On a character level, the back story presented between Olivia and Peter is both subtle and well done, and Olivia’s reunion with daughter Etta is heartfelt. It creates a beautiful contrast to the high level of action and fast pace seen through the majority of the rest of the episode. Walter’s role, however, proves to be the most profound, the strength of character he exhibits while interrogated by the Observer playing as a stark contrast to the crazy, erratic person he has proven himself to be in the previous seasons. Most poignant is his imagining of music while confronted with questions of which the answers mean the difference between freedom and enslavement of the human race. When asked why he chooses music to fill his thoughts, he explains the importance it has in perspective and clarity of mind. Music represents hope.
As the Observer attempts to break Walter, who suffers massive trauma in his endeavors to keep his thoughts secret, the Observer alludes to a dead Earth no longer of any use to modern humans. He explains that nothing can grow from “scorched earth,” entreating Walter to abandon all hope and give up the information asked of him. Still, Walter holds his silence, bleeding from the nose and eyes, sobbing for the future of humanity.
The final scene, which moves full circle from the teaser intro in which Etta blows dandelion seeds into the wind, shows a disoriented and broken Walter stumbling across a music CD amongst rubble. As he sits in an abandoned taxi and delights in the realization that the music still plays, he spots a single dandelion growing in the scorched earth. The scene fades out over a city in shambles—but in which hope is clearly not yet lost.