By Josie Kafka 1/16/2012 07:04:00 PM Categories: Back to Where You've Never Been, Episode Review, Season 4
“If you want to get rid of me, just help me.”
This episode began (dream excluded) with Peter asking Walter for help and hearing the story of Walter’s wife’s death and the tragedy that some Peter’s death caused. That tragedy is the moment in which Walter went crazy: not the death of his son (although obviously that was a factor), but the death of his beloved wife. The episode ended with Peter asking Walternate for help and witnessing the death of Fringe Division’s internal security—smaller problems that only take on enormous import for a version of Walter who has not lost his wife.
Peter has taken on the role of a trickster or culture hero: someone who operates on the fringes of society’s structure, follows his own plans, and winds up affecting the society of which he is not a part, a process which often makes it seem like society’s outcasts and outlaws are, in fact, a part of society indeed.
If—and that’s still a big “if” for me—we take the show at its word and assume that Peter is in the wrong universe, then he really is a free agent. We’ve seen this before: Peter’s momentary spell Over There last season was an indication that Peter’s boundary-crossing abilities mark him as somewhat distanced from both worlds. Now, though, Peter has realized that this Walter is not his Walter, therefore this Walternate is his best hope.
If—and that’s not a big “if”—you’re a fan of Fringe for the love relationships, you’re probably rooting for a third universe in which Peter and Olivia can finally, finally live happily ever after. This Olivia seems quite interested in Lincoln Lee, and I can’t say I blame her: stripped of the bluster of his Over-There counterpart, Lincoln “Clark Kent” Lee is calm, forthright, and loyal to his dead partner.
That death at the hands of the new shapeshifters is really the guiding principle of this season: Newton’s return (which we all knew about from the casting spoilers, anyway) has confirmed yet another trickster—this time, a bad one. Jones, like Peter, is operating outside of loyalties to either (or any) universe. His goals are still unclear. His motives are scary: lots of pod-hatched shapeshifters waiting to be born.
If—and this is a different kind of “if” entirely—Over There’s Fringe Division has been as compromised as Broyles’ and Brendan’s, then the two sides are going to have to team up to take down a common enemy. What will that mean for Peter’s goals of getting back to “his” universe?
And, by the way, let’s take a second to talk about this “amber” universe we’re inhabiting. I think we’re thinking about it the wrong way, because we’re not dealing with one new universe, but rather two. Before, we had Over Here and Over There. Now we have a new Over Here and a new Over There. That’s two new universes.
Or, if we take universes as always having a pair (that is, an Over Here/Over There or red/blue pairing), we haven’t met the “new” universe until this season (the new pair of Over Here in which Peter died, and Over There in which Walternate stayed married to Peter’s mom—call it the orange/green pairing to reflect the insertion of the amber event of last season’s finale.)
That's the diagram at the top of this post. (I'm bad at positioning images in blogger.) You know I’m confused when I start drawing weird pictures. What do you all think? Am I misunderstanding entirely?
Anyway—let’s return to where we began: Peter and Walter, Peter and Walternate. Peter’s new alliance, which I assume is colored by his beautiful moment with his mother, hopefully means we’ll spend some fun time Over There. And hopefully Lincoln Lee won’t spend too long in the broom closet.
Ours Is Not To Question Why:
• Wanna support Fringe’s chances at another season? Might want to buy an electronic car.
• Lincoln Lee: “Agent Lee, I presume?”
• Lincoln Lee: “That’s brilliant. No wonder you’re a detective.”
• Lincoln Lee: “That’s very astute. No wonder you’re a detective.”
• Walternate: “Not everything is as it seems.”
• Peter: “You’re not the man I thought you were.”
Walter: “You are exactly the man I thought you’d be.”
I am clearly still thinking through this episode, and I haven’t said yet that I like it. I did, although my many “ifs” are still rattling around in my addled brain. How many waffle irons out of four do you think it deserves?
(Josie Kafka reviews episodes of Fringe, Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones for billiedoux.com.)