This week, our assignment was to watch the episode “The Firefly” from Season Three of Fringe. (You can read the Television Without Pity Recap here, while the AV Club has their recap of the episode here. The post dedicated to the Season Three season premiere episode is here and the posts dedicated to the following episodes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and 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 episode, see you after the cut!

After a brief opening where we find out that Walter is both A) trying to make himself smarter in order to get back to the level that Walternate is operating at and B) stoned, we go to a nursing home where we see Christopher Lloyd (YAY!) talking to his son who is both A) there with HOLY CRAP IT’S THE OBSERVER and B) described by everybody involved as being dead for 25 years.

This sets in motion yet another beautiful Fringy Rube Goldberg machine. Unlike last week’s episode which explored some really creeptastic horror themes, this one explores themes dealing with loss and sadness and people trying (and sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding) to understand the loss and sadness of others. When Christopher Lloyd said that he couldn’t remember meeting his son as he sleepwalked and asked “do you know what that’s like? Not remembering a miracle?” and that was downright heartbreaking… and then Walter, who has had pieces of his brain removed, said “yes”. Deep sigh.

Walter remains the reason that I keep watching.

Christopher Lloyd is playing one of Walter’s rock idols from Way Back When and our team is going to help Christopher Lloyd remember his son.

Olivia receives a copy of If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! by Sheldon Kopp. (This is, as you can see (and order!), a real book. What you might be interested in is that it has the subtitle: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients.) She figures out the order date and correctly guesses that Peter bought it for That Harlot Fauxlivia… which, of course, causes tension.

But, like everything else, this leads to that and that leads to another thing. We see The Observer kicking some major butt upon some thieves (seriously, he is laying the smack *DOWN*… catching bullets and stuff!) and help a tied-up asthmatic woman by giving her a breath of her puffer and then, oddly, pocketing it… but this is the first (or, I suppose, *NEXT*) event in a Rube Goldberg chain of events.

The story involving Christopher Lloyd’s son’s death, and how it ties into a firefly being caught, and how it ties into Peter inadvertently causing the car accident that killed Christopher Lloyd’s son and the message for Walter neatly segued into the Rube Goldberg machine that was the Observer’s taking the medicine puffer that had the same poor lady get into a car accident that resulted in Walter hearing the message again… but he knew it was about Peter and he knew that Peter would die if he took the car keys from Walter.

Seriously, I cannot do justice to the tapestry they wove together there.

This culminates in one of the most interesting lines the Observer has yet given: “It must be very difficult to be a father.”


Oh, and Peter is okay. He just has a headache… which results in him drinking the milk from the fridge that Walter was using to suspend some weird brain restore formula and the formula, of course, went bad which results in Peter having a seizure and Olivia and Walter saving him again… and Walter figuring out that had Peter not done that, why, the milk would have probably killed him! We’re all sitting around happily thinking that we figured out the point of all of the Rube Goldberg machines… until the Observers show up again and explain it to us.

Walter was willing to let Peter die.

That means he’ll be willing to let Peter die… again.

There was some other stuff in there about how Peter wants Ourlivia to read the book, not Fauxlivia (who was just doing oppo)… but, honestly, Olivia has an uphill slog past everybody telling her how great Peter is and how Peter really likes *HER* and Fauxlivia was playing on that. (Seriously: One single drunken complaint session would solve things a lot faster than a hundred speeches about Peter’s fortitude.)

Anyway, this was a surprisingly sad episode with some magnificent acting by Christopher Lloyd, Walter, and the Observer. Stuff like this is why I watch the show.

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. For me, it was the final piece with the Observersthat saved this one. It brings back me wondering what they are doing and makes me think we still have no real clue what their agenda is. I am wondering now if they want Peter in that machine.

    I also like what they are doing with Peter and Olivia. It would be very tough to come back and find that life went on without you because no one thought you were gone. That will take time, but I am sure they will figure it out.

    • If I ever re-watch the series (I probably won’t systematically, but if it goes into syndication and I catch a re-run, I can see watching that) I want to really pay attention to backgrounds. It’s my understanding that Observers pop up randomly in scene backgrounds in all kinds of eps where they are not the focus. I have caught a few but I understand they are all over the place.

      • There are websites dedicated to Observer Sightings and, for the most part, Fringe cheats. It’s like there’s a guy in a 1950’s suit standing waaaaaay across the street in a scene where they’re establishing a shot in front of a coffee shop or something.

        I prefer my Observer sightings to be something like “he’s getting off the elevator when our Freak of the Week is getting on”.

        • Yeah, I am not sure I care about the long distance shot of him. Make it a smidge more obvious for me.

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