Walter is at least wearing pants.
Greetings, Fringe fans! Well, praise the Observers and bust out the Red Vines, Fringe is back and rocking once again!! I knew they had it in them, you guys! Fringe’s return after the winter break, “Back to Where You’ve Never Been,” was nothing short of fantastic, as Peter and Lincoln Lee (henceforth Lincoln3) traveled Over There so he could seek out Walternate’s help getting back to the proper timeline.
The lack of a proper timeline was weighing heavily on Peter, who began the episode dreaming of his former family – there was our beloved Walter, shirtless and making pancakes in the kitchen, and Olivia coming downstairs with a morning kiss for Peter. There was a whole bit with him really wanting waffles but getting pancakes instead because the waffle maker was broken – symbolism! The machine is broken and it must be fixed so he can get back to his real waffles…I mean, family. Peter tries to connect with Walter one last time, bringing him pastries, but in return Walter once more refuses, mournfully recounting his wife suicide after both Peters died. Way to make Peter feel like crap, yo. It’s not his fault! I am mad at this Walter. He’s even more of a stubborn bastard than usual.
Peter then headed to Olivia’s apartment, where she was taking some sick time to recover from her horrific ‘headache’ that we now know was brought on by Nina Sharp and whatever she is injecting Olivia with. Peter wants across to the bridge between worlds, and Olivia is game, wanting to do some recon herself. We get the interesting little tidbit that this Olivia, who I am calling 3livia from now on, can’t just cross over whenever she wants like ours can. Is Nina suppressing her Cortexiphan abilities with those injections? That’s my guess!
After acquiring Walter’s universe portal, Peter, 3livia, and Lincoln3 head to the Orpheum theater, that known ‘soft spot’. Good to see you again, Orpheum!
Following his complete absence from the first half of this season, we finally see Walternate ensconced in his lab at the Department of Defense. He seems perplexed by the shape shifters, conferring with Brandon on the subject (Brandon lost weight! Lookin’ good!). Meanwhile, Lincoln3 is bluffing his way past dopey guards with the old Wookie-in-handcuffs trick. (Abrams & co are fond of this tactic, aren’t they? It was used frequently on Lost.) Peter does his best to look surly as Lincoln3 lies about his lost Show-Me card, which foils their plan a few moments later when the real Lincoln calls and asks why his card was deactivated. A complex capture-and-escape follows, mostly to show us that the Fringe division has been infiltrated and to allow Peter to escape (while Lincoln3 is taken hostage by Fringe division and locked in a broom closet by Fauxlivia and Captain Lee. Ha!). He then reaches out to his mother, Elizabeth, still alive in this timeline. She sympathizes and takes him to Walternate straightaway. Finally.
The entirety of this tense scene between Peter and his first encounter with this Walternate was great. The audience, like Peter, was used to a harsher, more evil Secretary of Defense and we were just waiting for the shoe to drop. Peter even called his comments and kindly demeanor a masterful performance. Waltermate, while unpacking a scary-looking device (which made me yell at Peter, “back away from the pointy device! Back away!”) called for Brandon to verify his non-involvement with the shape-shifters. Brandon obliged and Walternate promptly shot him in the face! Brandon is a shifter! Oh snap!
Walternate continued to spread the love, stating how Peter is the only one he can trust since he is impartial and not involved with the affairs of these two linked universes. He also promised to help Peter return to his proper timeline after Peter delivered the message that Walternate was not captain of the shape-shifter team. Peter agree, prompting this nice exchange:
Peter: “You’re not the man I thought you were.”
Walternate: “And you are exactly the man I’d thought you’d be.”
Meanwhile, Fauxlivia and Captain Lee still think Walternate IS involved in this shifter nonsense, and decide to take matters into their own hands. Broyles gives them the ok, sending them off to a warehouse in the meat-packing district. He then picks up the phone and calls none other than David Robert Jones, baddie from season 1 who escaped the German prison only to be sliced in half on Reiden Lake! (Oh no, Broyles is bad too! Is he a shifter like Brandon?) But since Peter doesn’t exist in this timeline, no one was there to shut the portal door on Jones, so he lives to make everyone’s life miserable once again. Oh, and he’s creating the shapeshifters. Nice one, Fringe writers! I approve. Even more Red Vines for you!
The episode still had more mind-melting in store, however, as September the Observer showed up in the Orpheum theater where 3livia was waiting for Peter & Lincoln’s return. This is the first time he appeared to her, marking it with his usual mind-reading as she spoke. We then saw he was bleeding from a bullet wound to the chest as he haltingly told 3livia that he sees the same outcome for her in every version of the future: she has to die. Yikes. This raises many questions – like are they going to bring back ‘this is the man who is going to kill me’ plotline? If she has to die in every timeline, then will Peter’s future self continue to choose the same course of action vis-à-vis the Machine? And did September take that bullet for Olivia in one time line only to see her die anyway?
Brief thoughts: the colors are all off. Now it’s Over There that is bathed in blue walls and lights, while this ‘amber’ timeline is very non-color specific. And there is a distinct lack of red. What is up with that? Also, nice little shout-out to my hometown of Stamford, CT! And where is William Bell??? Come back, Leonard Nimoy!
Glad Fringe is back with a bang! I give this episode 10 out of 10 Red Vines!