TV Recap: 'Fringe' Episode 501 - 'Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11'


Fringe Episode 501
“Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11"
Written By: J.H. Wyman
Directed By: Jeannot Swarzac and Miguel Sapochnik
Original Airdate: 28 September 2012

In This Episode...

We open the season on an idyllic scene that you have probably seen: Olivia and Peter having a perfect day at the park with young Etta, only three years old. A bright blue blast rocks the landscape, and Observers move in, coming for Etta. Chaos erupts, and Peter loses track of his family. Peter wakes; it is all a nightmare - the last day his family was intact.

The year is 2039, and we are picking up where last season’s “Letters of Transit” left off. In 2015, the Observers took over the earth, and Etta was taken. Peter never gave up looking for Etta, and it drove him and Olivia apart. She went to New York to help fight the Observers. While there, she was on her way to Grand Central Station to pick up a device that would supposedly unscramble Walter’s brain and reveal the secrets to defeating the Observers, as placed there by September. She felt the need to amber herself. Add that to the list of things that Peter feels guilty about.

The first order of business for our team is to find Olivia. They check with the amber gypsies, who have an underground market built around selling things cut from amber - including people. Liv isn’t there, but they point the way to the man who bought her: Markum, the man from the bookstore, who is currently using ambered Olivia as a coffee table. The gypsy tipped off the Observers, so they storm the apartment. In the confusion, Walter gets separated from Peter and Etta (who have loaded still-ambered Olivia into a getaway van driven by Astrid) and is taken by the Observers. At the detainment center, Walter is interrogated by Windmere, who is surprised at how effectively Walter resists his attempts to unscramble his brain.

Meanwhile, Peter and his team break Olivia out of her amber. It is a warm reunion between her and Peter, and an incredulous one when she meets her adult daughter. She still has on her the device that Walter sent her to get, but it doesn’t work. Etta seeks the help of some friends who are part of the underground resistance. They are able to locate which detainment center Walter has been taken to, and give them a new chemical that, when taken, will make a person appear to be dead, even fooling the Observers’ scanners. Etta uses this ruse to sneak her father into the complex. They shoot their way through to Walter and sneak him out a back exit where Olivia is waiting for them.

Back home, the thought unifier once thought broken clicks on when given to Walter - it was tuned to his exact brainwaves. But it is not the device that is broken; it is Walter’s brain. Windmere was digging around in there, trying to unlock the scramble, and he damaged much of it beyond repair. The plan to wipe out the Observers is gone. 

Dig It or Bury It?

This was a good way to set up the beginning of the end. I am relieved that they took the show into the future, expanding from last season’s contextually-dreadful “Letters of Transit” episode. I am still waiting to find out what the Observers’ plan is here.

In the Future...

The Observers hate nature. They have paved over Central Park and installed massive carbon monoxide machines because our air is “too clean” for them and it hurts their lungs. Obviously, they should have headquartered themselves in Los Angeles, the smog capital of the country.

Walter Babble

Poor Walter. All he wants is some eggs for breakfast, but in the future, the best he can hope for is powdered eggs in a tube.


The Fringe team sneak back to Walter’s Harvard lab, only to find it under Observer control.