The Firefly
Season 3, Episode 10
Air date January 21, 2011
Written by J.H. Wyman
Jeff Pinkner
Directed by Charles Beeson
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Cast | Transcript

"The Firefly" is the tenth episode of the third season of Fringe.


An Observer makes contact with the Fringe Team to help rectify a mistake. Meanwhile, Walter befriends Roscoe Joyce, keyboardist for Walter's favorite 1970's band, "Violet Sedan Chair". Walter will learn the real reason the band broke up, and realize that the lives of these two men, who have never met before, overlap in strange and unexpected ways.


In his kitchen lab at home, Walter Bishop prepares a chemical concoction and is about to inject it into himself as Peter Bishop walks in and asks what he's doing. His father explains that he's trying to make himself smarter, to match Walternate. Peter notes that William Bell removed the pieces of Walter's brain, at Walter's request, and he worries that his father might hurt himself. Walter insists he's fine, injects himself, and goes to get some pizza.

At a senior care facility in Boston, Massachusetts, the staff notices Mr. Roscoe Joyce walking down the hallway.

Roscoe Joyce.

A nurse warns the security officer that Mr. Joyce is a sleepwalker. They see a teenage boy open the door and greet Joyce, and they go to find Joyce. He says the boy was Bobby. As they return him to his room, the nurse explains that Bobby is Mr. Joyce's son and died in 1985. They ask Mr. Joyce what the boy said, but get no response.

Bobby approaches September.

On the lawn, Bobby approaches the Observer, September, who asks if Bobby Joyce told his father what he needed to. When Bobby says he did, The Observer says that now he takes him back home. A messenger arrives at Olivia Dunham's apartment and gives her a package. When she opens it, she discovers a book inside, "If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!" Inside is a card identifying it as a present from Peter. Before she can look at it further, she gets a call summoning her to the hospital. She goes there and meets Peter, Phillip Broyles, and Walter. Broyles explains that Bobby Joyce appeared at the hospital and talked to his father, and then met with the Observer outside. The nurse takes them to Mr. Joyce, and Walter recognizes him. He runs to Joyce's side and eagerly shakes his hand, and insists that he's a tremendous fan.

Olivia, Walter and Roscoe Joyce.

Peter explains that Joyce was the keyboardist for a 1970s band, Violet Sedan Chair. Olivia talks to Joyce, who says he doesn't remember what his son said, but that it was a miracle seeing him again. The staff takes Joyce away for his physical therapy, and Walter suggests that the Observer brought Bobby from the past. He wants to take Joyce back to the past and notes that every time the Observer shows up, it has something to do with Peter ... and something bad happens. Walter walks away while Broyles makes the arrangements to have Joyce released.

As Peter picks up Joyce's medication, he notices Olivia watching an elderly couple talking and laughing together. She gives him the book back and says that based on the date, he must have gotten it for Fauxlivia. Olivia tells him that it's okay, although he tries to explain. As Joyce goes with them, he eyes them suspiciously.

Burglars are robbing a jewelry store when September comes in and subdues them one at a time. He catches their

September arrives at the jewellery store

bullets as they shoot, knocks them out, and then calls the police to report a robbery. As he walks out, one of the captive staff members, Victoria DiMiro, notices him. She's suffering from asthma, and he removes her medication and gives it to her. She thanks him, and he walks away, taking the inhaler with him.

Walter has a piano brought to his lab and prepares Joyce for hypnotherapy so they can recover his memories. He believes that Joyce playing the piano will help him recollect the conversation, and admits he'll enjoy Joyce playing. Walter then starts to hypnotize Joyce. In the office, Olivia is checking on the sighting of the Observer at the jewelry store. Peter comes in and tries to explain the book. He tells her that Fauxlivia asked him what his favorite book was. He admits that he has a tendency to keep people at bay, and believes that Olivia is the same, and that he wanted to share it with the Olivia Dunham he has spent the past two years with. Olivia tells him that everything feels different, and the book reminds her of all the things she missed.

Walter succeeds in hypnotizing Joyce, and has him sit at the piano. Joyce begins playing and Walter has him think back to the night Bobby came. The musician talks about how he asked his son if he was real, and Bobby took his hand to assure his father that he existed. Olivia's phone rings, interrupting Joyce before he can say what Bobby said. As she takes the call, Joyce says that he can't remember what his son said. Olivia tells them that the Observer has been spotted in Brooklyn. She leaves with Peter, and Joyce says that Bobby was wearing the shirt that his mother gave him, and told Joyce that he would meet Walter Bishop and was supposed to help him. However, Joyce doesn't know how he's supposed to help Walter.

In Cambridge, the Observer meets with one of his fellow Observers, December, and says he has set everything in motion. December says that he doesn't believe Walter will do what they need him to do, but September insists that Walter has changed. They agree to see what happens, and September then steals a truck and drives away.

Joyce is playing the piano and asks if Walter knows what he's supposed to do for him. Walter insists that Joyce is helping just by playing the piano, and then asks him why Violet Sedan Chair broke up. Joyce explains that they had creative differences and decided to take a break, and Joyce soon stopped playing entirely.

Peter and Olivia talks to Victoria, who says that September knew exactly what she needed, but didn't react at all.

Walter is working on the serum to repair the missing sections of his brain, and explains to Joyce that he needs his restored intellect to deal with the challenges facing them. Joyce has no idea how he can help Walter, since the only science he knows is how to make a strawberry milk shake. Walter tells him that strawberry milk shakes are his favorite drink as well, and has Astrid Farnsworth go to the store to get the ingredients. Walter mixes the serum with milk to combine the bonding agents and disguise the taste, and puts the milk in the fridge. September enters the lab and says they need to speak.

Walter and September.

Walter and September walk in the park, and Walter reminds him that they had a deal. He asks how he can stop Peter from dying, but September warns that he can see many futures, but he doesn't know which one will come to pass. Each action has consequences, foreseen and unforeseen. September explains that later that summer, after he rescued Peter, Peter caught a firefly. Because he did, a young girl three miles away did not, and she kept looking. Her father went to look for her in his truck and killed a pedestrian in an accident at Harvard Yard. September warns that they have both upset the balance of events, and now he needs Walter's help. He tells Walter to give Peter the keys and save the girl, and then tells Walter to answer his phone. Walter's phone rings and he answers it, and Peter tells him about the jewelry store incident. When Walter turns around, September has disappeared. Walter asks to speak to Victoria and says it's important. Peter says that the police are taking her downtown, and Walter asks his son to bring her to him when she's done.

In the lab, Walter finds Joyce eating strawberry ice cream. He says that he has remembered something and explains that 25 years ago, Bobby called him on the phone years ago when he was on tour. Bobby told him about a dream of a bald man in a dark suit taking him to see Joyce when he was 25 years older. Walter concludes that September brought Bobby into the future, and his dream was what actually happened. Joyce notes that it was the last conversation he had with his son before Bobby died, and the band was playing at Harvard Yard. Bobby was on his way there and was hit by a truck driver. When Bobby died, Joyce broke up the band because nothing mattered to him anymore. Walter goes to the office to see Astrid, who tells him that Peter is on his way with Victoria. Walter tells Astrid that he now realizes that he set both universes off balance by saving Peter, and that his actions cost Joyce his son. However, if he helps September now, it will cost him Peter.

As Olivia and Peter drive to the lab with Victoria, Walter calls and asks Peter to ask Victoria where she was 25 years ago. Peter tells his father that Victoria is in the car ahead. Before they can stop it, a truck drives through the intersection and hits the car containing Victoria. Peter and Olivia get out and see September as he gets out of the truck. Olivia goes after him while Peter checks on Victoria. She's having an asthma attack, and September took her inhaler at the jewelry store. Walter arrives and Peter says, "Gimme the keys and save the girl." Walter remembers September saying the same thing, and realizes that somehow the Observer is course correcting, setting off a chain reaction leading from Joyce and Bobby, all the way to the current moment. Walter believes that Peter will die if he leaves, but Peter insists that Victoria will die if he doesn't get the keys. Walter hesitates and then gives him the keys, and Peter goes to the car.

Olivia follows September through the streets. He ducks down an alleyway on State Street, and Peter spots him at a hostel down the way. As Peter crosses the street in pursuit, he's narrowly avoids being hit by traffic.

Walter creates an improvised inhaler using a plastic bottle to push air into Victoria's lungs.

Peter goes to the roof of the hostel and finds the Observer waiting for him. He asks September what it all means, and what is going to happen to him. September says that it must be difficult being a father, and then shoots Peter with a pulse gun. Olivia arrives and spots him, but he climbs to a nearby roof and then appears on the next building over. Before Olivia can approach him, she hears Peter moving behind her and turns to discover that he's okay. When she turns back, September has disappeared.

Walter has saved Victoria and briefs the EMT's on how to treat her. Olivia calls to tell him that September has disappeared, but Peter is fine. Walter wonders why the Observer went to all the effort if Peter is still alive.

Walter and Astrid take Joyce back to the hospital. He thanks them and invites Walter to visit sometime, and bring a strawberry milk shake. Much to Walter's surprise, Joyce hugs him and then explains that he had forgotten his son, but now he remembers. He tells Walter is that no one is supposed to have a second chance like that.

Peter and Olivia return to the lab, and wonder what the Observer had planned. Peter takes out the bottle of milk that Walter had put there earlier. Olivia picks up Peter's book and Peter starts to talk about the book and that it is his favorite because it says to look within yourself for answers. He drinks the milk to take some aspirin for his pain, and then has a seizure. Olivia calls Walter, who realizes what has happened and directs Olivia to administer magnesium sulfate. However, she doesn't find it in his bag. Walter tries to remember where it is and tells her that it's in the refrigerator next to the mayonnaise. She injects it into Peter's right leg and tells Walter that he's stabilizing.

Walter and Peter.

At home that night, Walter makes rosemary chicken soup for Peter, who is recovering on the sofa. He thanks Peter for proving that the serum was flawed. Peter only lived because he was young and healthy, but it would have killed Walter. Walter figures that September set the whole thing up so Peter would take a knock on his head, so he'd take the aspirin with milk, and drink the serum.

September and December watch Peter.

Outside, September and December watch. September admits that he feared the experiment would fail, but December points out that Walter has changed and was willing to let Peter die. They believe that now Walter will be willing to do it again.

Notable Quotes[]

Walter: You know the future. Tell me how I can save my son from dying.
The Observer: There are things that I know. But there are things that I do not. Various possible futures are happening simultaneously. I can tell you all of them, but I cannot tell you which one of them will come to pass. Because every action cause ripples. Consequences both obvious and unforeseen. For instance, after I pulled you and Peter from the icy lake, later that summer, Peter caught a firefly. I could not have known he would do that. But because he did, a young girl three miles away would not. And so later that night, she would continue looking, trying to find another one. I could not have known that when she did not come home, her father would go looking for her, driving in the rain. So that when the traffic light turned red, his truck skidded through the intersection at Harvard Yard, killing a pedestrian.
Walter: Did that happen?
The Observer: You and I have interfered in the natural course of events. We have... upset the balance in ways I could not have predicted. Which is why now I need your help.

Peter: Walter.
Walter: Peter. You're up early.
Peter: Oh, no, I'm still asleep upstairs in my bed. You're just talking to an astral projection of me.
Walter: You're just saying that to see if I'm high.

Peter: Who's that at two in the morning?
Walter: Oh, my pizza.
Peter: So you are high, then?
Walter: Maybe a little.

Peter: First he saves the girl, then he tries to kill her. Then he runs up five flights of stairs just to shoot me with his magic air gun and disappear. None of it makes any sense.
Olivia: And how is this different from any other day?

Peter: You ever feel like every time we get close to getting the answers, somebody changes the question?
Olivia: So why is this your favorite book?
Peter: Because it talks about not depending on other people for answers.  That you can only find the answers inside yourself. Which, given our current situation is kind of amusing, if you think about it....?


  • The Observer is seen throughout the episode, playing a key part in the episode's story.
  • When Astrid Farnsworth comments on Walter Bishop's funky colored glasses, he says that Doctor Jacoby (a character on Twin Peaks famous for wearing these glasses), a friend of his from Washington State invented them, in order to be able to see a man's aura.
    • They're also similar to the Doctor's 3d glasses from Doomsday in Doctor Who, a series based on time travel.
  • Bobby Joyce died in 1985, but not before he time traveled to the future to visit his aged father, Roscoe Joyce (Christopher Lloyd), in an assisted living facility. Christopher Lloyd is famously known for his portrayal of Doctor Emmett Brown in "Back to the Future", a film whose theme is time travel and is set in 1985.
  • The song "If I Only Had a Brain [Heart/The Nerve]" can be heard at the end of the episode when Walter is making Peter Bishop dinner, and serving it to him.
  • Although credited, Blair Brown (Nina Sharp) does not appear in this episode.
  • If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!: The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients by Sheldon B. Kopp is a real book, first published in 1972.
  • In a cut scene from the Season 2 finale (Special on disk 6 in the DVD Box), Walternate drives in a car with Peter, listening to Violet Sedan Chair - 'Hovercraft Mother.' Walternate states that they are his favorite band, with their third album being his most favorite. Peter refers to the band as a somewhat soundtrack of his life, but there was only one album of theirs that existed in the Prime Universe. This is explained in this episode by the chain reaction that Peter's presence in the Prime Universe set off caused the keyboarder's son to die, which led to the band breaking up.
  • The phrase "unforeseen consequences" is the title of the 3rd chapter of Half-Life (video game), whose G-Man directly inspired the Observers.


  • "Viva la Sauna Svedese (Mah-Nà Mah-Nà)" by Piero Umiliani
  • "If I Only Had a Brain" by Jeremy Little