The Same Old Story

Season 1, Episode 02
Aired: September 16th, 2008
Written By: Jeff Pinkner, J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Directed By: Paul Edwards

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Resources: IMDb | Wikipedia | Transcript
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The Same Old Story

The Glyphs

This episode's glyphs spell: C-H-I-L-D

This episode's cold open featured the birth of a child who aged rapidly. The main villain, also prone to rapid aging, was the son of Dr. Penrose who tried to help his son remain young.

Glyph symbol CGlyph symbol HGlyph symbol IGlyph symbol LGlyph symbol D
Glyph symbol C
Glyph symbol H
Glyph symbol I
Glyph symbol L
Glyph symbol D

The Observer

The Observer stands at the hospital desk where the newborn man lies dead.


Timestamp: 09:26

Episode Clues

Previous Episode Clue

The pen and the rose pictured on the newspaper stand outside of Massive Dynamic in 'Pilot' represent the villains of 'The Same old Story', Claus and Christopher Penrose.

Previous episode clue

Timestamp: 55:42

Next Episode Clue

A street sign outside of the Massive Dynamic building in 'The Same Old Story' has a sticker placed over it that reads "Voces Video." This translates to "I see voices" in Latin, the problem that affects Roy in 'The Ghost Network'.

Next episode clue

Timestamp: 44:07

Items of Interest

  • 'The Pattern' is introduced.

Fringe Division Case File

U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
121 105th Street • Washington, DC 20735
Phone: (202) 555-2100 • Fax: (202) 555-2101


FRINGE EVENT: Surgically induced Progeria (advanced aging disease)

CLASSIFIED CASE CONNECTION(S): US Department of Defense Super Soldier cultivation program -- Dr. Walter Bishop



FILE ARCHIVED BY: Thomas Howland

WITNESSES/CONTACTS: Dr. Claus Penrose, Christopher Penrose (deceased), Jane Doe

LOCATION: Wallace Bromley Medical Center, Scarlet Red Motel, Boston, MA; Stoughton, MA

VICTIM(S): Loraine Daisy Alcott, Alcott child, Jane Doe, serial murders in NJ and NY


Loraine Daisy Alcott arrived at Wallace Bromley Medical Center in labor, where she gave birth to a son and immediately died. Agents discovered that Alcott had an abnormally accelerated surprise pregnancy, giving birth within hours of conception. In the hospital, her child aged from newborn to approximately eighty years old in the span of thirty minutes. Agent Dunham followed a tip to the Scarlet Red Motel to find where Alcott originated. There, Agent Dunham recognized the leftover evidence in the room as matching that of a serial killer working in New Jersey and New York.
 FBI consultant Dr. Walter Bishop determined the pregnancy was likely from hyperaccelerated pituitary gland growth, and he suggested that Boston College professor Dr. Claus Penrose, who was a scientist once in government employ with Dr. Bishop, would have more information. Dr. Bishop and his son (and fellow FBI consultant) Peter Bishop used laser optic equipment on a Jane Doe victim's postmortem retina to ascertain images of Dr. Penrose and his "son," Christopher Penrose, preparing a victim for pituitary extraction in a makeshift operating room near Sergeant Bridge. Agent Dunham and Peter Bishop were able to save another female victim at Stoughton warehouse. Before dying, Christopher Penrose admitted to Agent Dunham that he was one of Dr. Penrose's paid-for experiments, kept alive because his "father" loved him. Dr. Penrose escaped with a gunshot injury; he is still at large.

Walter's Food

Walter ate popcorn and mentioned grilled cheese sandwiches in his lab notes.
Connection: Popcorn
Timestamp: 41:09

Walter's Lab Notes

- Project 397 - Exploration 23 -

The regulation of celermitosis, which despite Mr. Nixon's fervent support I could never perfect, must finally have been cracked by modern techniques. Exactly how remains a mystery, though the transmission of rapid growth from parent to child suggests the answer is genetic. Perhaps retroviral therapy was employed to manipulate the genome directly. Yet I cannot rule out epigenetic inheritance, via methylation of growth-regulating gene complexes.

Regardless of mechanism, it appears the interval from conception to senescence may be shrinking. But then, isn't that the very point? Of course! Army Intelligence -- whose symbol is the Hellenic Sphinx -- aimed to make the monster's famed riddle literally true: "What animal is that which in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two, and in the evening upon three?" Bullfinch, you rascal -- you had the timing right.

The suspect's chronological and biological ages would sharply diverge. He might have passed only twelve years since his birth, yet appear in his thirties or even older. His own parents -- supposing he has them -- must have lamented the abrupt passage of his childhood. Just as I have. The better part of two decades, gone in the blink of an eye, and all at once the sullen chubby child is a sullen grown man.

An instant, and yet an eternity. Precise reasoning was unthinkable in that awkward space, that squalid square cell I was forced to imagine rectangular. The grilled cheese sandwiches were also squares -- not rectangles -- nor even triangles -- nor even separated from their crusts despite my repeated admonitions. Even partitioning the floor with tape, and removing my Spartan furniture from the offending floor space, failed to restore clarity. The orderlies never understood. My son doesn't either -- but at least he successfully reanimated the old Vista Cruiser. If he hadn't, I might not have stumbled upon the master list in the glove compartment.

Like Oedipus, we have answered the Sphinxian riddle, yet still we lack wisdom. Oedipus gained insight by plucking his eyes from their orbits, but hopefully we can gain the vision we seek from the eyes of our very own blind Tiresias. The poor girl may help others avoid her fate.

Each infinitesimal cross-section of the optic nerve will contain remnants of the victim's final images. The photon impulses will enter through the front of the eyeball, traverse the length of the optic nerve and then bounce back, retrieving the fragments which we will then piece together. Of course, each cross-section corresponds to a slightly different moment in time and thus the...

Walter's Lab Notes

Notable Quotes

DR. PENROSE: "No one in power should ever learn what [Walter] knows."

BROYLES on 'The Pattern': "A series of events has occurred, continues to occur, that has us and other agencies on alert. These events appear to be scientific in nature and suggest a larger strategy, a coordinated effort. It's been referred to as 'The Pattern.'"

WALTER: "It's one of the inherent pitfalls of being a scientist. Trying to maintain that distinction between God's domain and our own. Sometimes I forget, myself."

Connection Chart

A visualization of all the ways this episode connects to other episodes. Scroll down to see the actual connections.

Episode Connections

Spoilers for future episodes below!

S1E03 - The Ghost Network

  • The victim at the beginning of 'The Same Old Story' used the fake name Amber, a nod to the weapon used in 'The Ghost Network'.

S1E10 - Safe

  • WALTER in 'The Same Old Story': "You have no idea where I've hidden things!"
      In 'Safe' the Fringe team learns that Walter has hid pieces of a machine in safety deposit boxes around New England.
  • WALTER in 'The Same Old Story': "It's one of the inherent pitfalls of being a scientist. Trying to maintain that distinction between God's domain and our own. Sometimes I forget myself, but then you already know that. If you've read my file then you know the truth about Peter's medical history."
      Walter elaborates on Peter's medical history in 'Safe' when he discusses the device he made to help save Peter which the villains try to steal to free David Robert Jones.
  • MASSIVE DYNAMIC TECHNICIAN in 'Safe': "We managed to resolve the last image in Agent Scott's optic nerve before he died."
      This is the same technique Walter used on one of the victims in 'The Same Old Story'.

S1E12 - The No-Brainer

  • WALTER in a car in 'The Same Old Story': "I've never seen a feature like this before. It warms your ass. It's wonderful. Have you tried it?"
      Later that season:
    WALTER at a crime scene at a car dealership in in 'The No-Brainer': "I wonder if they sell cars here with those seats that warm your ass."


S2E07 - Of Human Action

  • Nina refers to the Penrose-Carson experiments in 'Of Human Action', an episode about a boy who is revealed to be a clone. His father, Dr. Carson, was actually just the lead scientist on the cloning project. The Penrose-Carson experiments suggest that the clones are linked to Dr. Penrose's experiments in rapid aging in 'The Same Old Story'.

S2E15 - Peter

  • CHRISTOPHER PENROSE in 'The Same Old Story': "Someone paid him, the man I call my father. He should've let me die. That was his mistake. But he was blinded because he loved me."
      Walter made the same mistake, as shown in 'Peter'.
  • WALTER in 'The Same Old Story': "It's one of the inherent pitfalls of being a scientist. Trying to maintain that distinction between God's domain and our own. Sometimes I forget myself, but then you already know that. If you've read my file then you know the truth about Peter's medical history."
      We learn the full extent of Peter's medical history, and what Walter did to save him, in 'Peter'.

S2E17 - White Tulip

  • Olivia's pregnancy dream in 'The Same Old Story' is in a waiting area with giant tulips.
Connection: Tulips
S1E02 - The Same Old Story
Timestamp: 33:04

S3E07 - The Abducted

  • In 'The Abducted' Olivia, as she regains more and more of her real memories, recalls the case in 'The Same Old Story' where a man drained hormones from pituitary glands to restore youthfulness.

S3E15 - Subject 13

  • Olivia's pregnancy dream in 'The Same Old Story' is in a waiting area with giant tulips. Young Olivia fled to a field with white tulips when she got scared.
Connection: Tulip field
Tulip field
S3E15 - Subject 13
Timestamp: 33:00

S3E18 - Bloodline

  • Fauxlivia's pregnancy is accelerated in 'Bloodline' to get ahead of her VPE for a higher chance of survival, similar to the case in 'The Same Old Story'.

S4E19 - Letters of Transit

  • Walter's car in 'The Same Old Story' has a severed hand in a jar, and Peter jokes "Friend of yours?". Walter eventually cuts William Bell's hand out of amber in 'Letters of Transit'.
Connection: Hand in a jar
Hand in a jar
S1E02 - The Same Old Story
Timestamp: 21:01
Connection: Bell's hand in amber
Bell's hand in amber
S4E19 - Letters of Transit
Timestamp: 41:08

S5E02 - In Absentia

  • Etta's angel device in 'In Absentia' can age someone in a matter of minutes, similar to the rapid aging in 'The Same Old Story'.

S5E04 - The Bullet that Saved the World

  • WALTER in 'The Same Old Story': "You have no idea where I've hidden things!"
      Walter retrieved his plans for destroying the Observers from a hiding place in a wall in the subway platform beneath Newark-Penn Station in 'The Bullet that Saved the World'.

S5E11 - The Boy Must Live

  • In 'The Boy Must Live' we learn that Observers are grown in a lab very quickly, on the order of minutes/hours, similar to the rapid aging in 'The Same Old Story'.