FRINGE Episode 19 Recap: 'Letters of Transit' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

FRINGE Episode 19 Recap: ‘Letters of Transit’

April 20, 2012 by  

For as bizarre as the 19th episode of FRINGE tends to be, what made “Letters of Transit” so freaking terrifying is that what happened didn’t seem impossible. It wasn’t a musical noir. It wasn’t an animated episode. It was simply in the future. Can it be prevented? I sure as heck hope so. Because while some of it was lovely, goodness, there is a lot to be worried about.

First of all, the Observers? Kind of freaking terrible. In the year 2015, the super scary scroll told us “they stopped watching.” They’ve taken control over our home and made life pretty terrible unless you pledged loyalty. Our team? The scroll says they were “quickly defeated” and we know they end up ambered. The Division was allowed to continue on policing the “natives” (non-Observers), and even though Broyles was still in charge, there were no other familiar faces. However, one determined young woman, Etta, kept searching for the original team. When the episode starts off, her contact has found one of the members — Walter.

Etta, with the help of another agent, Simon (played by LOST’s Henry Ian Cusick) frees Walter from the amber, and they have questions about the location of the rest of the Fringe team and the device to get rid of the Observers they were working on before things went bad. However, Etta and Simon quickly realize all is not well with him.

It seems Walter has brain damage, so they go to Nina for some help. She tells them that pieces of Walter’s brain are at the former Massive Dynamic — which unfortunately is in an area highly populated by Observers. Nonetheless, the team sneaks in and perfects an injection to fix Walter (who promptly passes out). However, before they’re able to get in and out, an alarm is tripped and Broyles (who apparently no one thinks to loop in?), and a team of Fringe agents is sent to find the intruders. Walter helps to lead them out and manages to explode some Observers with a trap.

When the new team gets back to the amber site, they’re able to rescue Astrid (!), but the device to help propel people out of the amber before it rehardens breaks. Simon sacrifices himself and gets himself amberized so they can get Peter out — but the group leaves William Bell (who is stuck in the amber with them) behind. (How amazing was that reveal?!?!?)

Later, while presumably going home after escaping from the amber, Etta asks Peter if he knows who she is. He’s confused at first, but it suddenly hits him — “Henrietta?” he asks. She confirms it’s her, when she replies, “Hi, dad.” And that’s where they leave it. (I see your evil game, FRINGE writers. I’m on to you.)

So that’s the gist of what went down, but there are a few issues I want to dive into deeper…

Olivia is MIA.

We got the vague tease that William Bell did something terrible to Olivia. We don’t know what it is, but Henrietta is wearing what looks like a bullet around her neck. As much as I missed Anna Torv (Olivia) in the episode, I do like the mystery of what the heck happened to Olivia. Is she ambered somewhere else? Did Bell torture her? Kill her? Cause her to break in some other way? Did her powers destroy her? The options are endless.

(Also worth noting that Lincoln was MIA, too…)

Tribe. Of. Bishops.

When we saw Future!Peter and Future!Olivia in “The Day We Died,” as happy as they were together, there was the regret over their lack of children. In this future, we may not know where Olivia is or if she’s even alive, but they have their little Henrietta. (Which is adorable, but kind of creepy that she’s named that. It’s not like Peter is without the knowledge of Henry now.)

And the reunion of Peter and his daughter? Made me weep. (Oh yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that. I’m even more embarrassed to admit I’m tearing up just writing about it.) It’s amazing that this character was unknown to us before this episode and by the end of the hour — and I’m guessing many of you realized who she was before Peter did — I cared SO MUCH about her well-being. Not just because she’s Peter and Olivia’s kid, but on her own characteristics, she interested me.

Got to say the casting of Georgina Haig was incredible. She was a fantastically plausible mix of Peter and Olivia. And she and Josh Jackson (Peter) killed their final scene together. Again, tears. (One of you had to have cried, too. Don’t leave me hanging here alone.)

The William Bell of it all.

Safe to say that when I talked with FRINGE executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman back in November about William Bell (and his last appearance in 3×19), I didn’t know this was coming. But what a lovely surprise, right?

Fight the future.

Can this future be changed? Last time we saw the future, Peter’s sacrifice changed things. Can this be prevented? I’d like to believe we’re not doomed to a world where many of our beloved characters spent two decades in amber, something tragic happened to Olivia and Observers took over the world. However, given that the show already showed us a future that ceased to be true, could they really do that again?

Quote of the night: “20 years? No wonder I’m so hungry. Do you have anything to eat?” Walter, reacting to the news of how long he had been in amber.

ETA: Because it’s been driving me crazy since I saw the screener, did anyone notice the number they used to key into the facility? “052010”…Walter used that combination in “Jacksonville.” I literally cannot tell you why those numbers stuck in my head, but we have no context as to why those are important, do we? It’s been driving me crazy that I somehow remembered those numbers two years later but I have no idea if they mean anything more. (I think at the time, I speculated it might have something to do with the finale date.)

Enough from me…what the heck did you think of “Letters of Transit”?!

Filed under Fringe Recap


23 Responses to “FRINGE Episode 19 Recap: ‘Letters of Transit’”

  1. Kristina on April 20th, 2012 10:19 pm

    I’m confused. Are they going to go back to this with the remaining episodes or was going into the future a one episode thing?

  2. Amy tvgirl222 on April 20th, 2012 10:36 pm

    No worries, I totally teared up at the end. I LOVED this episode and I didn’t like LSD or the singing episode so I had **zero** expectations. I found myself wishing they would do a spinoff with these two agents…Absolutely a perfect hour of television even without Olivia and Peter in it.
    Blair Brown looked so great I couldn’t look away from her!
    Walter’s transformation was hysterical as was his speech about cutting out the pontinfication.
    Just loved it and wished it was three times as long.
    I was stunned…thinking that the TV geniuses behind Fringe are pretty much smarter and more clever than the rest of the TV world put together. Am I right?

  3. Scully8 on April 20th, 2012 11:05 pm

    @amy, totally agree with everything you said, except I did enjoy the musical and animated episodes. )

    Man, I didn’t think I’d like the episode without Peter and Olivia, but Etta, Simon and Walter were excellent. Now Etta and Simon is a team I wouldn’t mind getting to know better. I really liked Etta and had a feeling she was a Bishop.

    Loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. meijioro on April 21st, 2012 12:15 am

    I had an suspicion that Henrietta was Peter and Olivia’s kid from the beginning just by her looks but with her always being described as “special” she had to have gotten some of Olivia’s abilities. Gotta love that she takes after Peter in the snark department.

  5. Marisa Roffman on April 21st, 2012 1:22 am

    @Amt tvgirl222: Thank you and you are right! 😉

  6. Kim on April 21st, 2012 2:17 am

    One thing that I can’t stop thinking about?

    We’re told the team was quickly defeated after the Observers took control in 2015. But, given that they said the team was in amber for only 20 years, and Etta was four when she last saw Peter and Olivia (having been born, presumably, in fall/winter of 2012), it seems they may not have been ambered until late in 2016.

    So, we’re possibly looking at an entire year that the team was still around and kicking. What happened? That seems a LOT of time to give them and have no fruit to show for it. Anyone else get the feeling that maybe Bell betrayed them?

    About the ETA (05 20 10), my theory: 052010 was used in Jacksonville, yes, where Olivia learns more about her special gifts and her ability to recognize things from and ultimately travel to the other side. The Season 2 finale also aired on 05.20.10, during which Olivia first travels over to the other side and is trapped. I’m hoping, then, that the code is a clue to what happened to Olivia, that she is somehow trapped in the other universe (where Lincoln could very well still be, if he was there when the Observers attacked).

  7. Marisa Roffman on April 21st, 2012 2:25 am

    @Kim: I noticed that timeline thing, and I wondered if perhaps we were actually somehow still in 2011 in FRINGE world. Let’s be honest — it wouldn’t be the least unusual thing the show did with time. Or I suppose they could have taken control in Dec. 2015 and they were defeated in Jan/Feb/March 2016?

    Very interesting theory Olivia is Over There in 2036…

  8. Amy tvgirl222 on April 21st, 2012 9:39 am

    @Kim and @marisa There is definitely something up with the timeline thing. There is no possible way that the brilliant people behind Fringe could put this thing together and then count the years wrong for Etta’s age. More mysteries yet to unfold!

  9. Laffers on April 21st, 2012 11:09 am

    Wow…this episode was amazing. Seriously awesome.

    It hooked me in right from the Star Wars like introduction (who DOESN’T love Star Wars?) to the ‘Hello, Dad’ at the end. (And I totally didn’t realise she was his daughter…as my twitter feed will attest to.)

    I missed Olivia, I did, but I also love a good mystery. 45minutes playing ‘Where’s Olivia’ is always fun.

    I think it says so much about the Fringe writers that, within the first 15 minutes of this episode, they made me care for Etta and Simon so much. I totally fell for Simon over the course of the episode…he helped make up for no Peter for so long 🙂

    It was brilliant, and the Fringe guys continue to amaze and delight me. I think Fringe is the only show on TV at the moment that has never disappointed me. I never watch an episode and feel underwhelmed at all…it’s such a nice change 😉

  10. Marisa Roffman on April 21st, 2012 12:36 pm

    @Kim & @Amy tvgirl222: Also may be worth noting that when I spoke with Lance Reddick (, he mentioned in the script, it said it was 25 years later. Considering we’re in 2036…

    @Laffers: Yep, I geeked out over the STAR WARS intro, too. Agree that it says a lot about these writers that I was able to be fully invested in these brand new characters so quickly and so many others were, too.

  11. Marisa Roffman on April 21st, 2012 12:44 pm

    @Kristina: The promo for the next episode showed our current timeline 🙂

  12. Donna on April 21st, 2012 1:10 pm

    Has anyone done the math yet? If Etta last saw her parents when she was 4, and it’s been 20 years since Peter went into the amber, then that makes her 24… which means she was born in 2012.

    Which means Olivia is pregnant with her. Right now. (No doubt, conceived right after the big street kiss in episode 415…)

    Anyhow, I’d like more explanation of how the Observers turned so nasty (or at least, what happened to our NICE, halfway decent, scientific Observers team), but this episode was a brilliant way to project Fringe’s storylines into a future that the TV show itself might not even reach. Who DOESN’T want to find out more about what happens in 2036? What a cliffhanger – our Fringe team (sans Olivia) escaping on a train, heading off to fight the future. If the show gets cancelled before Season 5, that storyline will still be hanging out there, making fans curious. Do I smell a comic book or novel series?

    But next week, it’s back to our present time and the resolution of the DRJ story. Should be great.

  13. Donna on April 21st, 2012 1:12 pm

    Oh, PS… in 2036, I hope the Harvard lab has been totally forgotten by the Observers (and Loyalists) and can now be both Walter’s lab AND a secret Resistance hideout. That would be awesome.

  14. Donna on April 21st, 2012 1:14 pm

    Wasn’t the crawl intro supposed to be a tribute to Blade Runner though?

  15. Marisa Roffman on April 21st, 2012 9:42 pm

    @Donna: I’ve actually never seen BLADE RUNNER, so it’s entirely possible. My first thought was STAR WARS, but it’s possible it was BR (or BR, too).

  16. Ray Roberson on April 22nd, 2012 1:01 am

    As a father of three adult children, I was also hooked into tears.

    We now have confirmation that the “future” of “The Day We Died” has now been changed. Set in the year 2026, Peter was encased in amber that year in this current timeline.

    Etta’s necklace is probably the bullet that killed her mother. Recall September’s message in episode 408, where he told Olivia – after looking at all possible futures – she had to die.

    We are now presented with a new mystery. Is William Bell (encased in amber) really dead in this current timeline? Was he encased at the same time as Walter, Astrid, and Peter? Was he the unfortunate victim of an experiment that he could not escape – and so was dead for all intents and purposes?

    Hats off to the makeup artists. The facial aging of Nina Sharp and Philip Broyles was visually very convincing.

  17. jophan on April 22nd, 2012 12:48 pm

    I doubt they can use the lab since Broyles is working for the Observers, however unenthusiastically. Plus, if the Observer team we knew were (possibly unwitting) scouts for this takeover they will know well about the lab.

    A ruthless Walter will be interesting to see. Will the formerly-criminal Peter be his anchor to ethical experimentation? Granted, ethics slip in time of war, and Peter can be ruthless as well.

  18. Ray Roberson on April 22nd, 2012 1:04 pm

    A short night’s sleep, a 3 hour patrol, and some additional “topical impressions” about references to “wars”.

    > Broyles appears to be in the same position as French Police Captain Renault – not a collaborator, but stuck in-between and “observing” the Observers. There are no marks on his face. His expression is solid stone as he looks at the red licorice.

    > As I was watching,I thought it strange that Broyles didn’t address Etta as “Agent “. In retrospect, this was probably a device to spoil the ending, but it may have been a practical measure to avoid exposing her true identity to others.

    > We now know that the Observers “true ability” is to “read” the thoughts of others in their company – not some knowledge of things that have occurred. This appears to be progressing into a war of Pyschic abilities – something watchers of Bablyon 5 evolving into the Telepath War.

    > Good to see that Walter did get to see Star Wars. His recital of Obi-wan’s pyschic suggestions to the Stormtrooper was classic.

    > And speaking of the “Loyalists” … I saw a very strong reference to the khaki clad SS Corps. … Has anyone seen an Observer that was any color than white?

    And, again, my three questions that I’d like to see resolved by the time Fringe finishes its run. If anyone has a pipeline to the producers, please let them know.
    1. What were the original, significant timeline events of each universe “before” the Observers began time travel?
    2. What was the “important” evet that September needed to observe in Walternate’s lab?
    3. What was “the machine” really built for in the first place, what are its full capabilities / functions, and who/when/how did it get buried before Peter was born.

  19. Ray Roberson on April 22nd, 2012 1:07 pm

    Oops, one omission.

    > As I was watching,I thought it strange that Broyles didn’t address Etta as “Agent (last name)“. In retrospect, this was probably a device to spoil the ending, but it may have been a practical measure to avoid exposing her true identity to others within hearing. He would obviously know her history and may have developed some ability to avoid being read.

  20. Big Al on April 22nd, 2012 5:13 pm

    Why did some characters have numbers on their faces? Maybe that was explained and I just missed it….?

  21. Ray Roberson on April 22nd, 2012 7:14 pm

    From the beginning text, see “Loyalists”.

    They came from the future.

    At first, they only watched.
    Arriving at key moments in human history.

    We called them ‘OBSERVERS’

    But in 2015 they stopped watching…
    and seized control.

    Citizen uprisings proved bloody and futile.
    Those who survived became known as ‘Natives’.

    In an attempt to show their allegiance,
    some Native factions became ‘Loyalists’
    and were marked by the OBSERVERS.

    The original FRINGE TEAM fought the invasion,
    but was quickly defeated.

    FRINGE DIVISION was allowed to continue
    at a reduced capacity, but only to
    police the Natives.

    The resistance was quickly overcome

    …or so they thought.


  22. trancefreak on April 22nd, 2012 11:36 pm

    Anyone wondering why the observers were nasty was in the Fracture Episode.

    Gordon tells Broyles the end is coming and they had to take matters into their own hands. He says “they” are here, collecting data, making observations. That’s what’s in the briefcase. “They” have been passing information to a courier. As he says this we see the trenchcoat man Burgess tried to intercept bringing his briefcase to someone who loads their food up with pepper. Gordon says whatever’s in the briefcase is going to destroy us all. We see it’s The Observer (Michael Cerveris) who received the packet. He thumbs through the photos inside. They’re of Walter. Credit to IMDB

    So many tie in’s to Fringe. There are so many clues, mystery’s, messages in the fringe universe it could take fans Imaginations to go frame by frame ep to ep to figure out all the hidden secrets. I love it.

  23. shann on August 21st, 2012 6:30 am

    I know I’m late to the game, but seriously, I’ve seen people mentioning Star Wars reference for the intro to the episode.

    BLADE FUCKIN’ RUNNER people! Watch your classics for crying out loud, even the music reflected the score of Blade’s intro 😉

    That aside, I didn’t love that episode. I think it’s very diminishing for the otherwise fantastic Observers. I much preferred them as omniscient beings of superior capabilities, making them mean Gestapo style bad ass is to me a huge loss to the show’s depth. But we shall see where they go with it. So far I have the feeling the only way the screenwriters manage to “resolve” their story plots was to simply throw a whole line down the drain as an ended universe and move on to the next, starting afresh, which I’m starting to find extremely disappointing. Ultimately so far NO plot has really unfolded, and I certainly hope it won’t be all about the observers suddenly turning up evil.