Back at the Harvard lab, where an ill placed bottle of ethanol and a tank of propane had slowed the labor of burning more master plan videotapes out of the amber (Walter, it seems, had been trying to clean the Hibachi to grill some bratwurst during a recording session),
"Abner" Astrid worked on decoding the ledger. She despaired because her single computer couldn't crack The Observer’s language. Then she had an epiphany. Astrid speculated that each individual character in The Observers’ language might have multiple meanings. A “B” might not just be a “B” but also a "C" and an "8" and a "6 and a "56." Olivia arranged to get more computing power, and eventually, Astrid made sense of the ledger.
Meanwhile, Walter presented Peter with a plan of attack. Using an impressive model involving toy cars, green plastic army soldiers, a black sheet and marbles, Walter demonstrated how a wormhole worked. He suggested that if they could collapse and cinch the 2036 end of the wormhole with anti-matter, then the wormhole would become a black hole, causing mucho devastation on the far-future end. It was essential that they figure out how to work the wormhole tech – The Cube – so they could open and control the doorway in the present when The Observers initiated the corridor form the future. That meant getting the captured Observer to spill his secrets, by any means necessary.
Peter was gung-go to execute those means. Olivia expressed her fears, asked him to check himself. But Peter, silly Peter, somehow made Olivia feel like the one who wasn’t thinking clearly. “Our daughter dedicated her life to freeing us. Now we’re going to make sure that that means something,” he said. “When we win, when we beat them, I want everyone to know that Etta is responsible for the world being saved.” Olivia: “I want that too.” Peter: “Then we have to do this. And we can. Together.” It wasn’t ‘famous last words,’ as more words would follow… but it sure sounded like it.
Peter traveled to the apartment where The Resistance was keeping the captured Observer on ice, almost literally: An infusion of chemicals – basically anti-freeze – was preventing The Observer from using his science-indistinguishable-from-magic to apparate and escape. (This week’s featured Baldie was well played by John Prosky. The smart casting of The Observers continues the project of making these characters the menacing heavies they need to be.) Peter intimated he was going to physically torture The Observer. And he didn't care if The Observer used his Jedi power and read his mind to glean his intentions, because it didn’t matter: “You and I both know you're not going to walk out of here.”
The Observer smirked. “You don't even know what you don’t know.” His quip was an allusion to a bit of ancient wisdom attributed to several different deep thinkers. It was Plato’s Socrates who said, “I know one thing, that I know nothing.” Such sober self-awareness is admirable; it keeps us from doing rash things, like, say, the vengeance scheme Peter pursued in this episode. For those who lack this wisdom, there is the fate promised by the Persian poet Ibn Yamin: “One who doesn't know and doesn't know that he doesn't know/He will be eternally lost in his hopeless oblivion!”
Round One of Peter vs. The Observer was fought on the psychic plane. Leveraging the mentalist skills he mastered during his years as a scam artist, Peter attempted to manipulate The Observer into showing him how to assemble the components in The Observer’s wormhole kit, but without making The Observer say a word. As Peter assembled the treacherous puzzle pieces – one false move and KABLOOEY! --he studied The Observer’s eyeball on a video monitor. Peter’s theory was that The Observer – despite evolved physiology and technological augmentations – was nonetheless still human enough to have human tells. If The Observer was suddenly afraid, his pupil would contract. If that anxiety eased, his pupil would dilate. And so Peter eyeballed The Observer’s eyeball as he constructed the cube, and his theory seemed to prove itself at a critical moment. The Observer’s pupil contracted just as Peter was about to attach the final piece. Peter turned it the other way, and the pupil dilated. It worked. Mission: Accomplished. Peter: Victorious! He had beaten a superior mind-reader at his own game – and it felt good.
The Observer said nothing. Just gave him that cold, dead fish stare.
NEXT: Peter Bishop: Observer No. 1?