Join us for our Fringe Summer re-watch, where we review every episode of Fringe during the summer hiatus. Comments are welcome as we dig into the connections made over three seasons
Northwest Passage is another one of my favorite Fringe episodes. As a fan of The X-Files, I adored the Pacific forest feel throughout the episode. Plus, the characters of Mathis and Ferguson reminded me (intentionally) of role-reversed versions of Mulder and Scully. The guitar music from Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready was icing on the cake. But it was Peter’s role in this episode that stole my heart.
Peter from Boston
Poor Peter… His life was all a lie. He had opened his heart, trusted and loved, only to feel like he was betrayed.
So, he resorted back to his old modus operandi and ran as far from Boston as possible, stopping for pie (Twin Peaks homage) and possibly some long overdue physical attention along the way. Sadly, Peter’s choice of a potential one-night-stand ended up dead… possibly because of him.
Peter told the café waitress, Krista, “Technically, I’m from no place that you ever heard of.” Of course, he was talking about Over There, but maybe it really is more technical. Is Peter Bishop really from a place that has not yet been revealed?
There was something about Peter’s character that really showed how much he had changed since the first season. Peter, by all rights, could have just kept on driving by the police that were at the Hilltop Café. But Peter genuinely cares for people, so he became involved. Even when his world was turned upside down, he took the time to help others. Unfortunately, when he heard that part of the girl’s brain was missing, like in Grey Matters, he became convinced that he was at fault. That Newton was after him.
It seems a common thing for Peter to be placed into situations that make him feel guilty. He learned that many people died Over There as a result of what Walter did to save his life. He believed that his mother committed suicide because she knew the truth about him. His forced action to destroy the other universe in The Last Sam Weiss had to weigh terribly on him as time passed, and his adopted world was still dying. Olivia did not want to have children because of the state of the world. But Peter always tried to stay hopeful. Will the worlds still be falling apart without his “existence?”
Peter echoed Walter’s past words about how amazing the human brain is at recording every detail a person observes. Something else that he said to Mathis stuck out to me: “If you can imagine it, it’s possible.” A conversation between young Peter and his mother in Subject 13:
ELIZABETH BISHOP: A professor who was working here missed them, so he imagined a tulip that would grow in this climate, and he invented it. He used his brain and his imagination to turn the world into what he wanted it to be. How would you change the world if you could, Peter? What would you wish for?
YOUNG PETER: I wouldn't make stupid flowers grow.
ELIZABETH BISHOP: (laughs) What would you do?
YOUNG PETER: I'd go home.Yikes, what if Peter does “go home” in Season Four? But where is home?
Man of Many Talents
Peter was able to use his skills of persuasion in order to purchase guns and ammunition.
Peter also calmed upset Mathis with a touch of his hand.
Peter has often been shown finding locations on maps using different data like he did to find the dairy farm killing location in this episode.
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Mathis asked Peter when she thought that her partner was taken to get information about Peter:
“What is it that makes you so special?”
Peter sought answers one again in this episode. He had previously told Walter in August about his frustration in seeking answers. In The Arrival, Peter told Olivia that he wasn’t going anywhere until he could explain what was going on. But the answer that he received in this episode, only led to more questions. Walternate’s appearance in his hotel room shocked Peter into a state of awe and fear.
Peter showed great empathy with Mathis, upset and feeling powerless over her missing partner:
“What if he's alive? What if he's out there somewhere, thinking I am doing everything in my power, including calling the F.B.I. to save him?”
Poor Peter had to be feeling just as helpless when he found out about being deceived by the other Olivia in Entrada.
When they went to look for the missing partner, Peter walked across a bridge, while in deep thought. Bridges are somewhat a common background in the series.
- In The Same Old Story, an image of bridge was used to find a kidnapped victim.
- In The Man From the Other Side, a bridge was used to bring Walternate Over Here, and helped Peter to deduce that he was not from here.
- In Over There, Nick Lane and Sally Clark died on a bridge, after Clark had sent a fireball into Lincoln Lee.
- In The Day We Died, Peter built a bridge between the two universes.
Many Fringe fans picked up Mark Helprin’s Winter's Tale to read after young Olivia was shown reading it in Subject 13. It soon became apparent that the some elements in the show were inspired by the book. Fringe producer Akiva Goldman is even making a film adaptation of the book. One of the characters is a mechanic named Peter Lake. Bridges play a significant role in the book.
Mathis told Peter that she wondered if he was not completely off his rocker. Having his sanity questioned must have been unnerving for Peter. Walter faced such accusations all the time, and Peter would completely agree. Though Peter asked Mathis why she’d listen to an insane man. Peter said she was desperate. Of course, he had seen that level of desperation before - in Olivia. For the same reason as Mathis.
“Ferguson is more than just your partner, isn’t he?”
This in a way also mirrors what Nina Sharp told Olivia about recognizing the look in her eyes, letting Olivia know that Nina knew about her feelings for Peter.
The desperation would cause Olivia crossing universes to save Peter. Peter’s love for her caused him to jump into her mind and to go back and make a different choice in the machine in order to save her life.
You Can’t Get There from Here.
This was of course referring to Peter’s home universe of origin, but maybe the real meaning is a bit deeper. Peter wanted to find his place - to find out who he really was.
Peter was very sharp and on edge. He had suspicions that Mathis might have been replaced by a shape shifter when he saw blood on her wrist, and thoroughly questioned her at gunpoint. In Entrada, he asked Fauxlivia’s hostage a question that showed she was really a shape-shifter.
Watching Mathis walk to the second unknown body, thinking that it could be her partner was heartbreaking. I’d hate to imagine Peter’s reaction to seeing Olivia’s body in The Day We Died.
Walter Falls Apart
“Do you know what you are putting in our bodies? Death! Delicious strawberry flavored death!”
Walter was broken without Peter. After all, it was Peter that always helped him. His home was wrecked and he could barely function. Is this a glimpse at Walter in season four? Will Astrid and Olivia be as caring or indifferent to “crazy” Walter?
Walter spoke to Astrid while they cleaned the Bishop home. While listening to Violet Sedan Chair’s She’s Doing Fine, he said:
Thank you, Astrid. You're a Federal Agent. I doubt, during your years of training, that you had dreams of babysitting a helpless old man.
In The Day We Died, Walter asked about Astrid when he was allowed to set up the lab to help Fringe Division’s investigation.
Walter: Will Astrid be here?
Peter: No. Astrid's a Fringe Agent now. We need her out in the field.
Walter: Oh. I suppose since she's no longer caring for me, she's able to (realizes his hands are chained) -- spread her wings.What will become of Astrid in the fourth season since Peter has gone missing?
Walter set up a spectrograph to be attuned to Peter’s energy signature as a way to find him. Could this possibly be employed to find Peter in season four?
Find the Crack
“In the darkness, there's always a crack. It's how the light gets in.”
There are a lot of scenes that I love in Fringe, and it’s hard to rank them. I always enjoy the scene where Mathis talks to Peter and tells him, “I wish that there was something that I could do for you.” These two are both people that have deep hurt in their individual journeys. Peter was “looking for meaning in things that have no meaning.” Particularly in the reason why the secret was kept from him. Peter was looking for his place, and Mathis was right, he’d find it. And have it all fall apart in front of him.
What was the deal with the phone calls that Peter received in the hotel?
Did Peter really see Newton at the Hilltop Café and in the woods?
Was Peter attuned to a specific frequency or energy that only he could hear because he was from the other side?
What happened to the pen that Mathis gave Peter?
If Peter was Removed from the Equation
Krista might have escaped being kidnapped and killed since she wouldn’t have taken extra time to burn a CD for Peter.
Deputy Ferguson would have probably been killed, leaving behind a devastated Sheriff Mathis.