:
    1) The Observers have been watching us since season on to ensure Peter & Olivia get together and have a child
    2) They needed Etta because they needed a catalyst.
    3) Olivia and Peter's child gets taken, thus begins a series of events leading them to the future... and more importantly Etta.
    4) Olivia: "Why did we get her back just to lose her again?" -Because losing her ensures this reaction from Peter which in turn causes him to go down the path that leads to him putting that tech in himself.

    The Observer was smug, because that was all meant to happen.

    1) does this mean to saved the world Walter or Olivia will have to sacrifice Peter? Perhaps Walter seeing as it would really hit home after stopping at nothing all those years ago.
    2) Is this why Peter had that disease? Was it the universe preventing him from existing anywhere in order to thwart the Observers from existing?

    Anyhoo. Sorry writing so much!
    Cheers :)

  2. Sarah, those are interesting points. I agree that Etta seems to have been/seems to be very important, and I don't think we have seen the last of her.

    Dave, fantastic post. Boy do those Star Trek shots bring back memories...! (sorry I haven't been by in a while!). City on the Edge of Forever is a great example, and what about that episode (I forget the title) where McCoy stumbles back in history, and Spock and Kirk must try to find him. (*spoiler alert*) McCoy saves someone's life and changes the future, so of course Spock and Kirk must change it back.

    Something else came to mind as I watched this Fringe episode: Remember the Doctor Who episode (*spoiler alert*) "Parting of the Ways"... Rose, while possessed by the Tardis, becomes aware of everything, everywhere and everywhen. In order to prevent the end of the universe, she sends out clues to herself in all times where she was/could be. So, thousands of years in the past (see the episode), Rose then sees "Bad Wolf" plastered everywhere, much like Peter and Olivia see Etta's photo with Resist plastered everywhere. A bit of a stretch perhaps, but still... :-)

    And then there is Blink. (sorry for being repetative). (*spoilers*) The whole point of that episode was time travel, of course, and the crux of it was that Tennant/Doctor Who (le sigh) was warning Sally of the dangers in front of her, when he himself didn't know what they were. Sally had to live the time time up to the point where she could give Who the text of what was happening, so that he could leave the messages for Sally.

    A bit of a Chicken and the egg scenario, and it could be that something along these lines might be happening here...?

  3. Very nice Dave! I love the idea of the Observers course-correcting on the fly. I never felt like we got a satisfactory explanation of the deja vous moments we had in S4. This might get at that. Glitches in the Matrix, it happens when they change something. This season sure has been symbol laden, mirrors, reflections, transparent layers like the amber and the window to the other universe, things viewed skewed or just out of reach. Even the records of the past are unreliable like the glitchy tapes, the burnt libraries, different memories of the purge by Peter versus Olivia. Is the timeline being frayed from being re-written so many times? OK my head hurts now. At least it's not my neck.....

  4. Dave, terrific as usual! I must say that I guess I missed out of a lot of references as I am not a Lost, Star Trek, Dr. Who fan or seeming anything else sci-fi. I did like and totally get Lynne's Matrix reference tho! Yes, I've seen those. You take on the mirrors was interesting and no, I did not catch the No. 6 on the bottom of one. I also missed the colors of the Observer cocktail Anil had devised. Hmmph! I did notice the cafe though and the Go Ask Alice clue. I also noticed that the dumpster in the Etta Resist posters scene had "Lake" written on it and then it was brought to my attention that it also says "Peter." Coincidence? Clue? I don't know. I also noticed that when Peter turned on the cube it flashed that green, green, green red. See? I notice stuff - lol.

    I'm really enjoying the time travel discussion and references. I am hoping to see this play out some on Fringe. Although, I admit I don't want the end of Fringe them "starting over" in time. I really don't.

    As for Etta, I grew very fond of that character too and wish she wasn't gone. I do think she is gone for this series though - **mini spoiler** - I think there may be references as Georgina Haig was around for a few weeks filming after this. As cold as this may seem. I think perhaps Etta has serverd her purpose. Heck, she freed the Fringe team from amber so they may save the world. And though as awful as her death is, I do think this drove home about love and well, love conquers all, right? Without her death, the team may not have had the motivation they do now. As for Peter's' motivation, I sure hope that gets worked out. Looks to be an interesting ride at least. Think too that if Peter lies to the rest of the team about his new implant, it will be devastating in the future. To me, there seems a lot left to happen here in Fringe. It is moving pretty fast and my only concern is that they really do have time to finish this all up. In normal shows, items like leading up to Etta's death would take weeks; yet, Fringe simply doesn't have time. So, Peter's journey here and how it is learned by the rest of the team will have to happen soon. I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't happen at the end of this next episode.

    I've been thinking lately that the Observers have actually been trying to kill/erase Peter since Season 1. If you think about it, even September's original distraction of Walternate could be construed as an attempt to kill Peter. I know, I know. Just was thinking about it. I think September is on "our" side too and as evidence tried to help. Do we know that he always started that way? Perhaps September was not always "one of the good guys" or whatever. Perhaps after distracting Walternate so Peter could die; September saw and did not like for whatever the repercussions (in the future) of this action once he saw it (as he travels in/outside of time); so, he went back in time again to correct that mistake by saving Walter/Peter after Walter crossed over. Just tossing that out there. By the way, any thoughts on what happened to September? Everyone presumes he is dead; however, all Walter said was that "what happened to him was unexpected."

    Oh, the "window" from the future to deliver those items reminded me of DRJ's attempts to open a door to the other side in Season 1. It also made me think of Walter's actual window to the other universe. Then the mention of the lightning and such, hmmm. Perhaps there is something with another Universe. Very interesting.

    That's all for now. Thanks for reading. Long again I know. Hope I made some sense. Happy weekend everyone!

  5. I'm watching the series again. I noticed the burnt area on the ground where the wormhole opens looks a lot like a melted clock. Like an Escher's Clock that is set to 6:00.
    It goes well with the No. 6 on the Mirror.


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