Season 1, Episode 4: “The Arrival”
Original Airdate: 30 September 2008
Written by J.J. Abrams & Jeff Pinker
Directed by Paul A. Edwards
Patterns of Interference: At a diner in Brooklyn, a peculiar well-dressed bald man – the Observer – gives the waitress an equally odd order , then intently watches a construction site across the street. With a notebook and keeping a close eye on the time, he makes notes in an unknown language. The earth begins shaking as an explosion rocks the construction site, causing immense damage. The Observer calmly steps outside to a newly-opened hole in the site, and phones an unknown entity with a simple message: “It has arrived.”
A frustrated Peter attempts to convince Olivia to allow him to leave the Fringe team but Olivia counters that he is vital in keeping Walter cooperating with them. Peter relents, for now. Later, the Fringe team arrives at a warehouse where an item was transported from the construction site that they believe caused the disaster: a futuristic-looking cylinder that apparently drilled up from underground. Broyles reveals that a similar incident occured in 1987 in Quantico, where a Colonel Henry Jacobson lead the investigation.
Olivia heads to Virginia to speak with Jacobson, who happens to be an old friend. Jacobson reveals the details of that night, which are similar to what occurred at the construction site. He also reveals that 48 hours after the capsule appeared, it exploded downwards and vanished. Jacobson offers to help her but advises Olivia to stay away from this case…
Walter and Astrid are investigating the capsule and testing its reaction to frequencies. Outside, a strange man with an unusual gun approaches and opens fire, emitting powerful gravity pulses. After entering the facility, the man asks the remaining scientist for the location of the capsule, and is visibly upset when it is no longer there.
Olivia receives a call in the middle of the night and hears what appears to be John’s distorted voice. Olivia attempts to trace the call but is told there is no record of her having received a call in the past 3 hours, much to her disappointment.
At Walter’s lab, he reveals that he worked on something called Project Thor, which attempted to create a missile that could be shot through the Earth’s core at a target on the other side of the planet. While looking through pictures from Jacobson’s files, Olivia finds a picture and notices the Observer in the background. She pulls up a picture from the hospital during a previous case and notes his presence there as well. Taking the evidence to Broyles, he leads her to a room which contains dozens of pictures from Pattern cases where the Observer has been recorded watching events. His identity and purpose remain a mystery.
Olivia contacts Peter and informs of him of the attack at the warehouse. Peter goes to tell Walter but the latter deduces that someone is coming for the cylinder. Walter dodges questions on how he would know that and sends Peter out to obtain aluminum foil, stating it is vital to protecting them all. After Peter leaves, Walter uses a syringe to disable Astrid. When Peter returns, he finds an unconscious Astrid, with Walter and the cylinder missing.
The stranger who attacked the warehouse has captured Jacobson and hooked him up to a device, demanding that he “think” about the woman who came and visited him (Olivia), and once he complies shoots him.
Walter goes to a diner and meets with the Observer. The Observer thanks Walter for hiding “the Beacon”, claiming that he cannot touch it himself. He promises Walter that he will soon find out answers.
Walter is picked up and brought back for questioning. Walter refuses to reveal the cylinder’s location, and in doing so reveals he spoke to the Observer. An argument erupts between Walter and Peter and Peter finally leaves. As he collects his things at the lab, the stranger can be seen watching Peter from the shadows.
Astrid calls Olivia from the lab and reports damage at the lab as if from a struggle, with Peter missing. Peter is then seen held captive by the stranger, hooked up to the same device Jacobson was. The stranger attempts to extract the cylinder’s location from Peter, and using a series of questions is able to deduce its location.
The stranger takes Peter and heads to a graveyard. There, they find Peter’s grandfather’s grave, and discover that this is where the cylinder is buried. Olivia arrives and the stranger takes off with it. Olivia pursues him through the forest and is able to incapacitate the man, who drops the cylinder. The cylinder activates and buries itself into the ground. As Olivia runs off, the Observer is seen having witnessed the events, and calls someone stating, “Departure on schedule.” The Observer is then tackled by Peter, who demands to know who he is. The Observer begins to mimic Peter’s actions, mirroring his questions as Peter asks them, and when Peter stops speaking, the Observer continues, asking the questions that Peter would have, as though reading his mind. Peter looks on in astonished silence, and then the Observer pulls out a gun-like weapon and shoots Peter.
Peter awakens to find the Observer gone and no bullet wound. Olivia finds him and takes him back. Walter goes to see Astrid and apologizes for his actions. Astrid is angry and hurt and says nothing. Walter leaves disappointed but understands.
At the hospital Olivia and Broyles debrief, stating that the cylinder disappeared. The stranger is identified as John Mosley, a man wanted for murder in Seattle. Olivia picks up Peter, who reveals that the incident with the Observer has changed something. Peter felt the Observer was inside his head, and that whatever Walter and the rest of the Fringe team are investigating regarding the Pattern is more fascinating and dangerous than anyone knows – and he needs to discover the answers. Peter tells Olivia he intends to remain with the team.
Later, Peter is relaying the events of the day with Walter and wonders how Mosley extracted information he did not know. Walter tells Peter about a night when Peter was a kid where they were involved in a car accident during winter. Peter and Walter were saved by the Observer, and Walter relates that he had a similar incident where he felt the Observer was inside his head back then. The Observer informed Walter that one day he would need his help – which wound up being today, where Walter hid the cylinder. Peter and Walter have a rare moment of shared understanding.
Olivia is at her home fixing herself a snack when she suddenly notices someone inside her house – who turns out to be John…
Scientific Method: Telepathy via electronic stimulation. Concussive force weaponry.
Fringe with Benefits: I’m glad that they didn’t get into the whole, “I need you,” thing with Olivia when it came to Peter possibly walking off. In fact, it’s impressive that she was willing to let Peter go at the end of the episode. Besides, we have the shock of John returning at the end.
Walt’s Faults: Walter reciting formula to his favorite beverages, which becomes a running gag through the episodes. I’ve noticed in almost every episode, Walter has had an obsession with something – a cow, a piano, and now root beer – to the point where he attacks Astrid in order to go out to have a root beer float, taking the cylinder with him.
Now, consider this: he is later found walking the median on the I95. He travelled quite a bit as he starts in Brooklyn and winds up on a roadway that begins in NY at the George Washington Bridge.
I think what is most sad is that Walter has damaged his relationship with Astrid.
Daddy Issues: Peter wants out. He is getting tired of being his father’s keeper, but it’s more; he is getting antsy and wants to move on. But Walter won’t work without Peter. It’s an interesting dynamic.
We get another moment with the mother as Walter points out that she was always questioning him. It frustrates him that Peter is now always doing the same and with a smartass attitude. The revelation by Walter that he and Peter were saved from drowning by the Observer may have seemed a little too convenient in bringing together the strings of the plot I mentioned elsewhere, but we’ll see where it goes.
Observatory. The Observer appears in the opening, gets dialogue and it’s ordering an odd meal. He also has his own code that he writes in a book. Olivia begins to make the connections with the Observer. Because of that, Broyles opens up to Olivia about their observation of him as he is impressed she made the connections so quickly. We also get his name officially in this episode as The Observer thanks to Broyles. And then there’s the Observer’s meeting with Walter and we learn that he doesn’t have much in the way of taste buds. He thanks Walter for hiding The Beacon. The end scene with the Observer and Peter is particularly freaky. The Observer appears to have telepathy of his own as he mimics Peter’s words and then goes ahead and says what Peter is thinking before he says it.
Dynamic Appearances: Was pleased to see Nestor Serrano, who many remember from 24, but whom I remember as Captain Bruno on Witchblade. (Julio’s note: the real question is what hasn’t Nestor Serrano been in?)
Lunatic Fringe: The Doctor Who episode “Midnight” features a similar scene, with an alien mimicking the voice and mannerisms of another species in a similar manner to the Observer with Peter. Oddly enough, “Midnight” aired 3 ½ months before “The Arrival”.
In FOX press materials, the Observer is referred to as “September”.
Endgame: We’ve dealt with some freaky fringe science in the past three episodes, but for some reason the concussion weapon that was used intrigued me the most. I really enjoyed this one as the strings of the continuity begin to come together.
Finally the Observer is brought to the foreground (haha, see what I did there? Julio’s note: I apologize for writing this) and though nothing is really answered, the seeds for a fascinating series mythology are planted here. For once, the science that has gone awry is not related to Massive Dynamic (although we continue with the theme of previous experiments Walter has worked on somehow coming back to haunt them). The Observer’s first full-on appearance doesn’t disappoint. Also: the man loves his pepper.
Massive Dynamics: 9