Neither Here Nor There
After the summer hiatus the first thing of note as Fringe begins its fourth season is that we’re still watching Fringe. A simple statement but reassuring nonetheless given where we left it last time out. It still feels the same, looks the same and exudes the air of confidence of a show romping through its fantastic series and genius storylines with glorious ease.
Peter does not exist though. Not anymore. In this timeline it’s indicated he died when a young boy, never maturing into a man. Walter is heard to remark, in a throwaway exchange, that some people die twice. Clearly he saw his Peter, and Walternate’s Peter, both die – he was unable to save one in this reality. But then he wouldn’t have been in the position to kick-start the spiralling descent towards desolation and destruction in both worlds. Is it all swings and roundabouts? Unfortunately not as we’re seemingly still on course for the end of the world. We have everything we did have except for Peter, which is a surprising result given what we think we know. Two worlds with their very own space-time bridge, two Olivias, Fringe division and the FBI’s special division. Something’s not quite right, or at least not clear yet as this doesn’t make sense.
In fact, taking Walter as an example, it’ll be interesting to see how (if?) they explain fully the situation we’re now in. Walter was in a mental health hospital; Walter is still the unhinged man we know from the past three seasons but now he has no tether to the real world. Why is Walter the same person he was before? A large reason was his part in the downfall of the alterniverse. That doesn’t exist anymore, so it must be that the death of both Peters drove him in the same direction. Did his wife still die? Finding out how this universe accepted the death of young Peter and regrouped around it to come out in such a similar position will be a key part of coming episodes.
Of course, Peter will return sooner rather than later. The universe will get course-correcting or the friendly Observer will begin rectifying what he has done and accepting his own fate (surely if he does not do what he is meant to do and eliminate all knowledge of Peter from this world, he will not survive?). We’ve already seen plenty of evidence that the work done so far by the school of Observers hasn’t completely worked. Walter saw Peter THE MAN reflected in windows and TVs. Olivia feels the hole inside her wondering what she’s missing. We, the viewers, saw a semi-subliminal fuzzy image of Peter next to Olivia in the early stages of the episode. It’s galloping ahead at full pace.
This episode on its own managed to fit in a monster of the week in between the new timeline exposition (Astrid in Peter’s place?) and (re-)introducing Lincoln Lee to our beloved special division. All whilst moving the main story arc as much as it did! There is a new type of shape-shifter with a heavy metal ion deficiency which leads to transparency, a shape-shifter which appears to be created when a murdered human is resurrected. We’ll find out exactly what’s going on thanks to the new-found cooperation of Olivia and Fauxlivia – even if they despise each other (for now – by season’s end one suspects those two will stand side by side). The derision is not just a Dunham thing though. Whilst we do not see Walternate, Walter cannot deliver any thesis other than that man is an evil, despicable and conniving scam of a man. Can anyone blame him?
In summary then, we have an alternative timeline setup in terms of its mechanics, including that of the teams sans Peter. We have cooperation between both worlds as they are seemingly aware they need this to survive, not that we touch on it this week. We have the Observers trying to continue their elimination of Peter from history (or at least the mature Peter), with one in particular incapable of doing it. He is an Observer with a conscience. Then of course we have the elephant in the room. Peter. Everybody knows about him but nobody is able to talk about him. They will do, and within a few episodes if the pace of movement suggested in this opening gambit rings true throughout season four.