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Recap / Fringe S01 E04 "The Arrival"

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Season 1, Episode 4:

The Arrival

It has arrived.

A vibrating cylinder made of solid iridium arrives in the middle of a construction site. As Walter and Peter try to determine what it is, Olivia and Broyles investigate a mysterious individual who has appeared at the site of every Pattern-related yet: a man, pale, bald and with no eyebrows, dressed in a black suit and fedora and known as "the Observer". She also follows up a similar investigation conducted in the mid 90s, where an identical cylinder appeared and then disappeared into the Earth exactly 48 hours later.


During his research, Walter tricks Peter into leaving, gives Astrid a sedative, steals the cylinder, hides it and meets with the Observer, on whose orders he was acting. When the FBI catch up with Walter, he refuses to divulge where he hid the cylinder and only makes cryptic references to his meeting with the Observer. Peter, who has been growing steadily more and more fed up with his father, quits the Fringe Division task force. As this is happening, another individual named John Mosely attacks an NSA field office where the cylinder was initially brought, using some kind of advanced weapon. Mosely later abducts Peter and hooks him up to a machine that allows him to read Peter's thought and somehow learn the cylinder's location, even though Peter doesn't know that information.

When Olivia learns that Peter has been abducted, Walter realises what has happened and tells her where the cylinder is. She arrives just in time to stop Mosely from killing Peter or escaping with the cylinder by fatally shooting him. Moments later, the cylinder disappears into the earth with a flash of bright light. The Observer watches all this happening — and is ambushed by Peter, who demands answers.


Peter: Who the hell are you? What is the cylinder?
[They begin to speak at the same time:]
The Observer and Peter: You know what it is, don't you? Why is it here? Why now? Who are you? [Peter tests the Observer:] Apples, bananas, rhinoceros! I wanna hold your hand! Lucy in the sky with diamonds!
[The Observer begins to speak on his own, but clearly saying what Peter is thinking:]
The Observer: Do you really know my father? Did you talk to him this afternoon? Are you his friend?

The Observer draws a high-tech airgun and shoots Peter, which knocks him unconscious. Once he's recovered in hospital, Peter is determined to stay with Fringe Division, now believing in the Pattern and determined to figure out what's going on. At home, Walter confesses why he did what he did: many years ago, Walter and Peter were in an accident and almost drowned in icy water, but they were saved by the Observer. Keeping the cylinder safe from Mosely was Walter's way of repaying his debt to the Observer, though he doesn't entirely understand how he knew this was what the Observer wanted.


At the end of the episode, Olivia returns home and sees John Scott standing in her kitchen.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Arc Symbol: John Mosely has three green dots and one red dot in a row on his hat. Doubles as Foreshadowing for episode eight.
  • Artistic License – Military: The digital camouflage pattern MARPAT worn by Master Sergeant Malick in a photo from 1987 did not debut until 2002.
  • Badass Longcoat: John Mosley.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Peter taking care of Walter.
  • Bald of Evil: The Observer, or is he really evil?
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The Observer doesn't appear to have much of a sense of taste at all. He is unfazed by the copious amounts of jalapenos, pepper, and hot sauce on his sandwich, and when Walter offers him some of his root beer float, he declines, stating that he wouldn't taste much.
  • Crazy Consumption: Impressive amounts of pepper, jalapenos, and hot sauce on the Observer's sandwich.
  • Dissonant Serenity: As the construction site explodes, and everyone else flees, the Observer calmly strolls towards the cause.
  • Dramatic Drop: When Olivia sees John Scott standing in her kitchen, she drops a bowl full of cereal.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: An observing eye will notice the Observer has appeared in the previous episodes. In fact, he's appeared in all Pattern cases that happened prior to the pilot episode.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up: "The public was told it was a gas main explosion."
    • Technically, it was true. They just concealed the fact that a missile-like alien cylinder ripped through the gas main line, which caused the explosion to begin with.
  • Hand Cannon: Mosley's gun, which apparently shoots pure kinetic force instead of a physical projectile.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: The elements set up by this episode don't come back up for four seasons. When they do, the purpose of the cylinder is explained: it's the temporal beacon for the time-traveling Observers, and plays a role in the final arc. This episode also sets up the telepathic capabilities of the Observers.
  • The Insomniac: Walter reciting the formula for root beer.
  • Instant Sedation: Walter jabs Astrid in the neck with a syringe, and she's out in seconds.
  • Left Hanging: It's never explained who John Mosely was working for, why he wanted the cylinder, or where he got a Mind Reading Machine and superscience energy gun.
  • "London, England" Syndrome: Brooklyn, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Chelsea, Massachusetts; Roseville, Virginia. But they assume we will have no problems with the locations of: Federal Building; Harvard University.
  • Mind Probe/Mind Reading Machine: Henry Jacobson and Peter are on the receiving end of this, courtesy of two wires shoved up the nose by John Mosely. And then Peter gets the non-painful version twenty minutes later from the Observer.
  • Odd Couple: "Next time, would you please drain the tub?" "Oh, yes. Indeed."
  • Phone Call from the Dead: Complete with lots of static, and the dispatcher confirming there have not been any calls.
  • Picky Eater: The Observer also seems to be all about "on the side", à la When Harry Met Sally....
  • Speak in Unison: The Observer does this with Peter, demonstrating his telepathic capabilities. Peter then stops speaking, but the Observer keeps going, speaking Peter's thoughts out loud.
  • Stat-O-Vision: The Observer's collapsible lenses have this.
  • Stun Guns: The Observer's gun renders Peter unconscious, also without any physical projectile.
  • Telepathy: The Observer appears to possess this ability.
    • It's also implied Peter and Walter have some kind of psychic link, as Mosely is able to extract the location of the cylinder from Peter's mind, despite Peter not knowing where it was. Walter puts it down to ideas being unconsciously transferred by physical proximity.
  • While Rome Burns: The Observer drinks a glass of water and then pays his check as the explosion occurs.
  • Wingdinglish: "That language, is that like Korean or something?" "No."


Example of: