Fringe Episode Review - 4.05: Novation ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Episode Review - 4.05: Novation

      Email Post       11/06/2011 12:22:00 PM      

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?


Matthew M said...

Wonder if Dr. Truss will return since he's the expert on cellular regeneration. Nadine did say it was his work that created them, very interesting and hope that story line keeps going. Who are they, where are they from and who used Dr. Truss' work to create them?
Is William Bell dead in both universes now? I mean Truss indicated Bell had been dead for a while, at least that's how it came across to me.
I think Lincoln is just being cautious with Olivia and yes he is obsessive with the shapeshifters because of his partner's death by them.
Yes, the typewriter. It is a different model and it doesn't need a mirror to operate, again indication of a more advanced group than the Redverse.
This is the Peter i like, a wild card, like in season one, never knowing what he will do. They toned him down way too much over 3 seasons maybe he will get that old spark back again.
Olivia' timeshifting surprised me. She is now beging to experience the Cortexiphan effect I think. Up until now she hasn't experienced any effects so is this because of Peter being there or is it something else.
One point that annoys me is the memory disk. I know they gave one to the otherside thinking it was from them (at least Walter does) and apparently they can't figure it out any better than over here? We just aren't getting a complete picture of how involved they were in the whole process. Was it William Bell that created the originals or someone else?
Too many blank spaces and loopholes in this timeline.

Todd J. Haser said...

New shapeshifters that rely on old Massive Dynamic work... Who else would have been around back then that might have known about this type of work? Without Peter in this timeline - might David Robert Jones have made it to the other universe? Perhaps he is the 'big bad' that is in charge of these new shape shifters... All-in-all, a very exciting season! The stories have been so much fun!

Francisco Solares-Larrave said...

Can anyone explain the "callback to last season's 'Marionette'"? I didn't see it.

Also, what do you guys mean with "patterns"? These actions don't seem like patterns to me, at least not all of them.

Finally, I really doubt that O's question about a bite to eat was a date. It was a question about going out, kick back, relax in someone's company, specially someone who knows what you're talking about. I don't think she'll throw a line to Agent Lee; she already told Astrid she wouldn't do it, remember?

Zepp said...

"The other side of the coin!" I have read a little over a week ago, an article under this subtitle, in the Official Community Forum Fox / Fringe. This article is also good.

Berlie said...

Ok, I read a review that was very good and had excelents questions… I’ll try to put it all here: how did letting Peter drown fix the mistake that September made when he distracted Walternate? I think that when September distracted Walternate in the lab was the really big mistake that he made, because that caused walternate to miss the discovery of a cure for Peter even while Walter, watching through his own trans-universe looking glass, noticed it: Walternate was supposed to discover the cure and save his son, which is why the moment was significant enough to warrant an Observer’s interest. Unless the two universes were supposed to end up inextricably linked, in which case it still doesn’t explain why allowing Peter to die fixes September’s error. Peter is significant, to quote our favourite Observer, presumably because he had to be alive to power the Machine which would heal – or destroy – the two universes and build a bridge between them. Yet, why would Walter build a machine keyed to a person who died decades ago, and how did they create the bridge in this timeline without Peter?

D said...

Olivia's timeshifting...

Maybe the writers have been looking through Fringe fansites and have stumbled across the multiple theories that Peter was the source for Olivia's powers, his presence being needed for her power to activate? I remember seeing a lot of those theories flying about, just thought I'd bring it up.

It's probably not though seeing as Olivia still started a fire when she was younger...
But then you realise that her time shifting only started when Peter/blue light came back...

Pah, I've manage to start an argument with myself so I'll leave it there

Old Darth said...

Francisco - in Marionette, the scientist that reanimated the girl told Olivia when he looked into her eyes, he knew the girl was not there.

Patterns - is a play off of The Pattern from Season 1. It is meant to be quick points about items of interest in the episode or recurring themes.

Good questions Berlie. A food for thought answer ie just throwing it out there but not endorsing it - perhaps the Observers have 'seen' the best probability for resolving the breakdown between the universes is by bridging them and they used Peter to do that. Once the bridge was built, the Observers no long consider Peter important and with his purpose served, they basically discarded him.

D - interesting hypothesis. My take is that Peter is more like a trigger for Olivia's powers.

Olivia is the Lever. Peter is the Trigger. ;)

Thanks for the feedback everyone!

Kit said...

It's interesting that Olivia and Lincoln's relationship this season seems to be a reverse of her relationship with Charlie in season 1. Now Olivia is the mentor trying to help her friend who is pushing himself too hard.

I can't help but feel that the new shapeshifters boil down in some way to that first case and how in this timeline Walter didn't save John. I think the skin conditions are too similar to ignore.

My question is how far did Walter get saving John?

Did Olivia still share consciousness with him and pick up his memories? Did they track down the scientist responsible or did he escape this time and is he now partly responsible for Shapeshifter 2.0?

Mini Soda said...

My guess is that in this new timeline, Olivia still went into the tank and shared consciousness with John Scott and through that the FBI was able to find the evil twin scientist guy. However, even after the FBI had taken the scientist into custody, he wouldn’t tell them how he made the skin disease (which Walter needed to know in order to save John). Enter Peter Bishop and his coffee mug. In a mini Jack Bauer moment, Peter was able to get the scientist to tell them all they needed to know. Obviously, in the new timeline, Peter wasn’t there to… encourage the scientist to tell them what he knew. So that’s probably why Walter couldn’t find the cure.

Dave said...

I was introduced to Fringe a few months ago and watched every episode starting from the beginning during that time span. Such a great show!

Questions have been introduced throughout the series, most of which are eventually answered, but this most recent event with Peter's disappearance and reappearance seems to practically twist my mind.

There are plenty of improbable details that I overlook to maintain belief. For instance, i like the idea of the alternate universe, but have a hard time believing that so many details would remain the same, like character names, status within Fringe division, the fact that Walter and Walternate married the same woman and had a child at the same time, and so on. Like I said, I overlook these things, because having it any other way would be very complicated and the story is still compelling as is.

The events with Peter adds a whole new wrinkle, though. Didn't Fringe division require a relative of Walter for release from the asylum? If so, how is he now free?

Also, this is going back a few episodes, to the one that takes place in the future, but I didn't quite understand what Walter meant when explaining to Peter that only he (Peter) could change events in the past by bringing ideas to the forefront of his consciousness. They're having the discussion, then suddenly we're back to the present, right before Peter disappears. I think an episode explaining those events is in order.

I agree that the new breed of shapeshifters is related to the first episode, and the eventual explanation of that will answer a lot of questions.

Overall, I love the series. Although Torv is the star, Noble is my favorite actor and makes the show accessible. I like Jackson, too, and was glad when Peter and Olivia finally hooked up. I'm not too fond of Lincoln, especially the nerdy version. It reminds me too much of Clark Kent.

Anyway, looking forward to the next episode and hopefully some answers that explain just what the heck is going on.

Dennis said...

Dave, if you go with the theory that there are infinite alternate universes, then every decision creates a new universe for every possible outcome. If there are infinite alternate universes, there should be a universe where EVERYTHING is exactly the same is ours, but your parents named you Jim instead of Dave. There is probably a universe somewhere where everyone is named Dave. The concept of "infinite" is a little mind boggling.

Likewise, the two universes we are looking at in Fringe are very very similar, but with slight differences. The new universes we are seeing in this season are just like our old universes but if Peter had died.

"Didn't Fringe division require a relative of Walter for release from the asylum? If so, how is he now free?"

In this new universe, Walter doesn't have any living family, so Olivia may had been able to get him out on her own.

FringeFan said...

@Dave - First of all, welcome to the world of Fringe.

About the episode from the future - When Walter finds out that:
1. Our universe is still dying although Peter destroyed the alternate one
2. There is a vortex in the Central Park that leads back to the era of dinosaurs
3. And that Peter can't take the death of Olivia (talk about walking in father's footsteps),
He gets a great idea & instantly realizes that the whole series up to then (i.e. up to season 3 finale) was a paradox locked in an endless loop.

Here's why: We know from Walter and Peter's conversation that Walter sent the machine back through time using the Central Park vortex. But he only FOUND the machine, he DID NOT BUILD it.
In the present, our guys also FOUND its parts and RE-ASSEMBLED it. Thus, we never know who built the machine or where it came from. Thus, in a manner, it was never built yet it is there, which makes it and the whole story a paradox.

What Walter meant when he said only Peter could change events: Walter's idea is that he would send the machine back through time with a little tweak. Then the whole story would repeat as we saw, only this time, upon entering the machine, Peter will see what would happen in the future if he destroyed the other universe (the whole future part is what Peter sees after he enters the machine in the previous episode - that's why we zap back to the present at the end of this conversation). Because of this, Peter could make a different choice after knowing that if he destroyed the alternate universe, their universe would still die, and so would Olivia.

Loved the episode, loved Peter and Walter & admired Josh and Mr. Noble's acting skills. I think September has 'developed' a conscience. That's why he didn't erase Peter permanently, and probably brought him back too.

Inter-dimensional Dave said...

Good work Old Darth I raise my glass to you.

I'm just going to throw this out here; do you think the Observers could solve all their problems by going back in time and making sure both Peters survive? I mean they already interfered once and then had to fix it. The fix didn't take and then September refused to fix the fix. So why don't they start all over again with both Peters surviving. No War, no ZFT, no shape-shifters, no crossing back and forth and no cortexiphan trials. Problem solved and it would end the show. Ha, maybe that is the plan of the writers; end the show by healing everything from the start.

Dave said...

@ Dennis & Fringefan

Your theories help clear things up for me. Thanks for that. I wasn't considering infinite universes, just the ones we were exposed to. Considering this season's orange title color, I'm leaning towards the belief that we are witnessing events in a third universe. Hard to tell though. Anything is possible when infinite universes are involved.

FringeFan said...

@Inter-dimensional Dave

There's no telling that would be a sure shot solution to the problem. Walter did many things for the sake of science. Whose to say he wouldn't have crossed over just for the sake of science? Walter and Bell did send a car over there for the sake of experiment/science/curiosity (whatever you call it), didn't they?

Old Darth said...

Hey Dave!

Interesting question on the Observers. I think the issue with Walter crossing over is that it is a watershed moment that cannot be altered.

Not even by the Observers. If it had not been Walter that crossed over, it would have been someone else.

Who knows how many iterations of this scenario the Observers have seen play out? And seen it play out with catastrophic results.

Walter and Olivia may be the optimal pair to reach a solution. What has thrown the Observers off is Peter's existence has extended beyond building the bridge.

Hilary in Wales UK said...

I am new to Fringe (UK) and have almost finished watching season 3 on DVD. What a fantastic story!!!! Captivated every night watching one or two episodes, can't wait to season 4. I ahd never heard of Fringe until looking for something interesting to watch on DVD in HMV, my partner and I came across Fringe and we are both hooked. I thought dare I say it that it was going to be like X Files sorry but I think X Files was great too but Fringe is even better. Some of the best sci fi comes from the USA, great can't wait to see season 4, yes I do have a habit of repeating my self.

Hilary in Wales UK

Old Darth said...

Welcome aboard Hilary!

FringeFan said...

Welcome to the world of Fringe, Hilary.

crolmac said...

i think the two universes, which should, by virtue of peoples' different choices, should always diverge. Walter and William, by their tinkering, created quantum entanglement, just like the typewriter, and therefore the universes are both dying and both together. It is also implied at the first episode, between the 2 Olivia, that they both say the other is responsible for their finge events. We know our walter is not involved in this, i mean attacks on the other universe, but we don't know if walternate has stopped or not... do I feel the implication either of a high intelligence terrorism cell ie jones, or the involvement of a 3rd universe? I mean, if walter could do it the blue universe...Cool! there will be no end to fringe!!!either here, or there, or everywhere!

Pamala Phillips said...

EXCELLENT Article! I don't think you missed any aspect...color me impressed:):)


Old Darth said...

Thanks Pamela! Color me red. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I noticed too that Olivia had a brief crossover moment to the Blue U at the Fringe Division with the clerk handing her the file. As well, since we haven't yet seen Walternate this season, he's probably the one who responded to the shapeshifter via typewwriter. What can Dr. Dastardly be up to now?
Note: I just gained access to this episode on Hulu for free, after having it locked out by The Dish Network for a week. Sorry Dish, no fee for you.

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