“I’ve seen Doomsday, and it is worse than anything you could possibly imagine. This isn’t a war that can be won. Our two worlds are inextricable. If one side dies, we all die. So I’ve torn holes in both the universes and they lead here, to this room. A bridge so that we can begin to work together to fix…“
And with that, Peter Bishop faded out of this plane of existence. This prompted the question asked by fans all summer: “Where is Peter Bishop?”
The long-awaited season four premiere takes place one week after Peter made his heroic choice to save both universes, and ultimately save the people that he loved.Â To quote the Observers, “Much has changed.” Truly.
The first scene involves an exchange of information between the two universes, who have now called a truce. Both are still dying, and they need to work together to fix the damage. Olivia is first seen, and she is in no way happy about the new status-quo. Mainly because she is handing off boxes of classified FBI files to her alternate from the other side. Trust is shaky, well, actually pretty non-existent. The dialogue exchange between the two women is heated and snippy, but it reveals that Altlivia still infiltrated our side, and that she impersonated Olivia by living her life. Her quip that stings the most?
“Must be hard to develop trust in people when all you’ve got is yourself. Must get terribly lonely.”
Guess who makes an appearance?
The next appearance starts to give clues about the circumstances surrounding Peter’s alleged non-existence. September, the most well-known Observer, meets his colleague/boss at a diner. They have a problem. Someone is not so non-existent after all – traces of him continue to bleed through. September shows a sense of foreboding, because apparently he knows what boss December will ask him to do.
“They can never know the boy lived to be a man,” December bluntly states.
Roll the new Orange intro: there are some neat new scientific concepts listed.
Lincoln Lee is still a FBI agent working out of the Hartford, Connecticut field office. He arrives at the home of his partner, the slightly slovenly and procrastinating Robert Danzig. Lincoln is greeted by Danzig’s wife and children, like he is just part of he family. It seems Lincoln may eat even less than toast-loving Olivia, as he chides his partner for taking the time to eat some toast. (Olivia was eating toast at the end of LSD, the most fans had ever seen her eat. Toast jokes ensued.)
Danzig says something to Lincoln that catches my attention:
“You know, they did a study on sarcastic people and they get more illnesses in their lifetime. It had something to do with negative energy.”
I can’t help but to think of sarcastic Peter, who was often sick as a child.
Also, it makes me smile that Lincoln’s pantless partner would sort of prepare him for the “Walter experience.”
Immediately we’re brought right into the fray of the chase for bad guys. Which occurs on a rooftop, immediately bringing to mind the amazing rooftop chase involving Olivia and Richard Steig in the Pilot. Just when Lincoln thought they got their man, he sadly makes a terrible discovery. His partner has been infected with something, making his skin translucent. Robert dies as horrified Lincoln looks on.
Olivia and Astrid arrive on the scene. Astrid has been equipped with a special ear-clip/camera, allowing the agoraphobic Walter to view the crime scene. As Astrid examines the body, Olivia introduces herself to the devastated Lee. September and a new Observer look on. Lee quickly become angered when Olivia explains that her special division is taking his partner’s body for study.
“This is my partner we’re talking about here. Maybe you can’t understand that.”
We’re finally back to the Harvard Lab, and Walter is working on an interesting experiment – a re-animated pigeon. (I can hear Peter echo, “So you’re telling me that my father was Dr. Frankenstein?”) As he works, he and Astrid discuss Walter’s distrust of Walternate. Walter talks about looking into his eyes and seeing his soul, which reminds me of the exchange between Barrette and Olivia in Marionette, and Peter’s recognition of Olivia in Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. Speaking of Peter, blink and you’ll miss him, though Gene the cow seems to know he was there.
Olivia is in the office, reviewing the files on the Danzig case and pauses. She has to be thinking about John Scott. Meanwhile, Lincoln makes his way to the lab using some law-breaking techniques just in time to be an unwilling assistant in the bird experiment. Welcome to Fringe Division Agent Lee!
Olivia discovers his presence in the lab, and the two exchange heated looks. Then they play a game of chicken with their cell phones. This reminds me of Olivia using the “just one call” trick on Peter in the Pilot.
Walter growing an ear makes me sad to remember Peter trying to eat an omelet in which Walter was growing one.
Lincoln is able to help Olivia at another crime scene, and he wins some admiration from her. They discover something important from a witness who Lee was able to identify because, “One of these things is not like the others.” Meanwhile, Astrid gives Walter a close-up of the latest victim, and Walter insists on having her anus checked. Poor Astrid still gets the dirty work, even in the field.
Lee is given further clearance from Broyles, and he is shown that the case is much bigger than he thought, as many bodies are shown lying in a warehouse. The FBI is trying to make a common connection, but was at a loss. Lee explained that his partner took iron pills, so Broyles decides to have it checked out.
At a vintage electronics store, September is shopping for some interesting pieces. The shop clerk asks him what he needs the pieces for, and the answer is chilling:
“I need to erase someone from time.”
Back at the lab, Olivia and Astrid notice Walter is missing. Noise is heard in the old sensory deprivation tank, and a wet and harried Walter emerges to Lincoln. He babbles about a man in the lab – a man in the mirror. Astrid and Olivia calm him down. Lincoln’s reaction to Walter’s antics is expected, but Olivia defends Walter.
“He just never had anything to tether him to the world.”
As they talk, Walter examines the body of the latest victim. He notices an engagement ring, and he catches the team’s attention when he says, ” don’t think there’s anything sadder than when two people are meant to be together and something intervenes.” Oh my, what a sad feeling for the beauty that was Olivia and Peter together.
Pant-less Walter explains how Lee was on to something with his concern about the link between the victims. In actuality, everything points to heavy metal poisoning. Walter sort-of hypothesizes that maybe the killer needed something from the victims.
In a dimly-lit warehouse, the killer is seen walking around in his fully creepy state. He injects himself with a yellowish substance.
Olivia explains to Lincoln that the victim’s bodies will not be returned to their families because Fringe Division must remain under the radar of the public. Lee seems to recognize what that means for his partne’s family and is not willing to accept it.
“You understand what you’re saying? Those families are going to spend the rest of their lives wondering what happened to their loved ones, looking for answers. Can you imagine what that would be like? To have that – that hole in your life.?”
Walter interjects, “People die. It happens. Sometimes they even die twice.”
Quite an interesting statement. Was this a personal experience of Walter’s? Possibly involving a young son?
The team stakes-out another lead after noticing a pattern and pinpointing a likely location for the possible suspect. Olivia shares the tale of John Scott with Lee. The best thing about Torv’s acting in this episode is that she portrays this Olivia with a cool detachment, yet underneath, her emotions still bleed through. She knew what Lee was going through because of John. She felt his pain and eventually warmed up to Lincoln because of their mutual world-view and experience. She explains that Walter’s release from St Claire’s was her doing, but Walter could not save John. If one goes back to the Pilot, Peter had a hand in the cure for John.
WALTER: Autologous transfusion. That’s brilliant.
PETER: We can create the antidote and then just dissolve it in stored blood. If we transfuse him intravenously, his body won’t be overwhelmed.
WALTER: A-plus, Boy. Well done. Let’s begin.
Olivia and Lincoln see the suspect, and a chase ensues. One of their fellow agents is shot, and he manages to tell Lincoln that there is more than one of the things. Olivia does not know this. Lincoln manages to catch the second one, and he kills it. It appears to look like Robert Danzig. (Here, Lee kills his partner like Olivia killed Charlie.) Later in the lab, Walter extracts a piece from the body of the hybrid. They are a new kind of more-human-than-machine shapeshifter.
Lincoln comes back to the lab, and Walter asks him as he enters if he has any candy. Peter would always try to bring Walter Red Vines, so this was a very small detail of the little things that made up the Walter/Peter relationship. Olivia informs Lincoln that she managed to secure the release of Danzig’s body, which pleases Lee thoroughly, although he doesn’t understand why anyone would go through so much trouble. Olivia refuted his earlier statement. She does understand what he is going through.
Lee is further brought into the fold by being given access into the new bridge room between the two sister universes. It appears that the Department of Defense is involved, as is Massive Dynamic. The machine is there. I kept waiting for the Lincoln Lee from the other side to show up and surprise our Lincoln, but Alternate Olivia surprises him enough. But he is really astounded by the zeppelin roaring overhead, the Fringe sign that there is another world out there.
Outside, September is about to complete his directive. But as he glances toward the Kresge building housing Walter’s lab, a sense of remorse overtakes his face. Michael Cerveris has done a stunning job playing September. The character has shown a subtle change, and dare I say, emotion, over time. The facial expressions that he uses were perfect to convey a growing sense of concern for Walter and Peter.
While he prepares a device to do what he has set out to do, we see inside the lab. Walter is living in his office, and he sleeps on a hideaway bed. He self-medicates himself in order to sleep, and tells the night guard good night, messing up the young man’s name like he used to do to Astrid.
Here, I cheer as September closes up the case housing his device, and he leaves, probably to suffer unknown consequences. Things will never be the same, no matter how much he and his fellow Observers interfere, and he knows it.
Just as he seems relaxed for the evening, the man in the mirror appears in Walter’s SONY television set – it’s Peter.
Noble’s untethered Walter is a testament to the actor’s abilities. In this episode, Walter has his times of fleeting joy as he experiments, or he eats his favorite foods. Yet he can just as quickly snap right into a scared and off-kilter man.
There is a sense of a missing puzzle-piece that is felt very quickly. I am somewhat regretting my hope that the world without Peter was a terrible place, because seeing how both Walter and Olivia live without having him in their lives tugs very hard at my emotions. I love Peter, but I love them too, and seeing them suffer through life is jarring. Although in true Fringe style, it isn’t all gloom and doom. There is a lot of humor to be had, and long-time viewers are rewarded with small details and connections from the past three seasons.
I must admit, I was lukewarm on the character of Lincoln Lee before this episode. I felt he needed more development before I could properly assess any feelings. Well, I am happy to say that this universe’s Lincoln has won me over. This version of Lee was first introduced in the Season three episode, Stowaway. In that time-line, he seemed to be sharp, dedicated, and curious. That does not change in this new rendition. Plus, we learn a bit more about him, helping to solidify the development of his character.
He’s just as tenacious as Olivia, and fiercely cares about the few people close to him. I think that he makes an excellent addition to the Fringe team. Plus, I feel that he is not intended as a substitute for Peter, as many feared. He seems to stand on his own, and I look forward to learning more about him. It is my theory that he will somehow be involved in helping Peter return. Peter once told him, “Be careful what you wish for” when Lee offered him his help if needed.
Olivia said to Lincoln Lee, “Sometimes answers lead to more questions.” Once again, I’m reminded of Peter because he told her in the The Firefly
“Do you ever feel like every time we get close to getting the answers, somebody changes the question?”
Why yes, Peter, I do. Just as we thought we had the answers, the world of Fringe has been shaken up like an Etch-A-Sketch. New dynamics are in play. Also, I wonder who has a hand in the new shapeshifters. Since they were William Bell’s design, maybe Walternate does not have anything to do with them as Walter assumes.
All-in-all, this is an excellent primer to the show, and a sturdy set of tent-poles to build upon. Like in the game Operation, there is an important piece missing – the heart. It is truly in essence an ode to the ties that bind us as human beings. After all, “every relationship is reciprocal.”
I can’t help but be excited to see how this extraordinary journey plays out this season.