Fringe Episode Review – 4.05: Novation

The Other Side of the Coin

So it begins.

The road back.  But is it the right road?

The Lost Son Returns?

Peter is back in play on the show but this is no homecoming.  This is a timeline where Peter never existed beyond his childhood.  A timeline which could be argued to be the correct one.  If Walter had not crossed over to the other side then the natural course of events would have been that Peter would have not grown up in our universe.  And maybe not in the RedVerse as well depending on the Observers.

As noted by Peter himself in this episode his existence, in the timeline we have all come to think of as the right one in the previous three seasons, is a paradox.  At this moment in the show’s history it seems like the reason for Peter’s existence rests with the Observers.  Whether through intent, happenstance, or both the Observers have a hand in Peter’s destiny with the Machine.  Plus his subsequent erasure from the timeline of the first three seasons.

On the flip side of the coin there is Walter.  In this timeline he has seen Peter die not just once but twice.  A heavy burden on Walter that weighs him down with guilt. Peter’s arrival brings him  a momentary flash of joy which Walter quickly quashes.  He deems himself not worthy of such an opportunity.

In a nice callback to last season’s, ‘Marionette,’ Walter confesses to Nina that when he looked into Peter’s eyes he knew the truth.  In this unknown adult Peter, Walter could see the eyes of the boy who drowned twenty-five years ago on Reiden Lake.  So by episode end, Walter simultaneously acknowledges Peter’s claims and rejects his existence.

Episode Patterns: ( add yours in the comments section)

  •   Olivia freaking out finding Walter putting himself to ‘sleep’
  •   ‘Sounds dangerous.’  ‘Nonsense.’
  •   Astrid supporting Walter as he is asked to meet with Peter
  •   Walter averting his gaze from Peter as he enters the holding cell
  •   it seems only Peter knows about the Observers
  •   is Lincoln overly obsessed with shape shifters – partner’s death nonwithstanding?
  •   Olivia and her sister grew up with Nina
  •   Dr Malcolm Truss’s research shut down by William Bell due to ethical concerns?  That is very intriguing.
  •   Peter gets to show his smarts several times starting with hotwiring the intercom to allow for two way communication
  •   Lincoln presses for Peter’s help, his shape shifting obsession continues
  •   Olivia picks up on Peter’s self vested manipulations
  •   Walter going through items in Peter’s memory box – the coin returns!
  •   ShapeShifter nose bleed!
  •   Lincoln notes Olivia’s avoidance of Peter & turns down her offer to grab a bite, either he is keenly sensitive to Olivia’s conflict about Peter or is this that shape shifting thing again?
  •  great callback to last season’s, ‘Marionette,’ and the eyes
  •  Olivia deja vu or time shifting?  hmmm
  •  typewriter returns.  A Hermes 3000
  •  new shapeshifters are a very dangerous threat

A transitional episode that still manages to carry a lot of heart thanks, once again, to the marvelous acting talents of John Noble.  His portrayal of the tortured Walter: so joyful to see Peter as adult; so self loathing that he refuses to acknowledge the gift, tugs at one’s heartstrings in the same manner as virtuoso violinist.

It was great to see Peter have an opportunity to show his smarts and display the old salesmanship flair going back to the pilot. Olivia’s confusion can be seen in her keeping her distance from Peter.  Intellectually she knows that not just Walter but herself seeing Peter before he arrived has some meaning. Emotionally she is not there yet.

It sure seems like Lincoln is though.  Either he has sussed out the relationship between her and Peter in the other timeline which would explain his flat refusal of a dinner date with Olivia.  Or his obsession with shapeshifters is really deep.  But Licoln’s fixation with shape shifters seems to transcend a need for vengeance of his partner’s death.  At least that is the vibe I was left with.

What is really interesting about this episode is that we are being exposed to the idea that Reality might be a better place of without an adult Peter in it.  Olivia certainly is better off in almost all respects.  And the events she would have to remember to reconnect with Peter may have a price tag attached to them that she may deem too high.  Or that Peter may.  Walter is worse off in this timeline and Peter’s appearance has reopened old wounds. Perhaps it is better to let sleeping dogs lie.  Or maybe Peter will be compelled to find a way that ‘corrects’ the timeline and prevents Walter from trying to cross over at all.

Acceptance & Rejection

This is an interesting conundrum.  The show has managed to make the villain, Walter, the one to root for. Now it is asking the audience if for Peter, the proper solution to the current situation may be for Peter to undo himself.

With the return of the inter-dimensional typewriter and Olivia’s time jump at the end, things are about to get serious in the week’s to come.

BTW, where are the Observers in all of this?

2 thoughts on “Fringe Episode Review – 4.05: Novation

  1. Jake

    So the solution to stop the universes from dying is to remove a character from existence that is already removed from half the show already? So that is why Peter is important, it is not that he has feeling or desires it is they need him to make a compelling plot. Did anyone ever notice how they brush over peter's emotions? Found out he was from the other side? Brushed over. went to other side….made it about Olivia and walter and their needs…brushed over. Olivia returns and she is upset about Peter and he has to suck it up even though he was duped…brushed over. Peter comes back and he has to suck it up and let everyone crap on him and they never have him freak out and say why does no one not know me?

    What is the point of Peter bishop? Plot device? This is his season and he barely is in it. His agency is not adressed or his emotions or anything that is important to him. This episode and the rest of the season should be all Peter, nothing but Peter, everything Peter and they a stalling and lying and shunning people on. Whyman and pinkner are liars and cheats and have lost my trust.


  2. First up thanks for the feedback Jake!

    In essence I agree with your underlying belief that of the three leads that Peter has been the most problematic for the show to utilize properly.

    On the flip side I think the show did a reasonable job of showing Peter's emotions during the instances you have mentioned.

    Peter may not have been getting the requisite screen time but he has been 'present' in some form this entire season.

    Novation cautiously reintroduced Peter into this new time line. I personally love that the show takes it time to explore the ramifications of such moments before cutting to the chase.

    From this point on Peter will be front and center.

    What is the point of Peter? That is the question that will be answered this season. One thing is for sure, he is now the axis about which the rest of the season will revolve.

    I am very excited for what is to come and I hope that the season unfolds in a manner that is pleasing to you as well.


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