The Arrival
Season 1, Episode 4
Air date September 30, 2008
Written by J.J. Abrams
Jeff Pinkner
Directed by Paul Edwards
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Cast | Transcript

"The Arrival" is the fourth episode of the first season of Fringe.


The appearance of a mysterious cylinder triggers odd behavior and surprising revelations. A bald, eyebrowless man who has been seen in previous episodes speaks for the first time. Walter tells Peter the truth about a near-fatal experience from Peter's childhood.


Unknown language

Unknown language.

A bald man with no eyebrows enters a diner and orders a roast beef sandwich with meat as raw as possible, with eleven jalapeno peppers as a side, and a glass of water at room temperature. Before eating the sandwich he pours an entire container of black pepper on it, a large amount of Tabasco sauce, and places the jalapeno peppers on the sandwich. He eats the sandwich in several rapid gulps, not pausing between bites like a normal person. The diner staff stare at him. He watches a construction site across the street and starts writing, from right to left and top to bottom, in an unknown language in his notebook, while checking a pocket watch. The waitress asks if he is writing in Korean, and he simply answers, "no." From time to time he observes the construction crew through high-tech binoculars. The ground starts to shake and a gas main explodes at the construction site, toppling over a crane. The bald man casually drinks his water, walks outside, moves to the edge of a now-gaping hole, makes a phone call, and informs the person at the other end that, "It has arrived."

At three o'clock in the morning, Walter Bishop and his son, Peter Bishop, are in their hotel room. Walter is keeping Peter awake by working out the recipe for root beer. The next day, Peter tells Olivia that he is tired of dealing with his father and is not happy remaining in one place so long. Olivia insists that they need Peter to help with Walter. She also tells Peter that Walter has said he will not work on the investigation, preferring to return the mental institution, if Peter is not there with him.

The beacon

"The Beacon".

Phillip Broyles calls the team to a warehouse where the source of the explosion in Brooklyn is stored: a bullet-shaped metal cylinder, about two feet long with groove spiralling clockwise from top to bottom on its surface. Broyles explains that a similar object was found at an explosion in Quantico in 1987 and that a Colonel Henry Jacobson headed the investigation. Peter agrees to stay for this one last assignment while Olivia goes to see Jacobson, a family friend who lost his wife. Jacobson extends his condolences about the death of John Scott, then relates how the object appeared at Quantico. The object was vibrating at a specific pattern, the same one as the new object. Jacobson determined the object was sending a signal but couldn't determine to who or what. The object then exploded down into the earth and disappeared. He gives her his files but warns her that she should stay as far away from it as possible.

At Harvard, Walter and Astrid attach sensors to the cylinder and then Walter uses a tuning fork to set off a particular vibration.

At the FBI warehouse, a man in a stocking cap emerges from his car with an odd-looking gun and shoots the outside guard. An FBI agent confronts him but is tossed aside by the gun's ability to manipulate physics. He proceeds into the warehouse and quickly dispatches the 4 armed FBI agents with his physics manipulating gun. He locates the remaining scientist who informs him the object is gone.


Observing the army.

That night, Olivia is awakened by a phone call. There's nothing but static and a man saying her name. Olivia believes the voice is John Scott's, but when she attempts to have the call traced, the operator at FBI dispatch says that no call came in on the cell phone.

The next day, Walter studies the object further while Olivia notices a man in the 1987 photos from Jacobson. She spots a bald man and identifies him in other photos from their previous trip to a hospital.

Jacobson answers his doorbell and finds the stocking cap man at his door. The man stuns him unconscious.

Olivia takes the photo of the bald man to Broyles, who reveals that they've just discovered the same man in the photos after a year of work. They've been unable to identify the man, whom they call the Observer, but he has been at the scene of various Pattern events. They're interrupted when Broyles gets word of the attack on the warehouse.

As Walter conducts sound experiments on the cylinder, Olivia calls Peter to inform him they're moving the cylinder to a secure facility. Walter seems aware that someone is coming for the cylinder and asks Peter to get him aluminum foil to shield the cylinder's frequencies. Peter agrees and goes to get the foil. Walter then asks Astrid Farnsworth for a syringe and injects her with it.

Electrodes brain

Colonel Jacobson's mind probed.

Peter returns a few minutes later to find Astrid unconscious and Walter and the cylinder gone. The stocking-cap man places electrodes from a device up Jacobson's nostrils and into his brain, then plugs himself into the device. He interrogates Jacobson about the woman who came to see him and can read his mind through the device. He tortures Jacobson with electrical jolts until Jacobson "thinks" the answer. Satisfied, the stocking-cap man kills Jacobson.

Walter is in a diner enjoying a root beer float when The Observer sits in the booth opposite him. They know each other. They discuss the root-beer float, and Walter mentions that he hasn't had one in seventeen years. The Observer seems curious and comments that seventeen years is a long time to go without something you love. Walter offers some of the root-beer to the Observer, but the Observer declines. He comments that he could hardly taste it, anyway. The Observer says he can't touch "the beacon" but thanks Walter for hiding it. He promises that Walter will soon have answers.

Later, the police find Walter walking down the highway and bring him in. Peter and Olivia come to question him and he admits he remembers taking the cylinder. However, he can't tell them where it is, and he hid it from someone who is coming to find it. Walter describes his "friend" the bald-headed man and Olivia recognizes the description. When Peter snaps at his father, Walter snaps back and says he shouldn't act like his mother, questioning his judgment. An angry Peter leaves, insisting he's no longer needed. Olivia reports to Broyles that Walter knows the Observer.


Walter "meets" The Observer.

Peter returns to the laboratory to pack his belongings. He gets a call from an associate who can offer him a job somewhere far away from Boston. As Peter hangs up, he's unaware that the stocking-cap man is watching him from the shadows.

Astrid returns to the lab later and informs Olivia that there are signs of a struggle. Olivia checks the campus security footage. Meanwhile, the stocking-cap man uses the same device on Peter and starts to interrogate him telepathically, asking where the cylinder is. Meanwhile, Olivia has a photo of the stocking-cap man and shows it to Walter, who doesn't recognize him. However, Walter warns that even though he didn't tell Peter where the cylinder was buried, Peter knows.


Familial connection to The Beacon?

John Mosley, still wearing his stocking cap, continues to interrogate Peter, telling him to think of happy childhood memories and his father's hiding places. The man then gets a thought from Peter of where the cylinder is and drives out into the countryside with Peter in the trunk. He goes to a cemetery and takes Peter along, then start digging at the grave of Robert Bishop, Peter's grandfather. Mosley comments to Peter that he never knew his grandfather and, with a hint of admiration in his voice, adds that he should have.

Following Walter's directions, Olivia arrives at the cemetery as the stocking-cap man recovers the cylinder. He hears Olivia approaching and flees into the woods, leaving a tied-up Peter behind. Olivia and the stocking-cap man exchange shots and she brings the man down. Leaving the cylinder behind, she checks the stocking-cap to make sure he's dead. Behind her, the cylinder begins to glow then drills itself into the ground.

Peter, having cut his hands free, approaches through the woods and sees the Observer, telling someone on the phone that the "departure is on schedule." Peter tackles the Observer, then tries to get answers from him. The Observer starts repeating every word that Peter says, then starts speaking Peter's words before Peter can and mirroring Peter's changes in posture. The man then takes out a strange gun and stuns Peter with it.

After Peter recovers, Olivia takes him to the hospital while Charlie releases Walter and sends him back to the hotel. Before he goes, Walter tries to apologize to Astrid without success.

Olivia checks on Peter but runs into Broyles, who says there's no sign of the cylinder and he doesn't think they'll find it. They have identified the shooter as John Mosley, a mob killer from Seattle. Olivia then picks up Peter, who insists that something is going on and the Observer was somehow connected to his mind. Olivia didn't see the Observer and thinks Peter may be in shock, but he insists that he's now going to stay with the team until he can get some explanations. She accepts and gives him his security badge, identifying him as a civilian consultant.

That night, Peter asks Walter how he knew where the capsule was buried when Walter never told him. Walter explains that Peter knew it because Walter knew it, that the information was passed along by proximity. He then explains that when Peter was young, father and son were driving home on Thanksgiving when their vehicle plunged into an ice-covered lake. Walter was unable to rescue himself or his son, but the Observer rescued them. He could read Walter's thoughts and made it clear that he'd need Walter one day. When Walter activated the sonic pulse on the cylinder in his laboratory, he realized that the time had come to repay the favor.

Olivia returns home and fixes herself supper, dry cereal and an undiluted glass of liquor. She turns and sees John Scott, seemingly alive and well; she drops her bowl of cereal.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chelsea; Federal Building; Harvard Laboratory; Kramer Manufacturing; Quantico; Quincy; Robert Bishop; Roseville; Seattle; St. Claire's Hospital; The Beacon; The Circles; Williamsburg

Notable Quotes[]

Walter: Open your mind, son, or someone may open it for you.

Olivia: Your credentials have been approved. Civilian consultant to the Department of Homeland Security.
Peter: Does this mean I don't need an escort to come into the Federal Building any more?
Olivia: Yeah.
Peter: Will it get me out of a speeding ticket?
Olivia: Maybe.

Peter: (Walter) was awake until five in the morning reciting the chemical compositions of his favorite beverages to me. That was right after he finished lecturing me on how I'd squandered my above-average intellect and my substantial education. All while he was standing there naked, because he prefers the breeze.


  • The clue to "The Arrival" can be found in the previous episode, "The Ghost Network", was a sign showing a drawing of The Beacon. The sign was shown on the wall of the train station, just before Grant Davidson was shot.
  • In the FOX press release for the episode the Observer is named September.
  • John Mosley is wearing a hat with three green and one red circles embroidered on it. The Circles are seen again in this episode in the lower left hand corner of images seen through The Observer's binoculars. In the "Pilot", when Olivia is sharing a dream with Agent John Scott, she briefly sees her Uncle's kayak. It also has the three green circles and one red.
  • The exchange between Peter and the Observer mirrors that from the episode "Midnight" of the reboot of the British sci-fi series Doctor Who in which the Doctor faces a voice-stealing entity.
  • When Peter is taken to Robert Bishop's grave, the flashlight briefly shines on a tombstone reading, "CASEY PERETTI 1962-1990." Casey Peretti was a character on the soap opera As the World Turns who died in a mercy-killing storyline in 1990; apparently, someone in the props department was a fan.
  • In the opening sequence, the Observer is seen ordering a meal at the East River Coffee Shop. The restaurant is a real location, at the corner of 11th Street and 44th Drive in Long Island City, Queens, New York, and not in Brooklyn, New York, as noted on screen.


  • "Crazy" by Willie Nelson
  • "King of the Road" by Johnny Russell


  • The U.S. Army Chemical Corps officer featured in the photo in "Walter's Lab Notes" is wearing his branch insignia (Crossed Retorts) upside down. The soldiers behind him are wearing the "digital" Army Combat Uniform or ACU; that uniform did not exist in 1987. It was issued in 2005.
  • When Olivia searches the FBI database for a photo of the Observer from the second episode of the season, the photo is called "Hospital Criime Scene" with two i's.
  • Robert Bishop's date of death is recorded as 1944, and Walter was born in 1946, meaning that if those dates are both correct he cannot be Walter's father.
  • In the released September's Journal, it states that the language of the Observers is written left to right, yet in the opening scene of this episode it shows September writing right to left.