Fringe Summer Rewatch: #216 "Peter" ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Summer Rewatch: #216 "Peter"

      Email Post       8/22/2011 12:01:00 AM      

I'm a real boy! Right?

Join us for our Fringe Summer Rewatch, where we review every episode of Fringe during the summer hiatus. Comments are welcome as we dig into the connections made over three seasons.

Before I discuss this landmark episode, "Peter," here are my Fringemunks recapping the show via a parody of "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi:

Without delay, I will examine key topics that have effectivity for the here and now, as we approach Season 4 (which, as of this point, begins in a month).


Whereas this "what if" section usually appears at the end of the re-watch write-ups, I will bring this idea to the forefront now.

First off, "never existed" implies that Peter was never born in the first place, in the new reset timeline, and he's neither Here nor There. No funeral. No tombstone. No kidnapping. No coin tricks. The name "Peter" is derived from a word that means "rock" - and Walter has no such rock as his foundation. But whereas the idea of saving Peter was Walter's primary motivation to cross universes, it wasn't the only motivation. The absence of Peter would require Walter to have a fundamentally different primary motivation.

Some of the possible motivations have been implied since "Pilot" - mostly focusing on the brilliant-though-reckless partnership of Bell/Bishop, and in later episodes we heard more about how they proactively explored the idea of an alternate universe.

With the 2011 machine event (depicted in the Season 3 finale, "The Day We Died"), Peter has been cancelled out of time and existence. But the following items could be created independently of Peter, when given a different motivation: the window to the other side, the thingamajig that Walter used to walk between universes in 1985, and even the machine.

If the events in this episode were re-broadcast in a Peter-less environment, then we would see the motivations come to light. We wouldn't hear any Peter discussions, but perhaps we would hear more exposition from Walter's wife, Elizabeth, and even his ill-fated lab assistant, Ms. Warren. There would be no kidnapping, and yet years later, Walternate is still upset at Walter even without Peter factoring into the equation. So in a Peter-less "Peter" episode, Walter will perhaps have had to steal something else from Walternate, even if "that was an accident" (as Walter bluntly proclaimed to Walternate in "The Day We Died").

Let me throw this idea into the mix: the machine event of 2011 seems to be a diversion from the "Peter exists" timeline we're familiar with. But what if Peter himself was the diversion from another timeline? And if so, who planted him in this timeline? Who moved him into the picture, thereby creating a new set of Peter-infused possibilities? Only the Observers have the capability of doing that.


Let's just hypothetically consider the idea that the Observers were the ones who planted Peter into the timeline we're familiar with. That isn't saying that I totally believe this happened, but let's just consider it, in order to consider other impossibilities.

If so, then 1) it is their absolute agenda to save both universes, and 2) they would have needed to "pluck" Peter's being from another time/place, as I don't think they have the power to create a person out of thin air.

As we gaze through the window at Walternate's lab, we see September disrupting his timeline, altering history. September intervenes to save Walter and Peter from drowning. So it is not inconceivable that any of the Observers (September included) would have had the capability of shaking history into their own liking (while still having the time to watch "Back to the Future" in a cinema).

In the Fringe universe, the Observers exist, and yet so does God. Who are the Observers, in relationship with God - are they working for His agenda, or against it? And why?


This brings us to Walter's assistant, Carla Warren, who we are introduced to for the very first time, in this episode. Carla, of course, plays a huge part in the overall mythology of Fringe, as it is her death that leads to Walter being locked a mental institution for 17 years.

Her religious convictions compel her to criticize Walter for wanting to "play God." Logic indicates that her agenda is different from that of the Observers, who want Walter's disruption to happen. And, back to the "if Peter didn't exist" frame of mind, would she still be around today, or would she have died (perhaps killed?) in the same fashion, for the same reason, whatever reason that may be?


... and yet, what you can imagine, is this: what it's like to gain a child. Think outside the episode now, and outside of Fringe. Think real life. People around you exist; and yet, there are ideas of people who were never born that you can make-believe. The son you never had. The best friend that exists only in the mind.

What if they were once real? What if they ARE real? How would your life change? How are you worse off, knowing that reality overrides any of those thoughts? Would you be a better person? Would the world be a better place? Is there an alternate side of you that works against you (not in an alter-universe, but within your own mind)?

That is Fringe in a nutshell.

In the final "Peter" scene, Walter wraps up his 1985 story, with a dejected/confused Olivia listening. In a Peter-less timeline, these two people will be having similar conversations, full of anger, remorse, sadness, and regret. Both are at a loss, and out of balance. And even more so, now that they never had a "Peter" in their lives.

And in your own personal lives, think of those around you, perhaps people you may take for granted. They're always around, but no need to get closer, right? Well what if they never existed?

Embrace them, and appreciate them, for they help make you what you are.


Xindilini said...

David, you had the penultimate episode.
Great write-up.

Berlie said...

I have a question. When the observer intervened when Walternate was about to discovered the cure for Peter, he said it was the only way to see that important moment. Peter was already important back then, before our Walter kidnapped him. So, if Peter would never been taken by Walter, what have him done in this different timeline? Why was he so important?

trent said...

Berlie, Walter was telling the story in "Peter", so, whatever the Observers said, it actually came from Walter's mouth and we know he's not exactly impartial. He's known to lie on occasion, too, so I'm not sure I should take seriously, what he told Olivia. In fact, Peter's supposed importance has been contradicted by the show again and again, culminating in that S3 finale, where they inform us, that he has been completely forgotten, because he never existed.

Anonymous said...

I think Walter stating that it was an "accident" we already witnessed for a short moment what the timeline looks like after the incidents and without Peter: In this, new, timeline, it was an ACCIDENT that lead to the shattering of the universes.

I don't think Walter meant that he had no idea it would cause issues to cross over, he seemed to be well aware of it, just as Nina did.

So... already changed timeline at the very ending moment of S3 or not?


Matthew M said...

The song won't play. Prayer didn't work!

fringeobsessed said...

Hmm. You made my head hurt a little, David, which is a good thing. ;)

The Observers and God-I'm still thinking about that.

"Is there an alternate side of you that works against you (not in an alter-universe, but within your own mind)?" Yes, it's called my muse, and she often wins.

Regarding alternate timelines:I might be crazy but I still think September's shooting PB when he did is extremely significant. When Sept. shot Peter the fist time in 104, "The Arrival," did it indicate a changing timeline? And the second time September shot Peter in 310, "The Firefly," was that another timeline shift?

cortexifan said...

part 1

-If you get a chance to watch the episode with the commentary on, then do so. John and Blair are great.
-I was just saying to Fringie6989 that in 1985 I was in NYC, visiting. I went up to the Empire State Building and look out over to the World Trade Center. The photo I took will have a special place in my “Fringe case”.
-Walter: “As scientists we must embrace every possibilities, no limitations, no boundaries, there is no reason.” That’s kind of what Walter and Bell did, no boundaries. Just look at the list Walter rattles off in 3.16 Os after he came back from Bell’s office: Animal ESP, morality detector, viral dreaming, powdered water…
-“It’s theoretical impossible to go there.” Have they not crossed over yet? I thought maybe they did before Walter crossed to get Peter.
-How did Carla die?
-Love the retro intro.
-I should have asked that in the last episode, did Olivia and Peter go out? Did Olivia just go home and how long has she not been answering her phone, which is not like Olivia at all.
-Walter: “I always knew that one day I would have to pay the price for my deception.” Olivia: “We’re not really sure what the cost is yet, are we?” Hm, is that cost Peter vanishing?
-It’s 10:15 pm, how did Walter manage to get out of the house without Peter asking questions?
-Walternate was equally motivated to find a cure. So was he actually a nice guy before Peter was stolen?
-Before Peter died, did Elizabeth already show signs of weakness?
-Walter to his Elizabeth: “I need you not to doubt me.” He says that later to the other Elizabeth as well and I think she believed him more.
-Looks like blue Peter was closer to Walter, vs. red Peter being closer to Elizabeth.
-The coin again. Lucky silver dollar. Wasn’t it a half dollar coin in 3.21 The Last Sam Weiss?
-It’s kinda sad that there were only 4 people at his funeral.
-What did Nina mean: “You know how much Peter meant to me.” In 1.06 The Cure she tells him that they spend quite some time together and that her and Walter were close.
It’s really cool when Walter turns the window on again in the lab. One half is red, the other is blue.
-Walter says that the compounds Walternate used weren’t random at all. I wish he would have explained it more.
-Why was September at the lab on the other side? Why is Peter so important if in a sense he never existed?
-The Observers are drinking Slusho’s. The clue poster behind them is the clue for the next episode.

cortexifan said...

part 2

-It’s ironic that September and August are reprimanding each other in the past. They do it again later in 2.08 August.
-The double decker car is driving by as the Observers leave the theater. Later in 3.18 Bloodline there is one driving by Fauxlivia’s place as well.
When August says that September will have an opportunity to fix this, they knew that Walter would cross over and that they would break through the ice.
-Carla: “There has to be a line that we can’t cross.” Both Walter and Walternate say the same line in later episodes.
-“I’m become death, destroyer of worlds” Same thing. Walternate repeats it in 3.20 6:02 AM EST.
-Carla has 3 degrees in Theoretical Physics. Sounds like she was ahead of her time for a woman in those days.
-Reiden Lake. First soft spot (1.20), Walter crossed over there to get Peter, they drowned there (2.15), Peter tried to go home (3.15), Walter fell into Reiden Lake after leaving the blimp (3.19), Walternate lured Peter there to keep him as far away as possible from Olivia (3.22).
-I believe if the vile hadn’t broken and if Elizabeth hadn’t shown up at the lab, Walter would have returned him.
-Did Walter tell Olivia the whole truth?
-“You’re not my father, are you?” How did Peter know that?
-I thought it was interesting how September described Carla as Walter’s friend, but Nina only as the one who was injured.
-Walter: “Why did you save us?” September: “The boy is important.” Why?
-Walter to Olivia: “You can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child.” I don’t know but I want to disagree. There is something about Olivia’s expression that suggests otherwise. But I could be wrong.

Ok so before I say if Peter… I have to ask a question. When we say Peter never existed, we mean which Peter?
If Peter never existed in this episode…
-Red Peter would still be on the other side.
-Blue Peter would still have died.
-Elizabeth would have not committed suicide.
Walter wouldn’t have to explain himself.

I’m gonna borrow a line from the next episode: Gosh, what am I missing?

Fringie6989 said...

Wow well both of you made a LOT of observations that I can't even begin to comment on. Just the one thing that Cortexifan said. You mentioned this earlier about when Walter said “You can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child.” and Olivia's expression to it. Could it be that Olivia understands better than Walter thinks because she in a sense lost a child when her childhood was ripped away from her? From the cortexiphan trials when she was 3 - ?, he stepfather hitting her, then watching him hit her mother, culminating in Olivia shooting her stepfather when she was just 9, and then not remembering much about her childhood, she did indeed lose a child, herself. Just a thought...As to Carla, I hope we learn more. I liked that she was extremely smart for being a woman in that time, but she didn't use that for her advantage like Bell and Walter did. She raised that oh so familiar question in Fringe of how far is too far? Where does the line get drawn? That border between man's territory and God's territory.

I'm sure there's plenty more, but rereading all of your comments makes my head hurt. Great job, very interesting!

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