Fringe Episode Review – 4.07


The Need To Be Seen

“The hours I spend with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it.  You and you alone make me feel that I am alive.  Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.”

George Moore

Timing is so important.  One can take all the proper steps for THE big date; be dressed to the nines, bring a big bouquet of roses, and a box of chocolates but if you show up at the wrong time all your preparatory work can go for naught.

How many refills is this?

Such is the fate of, ‘Wallflower.’  It came on the heels of the previous fantastic installment, ‘And Those We’ve Left Behind.’ Tough enough.  But then to become the unintentional Fall Finale, due to the pushing out of the airing schedule by one week because of baseball’s World Series, is truly a cruel twist of fate.

‘Wallflower,’ also came at a time when expectations were that major traction in the Peter story arc were about to commence.  Instead in this installment Peter was relegated to the sidelines to pin up drawings, provide courting help to Lincoln by giving him glasses fashion advice,  and go on a shopping trip to get various sundry items including underwear.  Not exactly the material of big things hoped for in the Peter story arc.

Though I did love and laugh out loud at the Peter/Olivia – “Hey/Hey” – moment.  

Further to the seeming paralysis in the Peter story pace; the Observers have been lost since the start of the season.  What is going on with September?  What ramnifications of his decision to not eradicate Peter had with the other Observers?  Is September on the road to becoming another August?  And where is the expansion of the Observer mythos promised by the showrunners before the start of the current season?

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

  • Olivia suffering migraines has a prescription. How long has this been going on?
  • Lee & Olivia in the diner. Lee freaking out about Fringe events.  Olivia phlegmatic.
  • man attacked and de-pigmentized by Invisible Man – ended up looking like Brent Spiner
  • Peter gets to go on chaperoned shopping trips & gets an allowance
  • Walter munching on beer battered Onion Rings
  • Astrid talks to a shrink everyday about her job.  Olivia’s self worry increases.
  • Eugene in elevator listening to his ‘girlfriend’ most apropos small talking about fall and the changing colors
  • Pigment = Death = Eugene’s desire to be seen = Suicide
  • Walter with the mice – John & Invisible Yoko – made visible with UV Light
  • Facepalm moment – Olivia searches for Eugene alone
  • Eugene’s monologue to Olivia about being seen, being recognized, and connecting emotionally with someone encapsulates Olivia’s issues
  • Eugene makes that connection with Julie in the elevator and then dies
  • Olivia confesses to Nina her doubts and whether her exposure to Cortexiphan has stunted her emotionally
  • Olivia feels she should know her place in life by now, Nina tells her that is not necessarily so
  • Peter gives Lincoln styling glasses.  ‘Trust me.’
  • ‘Hey!’  ‘Hey!’
  • another awkward Olivia/Lincoln moment as they stumble to make a date
  • spurious observation: for her ‘date’ with Lincoln – Olivia decides to keep her hair in a ponytail.  For her ‘date’ with Peter in Season Two’s, ‘Jacksonville,’ Olivia decided to keep her hair down.  Significant? Or not?
  • Nina ruins the ‘date.’  Olivia is gassed and given cortexiphan.
  • Is Nina evil or taking desparate measures, a la Walter, to protect Olivia?

All of the above factored into my initial viewing of the episode.  My expectations were so preset that my initial viewing of ‘Wallflower,’ left a bad taste.  And the preview for the real Fall Finale episode did not help.  Fortunately after a couple of days had passed, I was able to regroup, rewatch the episode, and judge it on its own merits.

And found ‘Wallflower,’ a solid episode.  Much of the mystery surrounding the cold Olivia of this timeline is explained.  My criticism of what Peter was given to do still stands.

The character/case of the week Eugene is borne with a mutation not just on the physical level but on an emotional one too. She has no connections emotionally and even worse, is rarely affected by the Fringe events she is consistently exposed to.   Something that Olivia of this timeline has begun to really wrestle with.  Even more so oddly, or perhaps not oddly at all, since the injection of Peter into the Season 4 timeline.

The reveal that Nina has continued the cortexiphan injections on Olivia explains much. It also, in typical Fringe fashion, raises new questions.  For those that have harbored a long standing distrust of Nina were given vindication.  Nina is evil!

Or is she?

Unquestionably Nina’s methods are reprehensible.  But will we find out that her actions are not nefarious in goal but rather driven by her belief that this is the only way to protect Olivia?  The answer is unclear and certainly there has been enough evidence to paint Nina in a bad light this season.  On the other hand is this another scenario, much like Walter’s crossing over to the other universe to save the other Peter?  Time will tell.

The most impressive accomplishment for me in this episode is that I am now truly emotionally engaged in what happens to this Olivia and Walter in this timeline.  This has been a big point of contention for those that believe these characters are superfluous because they will be wiped away when things are set back to their proper places.  After the direction that has been laid out in these seven episodes it is clear something more amibitious is definitely in play.

Eugene’s final scene in the elevator with Julie was beautifully done.  His joy at achieving recognition, even at the price of death, was truly touching.  As Eugene slid to floor, Fringe music composer Chris Tilton, skillfully composed the emotional underpinnings and poignancy of those final seconds.  

Connection made.

In his last moments who was Eugene meant to parallel then?  

Olivia? Peter?

Maybe both.  Or maybe that moment was his.

Fringe Science: Parallel Universes, White Tulips, And Mad Scientists

Fringe Science: Parallel Universes, White Tulips, And Mad Scientists

Taken from the Smart Pop website ‘About’ page:

‘Smart Pop Books – On the best in Pop Culture Television, Books, And Film’

‘Smart Pop books is a line of smart, fresh funny essays on the best of pop culture tv, books, and film, with particular focus on science fiction and fantasy television and literature.’

From the back cover of Smart Pop’s Fringe Science book:

‘Fringe has always been more than the sum of its parts-but its parts, too, are worth a closer look.  The show combines a surfeit of mad science, some old school sci-fi flair, and a dash of strawberry-milkshake whimsy to create the challenging, fascinating Pattern that keeps us coming back season after season and universe after universe.’

Smart Pop line of books are permeated with an aura that reflects a labor of love.  They are books dedicated to genre material filled with content created by and for fans.   Which is an excellent touch because knowing your audience is an enticing way to make a book attractive to your target market.

And who knows a fan better than a fellow fan?  That the fans that provide the content for Smart Pop books have expertise in an area of science or literature or media or all three or more is a sweet bonus.

Take the Fringe Science book for example and it’s eclectic mix of writers and the articles they have provided.  Not only are theoretical and practical sciences covered but articles about Fringe and how it relates to the roots of Science Fiction, be it written or filmed, are included .

Under the guidance of editor Kevin R. Grazier, whose background includes being a research scientist at NASA plus science advisor on shows such as Eureka and BattleStar Galactica, writers have been selected from such diverse vocations as Film Makers, Internet TV Reviewers, Historians, Cosmologists, and Cognitive Sciences Professors.

Like the show that they are writing about, the articles work best when they are crafted in a relatable manner where the topic is tied to the characters of Fringe. One of the articles, ‘ Parallel Universes,’ by Max Tegmark has been retooled from its previous publishing as a MIT article.  It remains dense with abstract concepts and, for this lowly reader, difficult to parse in relatable terms. Regardless, the possibilities raised by this article are mind blowing.

All told there are thirteen articles which are self contained and can be read in any order according to the tastes of the reader.

My personal favorite is, ‘Deja New,’ by Mike Brotherton, an astronomer and SF novelist. It is a timely article given the state of the show which is about to launch its fourth season.  ‘Deja New,’ is much the layman’s version of Max Tegmark’s article. Brotherton calls into duty, the rarely seen but always thought about, Schrodinger’s Cat along with Deja Vu to explore the Fringe stories of alternate realities and choices. Comparisons are made to the original Star Trek episode of, ‘Mirror, Mirror,’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer, SG-1, and Sliders.

Another highlight of the book is noted genre fiction writer and editor, Nick Mamatas with his cleverly titled piece, ‘Waltered States.’  In it, Mamatas compares Walter and Walternate to two noted men of the 1960s; Timothy Leary and Gordon G. Liddy, respectively.  Leary and Liddy were persons of diametrically opposed ideologies with little reason for the two to cross paths. Fate intervened and their lifes became intrinsically interwoven.  So too with Walter and Walternate.  Both sets of men are two sides of a coin. A coin that circumstances or Destiny or Fate have forced them to share.

The book is rounded out with articles on memory, time travel, diseases, neurotechnology, and the 1950s antecedents in film and television which form the foundation upon which Fringe rests.

If you are one that loves to ponder and discuss such topics then Smart Pop’s – Fringe Science is a book that you will want to incorporate into your reality.

Fringe Ep. 4.06 Review

And Those We Left Behind
The Peter Paradox: Constant or Wild Card?
Hearkening back to Season Two’s, ‘White Tulip’, ‘And Those We Left Behind(ATWLB)’, is outwardly a high concept SF time travel episode. Both episodes Trojan Horse’d time travel elements to explore very human conditions which is when Fringe is at its best.
And both episodes are stories about lost loves.
With ‘Novation’inserting Peter gingerly back into the altered time line, this week’s episode expands on the implications and possible pitfalls of his return. Opening with a perfect day dream sequence we see Peter, wedding band visible, with Olivia and the swing setting Walter in a park. It is naturally all too perfect and ends on an ominous note with Olivia telling Peter there is a problem. 
‘He is a Fringe Event.’
And that problem is Peter.

With that, Peter’s mind set is laid out for the audience before the Case Of The Week(COTW) kicks in.  Often the best instalments of serialized television are those that directly involve one of the regular cast members –(for example, if anyone watches Castle with Nathan Filion you know what I mean). ATWLBis one of those exceptions as it does not directly involve any cast regulars – though indirectly Peter starts time jumping in very cool sequences midway through the episode. But the story line of the COTW so beautifully mirrors Peter’s current dilemma that it transcends the need for any direct connections.
Powered by the poignant acting duo of real life partners Romy Rosemount and Stephen Root, whom play Kate and Raymond respectively, we discover the root of all the time slips is a husband’s desperate time cheating gambit trying to save his wife from a terrible fate. A fate which in some ways is worse than death especially for someone whose mind is their greatest tool; a theoretical physicist. But as we have seen time and time again in this series, trying to cheat the natural order of things invariably has consequences. It happened to Walter. It happened to Raymond in this episode. And it is happening to Peter in this season. The extent of the ramifications of Peter’s actions have yet to be still fully determined.

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

  • Touching opening – ‘A Perfect Day In The Day’ Peter dream sequence that adroitly lays out Peter’s mind set
  • ‘You, Peter. You are the problem.’
  • Walter on the swing
  • Olivia’s choice of jacket color for Peter – visual cue he does not fit in
  • Walter’s petulant ignoring behaviour around Peter
  • Time Bubbles – with no clear rules ie girl turns into baby yet mother is unaffected
  • Breach Detector from the RedVerse with, in Walter’s opinion, a poorly written instruction manual
  • Peter is a Fringe Event
  • Olivia keeping her distance from Peter
  • Intriguing – Peter unaware that he was showing up to Walter in the lab prior to his appearance.
  • Peter time jump sequences. ‘This could get annoying.’
  • Walter listening to Styx, ‘Too Much Time On My Hands’
  • The Fibonacci Golden Spiral
  • Cool Time Bubble special effects at Kate and Raymond’s house including FBI agent who turned to confetti
  • Peter The Constant! – Faraday Cage (A Lost reference for those not in the know.)
  • Olivia and Peter simultaneously volunteering to put on the Faraday Cage
  • Olivia’s grimace at the Faraday harness neck probe – nifty tie in to her Season 1 encounters with it
    Walter’s Spiderman Penny Pack
  • Raymond to Kate, ‘We Don’t Have Time!’ , ‘I lost you Kate. Lost you.’(More Lost echoes?)
  • The Walter Bishop Faraday Harness
  • Walter remark of grudging admiration that Peter is very smart
  • Kate’s equation blackouts = Peter’s erasure
  • Kate’s answer to Raymond’s anguished, ‘How do I repay you?’ – ‘Just love me & live your life.’
  • Peter believes his appearance allowed Raymond’s Time Bubble Machine to start working
  • Peter gets the house
  • ‘Do I get an allowance?’
  •  Is Peter’s belief that he is not in the right place correct?
The thrust of this episode lays out that Peter does not seemingly belong in this new time line. From Peter’s dream, to Walter’s ignoring behaviour, to Olivia’s work/personal barrier she has set up between her and Peter, to Broyle’s terming of Peter as a Fringe event, to the parallel of Peter’s presence versus the displacement effects of Raymond’s Time Bubble, and to Peter’s conclusion at the end of the episode that his presence is why Raymond’s Time Bubble Machine started to work; makes such a conclusion quite logical
But is Peter right in that belief?
His presence is not an issue of ‘Where’ but ‘When’. As Peter noted there seems to be much variation in the scope of what effects time distortions create. Peter also experienced said randomness first hand when he began time jumping midway through the episode. His quest to go back ‘home’ could have the opposite effect. The Time displacements could become worse instead of better.
The answer almost assuredly lies not just in scientific theorems but in the human heart too. The right answer may be as simple as home is where the heart is.
Kate Erases Herself.  Just Like Peter Did.
Science Fiction is at its best when it explores the unknown. Season 4 is definitely an exploration of that. During the journey the uncertainty experienced may not provide the comfort food type of television viewing that dominates the television landscape today. But the payoff at the destination can be huge. Fringe does what it name implies. It takes risks on the edges of story telling.
Given what we have seen so far from Fringe to date, not just this season but since the pilot, my expectations still remain that payoff will be huge.  It should be noted that the initial introduction of the RedVerse characters was met with resistance. The more we saw of them, the more they become fleshed out, and the more compelling they became, until they emerged as welcome new characters in the Fringe character universe. Now that is becoming more and more apparent that these new ‘old’ characters are not going away soon, even if they may turn out to have a finite shelf date, they too are becoming intriguing characters worthy of further exploration.
‘And Those We Left Behind’, mixes the extraordinary with everyday human elements. The mix of the two can create wonderfully, engaging stories.
This is an episode worthy of many rewatches. This is Fringe, pushing boundaries, at the top of its game.

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?

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