The Vacuum (or the Machine) exists in both universes and has the ability to create or destroy worlds. It was designed by Walter Bishop in 2026 and sent back in time through a wormhole in the shattered universes' fabrics. Somehow, Walternate acquired the device with the intention of destroying the other universe in order to save his own. He used his son, Peter Bishop, in his insidious plot as nothing more than a pawn in his elaborate agenda.
- 1 History
- 2 Function
- 3 The Machine Over Here
- 4 The Machine Over There
- 5 New Timeline
- 6 The Bridge
- 7 Turning Off the Machine
The device is an ontological paradox, having never been created or destroyed, instead, existing in a time loop. It was originally thought to have been created by an ancient civilization called the First People. Several sketches were created detailing the device and its uses, most prominently being the one of Peter Bishop activating the Machine with fire coming out of his eyes amid the backdrop of a destroyed city. The artist of these sketches is currently unknown. ("Over There: Part 2") Another sketch depicts Olivia Dunham acting as the crowbar.
In the year 2026, Walter realized that the First People were actually not prehistoric beings, but himself. He realized that he could revert the damage by sending the Machine back in time, knowing that it would be discovered by the Fringe Division. He altered the Machine by creating a system that would send Peter's consciousness forward in time. In the future, Peter would be able to see the repercussions of destroying the Alternate Universe and make a different choice.
Naturally, the most logical decision would be to not send the Machine back at all, thus guaranteeing the Alternate Universe would never be destroyed. However, because the Machine was indeed sent back in time originally, Walter had no choice but to send it back again or else risk creating a paradox. Walter explained to Peter that by instituting a technology that would allow Peter's consciousness to travel forward in time, he would be able to circumvent the rules of time and give Peter the opportunity to create a different choice.
Walter intended to send the Machine back through time by way of a wormhole, meaning that he, himself, was actually the origin of the First People myth and that the Machine paradoxically exists but cannot exist. ("The Day We Died") As it was transported back to a time period before the two universes split, it was duplicated when the Alternate-Universe was created.
When Peter Bishop returned to his universe, he studied the Machine and discovered that the parameters of the device were a part of the human genome, only responding to a narrow subset of individuals...a subset of one: himself. His father, Walternate, claimed that the Machine would solve the universe's problems, but in actuality, it
would destroy the other universe.("Season 2") In a meeting between Sam Weiss and Nina Sharp, Sam explained to Nina that the Machine had the power to create or destroy and was tied in directly to Peter's consciousness. Whichever universe he was "more in tune with" would be saved. Sam stated that whichever Olivia he chose would determine which universe survived, as his love and heart would belong to her universe. ("Concentrate and Ask Again")
When activated, the Machine caused a series of horrendous events. A vortex opened up, wiping out an entire farm. Strange weather patterns, such as erratic dry lightning, enveloped the entire East Coast. Hundreds of people were injured with second-degree burns. Micro-quakes originated in areas like California and Florida, soon making their way to Liberty Island. ("6:02 AM EST") The Machine was programmed to reject any outside interference once it had been activated. The two versions of the weapon were quantum-entangled, so when one activated, the other was automatically activated as well. ("The Last Sam Weiss")
The "Crowbar" was the fail-safe of the Machine. Because the Machine-generated a force field around it, the Crowbar would circumvent this force field and allow it to be penetrated. The secret to the crowbar was held inside a box that was preserved in the tomb of the Fifth Sam Weiss, with the key to this box being stored in an exhibit in the Whitley Museum in Boston. The illustration in the box portrayed Olivia Dunham as the crowbar. Olivia, with her telekinetic abilities, had the sole potential to pry open the force field. ("The Last Sam Weiss")
Seeing the Future
Upon Peter's entrance of the Machine, his consciousness was brought forward in time to the year 2026. This was implemented by Walter Bishop prior to sending the Machine back in time through the wormhole. ("The Day We Died")
The Machine Over Here
Discovery of the Device
Olivia Dunham was tipped off regarding the existence of such a deadly weapon by The Observer. Sitting alone at the bar, Olivia discovered the blueprint of a dying Peter Bishop activating the weapon set amid the backdrop of a destroyed city. This was left on the barstool by the Observer. Immediately, Olivia brought the sketch to the attention of Walter Bishop, who recognized the technology as that of William Bell. The FBI dashed into Massive Dynamic, where an appalled Nina Sharp denied any connection to the weapon. Now aware of the importance of bringing Peter Bishop back home, the Fringe Division set off on a mission to retrieve him...a mission that sent them to the Other Side. ("Over There: Part 2")
Finding the Missing Pieces
The alternate Olivia Dunham, now undercover acting as a double agent, was put in charge of Walternate's reconnaissance mission. Among her objectives was manipulating the Fringe Division into discovering the missing pieces of the Weapon on their side. Thomas Jerome Newton, now under her supervision, hired a team of thieves to locate a missing piece, contained in a soundproof box. He intended for the curiosity of the thieves to get the best of them, causing them to open the box and succumb to its ultrasonic emissions. Their deaths would attract the Fringe team and lead to their discovery of the untouched box. Newton's plan did not account for one slight anomaly- a third and unexpected thief that was deaf, thereby unaffected by the box. This thief took the piece, leading Fauxlivia to do damage control, retrieve the device, and return it to Newton. Newton then placed the box in a subway. The box was opened by another man, effectively killing all of the travellers in the subway. This major event caught the attention of Fringe Division, who finally obtained the box. ("The Box")
Later on, Astrid Farnsworth cracked the code of the Number Stations, learning that they were actually coordinates - thirty-nine in total - leading to locations all around the world. It turned out that each coordinate led to a separate piece of the Machine. ("6955 kHz") Knowing it would be discovered when she was taken into custody, Fauxlivia left a piece of the Machine in the care of The Librarian. ("Entrada") This piece was then delivered to Walternate. ("Immortality")
Assembling the Machine
Massive Dynamic began assembling the discovered pieces of the Machine at a top-secret government facility. However, the scientists could not locate a power source and assumed that the Machine was missing a vital component. Upon the arrival of Fringe Division, Peter Bishop's nose began to bleed. Seconds after this, the electronics in the room went haywire and the Machine was activated. Shocked, the entire room turned to stare at the device, dumbfounded at how this could have occurred, but Peter, knowing of his connection to the Machine, became confident that it was he who activated the device. ("Reciprocity")
The Machine Activated
Following Walternate's activation of the Machine on the other side (using the DNA of Peter's and Fauxlivia's newborn child) - the corresponding device in this universe also went live which sent shockwaves through the Fringe Division here that believed that Peter was the sole power source of the device.
On our side, a vortex opened at 6:02 AM, Eastern Standard Time, obliterating an entire field and causing strange weather patterns along the entire east coast.
Olivia appealed to Nina Sharp to discover a way to shut down the device. Nina led Olivia to Sam Weiss. However, Olivia couldn't locate him. Peter then attempted to step inside the Machine in a final act of desperation. The Machine rejected Peter, as it was already being occupied by another entity on the other side. Instead, as Peter made contact, he was shocked with a massive amount of electricity and sent sprawling across the facility. ("6:02 AM EST")
Walter appealed to Broyles in his decision to move the Machine to Liberty Island. It was here that he believed the damage would be slowed if the weapons in both universes occupied the same spot. Doing this, however, would significantly increase the damage on Liberty Island. ("The Last Sam Weiss")
Sam Weiss approached Olivia to come with him, where he explained to her the nature of the crowbar. He rushed her to the tomb of his family members, all Sam Weiss's like himself, and obtained a box from the coffin of the Fifth
Sam Weiss. This box was opened by a key that was hidden in the Whitley Museum. The two rushed to the museum and found the exhibit where the key was hidden inside of an old cement tablet. Narrowly escaping the museum alive, which was enveloped in an electrical storm caused by the Machine, the two used the key to open the box and discovered that the crowbar was actually Olivia. ("The Last Sam Weiss")
Olivia was able to disable the weapon, leading Peter to enter it and activate it himself. Peter's consciousness jumps to the year 2026, where he could see the damage his decision of destroying the Alternate Universe had caused. ("The Last Sam Weiss") With the knowledge he had learned, Peter realized he had to make a different choice, effectively preventing the future he had seen, and saving the Alternate Universe. Instead, Peter tore holes through soft spots on both sides, creating a bridge between both worlds where they could work together to find another solution to save the worlds. Peter's decision created a new timeline that erased him from existence. ("The Day We Died")
The Machine Over There
Walternate's First Moves
At an unknown time, Walter Bishop of the Alternate Universe acquired the Machine, placing it in a secure laboratory on Liberty Island, the headquarters for the Department of Defense. He intended to use it to destroy the other universe, thus saving his own. He was prepared to go to any lengths to achieve this goal, even if that meant the death of his only son, Peter. ("Over There: Part 2") Bishop crossed over to the other universe, retrieved his kidnapped son, and brought him home, only to have him activate the Machine. Furthermore, Walternate lied to Peter, claiming the device would fix all the universe's problems, leaving out that the universe Peter had called home for nearly his entire life would be destroyed in the process.
Bishop provided blueprints and technical data, leading his son to the shocking conclusion that the Machine seemed to be engineered specifically for him. Walternate then dispatched the alternate version of Olivia Dunham to pose undercover as her counterpart in the other universe. Here, she acted as a double agent, leading the Fringe Division along to discover the pieces of the Weapon on their side.("Season 2") Once all thirty-nine components of the Machine were located in the other universe, Fauxlivia notified Walternate, who ordered her to commence "Phase Two." ("6955 kHz")
After the Olivias Return
After the Olivias returned to their respective universes, Secretary Bishop remained hard at work. He received the piece of the Machine Fauxlivia had stolen from the other universe, which Brandon explained could be integrated by the end of the week. However, Bishop still needed to get his son to return to his universe to use the Machine. He began experimenting with Cortexiphan to find a way to easily cross over without Olivia Dunham, but the experiments hit a dead-end when he refused to test on children. An unexpected, yet welcomed development caused Walter to completely rethink his plan. Fauxlivia was pregnant with Peter's son. Whether he could use the child to activate the Machine like its father or lure Peter back to the alternate universe, Secretary Bishop knew an opportunity when he saw it. ("Immortality")
Activating the Machine
Walter tasked Brandon with kidnapping Olivia. A team of doctors brought Olivia to an abandoned warehouse in Chinatown, where they accelerated her pregnancy. Olivia escaped, giving birth to her son, Henry, in a shop. Olivia was then taken to a hospital, where a doctor, the same one that was working on Olivia in Chinatown, took a sample of the child's blood. He gave the sample to Brandon, who then gave it to Walter. ("Bloodline") The Department of Defense identified the twenty-three chromosomes that baby Henry had received from his father. It then used these chromosomes to form the correct genetic code required to activate the device. Secretary Bishop followed through with his plans to destroy the other universe by activating the weapon. ("6:02 AM EST")
Olivia, acting as a crowbar, was able to disable the Machine in both universes prior to Peter entering it, activating it this time from the Prime Universe. In the process of this, Peter's consciousness travelled forward in time, seeing the repercussions of destroying the Alternate Universe. ("The Last Sam Weiss") Instead, Peter tore holes in the soft spots of both universes, creating a bridge between them, and serving to slowly heal the damage caused to the Alternate Universe. He intended for this bridge to act as a place where both universes could work together to solve their problems. ("The Day We Died")
Reprogramming the Machine
When Peter created the bridge between the universes, a new timeline was created. In the Original Timeline, Peter destroyed the Alternate Universe (as well as the Prime Universe by default in 2026.) However, Peter's very existence was a paradox, as the Observers intervened in his life several times. To rectify this mistake, a new timeline was created where Peter died in both universes. As such, his influence would not be exerted on the machine, which would allow a bridge to be formed and the process of healing to begin for both universes. Many of the events he experienced with Fringe Division still occurred, and the Bridge remained in place. However, both universes believed that the Machine had been activated without Peter and that the Bridge had been caused as a result of this.
Peter eventually appears in the new timeline, with neither universe remembering his existence, and he seeks Walter's aid in reprogramming the Machine, as he believes it can return him to his own timeline. Walter refuses to help him, as in the new timeline when he first crossed over to save the boy Peter, the child drowned in Reiden Lake when they returned. Subsequently, Elizabeth Bishop committed suicide, and Walter lost his sanity. He reasons that the first time he tried to help Peter, he lost everything, and therefore will not allow himself to be tempted to do so again.
Peter then crosses over to ask Walternate's help. Walternate agrees to help him, on the condition that Peter become an intermediary between the two sides. Peter agrees, and Walternate begins work. However, he later confesses to his wife Elizabeth that he has no idea how to reprogram the Machine. Elizabeth later makes the decision to cross over and visit Walter, and after some persuading is able to convince him to help Peter.
David Robert Jones tasked Colonel Broyles with attaching some type of module to the Machine. Broyles turned himself over to the Prime Universe Fringe Division and put the device into their custody. After studying it, Walter reached the conclusion that this device would have allowed the Machine to collapse both universes.
The Bridge was created after Peter activated the Machine. It was literally a pathway between both worlds. This added stability served as a connection, but also kept both universes from colliding further. It enabled the Alternate Universe to heal. Ambered areas were slowly removed and the long work of restoration had begun. Walter explained that if the Machine were to be turned off, the other side wouldn't continue to get better, but it wouldn't get worse either.
Turning Off the Machine
David Robert Jones began exploiting Cortexiphan subjects, causing massive earthquakes in both universes. Enabled by the Machine, both worlds would collapse, save a space similar to that in Westfield, which would enable Jones to begin creating his own world. As a last resort, both Fringe teams realized separating the universes was the only option. They turned off the Machine, unsure of whether or not they would ever be able to turn it back on again. The pathway between worlds was sealed off forever.