The Transformation

Season 1, Episode 13
Aired: February 3rd, 2009
Written By: Zack Whedon, J. R. Orci
Directed By: Brad Anderson

Recaps: Fandom Wiki | Fringepedia | AV Club
Resources: IMDb | Wikipedia | Transcript
Listen: The Fringe Podcast | TFP Rewatch
The Transformation

Episode Synopsis

This episode centers on the circumstances surrounding a deceased scientist, who was doped with a "designer virus" and transformed into a dangerous monster, causing his plane to crash. Fringe agent Olivia Dunham and FBI consultants Peter and Walter Bishop connect the event to an impending arms deal. Olivia must explore her mind for remaining memories of her former partner and lover, John Scott, in order to prevent the sale of the virus.

Synopsis provided by the Fandom Wiki, Fringepedia, and Wikipedia.

The Glyphs

This episode's glyphs spell: A-V-I-A-N

Marshall Bowman's transformation into a monster happened on a plane during a commercial flight.

Glyph symbol AGlyph symbol VGlyph symbol IGlyph symbol AGlyph symbol N
Glyph symbol A
Glyph symbol V
Glyph symbol I
Glyph symbol A
Glyph symbol N

The Observer

The Observer is on the far left of the soccer field just before Flight 718 crashes.


Timestamp: 05:17

Episode Clues

Previous Episode Clue

The car dealership in 'The No-Brainer' has a sign for leasing a car for $718 a month. The flight that crashed in 'The Transformation' was VertusAir flight number 718.

Previous episode clue

Timestamp: 09:49

Next Episode Clue

The motel sign in Olivia's dreamscape in 'The Transformation' says "ZFT" on it, foreshadowing the resurgence of ZFT in the plot of 'Ability.'

Next episode clue

Timestamp: 24:00

Items of Interest

  • Marshall Bowman had a disk in his hand like John Scott and the woman in 'The Ghost Network'. (Image 1)
  • The pub Peter mentions, The White Horse, is a real restaurant.
  • John Scott is gone.
Item of interest: Disk in Marshall Bowman's hand
Image 1: Disk in Marshall Bowman's hand
Timestamp: 11:31

JJ Abrams Easter Eggs

  • There were 147 passengers on Flight 718. (J.J.)

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: Designer virus that rewrites DNA


AGENTS ASSIGNED: Dunham, Francis


FILE ARCHIVED BY: Carmilla Wong, Kelli Harper

WITNESSES/CONTACTS: Gavin (in custody), Conrad Etienne Moreau (in custody)

LOCATION: Scarsdale, NY; Fairchild Hotel, Chicago, IL

VICTIM(S): Marshall Bowman, 146 passengers, Daniel Hicks (suspect)


VertusAir Flight 718 experienced a catastrophic crash. Witnesses say the plane just fell out of the sky. Air traffic control reported getting a distress call from the pilot, but it was cut off, and they lost communication. The official cause given to the public was engine failure, but in reality, a creature was unleashed on the victims and caused the crash.
 The creature was actually Marshall Bowman (42), who worked in Marseille and managed corporate accounts. Dr. Bishop determined that Bowman was dosed with a designer virus that completely rewrote Bowman's DNA. Autopsy found evidence of an extradural hematoma and possibly epistaxis, along with a glass disk about the size of a nickel—the same kind of disc recovered from DEA Agent Evelina Mendoza's palm [Case File #103-92308]. Bowman had been flying in to meet Daniel Hicks, who owns an import/export company based in Chelsea. Nina Sharp of Massive Dynamic helped retrieve information from the disk, which references Conrad, a scientist designing chemical and biological weapons for sale on the black market. CIA acquired French intelligence related to DC that tipped off a major weapons sale in Chicago.
 Agent Dunham remembered another memory of Agent Scott with Bowman. Scott intel indicated that Bowman, Hicks, and Agent Scott were part of an NSA secret task force to take out Conrad. Hicks worked with agents to set up a sting operation with Agent Dunham and consultant Peter Bishop.

Glyph Sightings

  • The leaf glyph is on the electronic keypad at Massive Dynamic.
Leaf glyph
Timestamp: 21:11

Walter's Food

Walter ate some watermelon and Chinese food.
Connection: Watermelon
Timestamp: 19:30
Connection: Chinese food
Chinese food
Timestamp: 32:04

Walter's Lab Notes

- Project 269 - Exploration 20 -

She comes to me one more time, demanding another dip in the tank -- to commune with the dead man who lives on in her mind -- to ask him more questions -- to plumb his thoughts... Plumbing! How did I not see it?

The fluid in the reservoir maintains a constant level, even when small quantities of fluid are added, as the excess flows out the siphon pipe. But! Forcing a larger volume of fluid (say, 7.5 L) into the reservoir completely fills the pipe, at which point gravitational pull on the fluid in the pipe creates a suction that nearly empties the reservoir of its contents.

Crucial caveat: Any solids within the reservoir must be smaller than the diameter of the siphon pipe, or at least soft enough to squeeze through. Otherwise, the solid matter may become stuck in the pipe. Then the excess fluid accumulates in the reservoir, overflowing once its surface reaches the rim.

Likewise, Scott's consciousness has become lodged in the plumbing of Dunham's brain, interrupting the free flow of neural impulses. Additional thoughts, encountering the obstruction yet failing to dislodge it, accumulate in the reservoir of the mind. Overflow naturally results -- and as homeowners know too well, the watery mess oft contains bits of the obstruction, unpleasant reminders of the past.

Restoration of function requires enough force to remove the blockage from the tube. A rubber bulb affixed to a rod can be of utmost assistance here, as proper positioning in the mouth of the siphon pipe creates a powerful suction. Like Poseidon's trident, whose watery bursts bring forth the tide! The two basic operations are PUSH and PULL. Forward thrusting of the rod PUSHES the obstruction toward the tail end of the pipe, while retraction of the rod PULLS the obstruction back toward the reservoir. Once the blockage breaks free, siphon action takes over -- resulting, one hopes, in a satisfying flush.

The synaptic transfer system provides our metaphorical bulb on a rod: a means of PUSHING and PULLING the neural blockage to and fro in the theater of mind. With appropriate manipulation of the chemical formula, the suction should be powerful enough to overcome neural friction. With luck, Dunham may at last achieve the purging she seeks.

Walter's Lab Notes

Connection Chart

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

Episode Connections

S1E01 - Pilot

  • There were 147 passengers on the plane in 'The Transformation', the same number as were on Flight 627 in 'Pilot' (J.J.).

S1E03 - The Ghost Network

  • In 'The Transformation' Marshall Bowman had a disk in his hand like the victim in 'The Ghost Network'.

Spoilers for future episodes below!

S2E19 - Brown Betty

  • Peter said Walter harmed 147 children in 'Brown Betty', the same number of passengers on Flight 718 from 'The Transformation'. (J.J.)

S4E16 - Nothing As It Seems

  • 'Nothing as it Seems' retells the story of 'The Transformation' with different details due to the different timeline.
  • The ship at the end of 'Nothing as it Seems' shows creatures like the Porcupine Man from 'The Transformation'.
Connection: Porcupine creatures
Porcupine creatures
S4E16 - Nothing As It Seems
Timestamp: 42:30

S4E22 - Brave New World (Part 2)

  • Conrad Moreau, arrested for the illegal sale at the end of 'The Transformation', is a reference to the science-fiction novel 'The Island of Doctor Moreau' by H.G. Wells from the late 1800s. In it, a man named Moreau created an island community of human-animal hybrids and showed the repercussions of man playing God. William Bell's goal in 'Brave New World (Part 2)' was to be the creator of a new universe of animal hybrids, including the porcupine creatures from 'The Transformation'.