If you haven’t seen Fringe episode 4.09, Enemy of My Enemy – run, don’t walk, to your nearest tv/dvr/pc/iDevice and watch it! Now! I can say with confidence that this is the best episode of Season 4 so far, and one of the best episodes in the series. Enemy of My Enemy has everything that makes a great episode of Fringe – action, mythology, gore, character development, humor, sadness, relationships – and hope.
One of the big questions for this season is how individuals impact those around them. What kind of world would it be if you weren’t in it? As a corollary, are the people you impacted the same people, YOUR people, just a little different because you weren’t in their lives? Or are they different people altogether? As we’ve starting trying to answer those important questions, we can break this one down into components – what do people want? To be seen, to be recognized for who we are, and to form connections with those around us – specifically those people who are important in our lives.
In 4.07, Wallflower, we see what people need in order to feel they exist – ‘To be looked upon by the right person… to connect… and to see in their eyes kindness. Happiness. And… recognition.” In 4.08, Back to Where You’ve Never Been, Peter has crossed to the Other Side and sought out the Elizabeth of that world, in an attempt to contact Walternate. Elizabeth is the first person that acknowledges Peter as something other than a stranger or anomaly – “but as soon as I looked into your eyes, I knew…” She knew that Peter was her son.
In 4.09, Enemy of My Enemy, we start to see connections forming. Some are expected, and hoped for. Others are less predictable; it’s still not clear what these new relationships mean:
- We see Fauxlivia and AltLincoln as partners; he’s her shoulder to cry on. But she seems to connect with AmberLincoln as well; she believes him before anyone else and keeps pushing his ideas.
- David Robert Jones relates to his shapeshifters, as a parent to a child. As he says “I suppose this is what it feels like to have a child,“ it’s reminiscent of the Observer’s comment in The Firefly: “It must be hard to be a father.”
- Astrid and Olivia’s connection seems less formal and official, signifying a closer relationship. They smile conspiratorially over Walter’s molecular gastronomy. Astrid feels free to ask Olivia what’s troubling her – indicating a relationship that goes deeper than two agents/co-workers. There’s a connection on a personal level here.
One of the first new connections between familiar faces occurs while Peter and Lincoln are in AltFringe headquarters, arguing about leaving for This Side or staying to interrogate the new prisoner. Lincoln challenges Peter for selfishly getting what he wants and walking away, throwing his fear in his face. We know Peter as a cool con man, but he has connected with Lincoln enough to be honest with him. There’s a long evaluating look between the two of them; Lincoln says “You’re scared,”, and for a brief moment we see through Peter’s ‘always in control’ demeanor. “Yes, I’m scared. I’m scared that every day I’m here the people I love get farther and farther away from me.” Peter continues his rant, but is visibly shaken as the prisoner is escorted into the area and he makes an unexpected connection with someone he never thought to see again – David Robert Jones, somewhat worse for wear but definitely in one piece.
Peter quickly regains his cool competency, as he finagles a way into the interrogation room with DRJ. Jones is visibly disconcerted as Peter describes their connection, albeit a one-way connection, by commenting on a past that Jones expected no one to know: his use of a teleportation device to escape a German prison, being swathed in bandages as a side effect of the teleportation, crossing over from the other side. Never one to relinquish control easily, Jones recovers and issues an interesting response to Peter: “You’ve run out of time.” I think this will be worth remembering.
As the Fringe Division prepares to release Jones, we see the Lincoln Lees developing a grudging respect for each other. When Amber Lincoln asks to participate in Jones’ surveillance and Colonel Broyles defers to AltLincoln, there’s hardly a moment’s hesitation before he accepts him as a part of his Fringe team. As Amber Lincoln’s confidence grows, the differences between the two Lees seem to be less and less obvious. Their mannerisms and carriage are very similar – and since Fringe never does anything by chance, I have to believe that this was an intentional connection between the two.
As Fauxlivia and Amber Lincoln sit on a bench watching Jones, Lincoln comments on the closeness (the connection) between Fauxlivia and her partner. He seems both interested and amused by her response, her denial of anything but a platonic friendship, her “shoulder to cry on” pal. It’s as if Lincoln is pondering the relationships of the alternates in hopes that it would give him insight into the connections in his own partnership. It’s one of the big shipper questions of the season – do every Lincoln Lee and Olivia Dunham have a connection? What’s different? What’s the same?
In one of the more interesting relationships in this ‘new’ world, we see Walternate and his clearly not -estranged wife Elizabeth having dinner. The scene is a far cry from 3.15, Subject 13, where we see their marriage falling apart because of Peter’s kidnapping; Walternate blamed Elizabeth and drank more and more as a coping mechanism. He’s still having a second scotch at dinner because of his frustration at losing Jones, but it’s obvious that their relationship is strong enough to withstand some gentle chiding from Elizabeth. This Walternate is still very much connected to his wife, and to his humanity; we can assume this is due to a sense of closure because of the knowledge of their Peter’s death, instead of the frustration of his unresolved disappearance in the previous timeline.
As Elizabeth listens to Walternate admit failure (“I couldn’t save our son then, and I can’t help him now”), she develops a plan. She has been the strongest connection to Peter, the most immediate and accepting. Elizabeth’s actions are a clear illustration of one of the touchstones of Fringe – that love sustains over universes, and timelines, and alternates. Elizabeth will always have a mother’s connection and love for every Peter, and as we saw by then end of the previous episode, a son’s love for his mother endures as well, whether wants to acknowledge it intellectually or not.
Next we come to one of my favorite ‘connections’ of the episode, and certainly the most unexpected – Peter and AltAstrid. As Peter walks up to AltAstrid at her workstation, he asks if she “would mind” if he looked over her information; from what we’ve seen, this is a courtesy not usually extended to the ‘lookers’ from Over There. In a dramatic change from the conversation she just concluded with Colonel Broyles, Alt Astrid looks directly at Peter as she responds, rather than looking away or ‘through’ him as she usually does. Perhaps his more considerate attitude towards her emboldens her; she bursts out a question (“Are you really from another timeline?”) while staring him straight in the eye. Peter’s response elicits the first overtly emotional response we’ve seen from AltAstrid (“cool”).
There are a couple of interesting things about this scene to me. The first is the similarity between AmberAstrid and AltAstrid to Olivia and Peter, respectively. We’ve seen both Astrids behave in a more friendly and personal manner than we’ve been accustomed to, to the two characters whose lives seem to mirror each other, Olivia and Peter. Is there something special about these two that bring out such a warm connection with their Astrid? Admittedly, Amber Astrid is certainly more personably than AltAstrid – but based on our past views of AltAstrid, her question and response is quite out of character, and seemingly drawn out by Peter.
The second interesting thing about this scene is Peter’s response to AltAstrid’s query. Up til now, Peter has been certain that he’s in the wrong timeline, and all he has to do is figure out a way to get “Back” to his people, his home, the place where he belongs, reminiscent of his desires to ‘go home’ in 2.22, Over There Part 1, 3.15, Subject 13, and 3.21, The Last Sam Weiss. However, when he responds to AltAstrid’s question, he is less certain. “Yeah, I think so,” he replies, with a wistful smile.
Later, as Peter, AltAstrid, and the rest of the Fringe team review maps of the quarry, AltAstrid assumes responsibility for not recognizing the area. Peter touches her arm in a gesture of consolation. While AltAstrid seems a bit surprised and gives Peter a look, she doesn’t freak out as one would expect. Is this another example of “Peter’s magic touch”? Or is it just because he’s so damned cute…
Perhaps the most powerful connection, and the one most dreamed about by hardcore fans, results from a face to face meeting between Elizabeth from Over There and Amber Walter. When Elizabeth utters his name, Walter’s emotions fly across his face – fear, surprise, recognition, joy, wistfulness, acknowledgement. As they talk of the events of 26 years ago, Walter brings Elizabeth a cup of tea – with honey, as HIS Elizabeth liked it. He castigates himself for his hubris of trying to save a boy that wasn’t his to save, but Elizabeth recognizes the love that drove him to attempt to save her Peter. He talks of asking for a sign (a white tulip that never came?), but knowing that he will never be forgiven for her Peter’s death and for ‘breaking the universes’. Elizabeth takes his hand, in a gesture similar to her response to Walternate in their earlier conversation, and promises him that she has forgiven him -“and if I can, God can.’ She begs Walter to help this Peter, who has so much of their Peters in him, to help him get back to the people who love him. Walter confesses his fear, and in a gesture that every Elizabeth must’ve used with every Walter (and every Peter), she grasps his hand and cups his face in reassurance. She reminds Walter that Peter is scared, too, which seems to humanize Peter in his eyes. For the myriad things that should keep these two apart, they are all overcome and a connection is made because the love of a child overcomes it all.
Back at the quarry on this side, Jones is escaping to the Other Side using the teleportation windows (seen previously in 1.20, There’s More Than One of Everything). Peter, of course, recognizes the setup from his previous experience at Reiden Lake, but Olivia is unfamiliar with its effects and, as usual, takes off after her suspect like a bat out of hell. Peter shouts over the walkie-talkie, telling her to stop. His voice takes on an edge of panic as she nears the teleportation zone, and he begs her to trust him. You can almost feel Peter’s relief as Olivia responds, and his voice drops to a more intimate tone as he asks if she’s ok. As you see Olivia sitting in the SUV with most of the engine block sheared off, she’s visibly shaken. What’s important here is that headstrong Olivia heeded Peter’s warning. At that instant, they connected. Olivia is shaken as much from that realization as she is from the evidence of what occurred before her.
In a scene most Fringe fans have been waiting for, the Fringe Divisions meet across a conference room table. Broyles, Dunhams, Lees, and a Bishop at each end. Walternate leads the discussion, and Peter sits at the other end of the table. There’s an uneasy partnership between the two groups, but they appear willing to unite against their common enemy of Jones and his shapeshifters, despite the fact they know very little about him. However, the Peter Bishop who said “It’s not my fight’ only a few hours before, has formed a connection with these people, this timeline. When Amber Lincoln says that “Jones is holding all the cards’, Peter speaks up. “Not all of them. You have me.” The look that passes between Walternate and Peter reflects pride, recognition, acceptance, commitment… and love between a father and a son – something I never thought we’d see between these two characters.
As they leave the briefing room, AmberOlivia badgers Peter for information about Jones – she’s ready to plunge ahead and wants all the details NOW. Peter begs off til the next morning, a little amused at her eagerness to jump right in. They face each other in the hallway. She’s NOT his Olivia, she’s a little less burdened… but her drive and her energy is the same. She starts to thank Peter for his quick action at the quarry that saved her life… and there’s that connection, that feeling I have to label as déjà vu (the feeling that you’re right where you belong). Familiar themes play behind them as they agree to meet ‘first thing’ the next morning.
That night, we see Peter grumpily answering the door at the Bishop house. His schematics of the machine are scattered about the room, and a laptop displays its form. When he opens the door, Peter is visibly surprised to see Walter standing uneasily outside. He asks to come in and for something to drink, as he apparently has walked from the lab, overcoming his agoraphobia on his own.As they stand in the living room, surrounded by the detritus of Peter’s work, Walter talks about Peter’s mother… that she was a wonderful woman – “Every version of her”. Peter realizes that Elizabeth has visited Walter and is probably the catalyst for his visit tonight. Walter talks about being away from the people he loves, and acknowledges that Peter is probably missing the people he loves as well. Despite his inability to look directly at Peter, Walter promises to help him get back to the people he loves. As Walter finds the courage to look at him, he talks about thinking of the loss of his son for 25 years, but concludes that there must still be things for him to learn about loss, and that must be why Peter is here.
Peter brings his hand to his face; his eyes are full of emotion. He tells Walter that he’s spent the last several days with his alternate, and Peter found that he “wasn’t the man I thought he was.” Then he smiles gently at Walter and tells him “but I’m not at all surprised to learn that you are.” Peter is connecting with HIS Walter, at an emotional level that they are finally both admitting exists. Walter asks hesitantly “Is that a good thing?” Peter replies even more tenderly and tells him “That is a very good thing”. They share a look that carries us back to Season 2… and gives me faith that Peter is well on his way back to the people that love him. Walter relaxes and looks around. “You know I used to live here” he says to a bemused Peter, whose hand still covers his mouth as if to hide emotions that might spill over.
The final connection of the episode is also somewhat unexpected, but much more sinister than those that have preceded it. Jones is keying at a computer terminal, inquiring about “Phase 2”. The response is being entered by black gloved fingers… a version of Nina Sharp, presumably the Amber Nina , as her ominous response is “we’re working on her. She’ll be ready soon.” This can’t be good.
We have lots of connections and lots of new information to ponder. I expect the answers, along with more questions, to come fast and furious for the rest of the season. Enemy of My Enemy is a ‘game –changer’, as we see new alliances being formed and new perspectives on past events. It’s also an amazing episode that showcases exciting performances by John Noble, Joshua Jackson, and guest star Orla Brady. As always, John Noble portrayed Walter and Walternate with finesse, deftly giving us similarities and differences between the two and creating two distinct and well rounded characters. Josh’s performance was intense and powerful, the emotions passionate, but nuanced. Orla Brady is always a delight, in any universe, and it was wonderful to see her in a pivotal role.
No great Fringe episode is complete without its great lines – here are my favorites:
Peter: How much trouble are you in?
Olivia: On a scale of one to ten? A lot.
DRJ: Take Me to Your Leader.
Lincoln: I lost a partner.
Peter : I lost a UNIVERSE!
Walter: I used to live here…