This week, our assignment was to watch the two episodes “The Arrival” and “Power Hungry” from Season One of Fringe. (You can read the Television Without Pity Recaps here and here, while the AV Club has their recaps of the episodes here and here. The post dedicated to the Pilot episode is here and the subsequent episode post is here.)

As always, here are the ground rules: nothing that we have seen so far is considered a spoiler, anything that we have not yet seen should be considered a spoiler. Crazy nutbar speculation is *NOT* a spoiler, but confirming or denying said confirmation would be.

Here’s my idea for spoilers: please rot13 them. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them. We good? We good! Everybody who has seen the two episodes, see you after the cut!

First off, the Arrival. This is when things started to get… weird.

We start with the guy in the grey suit. In real life, he has played lead guitar for Bob Mould… the guy from Hüsker Dü! It’s trüe!

I digress. He is not playing guitar here.

One thing I’d like to know is where I can go to order a roast beef sandwhich with the roast beef cooked to order. If I had one of those places here, I’d think that I’d have died and gone to heaven.

Speaking of awesome food, I like how Walter’s freedom has translated into him remembering all of the things that he’d want to eat or drink since they weren’t available in the asylum. This speaks directly to me, as I’m sure that I would also have such a list.

When we see the shell and we see that Walter knows what it is, I was hoping that this would result in Walter actually telling us what it is before the end of the episode. Sadly, I was disappointed. (Spoiler for through the end of Season One: Oneevat gung, V unq nyfb ubcrq gung jr’q svaq bhg jung vg jnf orsber gur raq bs gur frnfba. Qvfnccbvagrq gurer gbb. Spoiler for through the end of Season Two: Ba gbc bs *GUNG*, jr qba’g rira frr vg ntnva hagvy gur zhfvpny rcvfbqr ng gur gnvy raq bs Frnfba 2 naq gurl qba’g rkcynva jung vg vf gurer rvgure. Gubhtu, V fhccbfr, jr qb trg n ovg bs n uvag.)

When Walter starts talking about Project Thor, I found it interesting because it was obvious (to me, anyway) that this underground torpedo was not related to Project Thor at all but he just wanted to get Peter to change the subject… and Peter was more than happy to do so.

We find out that The Observer has been seen at, lemme check, “three dozen scenes” all of them involved with The Pattern and they call him “the observer” for some reason… if there were a bunch of bank robberies and I was seen in the background watching the robbers at each bank, would the cops assume that I was an observer rather than an accessory? (Ah, Jay. Just run with it.)

Astrid being drugged by Walter surprised the ever-living crap out of me. I totally did *NOT* see that coming.

The scene where Walter and the Observer were talking? That was the best scene in the whole episode. They talked like old friends who had a great deal of backstory between them. This scene did more to establish a sense of mystery than everything up unto this point.

Walter telling Peter to not be like his mother was another great scene that established that Walter had a lot of very, very bad moments in his past. John Noble is a very, very good actor.

There’s one dynamic at work here that I really thought was cool but would require spoilers through the end of the season (and, perhaps, into the 2nd season) to explain why. (Gur vagreebtngvba thl jnf nfxvat Crgre nobhg jurer Jnygre uvq gur gbecrqb, evtug? Crgre, bs pbhefr, unq ab vqrn jurer gur gbecrqb jnf. Gur vagreebtngvba thl vf n funcrfuvsgre sebz gur bgure havirefr. Ur pbzrf bire gb guvf havirefr naq nfxf nobhg vg naq, va nfxvat gur dhrfgvbaf, svtherf bhg gung Crgre vf npghnyyl sebz gur bgure havirefr gbb… juvpu gryyf uvz gung gur gbecrqb vf yvxryl va gur przrgrel jurer guvf havirefr’f Crgre vf ohevrq. Lbh jvgu zr?)

Of course, at the time, knowing nothing of the above, I was completely baffled.

When Walter explains how he first met the Observer, I didn’t think it was anywhere *NEAR* as important as it turned out to be. That was actually pretty cool. Spoilers through the 2nd Season: (Uvf fcrrpu nobhg ubj gurl jrer fnirq sebz gur vpl jngre vf n cvrpr bs vasbezngvba gung riraghnyyl orpnzr gur “Crgre” rcvfbqr sebz gur 2aq Frnfba… jung znxrf gung rcvfbqr fb pbby vf gung cerggl zhpu rirelguvat gung unccraf va vg unf orra gbyq gb hf nyernql va fprarf yvxr guvf bar. Naljnl, guvf vf gur svefg gvzr jr unir orra gbyq nobhg jung gb jnvg sbe jura jr trg gb gung rcvfbqr.)

John showing up in Liv’s kitchen was a pretty nice cliffhanger to end on… I can totally see how if last week didn’t hook you for the rest of the season, this show would have done that.


The second episode we were watching this week was “Power Hungry”.

I don’t know about you, but watching a guy get chewed out by his mom, his boss, and the object of his affection is not the best way to draw me into an episode. Even if he is rocking it old-school with a walkman.

That said, holy cow the Observer just walked past!!! Now I’m wondering if he walked past in the first few episodes! If he did, then I understand how the FBI didn’t make the connection for so long!

The elevator cable didn’t snap, it’s that the elevator motor was going full speed straight down. That’s actually kind of creepy. That’s one of those things you think about when getting on an elevator for the rest of your life.

The unique electromagnetic field for each human is this week’s return to the “weird sciencey thing of the week” (which, if you ask me, is always welcome) and we are distracted from thinking about said weird sciency thing of the week for too long by the heart starting to beat again. This is a great technique, by the way. Say something that will get everyone to say “that might be plausible… hey wait a minute” and interrupt them in the middle of the elipsis by showing them something gross.

The machine chewing out Sad Sack’s boss in the middle of Sad Sack’s boss chewing him out pleased me inordinately. I wonder what that says about me.

We learn that Walter has old acquaintances that do all sorts of off-the-grid science experiments on humans (that are, of course, related to the “highly theoretical” stuff that Walter was testing back in the 70’s and 80’s). This strikes me as a really rich vein that, if they don’t go back to it every other episode, could really keep providing interesting episodes whenever the writers have a slow week. “Oh yes, him! I forgot about him” Walter could say every time and I would believe him every time.

The first real conversation with John since his return was interesting. I started liking John’s character here rather than being vaguely irritated by him. Of course, there’s no reason to believe anything he says except, of course, for those blue, blue eyes.

I liked how they turned the conversation with John into a discussion of the weight load on the elevator into figuring out that the guy who crashed the elevator must have survived it. That was tight writing.

Lifting the magnetic signature of Sad Sack off of his tape was cute but they really should have interrupted it with something gross before sending the pigeons off.

Walter correctly guessing that Olivia had been seeing John Scott got me to drop my jaw. That was some good stuff… and finding out that John was working on the Pattern was even better stuff. We see the engagement ring… and we’re out.

All in all, I’d say that both of these episodes were strong for two very different reasons.

The first was strong because it planted a whole *LOT* of seeds that would come to fruition over the course of two seasons (though it didn’t feel like it) and the second because we returned to the tried-and-true formula of “weird thing of the week” with 5 minutes of “overarching storyline” sprinkled throughout.

So, from this vantage point, we’ve got two main storylines to deal with: The Pattern and John Scott’s Return and how they intertwine.

So… what thinks did you thunk?


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. I’m trying to get caught up quickly, but I meant to ask last week… did anyone else catch The Observer’s momentary appearance in Episode 3? I did a double-take and had to check and see if I saw what I thought I saw.

    • I didn’t see him, but I’ve just begun watching Fringe; I didn’t know what to look for. Perhaps I will go back and find it. I hate to miss anything.

  2. I have missed the Observer in all the episodes other than 4 (when he was a main part), sigh.

    The Arrival is my favorite episode so far. This had none of the things that I have complained about before. The team fumbled around in the dark and each failed in the end (even Walter trying to hide the Shell thing). It also brought the over all mystery to the forefront and I care more about that than the mystery of the week.

    Does anyone else get a dimesional vibe for what happenned in this episode? All the stuff about frequencies and how these things just appeared and disapeared make me think that. So, I am wondering if the Observers IS an alien (as they are trying hard to make him seem), but a dimensional alien instead of a space alien. I will be curious to see as the show progresses, if tis turns out to be true.

    Power Hunger was another mystery of the week special with pigeons being the phased cationic pulse. Still, very good acting and I like how Peter has not healed for the torture in the last episode (I like little things like that). I do not wonder how this links to things since the Observer was in this one as well, now. This one did do a good job of Bringing John Scott to the fore and I am glad they did not drag thing out with this mystery.

    Can’t wait for the next two. Let’s have more Arrivals.

    • Keep watching! (I think that that’s all I’m allowed to say…)

      The “phased cationic pulse” just might become the new term for “weird sciencey thing of the week”.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these episodes, not much to say that hasn’t been said already, though.

      • Oh, alright!

        The evil doctor in Power Hungry – he’s so eerily calm about all this, I kept expecting him to exhibit some super-power and just walk out from custody – future plot device?

        Also, am I the only one to get the vibe from Liv & Walter’s closing conversation about John’s consciousness being present in her mind (in which Walter is kinda equivocal about how it will sort out) mean a possible future device where John’s consciousness vies for control?

        • Keep watching! (Here’s a spoiler from later in the season that I don’t think *REALLY* qualifies as much of a spoiler but I can see how it *MIGHT* (I mean it talks about something that happens in a future episode) so I encoded it just in case. Gurer’f na rcvfbqr pbzvat hc fbba jurer Byvivn orngf gur rire-yvivat vgfunl bhg bs n unaqshy bs thlf jub, vs’a lbh nfx zr, fur fubhyqa’g unir orra noyr gb orng hc. V gbyq Znevobh “fur orng gubfr thlf hc orpnhfr fur’f tnvavat fbzr bs Wbua’f pbzong fxvyyf va nqqvgvba gb uvf xabjyrqtr.” Znevobh gbyq zr “lbh’er n frkvfg. Fur’f whfg gung onqnff.” Fb gnxr gung sbe jung vg’f jbegu.)

      • I noticed that the little points of light seem to be moving around all the time, hadn’t started to consider if it meant anything.

        • I noticed that the hand is not always in the same position, but I don’t think I meant anything. Now I must know.

  4. Okay! I’m caught up!

    Olivia was much more likeable in the early episodes. John Scott is back. Yay!!! Well, sort of. Walter was, as ever, brilliant. It feels like they’re still trying to feel out Peter’s personality.

    The lab actually feels more like a basement at a college (I don’t like that it’s Harvard). In later episodes, it feels more like a generic batcave.

    I was sill unsold on the show by this point, but they did do a good job of making some of the victims likeable or sympathetic with minimal exposure (Loraine, the electric delivery boy).

    • Part of the problem at this point is that they want to do too many things with Peter and end up doing none of them particularly well.

      They want to establish that he’s really, really smart (almost as smart as his dad) and that he uses these smarts for silly, temporal gain rather than for Science! the way his dad did *AND*, at the same time, make him likable *AND*, at the same time, put him in constant and direct conflict with Walter (who, it seems to me, is the reason we’re watching the show).

      In trying to juggle all of these balls, they end up dropping them.

    • “I was sill unsold on the show by this point, but they did do a good job of making some of the victims likeable or sympathetic with minimal exposure (Loraine, the electric delivery boy).”

      This is where I’m at right now. I like the characters, I’m just not sold yet.

      I totally agree with JB. I want to like Peter, and I do a little, but they are trying to do too much at one time with him.

  5. I touched on this briefly last week, but despite the fact that The Arrival is when the show started to catch my interest, it has the biggest “why don’t they use that later?” concept that I find so grating: This idea that if you’re in the same room with someone, you know what they know by “osmosis” and if you just go into your subconscious you can know everything the other person knows.

    I find this such a weak and obvious episodic plot device. If it’s true, why don’t they just go in the tank after they talk to a suspect in all the subsequent episodes? It’s such a huge suspension of disbelief that’s asked of us. And to just casually mention it as a way that they can both know that Peter won’t be killed for not knowing the location of the device – AND give them a reason that they know where to find him – is bad enough. But it’s just made worse by the fact that after finding him they never mention it again.

    This was a thing that I found greatly irritating when the show began. One of the strengths of the XFiles, as a caparison, is that often times weird s**t would happen and they’d figure out WHAT the cause was, but be baffled in the end about all the HOWs and WHYs. Fringe could learn a lesson here – at least in the stand-alone episodes.

    • Here is my theory. It wasn’t osmosis. (Edit: Spoilers through the end of the First Season)

      Gur vagreebtngvba thl jnf nfxvat Crgre nobhg jurer Jnygre uvq gur gbecrqb, evtug? Crgre, bs pbhefr, unq ab vqrn jurer gur gbecrqb jnf. Gur vagreebtngvba thl vf n funcrfuvsgre sebz gur bgure havirefr. Ur pbzrf bire gb guvf havirefr naq nfxf nobhg vg naq, va nfxvat gur dhrfgvbaf, svtherf bhg gung Crgre vf npghnyyl sebz gur bgure havirefr gbb… juvpu gryyf uvz gung gur gbecrqb vf yvxryl va gur przrgrel jurer guvf havirefr’f Crgre vf ohevrq.

          • Why? It’s not like you made me unrot13 them!
            I’m not too worried about spoilers. If you’d come to me halfway through Season 1 of LOST and told me some theory you had based on being done with Season 3, what would that really matter? Half of what you “knew” was wrong and the other half wouldn’t make sense.

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