We're in Boston, Massachusetts, according to the floaty letters over the city that must have been installed since the last time I was there. On what looks like a college campus, a hand pops open a normal-looking pocket watch, which reads five minutes and twenty seconds after nine. That same hand is then seen writing in a book, and you know the kind of writing I'm going to describe -- symbols, going from right to left, which don't look normal at all, unless you know how to read Observer-ese. A pair of folding opera glasses pop open, and we see through their magnified and graphically enhanced display, like Star Wars macrobinoculars but with better picture quality, as a bald man in a suit and a narrow-brimmed hat watches students through it, making more inscrutable notes in his journal. He takes an imperceptibly tiny sip from a thermos cup, checks his watch again, and looks through the binocs some more. "Nice specs," someone remarks from his elbow, and he turns to face the camera. For the first time, it's apparent that this is not The Observer we know and love (okay, actually we do neither), but merely an Observer, who dresses and acts and behaves just like him. The similarity extends all the way to the robotic mannerisms, but this one has a more angular face and ears that live on the side of his head rather than at the base of his jaw. "They're from somewhere far away," he explains to the speaker, a grizzled war veteran, then notices the man's collection box for war veterans. "I don't have any money," the observer (note the lack of capitalization) says, but the guy gives him an American flag pin anyway, attaching it neatly to his lapel. "Thank you," the observer spaces, and goes back to his Observing (note the return of the capitalization). Just in time, too, because he seems very interested in a smiling young brunette who's walking along the grounds. Going by her scarf and the partially braided hair, he's apparently Observing art students today. He starts packing up, revealing an incongruous teddy bear inside his briefcase as he does so. But oops, he left his journal on the table. Sloppy! Now just anyone who comes across it will be able to read his notes and learn that in just a few weeks, it will be the end of ROGAINE as we know it!
He catches up to the young woman and says, "Come with me, please," grabbing her by the arm. Despite his politeness, she tries to pull away. He doesn't let her, and she's in fact starting to get rather noisy about it. A dude yells, "Hey!" because bystanders always intervene on this show, if only just so we can see what the bad guys can and will do about it. In this case, the ex-Observer (because I think it's clear that at this point he's Observing fuck-all) draws what looks like an ordinary gun, but instead of a bang it gives a click like a camera flash, and the would-be hero is hurled dozens of feet backwards. Yeah, worst Observer ever. In fact, I think he just became The Initiator. General panic commences, but as everyone runs, The Initiator now has a clear path to where some cars are parked. He smashes the back passenger window of one of them, injects his victim in the back of the neck with some kind of needleless spray hypo that renders her instantly unconscious, and dumps her in the back of the car. Finally, here comes an armed campus security guy, ordering him to stop. The Initiator doesn't even dive for cover as the guard opens fire. Sure, when someone's shooting at him he gets all passive again. The Initiator gets in the car as the guard finishes emptying his gun at him. He hotwires it by pressing his thumb against the ignition lock, both of which glow briefly as the engine turns over, and drives off. His face, though still expressionless, is stretched a bit more tautly than before, which for an Observer is probably the equivalent of crying and filling his pants with something extremely spicy.
Olivia's crashed out on her couch in her clothes, apparently having pulled an all-nighter. "Morning!" Ella chirps into her face, wearing a sweatshirt and holding a map to the amusement park they're apparently planning to visit that day. Like she's still been staying there all this time. But here's how long it's actually been since Ella's been on the show: I've never seen her before. Just saying. Olivia opens her eyes and smiles up at her rather than flailing blindly around for her niece's snooze button and possibly bloodying her nose in the process. She's looking forward to their day almost as much as Ella is, although it's quite clear that none of the park's four roller coasters will be involved, due to Olivia's fear of them. Which in Olivia's case is perfectly reasonable, because what's to keep William Bell from snatching her out of this reality in the middle of a double switchback corkscrew loop? But of course this is all moot, because Olivia's cell phone rings. About ten seconds into the call --during which Olivia's only words are "Dunham" and "Where?" Ellie catches the snap, and walks over to take off her sweatshirt. After Olivia gets off the call, she starts to make excuses, only to have Ellie understandingly say, "That's okay, Aunt Liv. I know you have an important job." Which is even more heartbreaking than protesting and whining would be. Olivia says she'll call the Jacobsons to ask if they can babysit, and promises to make pancakes. Does she have time for that before heading to the office? As a taxpayer, I hope she's using an instant mix.