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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 6 Season 4, All Those We’ve Left Behind

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 11, 2011

A Gold/Yellow Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

 What’s Old is New Again, Again/ A Self Referential Plot Point

I really liked the plot to this episode the first time I saw it, when it was the Window Of Opportunity episode of Stargate SG1.  Sure you can say that story’s plot was derived from and inspired by the movie Groundhog Day, but this episode’s plot was a virtual copy of the plot of Window of Opportunity.  An elite, secret government team comes across a series of time loops/ bubbles that are eventually determined to be caused by a scientist/engineer seeking to reunite himself with his wife who has been lost to him through illness.

But Does it Go to Eleven?

I guess in the new timeline, perhaps Drexler MCD21 Handheld Molecular Cohesion Detectors are widely available.  Even if it isn’t well written, it’s nice that it comes with a real, substantial manual rather than a CD-ROM or just a hyperlink to the website for instructions.

Alpha Radiation 101


“If I’m the causing some sort of cosmic disruption, then there’s going to be heightened levels of alpha radiation, but I’m going to need the full spectrum of EM waves, not just the…”

First of all, Alpha radiation is particle radiation (specifically Helium-4 nuclei emitted from atomic nuclei via alpha decay), not electromagnetic radiation or EM waves.  Second of all, based on what science is Peter so sure that his “cosmic disruption” would be causing alpha radiation rather than any other form of radiation, particle or EM?

Peter Bishop Came Unstuck in Time

Peter has a few Billy Pilgrim moments in this episode.

Neutron Radiation 101

Neutron radiation is very penetrating and very hazardous.  It is considered to be the most hazardous form of radiation.  If there was strong enough neutron radiation to cause embrittlement of the metal bumper, it would have been strong enough to kill the passengers and also induce radioactivity in the exposed materials.   Also, Peter is wrong that neutron radiation has to be produced by “human technology”.

-Neutrons are produced from cosmic radiation interacting with the Earth’s atmosphere.

-Neutrons are produced when low Z materials like Beryllium are exposed to alpha particle sources like Radium through α,n nuclear reactions.

-Neutrons can also be produced if a gamma ray photon has an energy exceeding the binding energy of an atomic nucleus and strikes it.

-Neutrons are produced through natural fission.  Sustained natural fission occurred about 1.7 billion years ago in the Oklo natural reactor.

-Very high neutron fluxes are produced in supernova explosions.

Honestly, I didn’t Know this Until I Looked it Up, but…

A Fibonacci spiral is not a perfect golden spiral, though it is an approximation of one and is often confused for one.

Quote of the Show


“You can’t just walk from the present into the past, shattering the laws of physics.”

No, of course not..  I mean, it’s perfectly reasonable that you can create a time bubble, shattering the laws of physics, but walk through the time bubble, no that would be laughably ridiculous.

Faraday 101

That was not anything remotely approaching a Faraday cage.  Peter would have to have been nearly fully enclosed in a metal mesh, shell, or foil wrap.  That harness seemed more like some soft of counter field generator rather than a Faraday cage.  Faraday cages protect against electric fields and certain wavelengths of electromagnetic fields.  Are the time bubbles created by EM fields?

How Important is that Right Hand, Peter? (It’s like a Whole ‘Nother Person)

I might have tested my “Faraday Harness” with something other than my right hand.  Maybe my left hand, my left foot, or perhaps a small stick would have been my choice.

Did Walter Invent the Flat Panel TV in 1991?

Why was there a flat panel TV in a house that supposedly hadn’t been occupied for 20 years?


20 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 6 Season 4, All Those We’ve Left Behind”

  1. Jason said

    The metal spike inserted into his neck turned his whole body into a faraday cage.

  2. The flat-panel TV thing immediately bothered me. Great analysis of the episode.

  3. RicSantiago said

    IMHO, they had a perfectly fine, movable, Faraday cage there at the spiral-center scene: the body of a van, like the black one, labeled “CSI Unit” (that appears when agent Lee is talking about using the spiral to locate the next event). Just find a way to drive it into the bubble, with no one driving, and Peter in the inside.

  4. Peter is left-handed, isn’t he? So why would he risk losing it to test the faux-aday cage’s protection, as you state:
    How Important is that Right Hand, Peter? (It’s like a Whole ‘Nother Person)

    I might have tested my “Faraday Harness” with something other than my right hand. Maybe my left hand, my left foot, or perhaps a small stick would have been my choice.

  5. vanessa said

    Well, if Massive Dynamic can create a Drexler MCD21 Handheld Molecular Cohesion Detector in this alt-timeline, why is flatscreen tv technology beyond their grasp? Huh? Huh?

  6. Tuomas said


    But as one can use a cell phone/hand held radio etc. in a normal van, doesn’t it mean it would be rather selective Faraday cage? Honest question, don’t know much about them besides the difficulty of creating a fully insulating one.

    The flat screen TV was such a glaring error than one almost wonders if it is supposed to tell something about the technological level of the Orange universe.

    I was really confused during the tunnel scene why it would be full of water (as I live in a country where there are lots of bedrock) instead of rock/dirt. I guess there are ones where elements of tunnel are lowered into a river to connect to each other?

  7. Max said

    Re: molecular cohesion detector. I think the idea was that they got the device on loan from the other side.

  8. Daedalus said

    This is more the medical side, but a swipe upside the head with a Louisville Slugger is a good way to qualify for a one-way ticket to that other Other Side. Peter’s skull must be made of unobtanium to survive blows like that. Not to mention getting thrown tens of feet into dumpsters, walls, cars etc. on various occasions.

  9. Karl Withakay said

    I didn’t remember if Peter was left handed, but still, how about something other than a hand?

  10. Karl Withakay said

    Max has a good possible point on the MCD21; it may be from the other side. Regardless, unless flat panel TVs have been available in stores for the past 20 years, there shouldn’t have been on in the house.

  11. Karl Withakay said

    It depends on what the Faraday cage needs to be able to do: A van would be a fine Faraday cage for protecting against things like lightning strikes, but for shielding cell phone signals.

    As for the tunnel, the tunnel would have likely been in the bedrock and not on the bottom of the body of water, but there could still be an issue with water. A Lot of the times, the rock/ material the tunnel is bored into is somewhat porous, and the water above crates a lot of pressure on the rock below. Many such bored tunnels are lined to prevent water leaking into the tunnel. It’s possible that the material surrounding the tunnel could have been saturated with water at fairly high pressure.

  12. Karl Withakay said

    Yeah, that always bothers me too. Nobody ever seems to have any lingering effects from blows to the head in TV/Movies. No permanent brain damage, chronic migraines, neurological issues, partial paralysis, amnesia, or death, etc

  13. FC said

    I think you’re being unfair, there are plot similarities but its not a virtual copy since the world isn’t trapped in a loop a la ground hog day. If anything Window of Opportunity is more of a plot copy of ground hog day.

    The cause of these time distortions can be said to be identical plot elements but the fringe team isn’t caught in a time loop like those in the SG-1 episode. There are geographical spots transported into the past briefly as the machine is turned on. I could probably list more plot differences but I think I’ve made my point that saying the plot is a virtual copy is overstating it and waay over the top and unfair to the fringe writers.

  14. Karl Withakay said

    I suppose part of it depends on what you consider basic plot and what you consider specific details and execution.

    In my opinion, the basic plots are the same, though the specific elements, interpretations, and execution differ. The story wasn’t a virtual copy, but the basic plot was, in my opinion, right down to the antagonist losing his wife to disease plot point, though the specific details were different. Considering the writers did copy the lost wife plot point of Window of opportunity (even if they do their own slight twist on it) , I don’t believe I’m being particularly unfair to the writers. They could at least have made some effort for an original or at least different motivation for the antagonist

    I think it’s a bit over to the top to say my comment was waay over the top.

  15. Daedalus said

    In all probability the flat-screen TV was an error. However let’s note here that the mythology of Fringe includes Walter and Bell copying Universe-B technology which was more advanced than ours. So it could have been a Massive Dynamic one-off. Also the Orange universe is not the Blue one or the Red one, so who knows when LED or LCD technology got cheap enough for something as frivolous as TV in that reality?

  16. […] of Fringe radiation here, but Karl’s always been better at that than me, so I’ll just link to him earlier than […]

  17. JasonC said

    The flat screen TV seemed to obvious an error to be an accident. Not only because was it out of place (and time) but also because if the way Peter dramatically took the sheet off it. Could it be foreshadowing of more time traveling to come?…

  18. Neil said

    The Faraday Cage harness was a too ridiculous, laugh out loud moment :D… How in the world did poking his spine with it insulate him??

  19. […] This week’s Fringe cipher was: DAVID. A list of all previous Fringe reviews is available here. As always, Karl has more to say over at his blog. […]

  20. […] episode is debunked at Polite Dissent and Cordial Deconstruction, and you can read more about it at Fox, IMDb and the A.V. […]

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