“Not from here? You mean, like, China?” -Lincoln Lee, you have much to learn
It’s that time again (finally): Fringe time!!! The season premiere kicked off Fringe’s fourth season on Friday with the episode “Neither Here Nor There”. This is an excellent title, as it describes my feelings on the episode and the way it dealt with the craziness that occurred in the season finale. To briefly recap last season’s shenanigans in a language only Fringesters will understand: Walternate turned on the Machine Over Here from Over There, and Peter tried to stop the annihilation of our world by entering the Machine. This led to his consciousness being sent forward in time to 2026, where he and Olivia are married, Walternate’s universe is destroyed (but not before he came Over Here) and our world is slowly disintegrating. Walternate seeks his revenge for the death of his side by destroying Peter’s world – he shoots Olivia in the head and everyone is very, very sad. Our Walter then realizes who sent the pieces of the machine back in time – he did, and only Peter can stop him. Oh goody, a paradox! Peter’s consciousness brings him this knowledge in the present, and he changes history by bringing the two universes together, only to find himself erased from time in the process (booo!). Walter would have never crossed Over There to save Peter life as a boy/steal him away, causing the hatred from Walternate that wound up destroying Olivia.
Got all that? Whew.
Reboot of the now: the bridge Peter built between the universes still exists, and we see Olivia and Fauxlivia exchanging files and snarking at each other. Some things still remained the same in the Peterless timeline – Fauxlivia still traded places with Olivia, Olivia still lost her partner, and everyone is still hanging out at the Harvard lab (even Gene the cow!). Which brings us to the freak of the week, a translucent man killing victims to stay alive, much like the previous bio-mechanical shapeshifters of yore. Enter Agent Lincoln Lee, whose partner has just been murdered by the shapeshifter. He follows Olivia back to Harvard to demand answers only to be inducted into the strangeness, where Olivia shows him all the bodies the shapeshifters have left behind and Walter reanimates pigeons, grows ears, and doesn’t wear pants. The link between the victims is finally discovered with a little help from Lincoln: all have suffered heavy metal poisoning of some sort, which the shifters need to sustain themselves. Was Walternate behind it? Olivia blows Lincoln’s mind even further by heading over to Liberty Island to confab with Fauxlivia, who smirks at both Olivia’s questions regarding the shifters and Lincoln’s amazement at the two worlds – night time on one side with the ever-present zeppelin and a blue sky with fluffy white clouds on the other.
Now that the freak of the week stuff is out of the way, we can properly deal with the changes Peter’s quasi-absence has wrought. He’s still there, “bleeding through” as the Observers put it. They act like this is impossible and should not be happening, but there’s clearly something about Peter. How? Why? We don’t know yet. But there he is, flickering into Olivia’s background, Walter keeps seeing his reflection and, for some reason, our Observer friend just can’t seem to flip the switch and erase him from time. I fear this will bring dire consequences for our favorite Observer.
There are too many to list, seeing as we don’t know how everything went down without Peter. My main questions: Where was Walternate? What plane of existence is Peter bleeding from? Where is Sam Weiss in all this? Is there still a drawing of Peter going supernova? Is Lincoln (whose name I finally remember; I’ve been calling him ‘that dude from Over There who got burned’ up til now) going to start crushing on Olivia like he does Over There? Why does Olivia’s hair look so bad? She needs highlights, a wash and a blowout, stat!
The new credits are not blue or red, but amber. Like the amber that covers the soft spots between the universes. We’ve learned that the people in the amber are still alive, and hopefully the amber is just a temporary state. Like Peter being missing! His absence, like the amber, is just a stop-gap measure (a “band-aid”, as Broyles called it), not a permanent solution to fix the universe. Hopefully the team will find a way for him to exist again. I sure miss him!
The lights and walls on our side of Liberty Island were blue. I’m assuming they are red on Fauxlivia’s side. Plus there were standout red and blue parts in the junk shop in which the Observer was shopping, and it was a red switch that could have erased Peter.
Also, I want to go to the junk shop that has the spare parts to erase someone from time!
“I’m going to have to check her anus!”
“…and I’m not wearing pants.”
“Did you bring candy?”
This epsiode set up a lot of future plotlines while introducing Lincoln Lee as a full-time player. That said, I didn’t really like it very much. I get that erasing Peter causes Walter and Olivia to revert back to their old selves – crazy and isolated, respectively. With “Neither Here Nor There” we went from very layered, emotionally complex characters last season to flatter ones right now. It makes us see how necessary Peter is, how he was the heart of the team that grounded Walter and gave warmth to Olivia. However, the episode needed a bite of intrigue aside from Peter’s flickers, something to make us root for the team the way we were in the finale rather than just feel sorry for them now that Peter’s ‘gone’. Frankly, I’m over the whole shapeshifter thing. That ‘we don’t know the face of our enemy!’ has been done on so many sci-fi shows (Trek, X-Files, Battlestar among others) that it’s not doing Fringe any favors any longer. The Fringe team can’t play those cards forever, and I have faith they won’t. There is so much originality to play with on the show; don’t lean on what’s been done, you guys! I suppose I’m feeling the way Walter and Olivia do – like something is missing. I see what you did there, writers.
Next week: “One Night in October” – I hear it’s going to be mind-blowing! Stay tuned, Fringesters!