The Road Not Taken
|Talk||The Road Not Taken||Theories|
|The Road Not Taken|
|Air Date:||5 May 2009|
|Written by:|| Jeff Pinkner (teleplay) |
J.R. Orci (teleplay)
Akiva Goldsman (story)
|Directed by:||Frederick E.O. Toye|
|Guest Cast:|| Jennifer Ferrin as|
Susan Pratt & Nancy Lewis
Michael Gaston as Sanford Harris
Michael Cerveris as The Observer
Clint Howard as Emmanuel Grayson
Richard Bekins as Isaac Winters
Frank Bonsangue as Bus Driver
|Next:||There's More Than One Of Everything|
|Transcript — Additional Images|
The Road Not Taken is the nineteenth episode of the first season of FRINGE. It first aired on May 5, 2009. Reality is challenged as Olivia has vivid visions while at work. During the investigation of a disturbing spontaneous combustion incident, it becomes apparent that individuals have been experimented on as children, and are now reaching their potential as weapons, in adulthood. Sanford Harris, Nina Sharp and The Observer all reveal a new layer to their involvement.
In the FBI situation room, Phillip Broyles briefs a group of agents that a war appears to have begun. He tells them that they are being assigned to investigate ZFT, which he identifies as being responsible for several biological attacks within the past few months; he reveals the alleged connection between ZFT and William Bell, who is suspected of financing that organization. He tells the agents that they will be assigned to teams by Charlie Francis and Olivia Dunham.
While Broyles delivers his briefing, a young woman in New York City, runs out of a building and tries to hail a cab. Failing, she runs to a city bus and verifies that it is going past a hospital. While she is riding, the window next to her becomes steamed-up and a newspaper on the seat in front of her is smoldering. Panicking, she convinces the driver to let her off the bus. Emotionally and physically exasperated, she flees across the street, becomes flushed, catches fire and seems to explode in a ball of fire, injuring those around her.
In his lab, Walter is paging through his copy of the ZFT manifesto. He tells Peter he needs to show him something. He takes out an old typewriter and types out a single word: ‘’prophecy’’. The letter 'y' is oddly raised" above the other letters -- a peculiarity matched throughout the manifesto's text. Walter remembers the day when Belly -- William Bell, his old lab partner -- bought the typewriter, suggesting that William Bell wrote the manifesto. But Walter insists that William Bell is not a bad person, and he couldn't be behind the terrible activities of ZFT. The manifesto includes numerous references to a "Chapter of Ethics" that is now missing. Walter intends to prove that someone must have removed the chapter to suit his or her own purposes.
Nina Sharp arrives at Broyles's office, having caught wind of the FBI's investigation into Massive Dynamic and William Bell. Broyles says they have evidence of Bell's involvement in biological attacks. Nina insists that William Bell is not a terrorist, and not the enemy. Broyles would like to hear that from the man himself, but Nina says Bell is traveling abroad and conveniently unavailable.
At the lab, Walter explains that the human body contains a massive amount of potential energy. But Peter says it's one thing to have the energy, quite another to release it. Walter hypothesizes that the spark may have been provided by a subatomic particle, the pyroton, whose existence has not yet been proven. In order to prove his theory, he needs to use the electron microscope in the lab, but Peter has disassembled it for some project he's been working on. This greatly annoys Walter.
Olivia meets Broyles in his office, which has apparently been rearranged. But when she mentions the new arrangement, Broyles is confused. Broyles shows her a crime scene photo of the two victims in the explosion. Then Broyles, dressed differently, enters the room and asks if Olivia has any new info on the explosion victim. Olivia is unsure what is going on, but before she can fully react -- Sanford Harris arrives to demand an explanation for the ongoing investigation of William Bell and Massive Dynamic. He tells them to drop the case, but after he leaves the room, Broyles gives Olivia permission to continue the investigation.
In the lab, Walter and Astrid exam the charred body. Astrid scans the woman's jawbone, looking for a dental record match. Walter needs his Geiger counter, but it turns out Peter cannibalized that, too. Astrid gets a dental record match -- Susan Pratt.Olivia and Charlie investigate Susan Pratt's Isaac Winters. Charlie discovers that the bathroom is a charred ruin... the by-product of an extremely intense fire.
At the lab, Walter wants Frankenberry cereal because that's what he was eating back when he shared the lab with William Bell, and eating that cereal might jog his memory about the manifesto's lost chapter. But the store didn't have Frankenberry, so Peter bought him Berry Boom instead. Olivia says there were other fires at Susan Pratt's apartment, which leads Walter to rule out spontaneous human combustion (which is, by its nature, a one-time event). His new hypothesis is pyrokinesis, the ability to create heat with the mind. It is a form of telekinesis that excites objects at a molecular level, causing heat to generate and then releasing the energy. But without training on how to direct the heat outside of her body, Susan Pratt must have accidentally blown herself up. Olivia wonders whether she was born with this ability, or someone else did it to her.
Charlie and Olivia visit the office of Isaac Winters. Olivia uses a lock pick to open the door. Inside, they play the four new messages on his answering machine. The first and third message are simple dial tones. The second and fourth are from Susan Pratt reminding Winters that she was to call if anything strange started happening – she is terrified and wondering what is happening to her. Olivia walks out of the building, sees an ambulance going by, then notices the Boston skyline is on fire. But when Charlie interrupts her, she turns back to see the skyline is back to normal.Olivia has finally told the group what is happening to her. Walter says hallucinations have many different sources: sleep deprivation, concussion, brain tumors... Olivia says she feels like she's losing her mind. Walter suggests another possibility: she is experiencing a form of extended deja vu, which is somehow related to the pliability of space-time. Walter explains that while we experience time as a linear progression, in fact every choice we make creates parallel universes. As a result, time is more like a branching tree of alternative realities. Déjà vu, he says, is just a brief glimpse of an alternative reality. You feel like you've been somewhere before because you actually have been there in another reality. But Olivia wants to know why she is experiencing these extended episodes of déjà vu. Could it be a result of the Cortexiphan drug trial she participated in as a child?
Astrid arrives with the photo of another victim like Susan Pratt, which she found on the conspiracy website of Emmanuel Grayson. Peter and Olivia visit Grayson in his apartment. Peter asks where the explosion shown in the photo occurred. Grayson says it happened in Budapest. Hungarian police say the victim was attacked, but that's not true. In fact, Grayson says, the victim was the result of unethical experiments carried out by none other than William Bell. Bell is trying to activate the subjects of his experiments; some can handle it, others can't. But why? Grayson says its part of a plan to create super soldiers to defend us in the coming war, just like Khan Noonien Singh. Yes, that would be Khan, as in "The Wrath of...," a villain in the Star Trek universe. And this coming war will be against the Romulans. And then Grayson reveals that he is actually Spock. Clearly, the man is a nutcase.
Nina's conversation with a prime minister is interrupted by another call. Clearly alarmed, she tells her caller to do nothing until she arrives. Then she tells her chauffer to take her to her helicopter.
Olivia speculates that Grayson, though crazy, might be right. Not about being Spock, but about Bell's drug trials. Olivia thinks she might be able to use her visions to solve the case. Maybe she can visit a parallel reality to help understand what's happening in this reality. Harris gives Olivia a summons for a psychiatric evaluation. She confronts him. Harris says Olivia's analysis borders on the paranoid, and her recent behavior has been erratic. Olivia says she's done everything in her power to work with Harris, but now she's done. She will not let him obstruct her investigations any longer.As Olivia goes to pick up a ringing black telephone, she experiences another vision and lifts a red phone. She looks around the room and sees that everything is slightly different.
Now Olivia suspects Susan Pratt had a twin. An FBI tech finds an additional facial recognition match on Pratt's features: Nancy Lewis, a woman whose identical twin who went missing eleven years ago. The missing twin might have been Susan Pratt. Fortunately, Lewis is a Boston area local.
Peter and Olivia arrive at Nancy Lewis's apartment, but she's gone. The front door is unlocked, so they go in. Inside they find signs of a struggle. Peter notices that the window is partially melted. Could Nancy Lewis be starting fires like her sister? Peter has an idea.A short while later, Peter returns with a glass cutter while an FBI forensic team processes the room. After some confrontational words with a forensics technician about protocol, Peter cuts a circle of glass from the partially melted window. Astrid has brought Peter's device -- the one he's been cannibalizing Walter's equipment to build. Peter positions the glass beneath the contraption's electron microscope portion. Then he explains that he was making this device to digitize Walter's old water-damaged vinyl records. His plan was to use the electron microscope to take a high-res image of the grooves in a record, which the computer would then translate into sound. He thinks the same principle will allow them to read the glass. Nancy Lewis was emitting heat just like her sister, and the heat from her body liquefied the glass slightly, so that sound waves would leave impressions in the glass just like the grooves on a record.
The process begins. At first they get only feedback, and the glass disk breaks. But now they've got the scan of the glass. Peter uses a computer and mixing board to calibrate the sounds, and finally they hear a sequence of noises: Nancy Lewis telling someone to leave... a struggle... furniture breaking... a faint beeping... a man saying "I have her, see you there." Olivia asks Peter to play the "recording" back from just before the intruder started to speak. As he does so, they hear the sound of a telephone dialing. Olivia captures the touch-tones on her phone and dials them automatically. The voice at the other end...is Sanford Harris.
Harris leaves the FBI office. Olivia has been waiting outside, and she tails him. She follows him to a warehouse. Inside, Harris meets with Isaac Winters. They've strapped Nancy to a chair. Harris says their boss is losing patience, they need Nancy to activate now. Olivia finds an office with pictures of many people tacked to the wall, including Nancy Lewis, Susan Pratt, Nick Lane (Bad Dreams), and herself -- apparently all Cortexiphan test subjects.
Shots ring out as an FBI agent is shot point-blank, by a guard. Olivia shoots the guard and moves further into the warehouse where Isaac Winters takes a shot at her. Olivia returns fire and hits him. Then she enters the room where Nancy is strapped down -- then Harris shuts the door behind her. Now Olivia is trapped inside with Nancy, who seems to have no control over her newly forming pyrokinetic powers.
Through the intercom, Harris prods Olivia for having managed to ”activate” Nancy before he and his people could could. Either Nancy learns to control her power, or she kills both herself and Olivia. Either way, Harris wins. Olivia explains to Nancy both of them were experimented upon as children. Harris says Nancy lacks the mental strength to control her ability. But Olivia says no, she does have the strength. Olivia tells Nancy to focus on something, anything. Nancy focuses on Harris... And seconds later, he lights up and explodes.
Late in the evening, [Peter and Walter snack at a pastry shop. An agitated Olivia arrives while Peter is in the bathroom and confronts Walter. She demands to know what he, and William Bell, did to her. Susan Pratt, Nancy Lewis, Nick Lane, and Olivia all lived in Jacksonville, Florida as children. All of them were subjects in the Cortexiphan trials. Walter says those were Belly's trials, not his. But Olivia says he knew what was happening. Walter says he was only trying to help and meant no harm. Olivia insists that he tell her the purpose of the experiments. Walter says they were trying to make the children capable, to prepare them for something terrible coming. Olivia asks what and Walter claims not to know. Olivia demands to know what they did to the children? Walter denies knowing that as well. At last, Walter breaks down, saying he can't remember what they did. Olivia leaves, and Peter returns to find Walter in tears.
Nina Sharp arrives at Phillip Broyles home in the evening with pictures of The Observer taken in the previous twenty-four hours. She reminds him of what happened when this last occurred and says they have to talk.
In his laboratory, Walter listens to an old vinyl record, as browses through his album collection... discovering his complete copy of the ZFT manuscript among the albums. He calls out to Astrid, saying he was right. He reads from the Chapter of Ethics: "Our children are our greatest resource. We must nurture them and protect them. We must prepare them, so they can one day protect us." Then Walter turns to see it's not Astrid behind him. It's the Observer. The Observer says it's time to go. Walter puts down the chapter, and gets his coat.
Nina Sharp arrives at her condominium and takes the elevator to the penthouse. The elevator door opens and she is confronted by men in dark clothes with silenced pistols and wearing ski masks. One fires into her chest and she collapses.
- An explanation of the Gospel of Judas may be found at the Wikipedia.
- Walter refers to the numbering of his projects as "values."
- Muspelheim is the home of Muspel in Norse mythology; Muspel had two sons.
- The Observer arrives to collect Walter at his lab
- A large Massive Dynamic advertising billboard is mounted on the side of the bus that Susan Pratt boards
- SLUSHO. Walter consumes the fictional drink popular in many Bad Robot productions
- Walter requested Frankenberry cereal to aid his memory. Frankenberry is part of the Monster Cereal Trilogy by General Mills, along with Booberry, and Count Chocula cereals. Peter Bishop retrieved the fictional Berry Boom cereal for Walter. Susan Pratt had the fictional Berry Boom in the cupboard as Charlie searched her kitchen
- Walter suggested that Olivia might be a cornflake gal. "Cornflake Girl" is a song by American singer-songwriter Tori Amos
- In Susan Pratt's apartment, the books; "The Biological Time Bomb" by Gordon Rattray Taylor (perils of genetic engineering), "The Peter Prescription" by Laurence Peter (applied psychology), "The Power Elite" by C. W. Mills (interwoven interests of military-corporate-political), "The Hollow Earth" by Rudy Rucker (transreal math & science) and "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke (humanity's transformation through the guidance of higher beings) -- are prominently displayed
- Continuity Errors
- As Emmanuel Grayson unlocks the half dozen or so locks to his residence, to allow Olivia and Peter in, it appears that there are no strike plates or holes for the majority of the locks to bolt into
- Recurring Themes
- Weaponizing Humans. The weaponizing of humans through biological, or other scientific means. In this case, pyrokinetic ability.
- Uniforms. Pratt had simple, understated, gray and black clothing in her apartment. Clothing similar to surviving Cortexiphan subjects like Nick Lane and Olivia Dunham
- Key Number. Susan Pratt takes bus number 47. Mitchell Loeb (In Which We Meet Mr. Jones) refers to page 47 of his report. Jones' bomb (Ability) is on the 47th floor of the building and there are 47 lit bulbs on its' control panel.
- Star Trek References
- FRINGE creators released the 2009 Star Trek movie days after this episode originally aired.
- Walter's Lab Notes reference the Roman god Vulcan, also the name of Spock's race and homeworld from Star Trek.
- The "time travelling rogue Romulans" plot that Grayson postulates reflects the storyline of the 2009 movie.
- Peter displays the Vulcan hand greeting. The actor later stated he improvised the gesture.
- Internet conspiracy advocate, Emmanuel Grayson refers to Star Trek during his interview with Peter and Olivia.
- Grayson's apartment number is 1701, the vehicle identication number displayed on the starship Enterprise.
- Grayson claims he is the son of Sarek. Vulcan Ambassador Sarek is married to Spock's mother, a human teacher from Earth - Amanda Grayson.
- Grayson - actor [Clint Howard] - portrayed the alien Balok on the original Star Trek television series, as a gifted child-actor, in 1966. Decades later, he appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise.
- Khan Noonien Singh is a genetically-engineered Human Augment of the late-20th century Eugenics Wars period on Earth.
- Cultural References
- Ghost Busters. As Peter, Walter, and Olivia are investigating Susan Pratt's charred body on the street, Peter comments, "When there's something strange in your neighborhood..." Walter continues, "Who you gonna call?" These are the key phrases in the Ghostbusters movies, and its' theme song.
- Novels. As Walter brings up the idea of pyrokinesis, Peter mentions Stephen King having coined the phrase in his book-turned-movie Firestarter.
- Literary Techniques
- In a cliffhanger ending, the fate of Nina Sharp is left unresolved.
- Walter foreshadowed Nancy Lewis's need to direct her energy away from herself to avoid combusting while he was talking about how Susan Pratt died.
- Olivia is juxtaposed over a parallel universe, seeing both happenings in each as one.
|From the news broadcast in Dunn's apartment (Midnight) - the news scroll across the bottom of the image reports mysterious fire breaks out, foreshadowing the mysterious fire at the core of the plot in The Road Not Taken.|
- Traveling Riverside Blues by Robert Johnson
|— Plot Relevant Questions —||Address theories about questions on The Road Not Taken/Theories Ask minor questions on the Talk Page|
1) Do not answer the questions here.
- Why does Walter follow The Observer willingly?
- What role does Isaac Winters play within ZFT?
- Why is there a light-box (Ability) in the room where Nancy Lewis is strapped down?
- What are the contents of the Chapter of Ethics and why was it missing from the known copy of the ZFT manuscript?
- Who was Sanford Harris talking to on the phone before exploding?
- What happened the last time the Observer appeared "with such frequency?"
- Why does Charlie Francis have a scar in the parallel universe?
- Does it relate to Nick Lane's scar, which looks similar?
- When Nina's phone conversation is interrupted, what is "it"’ that she does not want them to do before she gets there?
- Are Olivia's increasingly frequent visions an unintended side-effect from the effort to activate other Cortexiphan test children?
- When Olivia has visions of the parallel universe, is she sharing consciousness with her alternate self?
- If so, when she is having a conversation, is the alternate person experiencing the conversation with the alternate Olivia?