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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 9 Season 5 Black Blotter

Posted by Karl Withakay on December 14, 2012

A Dreary Blue Episode

I doubt that there will be ever an episode synopsis over at Polite Dissent.

Astrid Farnswoth: Not Exactly Ready for Action

Astrid does not keep her firearm loaded with a round in the chamber, at least not at night.

Magic Batteries

Assuming that the radio was on for a minimum of a few hours (say it was switched on right before everyone went to sleep), what kind of magic 9 volt battery did that radio have in it that it lasted for more than an hour or two, especially with that light up display?

No Action

Peter and Olivia sleep in separate beds while staying in the lab.  Yes, the beds appear to be individual cots, but they could probably push them together to form a makeshift double bed (that’s how the beds work in most rooms on an NCL cruise ship).  Astrid knocks before entering the room Peter and Olivia sleep in, but she does not wait for a response.  Maybe she knows that Peter and Olivia do not sleep together while staying in the lab.

The Long and the Short of It

Peter mentions that the signal could be coming from “Him [Donald] or anyone else with a shortwave radio.”  Unless the radio was disguised or modified, it was a conventional American AM radio that receives signals in the medium wave range of 540-1610kHz, and not a shortwave radio.

Broadcasting in the Clear

Just a few thoughts on the radio signal:

If it is in the American AM frequency range, then that might mean that AM broadcasting ends in the US before 2016 when the transmitter was set up, or it would probably either interfere with or be interfered with by commercial broadcast stations.  The tuning indicator was pointing just past 650 kHz on the display, which would likely subject it to interference (especially at night) from WFAN 660 out of New York, which is a Class A clear channel station.  Also, apparently the Observers do not monitor the radio waves at the frequency used by the transmitter, or they feel the strange, coded signal is not anything to be concerned about

It’s about 80 miles from Willington, Connecticut to Cambridge, Massachusetts, so that transmitter must have been putting out a pretty strong signal for a non-commercial AM transmitter.

Considering the power required for such a strong signal and the length of time the signal was being transmitted, either that vehicle had a nuclear battery in it, or there were some powerful solar cells located in the treetops, but remember, it was set up in 2016.

Fringe Continuity

Fringe has usually been pretty good about injury continuity from one episode to the next, and in this episode, both Peter and Olivia have scars left over from the last episode’s events.

Sam Weiss (Not Samwise), We Hardly Knew Ya

That was a very disappointing way to write out a very interesting character.  What a waste.

A Paper Engine?

Walter mentions his design for a “combustible engine that runs on potatoes”.  Unless the engine itself was burned to do work, I think Walter meant a combustion engine.  The writers have an easy out, and they can blame the mistake on Walter’s acid trip, but I think we know better.

The Observers, Worst Occupiers Ever?

Not only would you think that the Observers should have cameras on every street corner and eyes in the sky looking for known Resistance members, but I think that they should also put cameras in every taxi and public transport vehicle as well.

Additionally, it appears the Loyalist troops don’t bother to pay attention to the wanted postings to learn the faces of the top most wanted persons.

That Looks Safe

With Walter tripping on acid and sitting on the edge of that dinky little motor boat, I would make sure he was wearing a life Jacket.

More Evidence the Writers Are Getting a Little Lazy?


“He left a Radio for us, and this morning it started transmitting a signal that lead us here.”

No, Peter, it started receiving a signal, not transmitting one.


I loved the Terry Gilliam style animation in the scene when Walter was remembering that the code phrase was “Black Umbrella”.  That, unquestionably, was an homage, and it was brilliantly done (in my opinion).  If you don’t know what I mean by Terry Gilliam style animation, here’s some of his most well known work:


If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it was done by Gilliam himself.

It’s actually a nifty, if unintentional, play on words, since much of Gilliam’s directorial work has been on the fringe, rather than mainstream.


4 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 9 Season 5 Black Blotter”

  1. Robert said

    They just left the bodies on the dock?
    Disposing of them in the water would have gained tenfold the time in delaying suspicion and pursuit.

  2. Daedalus said

    Not only do they not tip the bodies into the water, they don’t grab weapons etc. especially since they’re only packing pistols and the Loyalists have sub-machine guns.

    Remember the good old days when every part of the US looked like California? Now Connecticut looks like British Columbia.

    I’m torn as to whether it was actually Gilliam’s work or merely a great copy. Good graphic artists can easily reproduce another artist’s style, as demonstrated in Mad Magazine. And these days they tend to do the primary drawings and then ship them out to Asia for the in-between work. But they had the style down perfectly.

  3. Daedalus said

    Regarding the animated trip, I guess we’re supposed to glean something (or at least drive ourselves crazy trying to glean something) from the fact that it featured two of the glyphs, namely the frog and the seahorse. Sadly the hands sprouting from the animated hills had only the normal complement of fingers. Even sadder, I actually took the time to freeze-frame the video just to make sure.

    I don’t know about the dog. Maybe, like Bart Simpson wrote in another context, “It was all the dog’s dream!”

  4. Kocho said

    Did someone else notice that the frog makes a discrete apparition when Astrid is leading Walter to the dock, before they met with Olivia and Peter ? I wonder if the dog or the seahorse also appears somewhere…

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