Fringe Season 4 Episode 1:Review

Rough-Edged Reset

‘Neither Here, Nor There’

Fringe is back for a fourth season, stoked with a full head of story telling steam. Thanks to the mind breaking removal of Peter from not just a timeline, but existence itself, at the climatic end of Season 3.  Fox fanned those flames even higher with an excellent off season promotional campaign that peaked just before the Season 4 premiere creating a buzz with the slogan, ‘Where is Peter Bishop?’

And the Fringe showrunners continue to demonstrate they are not afraid to break with convention. We are treated to our initial glimpse of a Captain Kirk – Tholian Webbing style, Peter Bishop in the very first scene.

Don’t You Forget About Me!

A Peter Bishop, who by all astonished Observer accounts, has managed the impossible. Peter should no longer exist but yet he lingers with some traces in the newly established time line.  How Peter has managed to do this tells me in my gut that this is at the crux of whom the Observers are and what their purpose is.  Equally intriguing is September’s decision to disobey orders to activate his Peter Time Eraser.  Is September seeing that the boy is important again or is he softening like his compatriot August did?  And will the TIme Eraser be modified to bring Peter back fully?

In Episode 4.01 we find much has changed.  Olivia, looking just at tad frayed at the edges, is near back to Season 1 guardedness, Walter is very fragile and refuses to leave his lab and, in the only good bit of news, Astrid is out in the field instead of babysitting Walter.  

Into this Peterless timeline steps Lincoln Lee.  While he met the main characters last season in the previous timeline, in this new post Season 3 setting, the audience sees the Fringe team through his freshly reset eyes.  Lincoln’s life parallels Olivia’s but he is three years behind her curve.  With his partner, Lincoln felt like he was part of a family but in a flash, at the hands of a new, and just as deadly shapeshifter, Lee’s partner is taken from him.  Much the same happened to Olivia three years ago with her partner, which harkens back to the pilot.  But in this timeline, without Peter to act as Walter’s intermediary, Olivia’s partner could not be saved.

‘Neither Here, Nor There,’ carries extra burdens that regular season premieres normally do not. Normally the premiere episode has to set up the season long arcs necessitating more expositional material than subsequent ones.  In Season Four of Fringe the first episode not only has to do but it also must set up the parameters of the new timeline.  A further piece of story overhead is because of the unique position the show is in from a story telling point of view, the Season 4 Premiere makes it an excellent leaping in point for new viewers.  With all this additional overhead this episode juggles them adroitly as possible but at times there are some rough edges because of these muliple purposes.  

The most noticeable sign of rough edges is the dialogue being much more on the nose than is characteristic for Fringe.  Statements about missing something in one’s life or lacking a tether or feeling a life long hole hammer the point of Peter’s absence much more clumsily than is expected from a show with its established pedigree.

Fortunately the cast knows their characters so well at this point that they take on these extra burdens and smooth the bumps out as much as possible.  Anna Torv shows how much her mastery of Olivia Dunham has grown from the first season by visibly doing a masterful nuanced and intriguing performance of an almost Season One Olivia.

John Noble also brings another iteration of Walter to us.  This Walter is more in his own world and yet he seems more lucid.  Is it possible that in this timeline he never had William Bell remove parts of his brain?  Most noticeably this is a sadder Walter, one who may have witnessd the death of his son not once, but twice.

Linlcon Lee is integrated fairly seamlessly, if perhaps a bit quickly.  His presence is welcome but it will be interesting to see how he plays off of Olivia in the long haul as Lee almost seems like a male version of Olivia.  And while Astrid gets to go out in the field she does not seem noticeably changed.

Episode ‘Patterns’: Add your own in the comments.

  • wonderful opening scene with a hateful Olivia verbally jousting with her Redverse counterpart Fauxlivia, whom we learn still switched places with Olivia
  • instead of Spot the Observers now we get to play Spot the Peter… er, make that Spot Peter
  • ‘It is impossible.’  Tell Peter that.
  • New amber-orange Title Credits = red + blue?
  • NerdiLee has moves! Quickly puts down his suspect.
  • NerdiLee’s partner killed by a new type of shapeshifter – Translucent Man
  • Walter feels something is different in the lab the past week
  • Gene! has made it to the new timeline intact!  Whew!
  • Astrid’s got a gun! And a squelching blue tooth ear phone/camera piece to talk to Walter from the field
  • Walter avoiding cracks in the floor and reanimating pidgeons
  • Reanimating birds are nothing, Walter is growing an ear under the dome
  • ‘I need to check her anus.’
  • September on a shopping trip at a Mom & Pop electronics store
  • ‘I need to erase someone from time.’
  • Walter hiding from the Man In the Mirror in the Isolation Tank
  • Olivia’s calming effect on Walter – a new power?
  • ‘I’m not wearing pants.’
  • Awesome translucent shots of the shape shifter injecting himself with the ever present Fringe Big Needle
  • ‘People die. Sometimes twice.’
  • Olivia references John Scott from the Season 1 pilot
  • Anna Torv is noticeably better at playing Season 1 Olivia than she was back in Season 1
  • Olivia letting shapeshifter get close?!?!! Boo!
  • ‘Not from here. You mean, like, China?’
  • NerdiLee gets to see the ‘Bridge’ and Fauxlivia and a Zeppelin too!
  • Walter sleeps in his office
  • September changes his mind about erasing Peter – hmmm
  • Peter in the TV
Ah Yes, Fringe is back!

A lot of seeds laid in this episode.  September’s actions are sure to set off interesting story developments.  The new shape shifters look to be in for the long haul.  The Bridge between the two worlds now allows for easy story access to both sides.  Lots of interesting possibilities are waiting to be explored in Season Four. 

And hovering in the back ground.  Unable to directly interact but always a presence noticeable by his absence. 

Peter.

Episode Rating: 8 out of 10 Genes.

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