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.
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!)