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.
When this episode first aired, all I could remember was the last scene from Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep, hoping that someway, somehow, Peter and Altlivia were interrupted. Alas, that would not be the case, and we’d even get some conception from the deception in the future…
A Pawn’s Eyes are Opened
So, Alternate Olivia gets a first-hand look at the hopeless (not frustrated) romantic in Peter Bishop, when he playfully gives her a clue about something special in the Entertainment section of the newspaper - U2 tickets. This is all in addition to an impressive breakfast-in-bed.
As he spoke to Walter on the phone, her face showed some degree of uneasiness. The Secretary's son was genuinely sweet, and obviously very much in love with her alternate.
As the case involving people losing their minds to retrograde amnesia unfolded, she saw that Walter was a broken man, especially compared to the Secretary Bishop she knew. I’m not sure if she later used the pastries and kind words as a clever deception, or if maybe she was generally liking him. It seems her words in her diary (Reciprocity) about Walter being brilliant might have proven this to be the case.
Apparently Walter’s words about helping innocent people sunk in to her, because she told her shape-shifter accomplice:
Altlivia: I think you've done enough. We've got their attention. There's no need to hurt any more innocent people.
Joseph Feller: What do they say on this side? ‘All's fair in love and war?’ If they were in our shoes, they would do exactly what we're doing.
However, Peter would show that this viewpoint was false:
Altlivia: If you knew that only... one of our worlds could survive and if it was up to you, and you alone, to defend your side... You'd have no choice, right? I mean, you would have to do what you had to do... no matter the cost to protect... our world.
Peter: There are billions of innocent people over there... just like here... people with jobs, families, lives. I got to believe there's another way. And whatever my part in all of this is... I got to believe there's another way. There's always hope, right?
Olivia also mirrored Peter’s viewpoint in Entrada, as she pleaded desperately with Broyles to help her:
Despite what you think, my universe is not at war with yours. This all began because a man came over here to save a boy and twenty-five years later, I came back to save that same boy. But if you let me die, then we will strike back and we will fight. But if you let me go, both universes can survive. There must be another way and I promise you I will find it.
Yet when Walternate pulled all the stops and activated his machine, Peter was forced into a decision that went against his words. He had to do what he had to do.
There is another way… still yet to be found.
The Road to Forgiveness
This is an episode that is heavily Peter/Walter centric. I appreciate their dynamic as one of the main attractions that I have for the show. Walter fussed over Peter as if he were still a child, instead of a man in his early thirties. This would start to change.
Walter once told Peter that he his biggest problem was his lack of commitment. In this episode, Peter is committed to Olivia, albeit the wrong one, and he worked on trying to figure out the machine. Walter was not happy with Peter’s choice, telling him one of my favorite Walterisms:
Well, fine. If you end up breaking the universe, this time, it's on your head!
The tension between Walter and Peter only escalated, each taking the opportunity to snipe at the other. Yet Walter later acknowledged his son’s intellect concerning the number stations, only to have the moment spoiled by Peter’s discovery of Walter’s tampering with his machine diagnostic efforts.
Some viewers express discontent with the fact that Peter never said the exact phrase “I forgive you” to Walter. Peter has always let his actions speak louder than his words, and the road to forgiveness took some time. I feel any less would have been the real shortchange. When Peter came back Over Here, he told Walter that although he could not see things his way, that Walter’s actions to cross universe twice in order to save his life meant something. This was a start. In this episode, the "Bishop Boys" come to an understanding and begin their unification.
In this episode, Peter expressed his commitment to learning about the machine. Walter told him that he was “Playing with fire,“ alluding to the story of Prometheus.
In the Harvard Yard scene, Nina Sharp reminded Walter that he was being hypocritical when it came to Peter’s work with the machine. Walter confided his fears to her:
WALTER: If only one world can survive, then it stands to reason that Walternate will use Peter to ensure that it's his world that does. But he has already built as much of the machine as he can. He gave the blueprints to Peter and asked him to complete it... even though... this... could kill him.
NINA: I remember, Walter, but who says this is the only outcome? It's a drawing, not destiny. Even if you're right about Walternate's plan, I mean, you don't know if he'll succeed. And given the stakes, won't Peter need your guidance more than ever?
In mid-season's The Firefly, September told Walter that there are many possible outcomes that may come to pass.
This line is one we may want to take to heart as the fourth season starts:
Walter... one of the things I have most admired about you is your optimism. Don't become a fatalist now.
Once it became apparent, thanks to Astrid, that the machine parts were buried all over the world, Walter decided to support surprised Peter with the quest.
The First Glance at The First People
Markham explained that the numbers were heard even before the radio was invented. I am assuming after learning the origin of the First People in The Day We Died, that they set-up the number stations so that someday, the machine parts would be found. I remember all of the speculation about these so-called people. Looking back, it was pretty funny. I certainly had a “you’ve got to be kidding me” moment when it was revealed who they really were…
But it’s not so funny when put into the perspective of this episode. Peter read parts of the book to Altlivia:
So according to this... something happened, some sort of cataclysm that so completely decimated the first people, they were just wiped out of the historical record.
We now know what Seamus Wiles did not: The First People came through a wormhole to the past. The cataclysm had its roots in the present.
A couple of thoughts concerning memories:
Walter said that, "The human brain is a miracle... a most resilient organ... a storage unit for everything you have ever known... seen, or felt. It's all still in there, whether or not you are conscious of that."
I wonder if this memory can “echo” across time-lines?
Walter made a statement to Astrid that seemed innocuous at first. But, as usual, some of his lines say a bit more than originally believed.
I simply meant that to break the code you would have to think like they did, and they lived millions and millions of years ago.
Considering Astrid was one of the First People…
This episode was fairly well wrapped up by the season three finale arc, which explained the origin of the First People Book and the First People’s quest to bring the machine back to the past.
If Peter Bishop Was Not in the Equation…
At this point, I don’t think any of these events would occur without Peter’s presence.