Fringe Season 4 Episode 4 Review – ‘Subject 9’

Effect before Cause

The story telling thrust of the season narrative could be palpably felt shifting into the next gear in, ‘Subject 9.’ Gone are the hand holding moments from the previous episodes for new viewers.

The net result?

A most excellent episode filled with several WOW(Wonderful Olivia & Walter) moments as Walter is driven to prove his worth by stepping out of the lab for the first time in three years.  This subplot was designed for character moments; all journey versus destination, its true intent never about being a source of story tension. Olivia’s decision going for or against Walter was never in question.

A WOW Moment – Walter Teaching Olivia How To Properly Drink A Root Beer Float

The rewards in the St. Claires subplot were in the bonding moments that the story journey presented.  And what a delight it was to see Olivia and Walter forge bonds between them that never were possible in a universe where Peter Bishop had existed. John Noble was brilliant, as always.  The real treat was seeing Anna Torv going toe to toe with John Noble and matching his acting prowess at every turn.  A visible demonstration of her growth as an actor from the first season on.

The hand bandaging and how to properly drink a Root Beer Float scenes were the highlights.  All these W.O.W. moments led to, along with her decision to stop Mark Little from destroying the BBL(Blue Ball of Light) based on her feelings rather than logic, Olivia deciding in Walter’s favor.

There is understandable indecision about which parts of the new timeline to invest in. The possibility for everything in this season to be tossed away once the inevitable timeline correction occurs hangs in the background.  The general rule of thumb I am operating on is that the things the series shows us will stick such as the new Walter and Olivia relationship dynamics.

Other things like Olivia running away from the Cortexiphan trials, Olivia having a more developed relationship with Nina, etc; anything we are told about – are akin to candy sprinkles on an Alternate Universe cake.  Nice to think about but not ultimately necessary to support the story going forward.

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

  • 6:00 AM – looks like early Peter gets the wormhole & callback to last year’s ‘6:02 AM EST’ episode
  • 6:00 AM repeated + pile of magnetized objects
  • Olivia looks a lot like she did in the Season 2 Episode – Peter
  • peanuts vs shrimp, work vs visit
  • Walter uses Matrix inspired camera setup in hopes of catching an image of the mystery man
  • learned from Olivia’s arm burn that she started fires as a child during the cortexiphan trials as before but that she later ran away
  • Walter sees letter about being re-admitted to St. Claires, prompts him to overcome his agoraphobia to prove his worth and leave the lab
  • Walter experiences time flash forward before Olivia’s BBL bathroom encounter
  • BBL is similar to one created by ‘Subject 9’
  • Massive Dynamic + Nina – who has a ruthless business instinct yet treats Olivia like a daughter – Bobby Hastings + high school prom
  • Nina wears two gloves?
  • ‘VIPER!’ Walter & Nina do not have the best of relationships
  • Astrid ‘polite’ translates again for Walter
  • Walter leaves lab, first time in 3 years, after a tinkle and calling Astrid – Claire, as in St. Claires no doubt
  • first WOW moment on the streets of NYC
  • Walter charms landlady
  • Walter goes Adrian Monk in the hotel room
  • second WOW moment Olivia bandages Walter’s hand as they bond talking about germs vs Fringe Science, and Elizabeth who, has also committed suicide after Peter’s death in this timeline, loved Walter’s quirks
  • third WOW moment Walter shows Olivia how to drink a root beer float -‘Stab the ice cream!’
  • Walter knows relationship with Olivia is based on work not family
  • who is Broyle’s mystery boss?
  • ‘This is purposeful.  I can feel it.’
  • Cameron James can’t Hulk Out ie lose his cool or metal will fly but life is not always calm
  • small WOW moment as Olivia comforts Walter
  • for the record, I love Raisin Toast
  • Olivia seems to be side effect free but is she unknowingly acting again as the ‘Lever’ helping Peter cross over? Note the symbology of her use of a tire iron to lever open the gate at the Power Station
  • Olivia acts on her feelings and stops Mark from destroying the BBL
  • Peter is reborn in Reiden Lake: the very place where he drowned as a boy in this timeline; also he is rescued by a father & son
  • Walter tells Olivia she acted irrationally, when Walter does it, people call him crazy
  • small WOW moment as Walter learns Olivia has decided in his favor, Walter now knows relationship with Olivia is based on family not work
  • Peter is back!  But no one remembers him.
Peter Reborn, Where He Previously Drowned, At Reiden Lake.  Rescued By A Father & Son

Peter is back and thankfully the Fringe showrunners, as expected, avoided the easy way out.  They did not jettison any timelines.  Peter still retains his knowledge of the previous seasons.  But no one else knows him.  This is a flip of Season Two where everyone knew about Peter being from the Other Side before he did.  This time it is just Peter and the audience who know about the secret of Season 4.

If there is anything different about this episode I would have wished for, it would have been September being actively involved in helping Peter cross over. This moment was a great opportunity to get the Observers actively involved in the story line.

Where does the show go from here in respect to the two timelines?  Will one replace the other? Or will the two be merged in some way?  Could the resolution of that story line lie in a Cause and Effect story line?

Peter’s attempts to cross over generated Time Distortions.  Are those distortions over for good?  Or has Peter repeated the actions of his father, whose own crossing over cause a rift in the Laws of Reality?  Peter may very well find himself in his father’s shoes if the Time Distortions continue to manifest themselves.

And how will Peter respond to such a scenario if it does happen?  All that he has endured will be for naught if Time unravels.

Peter was a drifter and a nomad at the start of the series.  This season he has brought those descriptions to an unprecedented level.  He is truly, ‘A Stranger In A Strange Land.’

So many exciting directions the show can go ahead with now. Which one, we will find out in two weeks when Fringe returns.  But man, oh, man that, ‘Novation,’ preview is irresistibly rewatchable.

9 out of 10 Genes

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