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An Origin Story is the fifth episode of the fifth season of FRINGE. It first aired on 02 November, 2012. The science team goes on the offensive when Resistance Forces apprehend an Observer and the powerful portal creating device he had with him. Astrid solves a critical puzzle that may turn the advantage to the Resistance forces. Peter makes a pivotal choice when he learns of the advanced technology each Observer has implanted.
New York City apartment, Peter looks through some of his daughter’s dressing table items and thinks of her fresh absence and how they had to leave Henrietta behind with a critical gunshot wound to the chest. Her ID badge, her hair brush and a recent photo draw his attention. He turns and compares the image to Olivia as she sleeps in her daughter’s bed a few feet away - so similar the two most important women in his life are. Peter opens a small wooden drawer and finds an odd button on the interior side panel. Curious, he depresses it and a latch clicks open on a secret door mounted behind a picture on the wall beside him. Inside the hidden cubbyhole is an impressive arsenal of high-tech weapons, explosives and equipment. Nice. Peter starts removing the stockpile of needed goodies and loading them into a carry bag to take with them when they leave. The clanking rousts Olivia from her tentative nap. She keeps waking-up and thinking that them losing their daughter is a dream, then realizes the harsh reality of what happened. Why would they get Henrietta back... just to lose her again? A hug from Peter soaks-up the swelling tears, but doesn’t bring their daughter back. Once Olivia has gotten-up and is prepared to leave, a framed picture in the bathroom gets her attention. Her teenage daughter, smiles for the camera with a dark-haired woman: a very mother-daughter memento from Henrietta’s youth. Touched by the image, Olivia packs the picture with other tokens to take from the apartment.
In an uptown residential neighborhood in New York City
, pedestrians and a few vehicles go about their business among
the simple storefronts and the five-story Brownstones. One guy notices an electrical discharge in midair as he retrieves a paper from the curbside dispenser. A few dozen other pedestrians spot more discharges along the block as the wind picks-up and begins to whip the litter around. On cue, two Loyalist
armored vehicles turn the corner and drive to the center of the phenomena. Behind them, a flatbed tractor-trailer rig carrying a forklift stops and waits at the end of the street for further clearance. Loyalists and Observers exit the vehicles in front of Arlene’s Beauty Salon and immediately begin to set up shop. Coordinates are confirmed and heavy-duty carrying cases are placed in the center of the street. One case is opened, and a metal cube of about sixteen inches in girth is placed a few yards away in precisely the correct spot to function effectively. The Observers clear to one side of the thoroughfare after the device is activated and only have to wait a few seconds for their mission to succeed. In the middle of the street, fifty feet from the cube they deployed to dock, stabilize and anchor this end of a wormhole, space begins to distort and a large black, two-dimensional portal opens a few feet above the ground. Seconds later, three large white containers levitate through the trans-dimensional window toward the stabilizing cube in the middle of the street. Once clear of the portal, the containers fall to the street as the window closes and everything below and beside the containers scorch. The Observers approach the shipment and one cuts a small opening in the side of the cloth skirt covering one of the containers. The instrumentation inside helps confirm that the integrity of the contents are stable. The flatbed with the forklift is hailed – time to get this load off the streets. The scorch mark stays.
Back in Henrietta
’s apartment, Peter
checks on Walter as Olivia
finishes packing a few things to go. Walter
is ready, but has a question – may he take one of his grand-daughter’s perfumes with him. The fragrance reminds him of her when his memory is not so sharp. Yes, of course Walter. Keep
it. Peter answers a video call from Astrid
, back in Boston. She is having trouble with the latest videotape recovery task in Walter’s Lab
. Walter left a container of Ethanol
near a propane tank when he Ambered
the lab. The videotape she is after is right by the volatile fire hazard Walter encased, and she is going to have to slow the extraction effort way down so the heat of the laser doesn’t set-off the Ethanol. That is going to add a few days to the task. As the call from Astrid ends, Henrietta's phone rings. Packed away, Olivia hesitates to answer the call on the chance that their location will be compromised. She decides to go ahead and take the call and finds Henrietta’s good friend, and comrade-in-arms, Anil
, on the other half of the video call. He wasn’t sure she would pick-up, but didn’t know how else he would get hold of her. He wants to meet-up soon – it is important that he brief her on recent activities.
Anil meets the group on the street where the Observers received the three containers through the trans-dimensional portal. He shares his condolences on the loss of Henrietta Bishop... she was important to the Resistance movement. Walter wants to know what Anil knows about the scorched street and buildings. The theory
is that the Observers
have been establishing temporary shipping lanes from the future. The temporal event begins with strange static electricity in the air and ends when the components for the enormous air-degradation systems they are assembling arrive. Walter recognizes the phenomena – a wormhole. Anil has heard reports of other scorch zones in Europe and North Africa... where the other air-degradation systems have already been completed. When the Observers complete the system in Central Park
, their ability to degrade air quality worldwide will be complete. Anil briefs the team of the short-term goal - The Resistance wants to destroy the next shipment when it comes through. They recently recovered a ledger
, and the time and coordinates of the shipments are probably in the ledger, but nobody knows the Observer language. The Resistance
can’t target shipments if they don’t know where to go and when to be there. Anil hands the ledger over to Olivia, who plans to let Astrid take a crack at deciphering Observer-ese. A quick question – how did you get the ledger? The quick answer – it came with the Observer we captured. Anil calls a 'coworker' back at the hideout, Niemann, to let the team see their new prized possession - one genuine restrained and sedated Baldie. They nabbed him the previous day while he was surveying this particular trans-dimensional portal location, but they haven't been able to persuade the captive Observer to divulge any key intelligence information. Yet. Peter is still focused on the scorch zone and eyes an unscorched square of pavement in the middle. He deduces that is where they placed whatever device they used to initiate the portal. Anil looks at the unscorched patch and realizes it is the same size as the metal cube they acquired along with the invader and his ledger. There was a case full of metal components as well. That has to be the device that anchors this end of the wormholes they create. Peter is hoping Anil will let him have a crack at the device - maybe they can deploy it in a way that allows them to shutdown all shipments from the future, instead
of simply targeting one shipment at a time. The device has to have a tremendous amount of energy to do what it does. Anil and Walter are hesitant to endorse Peter's plan... none of them knows how the device works yet - and Peter seems to be in a vengeful mood. Peter is not worried for himself, or his own safety... but the Observers should be concerned for theirs. Regardless of his own grandiose scheme, Peter still needs to figure out how the captured device functions, so, Anil concedes and calls back to the hideout and asks Niemann to bring the cube out to the scorch zone. Not a problem... the sedated Observer isn't going anywhere anytime soon. →
Back in Walter's Lab, Peter starts to study and tinker with the captured wormhole device and components that Anil released to him. The smaller components appear to fit into specific openings in the cube. The first part goes into the device without any problem, the next piece in hand, before it gets close to insertion gives Peter a healthy shock and a small burn - sonnuva y'ouch. Peter grabs the first piece and quickly extracts it from the cube... there must be a specific order to inserting the lesser components - a non-lethal order. In another part of the lab, Astrid and Olivia
sit in front of the computer monitor
as the best decryption program they have attempts to crunch some sense out of the code found in the captured ledger. None of the language is even vaguely familiar to Astrid, and the program has been running for an hour and produced no results either. Olivia is sitting quietly nearby and completely disconnected from the moment. Astrid sees the emotional pain that has enveloped her good friend and clears Olivia to take a break and some time for herself. Olivia rejects the kindness... she feels it would be better if she stayed close to the work and focused right now. Astrid returns to the monitor and a revelation strikes her. The decryption software has been looking for simple correlations in the Observer notation characters - but those guys don't think like standard humans: each individual character symbol must have many different meanings. She may be able solve the code now - but that will require a lot more computing power running multiple decryption programs simultaneously. Olivia steps away to contact Anil, maybe he can help with that requirement. Walter joins Peter in his inspection of the wormhole device. The potential power the device holds is incredible and it is made of an alloy Peter doesn't recognize. One that has no magnetic properties. Walter is certain the device is tremendously powerful and can collapse the trans-dimensional corridor, but making that happen will be extremely dangerous. He has an idea that might work, seeing that Peter is intensely focused on making their attack work.
In only a few minutes,
Walter sets-up a practical demonstration of his scientific proposal. With some of his kid toys and a cup of marbles, Walter has stretchy fabric rigged up off the ground with a tube running out the bottom. The cloth supports the toys and the marbles will run through the tube without upsetting the toys. However, once he clamps the tube shut, the marbles weigh down the cloth and everything in the demo plunges down the tube after the marbles. The point is - if they seal the wormhole from this side while the shipment is in-progress, a whole bunch of 2609 is going to be sucked in after the cargo they just sent back to 2036. Peter likes it - turning a wormhole into a blackhole. And all they need is anti-matter to make it so... which they have in the form of the grenades Peter uncovered in his daughter's hidden arsenal. Astrid and Olivia catch the tailend of the demonstration and Olivia warns - with Observers and Loyalists blanketing the area around the portal, it is going to be difficult to get close enough to get the anti-matter into the wormhole. Walter doesn't think they need to get close. With a portal device of their own they only need to be nearby. When the static electricity that precedes the wormhole begins, they activate their device first and the wormhole will link to their device, not the one that the Observers have set in place. But first they need to figure out how
the device works. Peter knows who can tell them that tidbit - the captured Observer.
prepares for the return trip from the lab, back to New York City. As he packs the device and components to take with him, Olivia hangs close, trying to get him to reconsider what he is doing. Peter won't be deterred. He has a pretty aggressive interrogation plan for the prisoner and is motivated to stop the completion of the environment degradation system under construction in Central Park - the opportunity to strike is now. Olivia wants to give Walter's videotaped plan a chance to succeed too. If something happens to Peter, Walter's plan could be in jeopardy of failure, as a result. Peter still believes in the viability of Walter's plan, but right now they have nothing tangible. Collapsing the wormhole will be a substantial and immediate victory - serious payback for the loss of Henrietta. Olivia wants to generate serious damage as well, but she is intimidated by the thought of losing him. Peter is adamant. Their daughter will be vindicated... and the world will learn that she was responsible for saving it. Walter knows the pain both Olivia and Peter are suffering - somberly, he has been eavesdropping on the private farewell from the adjacent corridor and he is heart-sick over their disagreement. Peter starts down the ventilition shaft for the steam tunnels... alone for the trip south.
Back in Manhattan, Anil and Peter enter the secure hideout the Resistance has been using to detain the captured Observer - a large, partially-completed, industrially complex that is unoccupied. The two men hurry inside with the wormhole device and the components Peter was allowed to study, then get busy reviving the Observer from his induced
coma. How have they been keeping the prisoner sedate and powerless? Anil explains the concoction they are pumping through the Observer's veins are a combination of cryoprotectants
that act like a natural anti-freeze. It keeps him tethered to where he is, so he can't generate a trans-dimensional window and escape. And his other abilities? Observers have implanted technology that gives them their strength, speed and psychic prowess. Anil flips the prisoner vertical from his prone position, grabs a small medical inspection light and shines it on the back of the prisoner's neck where the base of the skull is mounted to the top of the spine. A small tech device under the skin illuminates for Peter to see. While Anil starts pushing the drugs needed to revive the Observer, Peter checks the view from their fourth story window. Outside, the formerly glorious Central Park, just a few hundred yards away, is a barren, bull-dozed, wasteland
that is filling-up with pollution-spewing generators from 2609 - certainly proper motivation for a hardcore interrogation. Once the drugs kick-in, Anil handles the pleasantries of getting his prisoner's attention and of properly introducing Peter Bishop. Peter is meaner than me - so - you know where that leaves you. Peter is left alone to see what he can garner about the functionality of the captured device. Simply, and without arrogance, the Observer is sure of what he knows. One, Peter has no use for such a device, and two, Peter will not be able to harvest any information from this interrogation, even though he believes he will. Admittedly, Peter senses that his prisoner has been reading his thoughts, somewhat. But so what? This Observer is never leaving this room, regardless of what he does or does not share. That is a fact, they both know it, and if this Observer has any capacity for personal fear - now would be the time to feel that fear. Game on, Baldo.
Not far away, Observers with armed Loyalist guards deliver carbon monoxide generators to their mounting-stations in the growing pollution farm in New York City's midtown.
Peter places a small camera close to the right eye of the restrained Observer so he can monitor the autonomic response
of his prisoner while questioning him about the correct sequence for assembling the wormhole device. A change in pupil dilation in the eye is a fool-proof lie detector test, and will help, even without the willing cooperation of the interrogated. Peter
starts... obviously the device has to be assembled in a specific order - a sequence that will generate an electric current from the fluctuating magnetic field. He holds up two components and nearly touches them together. When he quickly separates the two pieces, he checks the automonic fluctuation of the Observer's eye. Yes - confirmed. These two pieces are first. He holds them over their insertion points in the cube and the device draws them in. A third piece follows without concern. The Observer senses Peter is pleased. Impressive as Peter is, the census-of-one is that Peter is of no consequence. A fourth component slips into the device with little fanfare as Peter frequently checks his enemy's involuntary answers in the camera monitor. With some rare insight, the Observer paints a metaphoric picture for Peter, comparing him and mankind to ants in a colony. The colony concerns him not; how it works, the issues of the colony, the conflicts in the colony - the colony is simply 'under foot'. Peter slips the stabilization component, a barrel-shaped mechanism, in place. It should, if he assembled it correctly, activate the wormhole generator. Peter appreciates the great 'trash talk' coming his way - but chrome-dome
, you are
intimidated right now. With a smile, Peter let's go of the crucial component, et voilà
, he does not create a giant crater that takes out half of the city... he has nearly assembled his trans-dimensional weapon. Only one last component is needed to make this thing fully functional. His reluctant guest is not amused.
Back in Walter's Lab, Olivia sits contemplating her family... holding Henrietta's necklace like a rosary
. Walter joins her, holding a videotape in his hands. She thought it would be another few days before the next tape was extracted from the Amber. No.This is not one of those tapes.
This is a tape Walter had in his desk - a tape of Henrietta on her birthday, before the Purge split the family up. Walter wants her and Peter to have it and watch the two decades old celebration with their child. Olivia doesn't have the heart for that... she is barely keeping her act together as it is. Walter comes clean and tells Olivia about his eavesdropping on the private conversation she thought she was having with Peter, before he left to rejoin Anil. Of course she was afraid for his safety, but Walter also understood the subtext of her concern for the combat task Peter took upon himself. Olivia fears that they will go separate ways again now that their daughter is lost to them - just like they did back in 2015. Olivia doesn't deny her apprehensions. Walter is certain he knows what will remedy that possibility. Watch the tape of Henrietta together and remember your daughter's life. It is proof of her legacy, and that she mattered. Deal with the pain of her loss together and you'll remember the relationship that you still have with one another. Walter is keenly aware of this, seeing that he and Elizabeth lost Peter and went through the same turmoil half a century ago. Olivia is not swayed. Astrid interrupts the solemn talk with good news - the Observer notation has been decoded. The not-so-good news is that the next trans-dimensional shipment is slated to happen just a few hours from now.
In the Resistance' secret hideout adjacent to Central Park, Peter attempts to get a read on the final component he needs to insert into the worhmole device, so he can arm it. The small, square attachment has four probes equally positioned on the business-side of the component, so... it can be inserted four ways. One correct way and three ways that will...what?... the Observer confirms - obliterate them. Peter is probing for the autonomic tell from the captive that will assure final assembly. What he gets is more stonewalling. The Observer is not afraid of death and how ever Peter chooses to insert the component? - It makes no difference. Peter reminds the prisoner that he is still a human with a will to live,
and subconciously, his involuntarily responding pupils will reveal the answer. Peter feigns inserting the component and the pupil on the camera monitor contracts. Okay... that would have been bad. Peter rotates the piece and starts to insert the component again. The pupil in the monitor dilates. Okay... we have the solution and an armable device. Peter is certain. The Observer throws doubt over that certainty - is he? Peter responds by fully inserting the component. A call from Olivia interrupts the cat-and-mouse verbal tactics - the next shipping corridor opens not far away, a half hour from now. Is he going to be ready? Peter goes silent as he inserts the power core into the completed device. Olivia is concerned at the lack of response. Peter? Peter is still completely focused on his prisoner, trying to see if he has been played and is about blow-up the hideout and everything around it. Confidently, Peter turns the rotary switch on the device and gets the response he was hoping for - a flashing green light. Yes
, he is on his way to meet Olivia.
Near the intersection of Lexington and 86th, in New York City's Upper East Side, The Resistance prepares for its latest attack in the war against the invading suits
from the future. As the Observer science team, with their armed Loyalist escort, arrives and stops in the middle of the electrical precursor
they expected, Anil places his trans-dimensional tether in the middle of the street, but just around the corner from where the Observers are placng theirs. In a second story window next to the captured wormhole device, Peter and Olivia prepare to launch the anti-matter
grenade that should turn the wormhole origin in 2609 into a destructive blackhole, and a victory for freedom loving 2036. Anil
activates the device in the street and clears the area, headed back to the getaway van. Peter braces himself in a firing stance with elbow rest in the window, just as his device steals and anchors the wornhole on this end of the corridor. The Observers see the flash of the co-opted wormhole through the side of the buildng Peter
and Olivia are in. Something is not right... they still haven't placed the stabilizing component in the device they have. In less than a second one of the Observers creates his own trans-dimensional portal and steps into Peter's environment, only a few feet behind him. Startled - Peter takes a kick to the chest that sends him flying forty feet across the room. Olivia
draws her pistol, but is back-handed across the side of the skull before she can fire it. The pistol slides away and he returns to attack Peter. After delivering some serious kicks and punches to Peter, the Observer is distracted when he notices his shipment from 2609 coming through someone else's portal. The Observer prepares to stomp on Peter like an ant - but Olivia has other plans, like a single-tap shot to the upper chest. The Observer loses that battle and Peter
quickly recovers and fires his weapon
into the wormhole as the cargo pallets are exiting it. The anti-matter grenade appears effective - all of the pallets, and a fair amount of nearby objects and litter, chase the pallets
back through the wormhole. The enemy around the corner can see that something has gone wrong and start to respond. Olivia and Peter beat a hasty retreat to the back alley where Anil has been waiting with the engine running... Go, let's go! With the team loaded and tires squealing, Anil makes it about fifty yards down the backstreet when he sees the unthinkable in his rearview mirror. He stops and everyone hops out to watch. In the minute it has been since Peter collapsed the worhmole, somehow the enemy has been able to re-establish it. There in the middle of the street, a fresh, undamaged shipment levitates
out of its two-dimensional corridor.
Still in the backstreets of New York, Peter has an angry call in to Walter back in Boston as Anil and Olivia listen in on speakerphone. Walter has no idea why the anti-matter failed to create a blackhole and seal the shipping corridor. It should have worked and it must have worked - crippling the 2609 side of the conduit for years. Furious, Peter heads back to the hideout on Central Park West on foot. He plans on getting some serious answers from the captured Observer. Olivia starts out down the alley after Peter and stops at the corner when she sees that he is already out of sight. She turns and focuses on the image of her daughter staring right back at her. The other dozen Resistance propaganda posters lining the alleyway behind her, all with Henrietta Bishop's image and the slogan, 'RESIST', reinforce what everyone has been telling her - Henrietta was important.
Back at the
hideout, Peter returns with hate in his heart and clears Niemann off so he can have some private time with the captured Observer. Peter grabs some clear plastic and marches straight to the prisoner, wraps the plastic around his head, and violently suffocates the restrained villain. Seconds before death, Peter removes the plastic and commands his full attention. Why didn't the wormhole device collapse into a blackhole. The Observer points-out what seems obvious to him... you don't even know what you don't know... your emotions have clouded your judgment. No. They have not. The Observer describes his take on Peter's interrogation. Peter did not see his pupil dilation as a true/false, or good/bad, autonomic response to the order in which he was assembling the components of the trans-dimensional device... what he saw was simply him spotting and responding to a fly on the nearby window. His pupil dilated in response to a distraction and Peter only ascribed what he wanted to because of his emotional rationalization - his emotions fooled his perception of reality. The only reason Peter assembled the device correctly was because of his intuition and expertise as an engineer. The only thing Peter lacked was confidence... and the pupil dilation regarding the fly gave him that. To add disinterested insult to injury, the captive Observer reminds Peter that his daughter's death is irrelevant - once here, now - gone. Peter is incensed and delivers a pistol-whipping to the cheek - Henrietta was relevant and will be remembered. The Observer, however, will not. And the implant embedded in his brain stem - that would make Peter ten-times the man the Observer ever was. Another angry crack with the butt of Peter's pistol knocks the Observer out.
Back in the
lab in Boston, Olivia rests uncomfortably on the couch in the office. She thinks twice about watching the videotape of her young daughter that Walter gave her, then gets up and places the tape in the player.
In the New York City hideout, Peter selects a scalpel and forceps from a surgical tray, then shows them to the Observer, whom he has flipped facedown in his restraints. Emotions are real, particularly the ones he has for his daughter. Unceremoniously, Peter carves into the back of his prisoner's brain stem to remove the high-tech implant. Can you feel that? As the spasms increase, Peter makes his point - that is how a father feels when he loses a child. The Observer fades into death, and Peter extracts the earwig-sized probe that gave 'future boy' his powers.
Olivia sits and watches the tape of Henrietta and Peter having a grand ol' 3rd Birthday time. A few painful smiles erupt to the surface as the two loves of her life
verbally spar and precociously giggle on-screen. The tears aren't far behind.
The blood of the Observer pools and coagulates on the floor of the industrial complex he has been held in for the past day, or so. Nearby, Peter studies the mirror as he prepares for a little minor surgery himself. Painfully, he slices into the nape of his own neck. Slowly, he positions the high-tech implant he just vivisected from the Observer above the cut he just made... and the device propels itself, then burrows, into his brain stem. The excruciating pain leaves him shaking and panting - the pain in his head is intense. As he fights through the anguish, his phone rings and he answers a call from Olivia. Come home Peter - I don't want to lose you. In tears, the videotape still plays as Walter's advice rings true... their daughter would want them to be together - to survive this setback. He will return. They still both love one another.
- Vengeance. Well-known Southeast Asian philosopher Zhong Ni (Confucius) is the source of Anil's paraphrased quote to Peter... "Before you go on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." Originally ... "A person who embarks on a path of revenge should first dig two graves".
| — Plot Relevant Questions —
||Address theories about questions on An Origin Story/Theories Ask minor questions on the Talk Page
1) Do not answer the questions here.
2) Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
- What did the captured Observer see in Peter's mind, that Peter knew - but didn't know that he knew?
- Why did the effort to block the wormhole portal with a blackhole fail so quickly, with the cargo immediately regurgitated?
- Who developed the powerful technology embedded in the brain stems of the Observers from 2609?
- With Observer technology embedded in his brain stem, is Peter now capable of trans-dimensional travel back and forth in time to alter specific outcomes?
- Being afraid has induced unique powers and abilities in Olivia before... why is she not manifesting any now?