The Road Not Taken

Season 1, Episode 19
Aired: May 5th, 2009
Written By: Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, J. R. Orci
Directed By: Frederick E. O. Toye

Recaps: Fandom Wiki | Fringepedia | AV Club
Resources: IMDb | Wikipedia | Transcript
Listen: The Fringe Podcast | TFP Rewatch
The Road Not Taken

The Glyphs

This episode's glyphs spell: V-I-S-I-O-N

Olivia was able to solve this case by having visions of the same case in an alternate universe and comparing and contrasting the details.

Glyph symbol VGlyph symbol IGlyph symbol SGlyph symbol IGlyph symbol OGlyph symbol N
Glyph symbol V
Glyph symbol I
Glyph symbol S
Glyph symbol I
Glyph symbol O
Glyph symbol N

The Observer

The Observer arrives at Walter's lab and escorts him away.


Timestamp: 48:10

Episode Clues

Previous Episode Clue

A television news alert in 'Midnight' says "Update: Mysterious fire breaks out downtown", a reference to the spontaneous combustions in 'The Road Not Taken'.

Previous episode clue

Timestamp: 00:47

Next Episode Clue

In one of Olivia's glimpses of the alternate universe in 'The Road Not Taken' a building has "HE IS HERE" graffitied on its side, referencing William Bell being in the alternate universe in 'There's More Than One of Everything'.

Next episode clue

Timestamp: 18:31

Items of Interest

  • Olivia saw two bodies, the office of an alternate Broyles, and buildings on fire, all glimpses into another universe.
  • Susan Pratt's wardrobe is full of dark colors like Olivia's and Nick Lane's. (Image 1)
  • Olivia was able to use the phone in the other universe.
  • Emmanuel Grayson bears the same surname as the mother of Spock, Amanda Grayson. In addition, the series' creators were, at this time, involved in producing a new Star Trek movie which involves a plot similar to the one Grayson described. Emmanuel Grayson lives in apartment number 1701. That's the number of the Starship Enterprise. The actor playing Emmanuel Grayson, Clint Howard, guest-starred in 'The Corbomite Maneuver', the very first regular Star Trek episode to be filmed, in 1966.
Item of interest: Susan Pratt's wardrobe
Image 1: Susan Pratt's wardrobe
Timestamp: 13:18

JJ Abrams Easter Eggs

  • The bus at the beginning of the episode was the M47. (J.J.)
  • When examining the victim's charred corpse, Walter was carrying a Slusho! cup. (Slusho!)

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: Pyrokinesis, a form of telekinesis

CLASSIFIED CASE CONNECTION(S): Cortexiphan subject activation and David Robert Jones/ZFT/Pattern cases

AGENTS ASSIGNED: Dunham, Francis


FILE ARCHIVED BY: Richard Todd, Megan Hennessy

WITNESSES/CONTACTS: Emmanuel Grayson, Nancy Lewis

LOCATION: NYC; Charlestown, MA; 934 Whittier, Boston MA

VICTIM(S): Susan Pratt (FBI), Isaac Winters (deceased), Consultant Sanford Harris (DHS; deceased)


Tollbooth operator Susan Pratt (29) was riding a local bus when she reportedly became agitated and demanded to be let off. Moments later, she caught fire and exploded. Police combed the area and couldn't find any evidence of an accelerant or an incendiary device. There was evidence of other fires at the victim's apartment.
 Dr. Bishop suspected that Pratt's pyrokinesis was a newfound ability that she could not control, so the energy turned inward. Triggers included possible emotional stress, agitation, or any high anxiety. Conspiracy theorist Emmanuel Grayson connected the case to one three weeks prior in Budapest, where the victim was an American graduate student on holiday. The Hungarian police said he was attacked and set on fire, but Grayson deemed it a cover-up for Dr. Bell, trying to activate his subjects. Consultant Peter Bishop was able to localize sound in liquefied glass that revealed suspect Isaac Winters was with Pratt. Agent Dunham tracked another subject, Nancy Lewis, to Winters in a warehouse. Winters was killed and consultant Sanford Harris was implicated as a Jones collaborator and also killed.

Walter's Food

Walter drank a Slusho! drink, asked for Franken Berry cereal, ate Berry Boom cereal, had a chocolate milkshake, and talked about Berry Boom cereal in his lab notes.
Connection: Slusho!
Timestamp: 05:26
Connection: Berry Boom cereal
Berry Boom cereal
Timestamp: 14:41
Connection: Milkshake
Timestamp: 42:49

Walter's Lab Notes

- Project X - Exploration Y -
(values to be determined later)

I knew if I banged away long enough on that old machine, the answer would come to me! I should have known. The spacing of the keys was uncomfortable, far better suited to Belly's long fingers. But it took yesterday's hard spring rain to remind me of the truth. I did not write the manifesto after all! A heavy burden shifted off my conscience, and onto his.

"But you will exceed all of them," said Jesus to Judas, "for you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." An act of brotherhood, not betrayal! For without Judas, Jesus could never have shuffled his mortal coil and risen to heaven. The Gospel of Judas fundamentally alters the meaning of the entire New Testament. And so, of course, it had to be purged from the canon. Likewise the Chapter of Ethics: it may cast an entirely different light on the manifesto. William Bell was no monster! The lost chapter will vindicate him, of this I am sure. But where will I find it? Sense memory is the key! Eyes are not enough. Olfactory and gustatory stimuli implant the deepest memories, in the most primitive and least manipulable regions of the brain. What was I eating back in those days? A sugary cereal of some kind, a breakfast-time tribute to Mary Shelley. Damn, what was it?

- Project 449 - Exploration 5 -

Mr. King certainly wasn't the first to construct fantasies about controlling fire. The Ancients took their turn at that. Prometheus delivered fire to man, and for that he was eternally punished, sacrificing his liver daily. Mixcoatl also gave the gift of fire, but it was his heart that was eaten. Surt led an entire race of fire giants in Muspelheim. In each case, fire (so often a metaphor for technology) was understood for both its productive and destructive qualities. The Romans' fire deity was known by two names: Vulcan, but also Mulciber. Might this dual name have hinted at fire's dual nature? Can it be a coincidence that Susan Pratt also seems to have had a twin?

The ability to direct fire outside the body seemingly rules out a purely chemical [...] the hypothesis of subatomic particles that could possibly mediate [...]

- Project X - Exploration (Y + 1) -

Agent Dunham was right to excoriate me. She deserves answers, and I ought to provide them. For our collective sakes, we need to solve for X and Y.

The solution might very well be found in the lost chapter. But Berry Boom is a sad substitute for Frankenberry. I haven't recovered a single pathetic memory.

A different sense, then. Auditory. William did enjoy listening to Robert Johnson while he worked, and especially while writing his notes. I preferred Chicago, but he insisted on Delta blues. Perhaps if I play those old records, it will jar something loose.

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

S1E18 - Midnight

  • Peter worked on a present for Walter in 'Midnight' that he reveals to Walter in 'The Road Not Taken'.

Spoilers for future episodes below!

S1E20 - There's More Than One of Everything

  • Nina said Bell is traveling in 'The Road Not Taken'. It's revealed in 'There's More Than One of Everything' that he's in the other universe.
  • Olivia's glimpse into the other side in 'The Road Not Taken' showed a building with "He is here" on the wall, foreshadowing Bell being in the other universe in 'There's More Than One of Everything'.
  • Emmanuel Grayson said he's Spock in 'The Road Not Taken', a hint to Leonard Nimoy's upcoming appearance in 'There's More Than One of Everything'.

S2E03 - Fracture

  • WALTER in 'The Road Not Taken': "Matter is just energy waiting to happen. The average adult at rest contains enough potential energy to explode with the force of five very large hydrogen bombs."
      Officer Gillespie exploded in such a way in 'Fracture'.
Connection: Officer Gillespie
Officer Gillespie
S2E03 - Fracture
Timestamp: 02:39

S2E14 - Jacksonville

  • Walter said that Nancy Lewis looked familiar in 'The Road Not Taken'; her name is on a height chart in the daycare center where the Cortexiphan trials took place in 'Jacksonville'.
Connection: Cortexiphan subject names
Cortexiphan subject names
S2E14 - Jacksonville
Timestamp: 20:01

S2E21 - Over There (Part 1)

  • ALT CHARLIE in 'The Road Not Taken': "You have half of Boston in quarantined lockdown and you're worried about a pair of charred twins?"
      In 'Over There (Part 1)' we see the amber quarantine protocol in effect.

S2E22 - Over There (Part 2)

  • WALTER in 'The Road Not Taken': "Matter is just energy waiting to happen. The average adult at rest contains enough potential energy to explode with the force of five very large hydrogen bombs."
      William Bell provided all of the energy in his body to fuel a universe hop for Walter, Peter, and Fauxlivia in 'Over There (Part 2)'.
Connection: Bell's energy
Bell's energy
S2E22 - Over There (Part 2)
Timestamp: 38:03

S3E15 - Subject 13

  • Walter said that Nancy Lewis looked familiar in 'The Road Not Taken'; she was one of his test subjects in the Cortexiphan trials in 'Subject 13'.

S4E19 - Letters of Transit

  • When Olivia and Peter tried to get information on the victim in 'The Road Not Taken', Emmanuel Grayson said the coming war would be against the "Romulans, renegade Romulans from the future, here to change the timeline." They dismissed him as crazy, but the Observers did end up invading in such a way in 'Letters of Transit'.

S5E10 - Anomaly XB-6783746

  • The Observers read Nina's phone call from the impressions her sound waves made on the glass in her office in 'Anomaly XB-6783746', like Peter did in to hear the phone call Nancy Lewis made in 'The Road Not Taken'.
Connection: Peter cutting out glass
Peter cutting out glass
S1E19 - The Road Not Taken
Timestamp: 32:38
Connection: Observers reading glass impressions
Observers reading glass impressions
S5E10 - Anomaly XB-6783746
Timestamp: 05:53

S5E13 - An Enemy of Fate

  • The Observers read Broyles' phone call from the impressions his sound waves made on the glass in his car in 'An Enemy of Fate', like Peter did in to hear the phone call Nancy Lewis made in 'The Road Not Taken'.
Connection: Peter cutting out glass
Peter cutting out glass
S1E19 - The Road Not Taken
Timestamp: 32:38
Connection: Loyalist reading glass impressions
Loyalist reading glass impressions
S5E13 - An Enemy of Fate
Timestamp: 04:00