White Tulip
Season 2, Episode 17
Air date April 15, 2010
Written by Jeff Vlaming
J.H. Wyman
Directed by Thomas Yatsko
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Cast | Transcript

"White Tulip" is the seventeenth episode of the second season on Fringe.


When passengers aboard a commuter train appear to have died a still death, it seems that a switch was flipped because all cell phones, mp3 players, laptops, batteries and bodies have been drained of power. As the Fringe team assembles at the bizarre crime scene, Peter remains suspicious that something is amiss with Walter, who is struggling to keep the unimaginable a secret. When the investigation leads them to Alistair Peck, a very powerful man who has tremendous energy with severe consequences, an ironic set of circumstances surface.



Walter writing a letter to Peter.

Walter Bishop struggles with writing a letter to Peter Bishop to explain the events from 1985 that led Walter to bring Peter to his universe from the Alternate Universe. As he contemplates the final letter, he and the rest of the Fringe team are called to investigate several dead bodies in a passenger car of a train. Walter, seeing the victim's personal electronics similarly drained, suspects someone drew energy from both the people and their devices' batteries. They trace the man responsible to MIT astrophysics professor Alistair Peck, and enter his residence to search for clues, finding evidence that Alistair was studying time travel. Alistair arrives while the Fringe team is there, and activates a mechanism on his body, causing him to travel back in time.


Alistair reappearing on the train.

Alistair reappears on the train at the same point in time as his previous travel, again having drained the people aboard it, and alters his behavior to avoid another encounter with the Fringe team. However, when they are brought to investigate this time, they have a feeling of déjà vu and find other evidence that points to Alistair, and determine that he is trying to go back in his personal time line several months ago to prevent the death of his fiance Arlette Turling in a car collision. Alistair is found at his MIT office. Walter, having read through Alistair's writings on time travel, offers to go in and talk to Alistair first before the armed officers attempt to seize him.



Walter approaches Alistair as a fellow man of science, who is replacing components that form a time machine that he has constructed within his body. Walter professes that Alistair's attempt to jump back several months would require a great deal more power than Alistair has predicted, possibly killing hundreds in the area near where he appears. Alistair, aware of this, recalls an empty field where he was at, a few blocks from where his fiancée died, and plans to use this field where only the vegetation will die out from his arrival. Walter continues to try to discourage Alistair from making the attempt by explaining his own case of coming to believe in a higher power, hoping for a sign of forgiveness in the form of a white tulip for his actions in stealing Peter from the parallel universe. With God's forgiveness, Walter believes it will be possible for Peter to forgive him once he learns the truth of who he is.

Walter Alistrair

Walter and Alistair.

Alistair considers this, but with Walter's time up, the armed forces start to move in. Alistair jumps back in time again by only a few hours to complete the modified power calculations based on Walter's comments, and to prepare a pre-addressed letter he brings with him. As his location is discovered and armed forces barge in, Alistair re-engages his time machine. Alistair's modifications have worked, as he finds himself in the field, minutes before his fiance's death. Alistair is able to make it to his fiance in time, reuniting just long enough to say "I love you" before they are both killed by the collision.

Walter white tulip



White tulip.

In the present, the events of the episode never occurred, and Walter, having time to contemplate the letter to Peter instead of being called to the case, tosses it into the fireplace. Later, he receives an envelope in the mail—the one Alistair had prepared and instructed to be delivered to Walter on this specific date. Inside, Walter finds a hand-drawn image of a white tulip.

Notable Quotes[]

Peter: Yeah, I read that deja vu is Fate's way of telling you that you're exactly where you're supposed to be. That's why you feel like you've been there before. You are right in line with your own destiny.
Olivia: Well, do you believe that?
Peter: Mm... no. It's a bit mystical for my taste. I never get them, myself. Maybe that's because I'm not on track with my own destiny.

Alistair Peck: Walter, God is science. God is polio and flu vaccines and MRI machines, and artificial hearts. If you are a man of science, then that's the only faith we need.

Walter: I, too, attempted the unimaginable, and I succeeded. I crossed into another universe and took a son that wasn't mine. And since then, not a day has passed without me feeling the burden of that act. I'm going to tell you something that I have never told another soul. Until I took my son from the other side, I had never believed in God. But it occurred to me... that my actions had betrayed Him and that everything that had happened to me since was God punishing me. So now I'm looking for a sign of forgiveness. I've asked God for a sign of forgiveness. A specific one: a white tulip.



The Observer

  • The Observer is seen after Dr. Peck travels back to the date of his wife's death, immediately before the truck hits the car. He is standing in the doorway watching the accident.
  • The role of Alistair Peck was originally scripted to be played by David Bowie, who later turned down the role allowing Weller to play the role instead.
  • When the woman at MIT describes Dr. Alistair Peck's formulas as "gobbledygook," Olivia Dunham says that she knows "someone fluent in gobbledygook." She is talking about Walter Bishop.
  • "Faraday" refers to a scientist/theologian in our real world, Michael Faraday, who made significant discoveries in the fields of chemistry and electromagnetism in the 1800s. The "Faraday mesh" referred to in the episode is based on a real device developed by Michael Faraday, also called a "Faraday cage."
  • In LOST the character Daniel Faraday (also named for Michael Faraday) performs experiments in time travel and is unstuck in time as a result of a family tragedy.
  • Some fans have noted that this episode is similar in structure to "The Time Machine" by H. G. Wells, but adding more complex ideas not found on the classic sci-fi story, such as timeline branching and the central plot point of paradoxical objects in timelines, such as the proverbial white tulip, foreshadowing the true origins of The Vacuum and the series finale as well.
  • Although credited, Blair Brown (Nina Sharp) does not appear in this episode.


  • The first time the team investigates Peck's house, Olivia's hair changes between scenes. When seen from behind, her hair is in a bun with a fan of hair below it, in the next shot, her hair is tied up, with only a few strands loose below the bun.
  • Déjà vu was prominently discussed before in the context of the alternate universe. It's very strange that no one draws any connection in this episode.
  • As evidenced by the first scene of the episode, when jumping back in time, Peck does not merely 'step inside' his own past (transporting his consciousness back in time). He enters a place where he previously had not been (sending his mind and body back). Therefore, the Peck that went back to the date of his wife's crash, whether or not he arrived at the field before the original Peck arrived, was the mechanics-encased-in-flesh Peck that we already saw in the future. A person with all sorts of machinery underneath their flesh is something apt to be noticed by a Medical Examiner, following a crash. If a Medical Examiner had perused the remains and discovered the gears, electronics, and machinations, it is certainly something that Fringe Division would have been called in to consult on. This would have brought Peck to their attention sooner, thereby affecting future causality. However, as the episode ends with Walter seeing the tulip letter, we really don't know if in fact Fringe actually did investigate Peck in the new timeline that has been created.
    • However this can be somewhat remedied by considering the possibility that the original timelines in which only Arlette dies, are alternate universes to the Prime Universe that we have been following. While the Prime Universe is the one in which the time-travelling Peck is also killed, and when Walter receives the Tulip. (It is also implied that the time-travelling Peck replaced the Prime-Universe's Peck, as Carol Bryce refers to him as if he were dead. Furthermore it can be assumed that any investigation into Peck's body was inconclusive as it isn't referenced prior to this episode)
  • Twice in the same conversation, Walter recites the title of Peck's work "Achieving The Arlette Principle," but the second time, the subtitles misspell it as "Principal".


  • "Are Friends Electric?" by Gary Numan
  • "The Sweetest Thing" by Camera Obscura


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