- Introduction .pdf version
In Absentia is the second episode of the fifth season of FRINGE. It first aired on 5 October, 2012. Avoiding the invasion force from the future, the fugitive Fringe science team infiltrates Walter's former lab looking for important information needed to drive the invaders from this timeline. They capture a loyalist security man to exploit his access, then learn that the information they seek will require an extensive search for hidden videotapes.
In a sunny urban park on an idyllic day, young Henrietta plays and picks dandelions a hundred feet away from her parents, on the large grassy lawn. Peter shares his fantasy about staying where they are for the rest of his life, while Olivia flips through her book. On a more practical note, it is about time to head home and get the little one cleaned-up. Peter gets his daughter started in the right direction for the trip home when suddenly, a bright flash above the downtown skyline sends those in the park into a panic and running for safety. Henrietta seems unaware of the pending danger as Observers begin stepping into this dimension from thin air. Olivia joins Peter in the rush to grab their daughter and evacuate the area but fails as she is overcome by a bright piercing light. She regains awareness in a triage tent as a patient under treatment. The Medic tells her she was caught in a blast. Peter is ambulatory and pressing a nearby first responder for details about his daughter - no children were brought in for medical attention, sir. As Peter storms from the tent to find his daughter, Olivia bolts from her cot to join him... then jolts awake from the nightmare
she was experiencing. It's early morning in her daughter's apartment and she has spent the night on a futon. The invasion events, and separation anxiety from 'The Purge' decades earlier still haunt her dreams.
Not alone in the house, Olivia's sleep trauma brings Peter
to her side. He holds her trembling hand and comforts her - for them, the invasion took place only a few months ago with the Amber interruption. In real time, their daughter is grown and with them again. We're okay now
. Once up, Olivia
scrubs-up in the restroom and notices family pictures from her daughter's youth and adolescence - images with parental types that aren't her or Peter.
A look of somber regret slumps across Olivia's face at the thought of having missed twenty plus years of her daughter's life. Peter joins the rest of the group as they gather around Walter
. He is trying to organize his mind with the Thought Unifier recovered by Olivia, but the effort isn't going so well. His sentences are disjointed and spoken out of sequence, and sometimes not even in English. Peter wants the TTU-Mk11 off of Walter - nobody knows what it might be doing to Walter's brain. Worse than that, there may not be any information about the plan to defeat the Observers left in Walter to retrieve, not after the cerebral scan by Windmark that left Walter partially wiped. Olivia joins the group looking for an update. The only thing they have learned today is that Walter knew how to speak both Portuguese and Swedish at some point in his life. Olivia has an observation: In her experience with Walter, he has always
documented the important things he was working on. Maybe, instead of just carrying around the fragmented concepts that were implanted in his mind by September, Walter documented the plan in a more tangible way as well. Walter doesn't discount the possibility that he did. Henrietta
warns that if that is so, and Walter physically documented the plan to defeat the Observers, if he left that plan at his Harvard lab, there is no way they can get to it. The Observers own that whole area and have designated it as a No-Go Zone
for the Natives. The area is very secretive and no one knows exactly what is based
in, or happening in, the eight mile wide restricted area. Access is heavily guarded with multiple Loyalist checkpoints and you can't get access into the complex without the proper paperwork. Still a little loopy from the TTU, Walter blurts out the solution to the access question. Tunnels! Peter shakes his head and downplays his father's frivolous solution - they don't have the manpower or the time to dig tunnels to Walter's lab. No silly. The steam tunnels that run under and between the various campuses.
Later in the day, after having made the trip to Boston, the newly configured, five-person strong, Science Team follows Walter along a chain link fence just outside of the Harvard No-Go Zone. Checking the ground as they walk, Doctor Bishop remembers the miles of layout the steam tunnels spanned; the electric plant, an outdoors sports stadium, the law school and the science labs. The entrances to the steam tunnels are well-hidden and only a few individuals have seen the passageways deep below the surface. Walter knows they are close to one of the hatches and tests the ground. A hollow metallic sound underfoot tells Walter they found their access portal to the heart of the restricted area. Peter clears the loose soil and debris from the area and flips open the hatch. Yahtzee... a service ladder and a short climb down to the steam tunnels.
Above ground in the restricted zone around the Harvard campuses, business continues as usual while below ground, the science team treks through the labyrinth of corridors and mechanical venting that supports the buildings above. It is warm and humid and Walter suggests removal of exterior clothing to reduce the burden... more disturbing is the memory he share of he and William Bell
maneuvering the tunnels in their youth - wearing nothing
but swim trunks and Speedos. A loud hissing warns of a steam valve preparing to release excessive pressure. Walter rushes the group to safety just before valve sprays a boiling mist where they were standing. Walter spots a milestone nearby, the wall art version of an East Asian dragon drawn on a pillar. They are getting close to his lab. Up ahead they find a ladder that leads to the corridor just outside of his basement lab in the Kresge Building. The group climbs the ladder, crawls through a vent grate and walks a few feet to the entrance of Walter's Lab. The lab has seen better days. Dark, dusty and filled with cob-webs, the quintet finds that a quarter of the main workspace in the lab has been filled with Amber. Oh my!
Walter assumes that he Ambered it to protect the contents, although he doesn't remember why. On closer inspection, a video camera on a tripod is front and center in the large golden wall. Walter inspects the Amber and determines that he was probably standing directly in front of the camera when he triggered the Amber. His best guess is that he didn't write down his plan to defeat the Observers - he videotaped the plan and preserved it in Amber for later retrieval. There is only one way to see if he is correct... extract the camera from the Amber and see if it has a tape cassette in it with the information they need. Something is off - on a countertop near the camera are a partially consumed package of grape licorice whips... when the heck did Walter give-up on his red licorice? Everyone turns to the main doorway when it sounds like an unwelcome visitor is coming down the corridor....
In the dark, a Loyalist security man wanders into Walter's Lab
and is greeted where he expected no company. Fringe Agent Henrietta Bishop levels her sidearm at the man
with the demand to get down on his knees. He complies and is rapidly frisked and searched by Olivia. His documentation says he is Gael Manfretti and all his backpack yields is a sack of bread crumbs. The group-think is that Manfretti is on routine patrol, but why? The place is abandoned. Astrid
worries they may have set-off an alarm on the way in. Regardless of why the security man is there, chances are that he will be searched for when it is noticed that he is missing. The first order of business is to quickly extract Walter's video camera - it could be the key to jogging Walter's memory on the plan. Walter will need a laser to modify in order to zap the Amber away from the embedded camera. He doesn't think the technology that Henrietta used to free them will work - in fact it may push the camera even further into the extremely thick Amber. It needs to be a proper laser, which means they will need to improvise somehow. Peter and Olivia check the electrical sourcing for the lab. The Ambering event initiated by Walter must have wiped out the fuses and routing. Maybe all the back to the source at the substation feeding the building and local campus. The laser idea is useless unless they have the power to operate it.. which means they will need to access the main Science Building to reset the power to this one. They should be able to get there in the steam tunnels, but, the main concern is - is that even the science building anymore? Would they be walking into peril? No one knows, but Henrietta has a good idea that their Loyalist prisoner has a good idea. She excuses herself and closes the door behind as she steps into one the inner offices to have a little 'private' time with her sworn enemy.
In a closed inner office of the lab, Henrietta begins her interrogation of Manfretti. She makes it simple for him - now is his chance what he knows
about the main Science Building on campus. What do the Observers use it for? She gets no response to her polite, but menacing, inquiry and hooks Manfretti to the small handheld device she brought with her in her pack. Manfretti recognizes what she has, but how did she get it? He shouldn't be worried about that so much as the fact that she is prepared to us it on him. Still, he won't tender an answer to her interest in the Science Building. She rigs him up and gets started with the 'not-so-nice' part of the interrogation. Manfretti, a man in his late-30's, takes the first hit from the device and rattles around in his chair at hyperspeed, appearing to shift in and out of phase at a sub-atomic lecel. After about ten seconds of violent convulsions - Manfretti is graying, harried, and looks to have aged at least a decade in just a brief period. Maybe he will answer Henrietta now - not wanting to waste what little life he has left in him.
In his lab, Walter prepares to crack open the laser disc
player that has given him such cinematic joy, in the past. He hesitates and doesn't think he has the willpower to go through with destroying the entertainment
device just to get the laser it contains. Finally he gives it a good wallop and the housing yields to his mallet. Astrid studies the component and suggests they need a laser with a higher gain ratio. The ruckus sends a nesting pigeon to safer grounds and it flutters outside through the cracked windows in the basement lab. Walter loathes the common bird and wishes the Observers would have made pigeon elimination a top priority... maybe freeze-dry the animal and use it to feed the hungry. Olivia turns to check on the prisoner while Walter rants about the lost poultry opportunity. As for the laser, he needs a canister of mixed helium and neon. Olivia knows where the gas is stored and joins her daughter and prisoner while retrieving it. Henrietta is busy with Manfretti - zapping him in to a geriatric state in order to garner the intel the Science Team needs... what does he know about the main science facility used by the Observers. Olivia catches the middle of the interrogation and is briefed on the technique Agent Bishop is utilizing. The 'Angel Device' clipped onto Manfretti destabilizes
every atom in his body. After a few hits, he will lose the will to lie and share what he knows... or his heart will fail. Olivia's first impulse is to help the exhausted man with some water to drink. Henrietta warns that will only kill Manfretti, he needs three hours to recover from the duress she has been doling out before he can drink. Oh. Henrietta has no sympathy for the Loyalist rat - he is a wartime traitor to the native population. Walter needs Henrietta in the lab for a minute and she leaves Olivia to watch the prisoner. Don't get too close to him. Back at his workbench, Walter asks for Henrietta's necklace... he needs to melt it down to upgrade the laser. The clasp is malfunctioning and she has been keeping it in her pocket. She hesitates to hand over her heirloom, but is allowed to keep the bullet it displays, they just need to melt the chain to get the silver it is made of.
Back in Walter's
office, Olivia starts a polite chat with Manfretti. He warns her that his absence will bring more security into the area. She doesn't think so. They didn't trip some silent alarm, the bread crumbs in his back, the pigeon flying through the open windows... come on? You were here to feed the birds and none of your associates even suspect he is missing. Olivia wants to help him get through this - just share what he knows about the main science building. Manfretti questions Olivia's influence with Henrietta in the matter. He is certain he is in for of the 'Angel Device'. Loyalists don't just walk away from Resistance forces interrogations. Manfretti claims he isn't afraid of dying for his cause, he just doesn't want his one remaining son to wonder about his disappearance - not knowing if he was alive or dead. Manfretti will reveal his access code if Olivia assures him she will contact his boy. As Henrietta returns to continue the questioning, Olivia gives Manfretti the subtle nod of agreement he was looking for. Before he starts getting zapped again, Manfretti shares what little he knows. The central science complex houses the main power grid for the restricted area, and he personally is limited to access only on the First Floor. He is not certain what kind of science occurs in the rest of the complex, but rumors have it that all types of experimentation is taking place. The caveat about the access code he gives them, he has to be there when it is verified.
After relocating to the main floor, Olivia poses the question - can they defeat an ocular security scan without having to take Manfretti along with them when they infiltrate the building - - you
know... for his eyeball? Henrietta rejoins the group of Bishop elders (ma, pa and gramps) and gets the stink-eye for using such a barbaric device to interrogate. Henrietta defends her technique, this is a Loyalist device drawn from Observer technology. Originally it helped prepare Observers for time travel, but the Loyalists adapted it to use on the Natives. Henrietta has no ethical issues with returning the favor. A transport truck makes a few sounds close to the lab and the group thinks they may be getting a visit from Manfretti's colleagues. Olivia checks through the horizontal blinds and gives the all clear. Walter addresses Olivia's original question about ocular scanning
... the only way to guarantee security access is to bring Manfretti along, which seems like a showstopper given his rapidly-aged condition. Walter gives the prisoner a closer inspection, pupil dilation is normal... technically all they really need is the eye - not the man. Right?
Sitting at a dusty
work bench in his lab, Walter attempts to surgically manipulate a single eyeball with the optical nerve hanging from the back of it. This first one didn't work out too well... Astrid needs to get one more. As she walks toward Manfretti, then past him, Walter specifies that he'll need her to grab one with better texture - spongier. The pig's eye she is handling has been in formaldehyde for as long as the team was in Amber. Always thinking about food, Walter reminds everyone in the room that some parts of the world consider the eye a delicacy. But not here, at least today. With any luck he will be able to duplicate Manfretti's iris pattern on the pig's eye, allowing confirmation of the access code when they infiltrate the Science Building in an
attempt to get to the power grid and return electricity to this abandoned laboratory. In a quieter part of the lab, Peter sits and chats about the new world they have rejoined while Olivia works on stenciling a fake Loyalist tattoo on his cheek. Henrietta joins them and approves of the artwork on her father's face. Her turn next. Sitting for her fake tattoo, Henrietta tells her mom that she appreciates the fact she yielded to the 'greater experience' on this mission. Sure Olivia would like to go, but Peter has the engineering expertise to work on the electrical problem, while Henrietta has protocol savvy to get in and through the layers of security. Walter has finished his work on the duplicate eye... let's hope it is good enough. After their tat's are finished and Peter has donned Manfretti's complete uniform, he and Henrietta make it to the elevator lobby in the Observer-laden science center to begin their journey to locate and repair the electrical circuitry that failed when Walter Ambered the lab in 2016. Peter draws a brief, critical scan from a nearby Observer before he and Henrietta pass on a shared elevator ride in favor of a private elevator of their own. Whew.
In the lab, Olivia takes some quiet time to sit with Manfretti and learn more about him. Why become a Loyalist? For him the reason is simple - the Resistance killed one of his children. They had targeted a bus full of Observers with a bomb. His son, playing nearby, lost his life in the collateral damage. Olivia can empathize with losing a child. Manfretti, was very angry and in a lot of emotional pain... he felt hopeless in the fight against the invaders and just wanted a sense of security - so he joined the Loyalist faction. The perks were good; a safe place to live, no worries about raising his remaining child - why not just stop the fighting and submit, in order make the what is left of the world safer.
inside the Science Building
, Henrietta and Peter stroll confidently toward the access door to the Medical Wing, as if they belonged there. She enters the access code Manfretti gave her and Peter follows suit with the imitation eye Walter provided, holding to the scanner for verification. Access isn't immediately granted, but isn't denied, either. Two Loyalist guards in a security monitoring post somewhere in the Restricted Zone are alerted when Manfretti's access attempt comes across the screen. What is Manfretti doing in Building Four? That's not his assigned sector. I quick call on the tactical radio should clear things up. Too bad the radio is still in Walter's Lab... on the desk next to Olivia. She grabs the radio and holds it to Manfretti to answer. She'll do what she promised, to help him, but he needs to cover for the team that is trying to repair the electrical short across campus. Manfretti concedes. What's up guys? Why is he accessing the Medical Science Wing when he is supposed to be in Sector Seven. Simple - he was tasked by a superior to change a fuse... 'Big Guy' Number 19 himself. Well in that case, get on with it and return to your post when you are done. Meanwhile, Peter and Henrietta are starting to worry over the delay. Have they been compromised? Fortunately, Manfretti's lie on the radio works and the door buzzes open. The two quickly enter and head down the main corridor, unchallenged. Olivia is angry that Manfretti knew her family would not be cleared for access and caught in the process. He defends himself - no, he has never been there before and wasn't aware of the protocol that would see them challenged on the radio.
inside the exclusive wing of the science complex, the infiltrators have to pass several laboratories with active experimentation in progress. In the first, a bald female sits in an examination chair wearing a patient gown, and waiting silently. The next lab provides more of a shock. The bald scientist inside has a large, clear mounting off of the floor, covered with multiple sets of wires leading to a body part. Henrietta is in disbelief, then goes into rage mode when she sees the focus of the experiment mounted on the stand - Simon Foster's head. Her best friend and fellow agent has been excised from his body. Vengeance fills her soul when he blinks. Peter has to forcibly tackle her away from the door as she draws her sidearm and prepares to enter the lab and blast those responsible for the abomination. NO! They can dole out the payback later. Think about the future - they must press-on with their mission of getting Walter's lab operational. The payback will come... promise.
In Walter's office, Manfretti questions Olivia's determination and resolve. Does she really think the Native's will win this war? Yes, they have to - so all
those that died did not die in vain, including his son. Peter has found the failed circuit in the bowels of the Science Building and reroutes power to the burned-out lab. Henrietta throws the Master Switch and... the lab returns to its former capacity, filled with light, music and instrumentation. Walter is delighted, Let there be light
. Astrid has a more practical reaction, turn them off or someone could see us
. Walter is way ahead of her... twice clapping his hands loudly produce the desired effect - most of the lights and electronics switch off. Time to get started on the Amber. They have the power now to run the laser they modified and retrieve the video camera that is trapped. After a brief test of the laser, Walter gives Astrid
a chance to carve away at the Amber. Peter and Henrietta return through the steam tunnel access and join the activities. She marches into Walter's office to join her prisoner. Peter joins Olivia and briefs her on the bad news about Agent Foster in the Medical Wing experimentation lab.
Olivia joins her daughter in Walter's office with her regrets about Foster, just as Henrietta releases the restraints that have been holding Manfretti in place. Henrietta knows that Foster knew the high cost of fighting for freedom, but now she needs to pack Manfretti out of the Restricted Zone and turn him over to her associates. He can't help the group in the lab any further. Olivia is concerned that will be the 'permanent' end of Manfretti once he is handed-over by her daughter... no one ever comes back from that trip. Henrietta knows as much - it does seem that any one of her people return from a visit to the Loyalists.
Manfretti will be squeezed for all he knows, then disposed of.. making the world a tiny bit safer. Knowing her daughter is reeling over the loss of Foster, Olivia still makes a case for some leniency - the man did give over his access code. Henrietta isn't inclined toward leniency just yet. They were given the code because the enemy was in self-preservation mode, wanting to live as long as possible. And the tale about protecting his family under the Loyalist flag and losing a son - an elaborate lie to gain leniency. What next? Set me free? No. Henrietta will deliver her prisoner to
Headquarters, as expected. Olivia understands her daughters sentiment, and no, she hasn't experienced the world that Henrietta grew-up in, and is sure much has been taken by the invaders from future. But of all that has been lost, Olivia had hoped that her daughter wouldn't be so hardened and bereft of humanity. Mom - this is the world - it is what it is. Henrietta has to step out for a minute to see if Walter can provide a tranquilizer for Manfretti before she escorts him off the grounds. In the few minutes they have together, the Loyalist security makes his peace with Olivia. He gives her his home address so one day she can tell Oscar that his father is dead - giving the boy the closure he deserves. Olivia promises she will carry-out his final wish. He senses her integrity and trusts she will. Henrietta returns to the office with the sedative she requested and a handheld comm device for Olivia. If Walter needs anything else for the laser operation, Olivia can call and Henrietta should be able to bring it back for him. After Henrietta leaves with Manfretti, the team makes enough progress lasing a chamber around the video camera for Peter to reach in and extract it. Time to see what the message is that needed to be secured in Amber, nearly destroying Walter's Lab in the process.
On a narrow dirt road through farm territory, Henrietta
drives her small panel van at a moderate pace while her prisoner lays unconscious in the back. After stopping and dragging the well-aged Loyalist off to the side of a turn-out, she watches as his sedative slowly wears-off and he is able to
sit and speak. With her pistol drawn, she needs to know - he doesn't really have a son - does he? No, of course not. He was just trying to gain a sympathetic ear from Olivia
. He admits he became a Loyalist because of cowardice - not enough nerve to fight for his freedom. Henrietta studies his body language and issues an order of clemency for the doomed traitor - get out of here. He stands, and before he marches off across the vast agricultural property, he offers a thought... the cowardice is over - he will fight for the Resistance. She is not buying it. She just let him go so there is no need to continue his lies. He knows that. He is free and yet he has not
run-off across the fields... he is still here talking to her. Besides, he may be of some worth to the cause. He has an active I.D. tattoo. Olivia made the difference for him, something in her eyes... for the first time he felt as if the war against the invaders could be won. Why is Henrietta letting him go? Something she saw in Olivia's eyes too - pity. Not just for Manfretti, but for everyone. Git.
Back in Walter's Lab
, the original science team
gathers around the TV screen as the video tape is loaded for initial review. It may have been damaged while they were extracting it, but some footage is available. On screen, Walter
appears directly in front of where the camera was pulled from the Amber. He recaps what they already know, that tape was in Amber and that the Observers have invaded. He may be dead by the time this tape is recovered, and his plan to defeat the invaders has likely failed. But the plan is not lost, it has been dispersed on multiple tapes and with the instructions that each tape documents, the plan can be reconstructed. It is destiny that the plan succeed, although it will not be easy to execute.
The tape fails as the tracking shifts. As Peter
works to reset the machine so the team can view the rest of the message, Henrietta calls her Mom on the video phone she left with her. The picture shows Manfretti
heading out across the chest high grain to freedom. Henrietta turns the camera to herself to let her mother know she is returning to the lab. Olivia has a new found pride in her adult daughter. More of the tape is viewable as the team gathers around to watch the rest. The guidance taped-Walter
provides is specific - ...follow instructions exactly and begin as soon as possible. Humanity depends on this.
The camera goes blank as Walter Ambers his lab, and the camera, more than two decades earlier.
- In real-world terms, Walter's Lab on the Longwood Campus is directly 3.08 miles from the Science Building depicted on the Loyalist security monitor. A steam tunnel between the two would have to pass beneath the Charles River.
• Nights In White Satin by The Moody Blues
| — Plot Relevant Questions —
||Address theories about questions on In Absentia/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.
- Is the bald female in the experimental wing of the science building an attempt to introduce Observer tech into that gender too?
- Why have the invaders decapitated Simon Foster?
- Why are the invaders maintaining Simon's head in an animated state?
- Was the Ambered William Bell, recovered from the catacombs with Simon, brought to the Experimental Science facility too?
- Why are the Loyalist security forces at the Harvard science facility so intimidated by, or impressed with, 'Number 19' (the "Big Guy"), presumably an Observer, or senior Loyalist?