Thoughts From the Fringe Season 4 Episode 1

Posted: January 15, 2013 in TFTF

Ok, Christian Geek fans, this is one of my early pieces for Fringecasting with Wayne and Dan.  With the series finale coming up, I thought it might be an interested trip back to the issues at the beginning of Season 4.

[ Ok, Wayne. Didn’t mean to write a dissertation. I almost hit the delete key, but at the end I figured you might get a “hmmmm” or at least a chuckle at a personal level. Feel free to use as much or as little or as chopped up as you want or none at all. It’s just that once the words started coming, they wouldn’t stop. Fringe does that sometimes. Please, please, please don’t feel any obligation! Someday, I’m just going to have to take the time and set up my own blog… ]

The summer wait is finally over and all I can say is WOW! Life gave me a crazy summer so, aside from some chatting on Twitter, I wasn’t able to follow in all the speculation. In some ways it was worth the break.

But that’s not why I’m writing. We’re in season four. WOW. Or did I say that already. Things did get off to a auspicious start. Plenty of answers, but in typical Fringe fashion there are even more questions.

What struck me most was just how cold and bitter Olivia had become. Without Peter to ground Walter, Scott was not able to be saved and it seems that his knowledge died with him. It looks like Olivia never got over him. Fauxlivia, seemed just as cold on the inside, though she hid it behind her attitude. The only thing that seemed to soften Olivia at all was, of all things, Walter. There was pain for him in her eyes when he came dripping out of the tank. Frankly, neither of these two Olivia’s are very likable and I believe this was the intent. Congrats to Anna Torv for now pulling off FIVE different characters in the series.

Astrid is a bit more impatient and it’s nice seeing her in the field. In spite of this, she still is one of Walter’s links to the real world. It’s much more literal this time though, since she serves as his eyes and ears outside the lab. She’s still the solid foundation that holds the team together.

I will admit, for the first time I actually liked Lincoln Lee. He was far too metro in the red universe. NerdLee isn’t in touch with his feminine side as he is Over There. In spite of the horn-rims he can also kick some serious butt when needed. He’s also persistent enough to stare down Olivia in a bad mood AND win. For the record, the two Olivia’s got along just as I thought they would.

Broyles? He hasn’t changed a bit. I didn’t expect him to. I hoped he wouldn’t. The character is too perfect to be changed. Of course, he’s also the one who was under Peter’s influence the least.

Walter (and Peter) I saved for last. John Noble did such a wonderful job. It was hard to have known what Walter had become by the end of Season 3 then see the shattered shell we see here. All the hints of what could have been are there for us, but they are buried under the agony of having – as he said – watched his son die twice. It sounds like the hole was still torn between universes by Walter’s attempt to save Peter. Whether that was a kidnapping or a failed attempt to save him we don’t know yet. Perhaps Peter didn’t survive the ice. The most touching part of that bit of pathos is that it is Walter that Peter is trying to reach first.

Two characters were conspicuous by their absence. Walternate, though since this is a blue universe story, that’s not really surprising. But what of Nina? More important, what of Massive Dynamic? How did the absence of Peter impact Bell and the direction of Massive Dynamic? I’m sure that’s a puzzle that will be answered soon enough.

Another missing character is Sam Weiss. Are we done with him? His story ended rather anticlimactically if we are. Yet it was odd that Broyles booted him out just when things were getting interesting. I still think he may have a role. We’ll see him when we least expect him, if so. Typical.

The plots – both episode and overall – were up to par. I’m not going to waste time rehashing the always good summaries Wayne provides. A few key points, however, that stood out for me – with my theories. Was I the only one that yelled “Shapeshifters!” when Walter started talking heavy metals? But where are they from? I’ll lay odds these aren’t a new version of Walternate’s toys. I’m thinking the ZFT and maybe an avenue to see David Robert Jones back in the story. We haven’t yet found out what’s going on with that group and it is clearly more involved that we’ve yet seen.

Everyone’s known there’s much more than we know going on with the Observers. One thing that is clear is that they do have an agenda and it seems this season is going to be dealing with it. We are seeing the payoff for August’s discovery of feelings. September seems to be having moral crisis due to his feelings now. What were his reasons for not completing his mission and what will be the price of his actions? I also wonder, if he had thrown the switch on his device, would have even worked? Even the Observers seem to be running in the dark at the moment.

Then there’s Peter. Peter the plot, not Peter the person. He said that he now understands everything. Just how much IS everything. Did he know what would happen? I suspect he did. His flashes didn’t seem to be of one wanting or even needing help, but of someone wanting to deliver a message. Is he now outside the Observers’ sphere of influence? They certainly didn’t see this in their vision of all possible probabilities. Is it really Peter who’s been pulling the strings all along? Assuming he knew what would happen, does he have a plan for repairing the damage his absence caused to the people he cared about? If Peter does still exist, then the memories of the original timeline still exist. Does he have a plan to both restore the timeline and preserve all that has happened? Somehow I bet the Observers are not going to like that.

In closing I do have to bring up one particular grump with the Fringe fandom. I’ve had a bit of an issue with the word “reboot.” BSG was a reboot of a series and had a few resets within the story. Eureka had a timeline reboot, from which the series never recovered. A reboot in these senses really doesn’t apply to Fringe. The Fringe creative team really does have a plan. This isn’t a mere retcon and they aren’t doing this simply because they wrote themselves into a corner. The story has been leading up to this. We had rewatched the entire series, finishing Thursday night. The flow was seamless and the subtle back references scattered throughout, served as reminders of what was lost. There is intent here, and I’m going to trust Pinkner and Wyman to know what they’re doing. They’ve said the show is about choices and I think a lot is going to ride on Peter’s choices.

Well, this was originally going to just be a short fan letter. Ouch. There was just so much packed into this 40-something minutes that it just spilled out. Keep up the great work, Wayne and Dan. I’ve followed a lot of Sci-Fi books, TV and movies over the decades and I’ve got to say Fringe fans are among the very best.

Thinking on the Fringe,

  1. After some wrong turns, the Fringe team finds the killer McClennan dazed, processing the memories he s stolen from himself. He feels instant remorse for the first time in life, and concludes that these memories are the only thing that separates the two of them and now, he suddenly feels an intense empathy and sorrow for his many, many victims. The killer can t handle the grief and shoots himself while Olivia watches.

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