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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 7 Season 5 Five-Twenty-Ten

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 16, 2012

A Dreary Blue Episode

It is becoming a distinct possibility that an episode synopsis may not eventually be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.  I’ll have to ask Scott if the Doomsday Clock hit Daylight Saving time and skipped forward one hour.

Is That Done By Workers In a Different Union?

Is there some reason that the people who are responsible for putting up the Observers’ They Live posters don’t bother to take down all the RESIST posters?

Laser Fuel

A He-Ne laser does not use helium and neon as fuel.   It uses those gases as the gain medium, and the helium and neon are not consumed by the operation of the laser.  Walter would only need to replenish the gases if they leaked out due to poor seals, although due to the small size of the monatomic helium molecule, the helium will likely eventually diffuse out of the laser across the glass &/or seals.  The Neon should still be fine if the seals are good.

Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future

I can understand the existance of the garbled portions of the video playback, but why do the tapes occasionally skip forward in time?  Unless a length of tape has been physically cut out and removed, there shouldn’t be any skips, as the player still has to roll through the unreadable section of tape in real time.  It’s not like a DVD where they player may just skip past the unreadable section to the next readable part of the disk, resulting in a time skip.

Why the Rube Goldberg Approach to the Plan?

At this point in the season, I’m going to ask why Walter so overcomplicated the details of the plan.  I don’t mean the details of plan’s execution; I mean the documentation of the plan.

Why use such an unreliable and volatile medium like analog encoded magnetic video tape?

Why not use some medium with some type of redundancy or multiple copies in case of damage?

Why record the plan in video at all rather than just write it out?

Why not record the whole plan on one single tape?  (Was the plan really longer than one or two hours?  If so, did it really need to be?)

If the plan is useless with any part missing, why scatter the components rather than just store everything in one secure place with the documentation?

A Bad Lie or Just Poor Writing?

Conversation between Peter and Olivia:


“I have to go meet with Anil”




“He didn’t want to say over the com, just that is was important.”

Up until now, they’ve been openly discussing resistance activity over their wireless phones without a care in the world for what they say.  Indeed, when Etta’s cover was still intact and she was not know to be resistance, they talked openly about their plans, and now Peter says Anil doesn’t want to say something over the com?  How dumb does Peter think Olivia is to fall for that story?  Wait, maybe I know the answer to that last question.

No APBs or 10 Most Wanted Lists In the Future?

Walter is known to be a very key member of the resistance, and yet he can openly walk around in public , in broad daylight, right past Loyalists, and he is not recognized and arrested.  At this point, I believe Walter, Peter, and Olivia’s faces should be on wanted posters all over the place.  I don’t think the writers have really thought out the world very well for this season.  They’re not used to the Fringe team being on the wrong side of the law.

Full of Hot Air


“The Observers created a device that dramatically alters atmospheric pressure, speeding up molecules in all the matter in a controlled area, a process called sublimation.”


“You mean converting solid matter directly into gas?”


“So all the Matter would just evaporate?”


“Essentially, yes.  They use the technology to clear large areas of land for construction, like Central Park when they were prepping it to create their air degradation machine.”

OK, let’s start at the beginning here.  First off, sublimation is indeed when a solid substance passes directly from solid phase to gas without going through a liquid phase.

However, I’m not sure how just altering atmospheric pressure is going to vaporize all that debris.  Since Nina didn’t actually specify how the device altered the pressure, I’ll cover both bases.  More atmospheric pressure would generally have the effect of keeping solid stuff in it’s current state (and even forcing gases and liquids into solid and liquid states) and raising the phase transition point.  The higher the atmospheric pressure is, the higher the boiling point of water is.  Reducing the pressure would make it easier for stuff to transition to a gaseous state; that’s why water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes and why there are special directions for baking at high altitudes.  But even in a vacuum, the concrete and steel would not sublimate away.

Second, if the molecules of the concrete and steel debris were sped up enough to vaporize it all into gas, what happens to the super heated debris vapor that must be around 5000F / ~3000C (roughly the lowest temperature that steel would exist as a gas)?

Also, If you wanted to clear out Central Park to make way for an air degradation machine, wouldn’t it be easier to kill two birds with one stone and just burn it down?


I think Joshua Jackson is doing a good job working in the Observer mannerisms as his character slowly turns into one.

They Don’t Make ’Em Like That Anymore

The car that Peter hot-wired was a 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ.  Finding a ’76 Grand Prix in 2036 is basically like finding a 1952 Pontiac Chieftain in 2012.  It’s lucky for Peter that there was a 60 year old car around to steal (and that nobody bothered to report it as stolen), since even in 2012, most cars are so computerized as to make simple hot-wiring impossible.

Monitoring Alerts


“The Observers analyze any change in the atmosphere, so once you use the technology, they will respond within minutes.”

OK, known resistance members can walk around freely in broad daylight and only very infrequently get detected by the very rare security camera, but the Observers will instantly detect extremely localized changes in the atmosphere anywhere.  Have I got this straight?

Digital Watches are Still a Pretty Neat Idea/ The Future Isn’t What it used to Be

I was hoping for something a little more impressive in 2036 than Anil’s plain Jane digital watch.  Maybe it’s a retro classic.

Who Needs Keys?

Walter can vaporize many tons of concrete and steel rubble, but he needs to use Bell’s severed hand to unlock the door to the storage unit.  Why not just vaporize the door as well?

Well Give the Man a Hand

Bell’s hand looked pretty fresh, supple, clean, and full bodied for a severed hand with no blood supply.

Finally a Dead Power Source

It’s surprisingly nice attention to detail that Walter needed to supply power to the palm scan lock on the storage unit.  Apparently they don’t use car batteries to power those things, because if they did, the battery should still be good, according to previous episodes.

Five-Twenty-Ten / 5-20-10

May 5, 2010 was the original air date of the Fringe season two finale, Over There, (Part 2).


10 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 7 Season 5 Five-Twenty-Ten”

  1. Andrew said

    I was willing to overlook Bell’s fresh hand and reason that the Fringe team had only very recently de-ambered it to run it over the scanner. They did laser it out of the amber when they all came out but kept it in some surrounding amber when Walter showed it to Astrid in the Season Premiere.

  2. Karl Withakay said

    I considered that, and almost didn’t mention it, but it at least should not have been so supple and full fleshed.

  3. Normand said

    Regarding to make the door vaporize, it seems you have to surround the target area/volume with “like-a-tranport-enhancer-sticks-from-Star-Trek” to make it work. Astrid put some on the top of the debris close to the door and there were some others close to Walter.

  4. Neil said

    Karl, what do the episode colours like red, gold episode etc mean? I could not find a key for that.

  5. Codisc said

    @Neil: it’s the theme song color.

    I tried to overlook the fact that Resistance members could walk around randomly. But come on. Walter goes to a slum for about 15 minutes and is immediately seen, Peter walks for HOURS downtown and isn’t seen once. Especially when Peter walked in traffic. Someone was bound to have seen him. They need to do a better job about their Big Brother approach.

  6. Fringe would make really good MST3000 fodder, but I still like the series. I think it’s very hard to get this stuff completely right on a weekly basis considering all the different corners they paint themselves into.

  7. Max said

    Is Scott alright? There has been no updates whatsoever on his blog and twitter for 2+ weeks…

  8. Karl Withakay said

    Scott’s fine. He’s just had a lot going on lately. He actually meant to start getting caught up on Fringe on Friday, but life unavoidably got in the way again. When I saw him on Saturday, he said he would try to use the three week break to get caught up, and he still intends to keep blogging about Fringe.

  9. Daedalus said

    I think the average viewer is tuning out little bits of discrepancy like the hand because they’re just wishing that the show would GET ON WITH THE PLOT!!!

    Having said that this episode was a bit better in the acting and interpersonal drama department. Poor old Astrid is falling by the wayside because she was meant to be “sober companion” to Walter’s mad scientist, but Walter is getting saner by the minute, leaving her with little to do beyond being an interlocutor, which role has to be shared with Olivia. The one-on-one’s with Nina were fairly good.

  10. Daedalus said

    Dept. of Narrative Necessity: Of course Walter’s 20 year old videotapes are hard to understand when played back. Just as his tapes from Jacksonville, also 20-odd years old, were almost perfect when played back in Series 1 (now playing on the increasingly fiction-oriented Science Channel).

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