The tagline for last night’s episode was ‘Witness the Return’, and it was undeniably apropos. Not only did it mark the return of Josh Jackson’s Peter Bishop, but also the return of Michelle Krusiec’s human shapeshifter ‘Nadine’, and of the always-awesome season 1 writer J.R. Orci. And what a return it was!
In true Fringe form, I still have more questions than I do answers, but I’m more than happy with the issues that were clarified with the airing of ‘Novation’. One such clarification being that it seems as though Walter did still cross over initially with the intention of curing Peter on the Other Side, and not with the intention of kidnapping him. There was an exchange between Walter and Aaron in ‘Alone in the World’that suggested otherwise, and, while it certainly doesn’t excuse kidnapping a child, I always felt that Walter’s intentions in crossing over redeemed him somewhat. You can hardly blame a man for being unable to watch his son die twice.
I found it fascinating to see the relationship between Nina and Walter, and to get an explanation for why they are so radically different with each other. I had been quite dismayed to see the animosity, particularly on Walter’s part, because I’ve always been intrigued by the dynamic between the two. Obviously they have a long and complicated history of which we’ve only scratched the surface, but the explanation we received tonight certainly clears things up. Walter’s hatred of Nina was something of a coping mechanism: as long as he had Nina to blame for breaking the vial and setting the events of the fateful night in motion, he didn’t need to shoulder as much of the blame himself. Before, Walter could at least console himself with the knowledge that he had saved the life of a version of his son; however, the subsequent drowning death of Peter in this new timeline offers no such solace.
Speaking of Nina, I find it as noteworthy as Lincoln did that she would take in Olivia and Rachel after their mother’s death. And I find myself wondering how much William Bell’s machinations had to do with that particular pairing. Even if Walter lost track of the Cortexiphan children, I highly doubt that Belly did — especially Olivia, who was ‘always the strongest’. That much, at least, remains unchanged. There is also the lingering question as to Olivia’s Cortexiphan-induced abilities: it seems as though she hasn’t had cause to rediscover them in this new timeline, which is a little bit disappointing after the glimpse we got of a fully-in-control Olivia in the future. I’m still hopeful that somehow Olivia’s exposure to Cortexiphan will facilitate her remembering how things are supposed to be; although, perhaps Olivia doesn’t remember because she has yet to be ‘activated’in this new timeline. Reality is, after all, only a matter of perception.
Among other things, I love Fringe’s penchant for dropping little bombshells nonchalantly. In this case, the revelation that Fringe Division has no idea who the Observers are. The Observers are at the heart of something I’m still finding confusing: how did letting Peter drown fix the mistake that September made when he distracted Walternate? In case you’ve forgotten, September’s appearance in Walternate’s lab caused him 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? It’s no wonder time-travel theory is rife with paradoxes.
One of the big reveals of the episode confirms something we have suspected since the premiere: that Walternate, or someone else Over There, is behind this new breed of shapeshifter. The appearance of a new, presumably quantum-entangled typewriter reveals that ‘Nadine’is receiving orders from someone in the alternate universe, and that this definitely isn’t the last we’ll see of the human shapeshifters. Like our characters, I too am curious about the origins of the technology which allows these metamorphs to change: it was previously established that the shapeshifting technology was designed by William Bell in his partnership with Walternate. If I were to hazard a guess it would be that Bell lived longer than he did in the initial timeline since he didn’t need to sacrifice himself to get Walter, Peter, and AltLivia back over to Our Side. This would also explain why the shapeshifters are more advanced than they were previously, and why Peter is still able to decode the device. However, if Bell died (or disappeared) before completing the work for Walternate, it would make sense to send a shapeshifter over to our universe to go directly to the source. Or, since I like to hope that we’ll see Leonard Nimoy reprise his role as William Bell, perhaps Belly simply didn’t know how to complete the project.
I did find it amusing that the new typewriter is a ‘Hermes’model: not only is Hermes the messenger of the gods in Greek mythology, but he is also the patron of boundaries and of the people who cross them. Indisputably perfect for FRINGE, wouldn’t you agree?
Honestly, the only slight complaint I had about Novation was the lack of confrontation between Olivia and Peter; that being said, I entirely understand — and fully support — the choice to explore the new dynamic between Walter and Peter first. Even though it’s frustrating to see Peter’s struggle to connect with these familiar strangers, I’m also glad that it looks like we won’t lose the new dynamic between Olivia and Walter any time soon. Besides, next week’s episode more than makes up for the lack of one-on-one time between Olivia and Peter, so make sure you check it out next Friday, November 11! A
The man behind the human shapeshifters is a new version of David Robert Jones. Here's the pictures to prove it: http://www.spoilertv.com/2011/10/fringe-set-photo…
In both timelines, tough Walter always had the intention of helping cure Peter's illness. He never just set out straight away to "steal" him and I think that a lot of people forget that. He was just trying to save Peter. And it's terrible that the Observer did nothing in this timeline. It's always the Observer's fault, really! If he hadn't have distracted Walternate in the first place, Walter wouldn't have had to cross over to attempt and cure him, right? I digress. It's heartbreaking to think in this timeline Walter had to lose both Peters and he has the deep guilt for losing what was to be "our" Peter in the ice. In his own way he just wanted to help…
And I do wonder what motives NIna had in raising Olivia and Rachel. What if Bell told her to do it to keep an eye on her in case her abilities did surface? Even in this timeline where they had smaller doses of Cortexiphan she is still "the strongest" so that has to count for something. And I firmly believe it will come into play this season. She's powerful and she doesn't even realize what she's doing. What Cameron said, he didn't realize he was even doing anything to himself. It stands to reason it really was some subconscious part of Olivia that was bringing the energy version of Peter to her and meanwhile he reached out to her. Her conscious self rejected him up until the last moment when she saw Peter's face in front of hers and she made Cameron stop. So even her questioning herself, she knows deep down the answers are there. And part of her will want to uncover it in herself. And given that the ability she has is perceptive in nature there's really no limit to what she's capable of where she's aware of it or not. It's endlessly fascinating.
And back to Peter and the machine and all that, yes it is insanely confusing when you think about it. Paradoxes and all, you do end up going to question the first action in the sequence that causes it and you say "Why not just (insert answer here)" But obviously that's not the answer or this story would not be told? I don't know! Haha.
As for Bell, it might make sense that while working with Walternate he purposefully hindered the shapeshifters to be what they were. The mercury blood and being more mechanical than biological. But if he was less involved it stands to reason they would have a chance to be much more biological, and undetectable. Which is obviously very bad. Peter mentions it means they can infiltrate even easier. And they can. And do. I knew that Agent Warrick was actually the Nadine (hehe!) shapeshifter. I just knew it. But if that was a shift in the moment imagine how much more imperceptible they'd be if they killed another agent at home and buried the body. No one would know unless that had sufficient information to suggest otherwise. It's insane. We could have moles in the Division right now! Then you wonder who's safe….it's a conspiracy theorists dream!
I'm glad I remembered that from my mythology class in high school. I knew it! Hermes the messenger, har-de-har. Makes sense. Although there is something so ominous about those typewriters that are quantum-entangled. Being typed There and then it being shown Here. One of the coolest things about the show.
I, too, lamented at the fact there wasn't even one scene with Olivia and Peter but I suppose they took more time for Walter and Peter interactions (however heartbreaking!) and saved Olivia and Peter for next week as it seems Walter might not be so forthcoming to work with Peter. Especially considering that odd time loop Olivia experienced at the end of this episode. Which seems to be carried over as the case next week. It's not happening to just her but she's possibly aware of them because of her Cortexiphan abilities? I'm not quite sure but I look forward to seeing what happens, the promo for that episode certainly made me even more eager for it!
Agreed about the lack of Peter and Olivia moment. Season 3 was built up around these two. But there was barely a moment between them which was very disappointing. Hopefully there is more to come. So far the show seems to be very case driven which is different to season 3 and arguably season 2 where it was more character driven. I wouldn't mind necessarily but the cases aren't exactly titillating. Olivia's character moments are so short, blink and they're over. However, it was great to have Peter back and his scenes brought much needed energy to the episode. Not sure where Fringe is going this season. We'll have to wait and see.
Fantastic review Nadine
I am shocked that in this episode we hear for the very first ime in 70 episodes what happened to Olivia when her mother died at the age of 14, the lead character and it took the writers 70 episodes. Combined with the 2 scenes about her stepfather in those 70 episodes and 1 other small reference to her mother, writers shame on you.
Compared to the endless Walter and Peter scenes, the Walter about Peter and his wife scenes the Peter about his mother and Walter scenes, the writers clearly only write for Walter and Peter.
The scene of Walter with the box left me stone cold, to many of them already and walter abuses children and we have to feel sorry for him??? This version even used them as rats, being Subjects.
Already in this season alone Walter has had more scenes to explain himself, then Olivia ever had, and then he has the overload of backstory, and Olivia none.
Even more awesome what Anna Torv does with Olivia.
I LOVE your acknowledgement of Walter telling Aaron that he INTENDED to steal Peter. It has been really bugging me. I was unsure if this was a difference in the new timeline, a mistake by John Noble and or the writers, or just the confusion of a deluded Walter. Whatever the case it has weighed heavily on my mind. I also hope that Aaron isn't forever forgotten, as Walter PROMISED him that he would be there for him while convincing him to give up his friend Gus, and moments later it was like the boy didn't exist. I really enjoyed the Peter/Walter interaction this episode. I actually had happy and then sad tears. Walter is right. Peter is Not HIS son(role reversal anyone?) Perhaps relationships actually DO need to be mended in the Redverse ('our' olivias favorite color right?) Why should Peter only accept a father who has gone crazy from guilt and been robbed of memories? Why not accept and also forgive a father who has gone angry from loss and been robbed of mercy? Anyway, I really liked your review. The Hermes info was a WONDERFUL tidbit that I would not have put together or even thought about. I