The fourth episode of each Fringe season ( The Arrival - Momentum Deferred - Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep) has historically been a turning point. Each of these set the pace for the storyline of the first half of their respective seasons. The prior three episodes of the current season showed a world in which Peter Bishop died in both universes. The repercussions of the absence of the Peter we know were made evident. Walter is a wreck, barely able to function and constantly under the threat of being committed to the mental hospital again. Olivia is a bit more open in some ways, but she’s certainly hiding her fears and doubts about herself well. There’s been no son to take care of his father and work with him. For Olivia, there’s been no consultant that evolved to a friend, lover, and future husband.
Previously, Olivia revealed to Walter that she had seen the same man he was seeing - in her dreams.
Many times throughout the series, Olivia has been shown trying to sleep. She often had a difficult time resting, as many burdens weighed heavy on her mind. In this Amber-verse, Olivia is more able to let go. Maybe that it is because she killed her stepfather, or had an early exit from the Cortexiphan trials. Or some other reason. But this Olivia sleeps soundly at night - maybe even hoping to dream of the stranger that she and Walter discussed. Her nightstand is shown with a few objects: a picture of her sister and niece, keys, and other small personal effects.
Clocks and time are always of importance - even if shown merely in the background. Olivia’s digital alarm clock initially showed a time of 5:58 - very close to the 6:02 am, a time that most astute Fringe viewers instantly recognize as the time that the machine was activated by the red universe in the original time-line. The mysterious light that slowly shined upon Olivia’s unaware form added a great sense of suspense as the minutes ticked away. When this episode first aired, I only really cared and hoped that maybe Peter would show up in some form, perhaps the astral projection Peter we knew from season three. This second time around, I was able to just take in the scene and really get an idea of what it meant.
Just as her clock struck six, activating the alarm, a blue mass of energy hovered above Olivia, prompting her to make for her gun (conveniently in her nightstand, maybe with her copy of Advanced Forensics.) As scared Olivia looked on, the mass dissipated. Yet, the alarm on again displayed from 5:59 to 6:00 am prompting confused Olivia to look over her bed - the mass had indeed attracted the metallic objects to it, leaving Olivia looking bewildered at what had just occurred.
The next day at Walter’s lab, the unstable scientist, along with Astrid, used Matrix-style movie camera filming and peanuts to test a way to capture images of his unwanted, non-corporeal visitor. There is a joking terminology among some of the fans that have dubbed Walter as “Walnut,” and Peter as "Peanut." So this scene, very neat on its own, was especially funny to those in the online fandom.
|Another Dome... hmm...|
Walter’s witnessing of an event before it happened was a prelude to further time-slips later in the season. However, time inconsistencies may have occurred before. I had written previously about my thoughts concerning Olivia’s experiences in The Road Not Taken. I believe this season gives evidence to my feelings that Olivia was not experiencing the red universe, but another time-line. We could also point back to Peter’s assertion concerning déjà vu in White Tulip - “I read that déjà vu is fate's way of telling you that you're exactly where you're supposed to be. That's why you feel like you've been there before.” But the biggest concern about this occurence came from Sam Weiss in The Last Sam Weiss, when he remarked that time may be "course-correcting."
|Mmmm... Delicious, Strawberry-flavored Death...|
Nina Sharp’s speech concerning technology and ethics piqued my interest. After all, Fringe is often a cautionary tale about the consequences of “crossing the line” and playing God.
“Nanotechnology -- the bloom is not off the rose. Because of the far-ranging claims that have been made about potential applications of nanotechnology, a number of serious concerns have been raised about how this will affect our society if realized and what actions, if any are deemed appropriate, might be needed to mitigate these risks. This is not Massive Dynamic's concern. We create technology. How it is used is not our concern. We just own the patents.”
Nina told Olivia in The Pilot: "We've reached a point where science and technology have advanced at an exponential rate for so long... that it may be far beyond our ability to regulate and control it."
The interesting thing about this is how I thought about the technology used to heal Captain Lincoln Lee from the alternate universe when he was burned to a crisp by Sally Clark on the bridge in Over There: Part One. Also, Nina would later discuss some similar technology in Those We Left Behind, and it was associated with the new human shape shifters.
Walter’s biggest fear was being returned to Saint Claire’s, just as it was in the old time-line. It was heartbreaking to watch him discover the letter addressed to Olivia, the woman who would be making the ultimate decision about his fate. When Olivia first entered the lab in this episode, Walter greets her with how happy he is that she is visiting. Olivia reminds him she is not “visiting” but is “working.”
After Olivia stopped Cameron from destroying the energy mass when she saw Peter’s face take form, Walter gave her something to chew on.
Walter: You acted against all reasonable agreements and expectations. You behaved irrationally with regard to only your intuition and instincts.
OLIVIA: I guess I did.
WALTER: When I do that, people say I'm crazy. I suppose I've learned that crazy is a lot more complicated than people think.
Even after Walter’s freak-out in the hotel room, Olivia came to see that Walter was not a threat, but like her, he needed to be trusted and feel valued. So her choice to give Walter a clean bill of sanity was a relief.
One other tidbit. Olivia remarked that Walter and Bell were testing children to see if one of their abilities was crossing to other universe - it seems this Olivia did not knowingly cross over.
Peter’s return via Reiden Lake was no surprise to me. In fact, I was counting on it. Ah, but what does the Observer think about this occurrence? This is still a mystery as we “calmly” await Fringe’s return January 13, with the episode Back to Where You Never Have Been.
Olivia’s reaction to seeing him still kills me. “Who are you?” Peter’s unbelieving and crushed face coupled with her stare of scared confusion caused the collective groan from Peter/Olivia shippers everywhere. Peter had come back from who-knows-where after making a choice to save the woman he loves from being murdered in the future, only to have her stand before him, frightened and with no memory of him.
But in my mind, Olivia’s question has relevance for the audience as well. Now that we know “Where is Peter Bishop,” the question we should be asking is:
“Who is Peter?”