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

Review of Fringe: Novation

      Email Post       11/09/2011 02:47:00 AM      

“Why am I here? How am I back?”

Having been woefully sick for a woeful amount of time, I find myself in an odd situation as I review this episode: I am asking myself what I remember, five days after having watched it. (And having watched it in a Theraflu-induced haze.) What sticks with me most is the sensation of the enormous risk the creative minds behind Fringe took by “renovating” their show in the manner they have.

We’ve been waiting for Peter’s return since the moment he disappeared. Regardless of how much we like Peter (and there are some haters out there), the other characters don’t. Olivia doesn’t know him, and certainly doesn’t love him. To her, he is a case. Walter doesn’t trust him, and hasn’t experience three years of coming to love him, fight for him, and grow because of it. Broyles doesn’t trust him (to say the least), and ultimately no one knows quite what to do with him, his skills, or his claims.

We are working at cross-purposes with the actors. We want them to realize what they have been missing, but they don’t even know they’re missing anything. And, in a way, they aren’t. All of our heroes have lived Peter-less lives. The tension that creates great stories is there: how will our characters react to this odd situation? But the desired resolution isn’t clear: are we going to maintain this odd dramatic irony? To do so means that we discount the new backstories our characters have—even though there is no reason to think they are any less valid than the backstories they had that did include Peter. Do we want everything to go back the way it was? Wouldn’t that re-set the timeline yet again, making the mass destruction we saw at the end of last season once again a possible possibility? Do we want Peter to find his way into everyone’s hearts? It took two and a half seasons for that to happen the first time. Can we wait that long?

And, hey—what did go wrong? I’ve been so preoccupied wondering when Peter would come back that it didn’t occur to me until Peter brought it up that his re-appearance means something has gone wrong. If asked how such a thing could be possible, I would probably have said something like “he pushed his way back into reality.” While that may be the explanation, it’s pretty weak. What game are some of the Observers playing, if they’re ultimately behind this? Surely, it’s more than just a desire to see Peter and Olivia settle down together. What do the repeat moments that Olivia experienced at the end have to do with it all?

As tantalizing as we find those questions, we cannot dwell on them too much, because our characters are not as preoccupied than we are with them. The shapeshifter plot of the week was quite interesting in a simple, character-based way. I like Malcolm Truss: he loved his work, thought it had great potential, and wound up risking everything and making a terrible decision because he couldn’t see all the angles. There’s a parallel in there somewhere. (I also think the actor did an incredible job selling the “truth” of the character in a very short amount of time.)

Speaking of parallels: last episode ended with Peter, alive, emerging from a lake. This one ended with a man who had been shape-shifted being pulled, dead, from a river.

This Is Amazing:

• Olivia: “Who sleeps like this?” Anna Torv gives great exasperation.

• Astrid: “What’s an Observer?” Wow!

• Truss: “The fact that you’re even alive is nothing short of a miracle.”

• Bell: “Some things are not ours to tamper with.” How does this line relate to…well, everything?

• Walter: “Seeing this man has brought up many things I’m trying to forget.”

• Peter: “What do luxury cars and shapeshifters have in common?”

• Fun info about Nina Sharp and Olivia, huh?

• I loved the improbability of Peter hacking into the phone lines through the door keypad.

• Ugh! Walter did the face-touching thing again! We haven’t seen that since Season Two, have we?

Peter said, of Walter, “I was talking to him like he was the man that I knew, but clearly he isn’t.” The question that we’re faced with now, as we slowly learn exactly how these characters will grapple with this newness, is how the writers will satisfy our urge for closure without relying on sentimentality. It’ll be an interesting journey, and because so much is left unresolved and so many questions unanswered, I’m going to wait until next week before I start to play the ratings game.

How many calming custards would you award it?


cortexifan said...

Awesome! How many custards would I give this episode? That depends on what your scale looks like. I think this is the best episode of S4 so far.

Anonymous said...

I know that so many people like that "reset" thing, I really dislike it and every time I see a new episode I think how the show could have been with the old timeline.. with that Olivia in love and with that Walter so "grown up" to be able to let Peter go.. This 4th season is just making the previous 3 losing their meanings, nothing from the past is relevant to the characters, it's not their past(except for Peter obviously).. It took 3 years to reach the right chemistry between our characters and just 3 minutes to blow up everything with that : he never existed.. -Roland

trent said...

I feel for new Walter and new Olivia the same they feel for Peter... absolutely nothing. They have never been in my life, I don't feel the connection, I don't care about them. I want them out of my life, just like they want Peter out of their lives.

Why should I want Peter to win the love of these people? They mean nothing to him, they are just parallel characters he never got to know.

My biggest fear is that he will never be able to go home and be forced to stay with these cold people forever.

Anonymous said...

Roland said: It took 3 years to reach the right chemistry between our characters and just 3 minutes to blow up everything with that - he never existed...

exactly correct - so, just enjoy the ride sitting on top of the rocket. first class never had it so good.

- Chadwick

Lafra08 said...

Yes trent! I´m afraid of that too!And I feel the same as you it means absolutely nothing for Newlivia and Newwalter and so sorry for Peter!!!!Newlivia and Newwalter doesn´t love him and they will never be able to give him this kind o deep love Ourlivia and Ourwalter have for Peter!!! And it was so beautiful I miss the original timeline so much!!!!!!!
Dear Mr. Wyman and Dear Mr. Pinker please let us return to the Original Timeline sometime soon - I know it is important to show the repercussions as a result of cheating the rules of time and this is believable that he changed things making another choice This new timeline is also interesting when we want to take a look at the world and the relationships what could be different without Peter but to stay in this new timeline for good would be frustrating for me - it took 3 years for the characters to learn to love each other truly and for us viewers 3 years to get invested in these chracters and 1-3 season mythology and storylines so it is sadly IMO impossible now to make us all of the sudden care about the brand New characters! The only character I care about now is Peter because he has the knowledge of all this what happend in the OT He is OUR Peter!!! I have to think about what Walter said in 3.22 to Peter after he suggested they could cheat the rules of time:Peter said : There could be repercussions..? Walter responded .: Nothing could be worse than this!!!!! Walter yes it could be worse - as for Peter now living with people looking all like his people but they don´t know and don´t love him, don´t need him,he is a stranger alone in the world!!!This is heartbreaking!! I´m curious how this Newtimeline storyline is going to be resolved and as I said above I hope Peter is going to earn his way back to HIs People in the OT!!!

Old Darth said...

If they follow the 'pattern' of last year, the timeline issue should be resolved by the 8th episode.

Which unfortunately we will not get till next year. :(

One thing I have absolutely no fear of is losing the characters from the previous three seasons.

Scully8 said...

OD, do you mean that they will go back to the OT, or a resolution meaning it won't be possible for Peter to return to the OT? I've heard in interviews that they may somehow combine the two . . . not sure how.

In terms of the reset: I go back and forth. I agree that I don't have a real connection to these new iterations of our characters--I think I'm viewing them through the lense of the OT versions--which means, I'm just in denial that we've lost all of their 1-3 backstories.:-) With that said, I do think it could be interesting to watch Peter win these people's trust and love. I think although these new versions didn't have Peter in their lives, I believe their core character make ups would still be drawn to him. Plus, this Peter is way cooler than before which I believe is a result of all that he has through over the past three seasons, culminating in his great sacrifice.

In any event, I cannot wait to see how things unfold. I know it won't always go my way, but as long as they keep it interesting, even if sometimes frustrating, I'm in it for the long haul.

scully8 said...

One more thing . . . I believe Anna Torv said in an interview that by episode 8 or 9, it will be clear the role Peter will play moving forward. What that means, I'm not sure . . .

Old Darth said...

@Scully8 - I foresee a timeline convergence.

If we accept that what has been happening to date has been repeated many times, it would explain why certain story lines seem to be left unfinished or dangling ie Peter & Olivia not remembering meeting as children.

Each iteration of a timeline convergence would cause such timeline fragments to occur as certain events or dropped and/or re-added in the next go around.

It would be a clever way of explaining things.

'Course it is just a theory. ;)

Old Darth said...

And remember Olivia is the Lever. So for timeline convergence to happen it would take Peter and another person in the current timeline to make it so.

Who better than Olivia?

Olivia and Peter may still go into the Machine together yet? :-)

Jennifer (obsessed Josh Jackson fan) said...

Old Darth..I agree with you but remember when Peter got in the machine & had the flashbacks of him & Olivia, HE did remember them meeting when they were children but she didn't as she said in the Jacksonville episode that she has a freakishly good memory & nothing felt familiar there SO are they going to revisit that & explain why she didn't remember & he did & as far as everyone else afraid that we have lost the time invested in the characters we knew & loved from seasons 1-3...they wouldn't do that because they know how & have said they would never let the fans down so everyone needs to just sit back, have faith & KNOW that the writers of Fringe are brilliant & they WILL NOT DISAPPOINT US!

DK said...

It is possible that the convergence is happening now. It is understandable that the others wouldn't have any clue of Peter, but remember Olivia and Walter both having visions of Peter before. I can see that those two getting their memories of the other timeline while everyone else is left out.

For Olivia, her treatments as a child could give her the ability to see the OT "perspective". For Walter, he did build the machine so maybe he is given some immunity there. Just tinfoil hat theorizing here.

I just hope we see who the new threat of the season will be soon, I don't think it will be one Universe vs the other again. The big what the hell moment for me was Astrid asking "What's and Observer?"

I think till next episode I am gonna re-watch past shows and see what would change without Peter and Observers.

Anonymous said...

O.D. U R the only one one making some semblance of sense right now. All you other people - take a pill and chill.
I am totally intrigued by what's going on and look forward to how it will all play out. Trying to second guess the writers is fruitless so don't even bother. I stopped taking it all so seriously after season 2 and now I just sit back, relax and enjoy it. I refuse to get all entangled and disappointed like I did with "LOST".


cortexifan said...

Old Darth, agree with you.
Remember Bell's statement to Peter at the end of 2.22 Over There Part 2: "You're holding out better than I thought."
I too believe Peter has been in the machine multiple times, and knowing now that Olivia is the crowbar maybe the time slips are because someone is trying to change the current timeline.

I will continue to trust the writers telling THEIR story. Have not been disappointed yet.

Watch LIVE!

Fringe Rocks!

Scully8 said...

Thank you, OD. I like your thinking and agree.

Also, I do sit back and enjoy, but it's so much fun to theorize and such. This is actually the first time I've ever engaged in a show on this level . . . lovin' every minute of it.

FringeFan said...

5 out of 5 calming custards, all for Olivia's exasperation, Walter's self inflicted punishment and Peter's frustration.

And those questions you came up with are some of the best asked for S4. If Peter saved the universes by erasing himself (unknowingly), why is he back? How is he back? Olivia certainly couldn't zap some non-existent man she doesn't even know back to existence, not even with her Cortexiphan induced abilities.

@Old Darth - That's an interesting theory. I have already accepted the story being looped indefinitely due its paradox-ization by Observer-knows-who. But I think this repetition is somehow significant, since Walter tweaked the machine to stop Peter from destroying the Redverse. Of course, that too might be a part of the loop. Anyway, a pretty... 'sensible' theory you got there. Imagine Olivia, and more importantly Walter, being a mix of their former and latter selves.

Fringie6989 said...

Great review! I find myself in that same battle of wills. I want everyone to remember Peter of course. I want to go back to the old timeline, but I don't know if I'm willing to give up what this timeline has brought about in the characters lives. Its easy to see that Peter has had a positive influence on the team and I'm hoping that they will start to remember everything that did in fact happen the last three seasons but beyond that, I'm lost as to what I'm looking for in this season. The writers of Fringe are geniuses. They take our immediate emotions and needs for the show and characters and turn them on its head. I've lost track of how many times, I felt one way but by the end of the season and/or episode, my opinion had changed because they took the time to explore options I wouldn't have thought of. Can't wait to see how the rest of the season plays out.

Old Darth said...

Thanks Scully8. You can get even more of that type of thinking from my fellow podcasters and I if you listen to the FBI podcasts which you can find on this site under the Podcast tab. ;-)

Dave Thompson said...

"What's an observer?"

Funny how such a small sentence opens up a world of theories.

Zepp said...

Very good article Josie Kafka's good for thinking. Honestly I'm not agot more going in search of answers to many questions that each episode of Fringe, are the "air". The "why", I'm turning into "is well and ready." I see that I lose significantly, the development of events of Fringe, thinking "why." Peter must be really wondering how and why he is there in the world ever knew, but answers are something, which I presume he will have or in its entirety, not even us. I identify the "personality" of Fringe so, and this is how it tastes great, no doubt. Fringe 4th this season, is another thing with characters with different personalities, different personal objectives, other struggles, and so on. For me, Fringe, now entering a "second part" of their plots.

Anonymous said...

So its like Quantum leap Peter's hoping that the next time he uses the BBM it will send him back to the Original Timeline.

Anonymous said...

don't be intense!! i believe Peter will earn his stripes soon!! Fringe team, esp Broyles now has faith in him. they let him out of prison and help them solve the cases. that's so awesome!! it's like the old times when the trio Olivia, Peter and Walter joined forces together to do their investigation work!! so no worries, guys!! we have faith in him!!

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