Last night’s thrilling new episode of Fringe ‘Nothing As It Seems’saw the team investigating a case with details which Peter recognized from his timeline, even as it became apparent that some aspects were radically different. The episode evoked a distinct feeling of dÃ©jÃ vu as it turned the season one episode ‘The Transformation’on its head: although it’s been frustrating, at times, navigating this new timeline, I have found it quite fascinating to see the ways in which a seemingly small change that is, removing one single person from existence has caused such pervasive changes.
In many ways the audience has been in the same boat as Peter in this new timeline: we too have missed the characters we’ve grown to love, no matter how interesting these new variations are. But since Olivia chose to keep her memories from the original timeline and became ‘Peter’s’Olivia again, the rest of the team seems closer than ever to their iterations from the original timeline. Walter swings from hilarious food fixations to disgusting concoctions to heartbreaking revelations as he gives Peter the stockpile of presents he bought for his son on each missed birthday. According to September, Walter’s inability to let go of his son contributed to allowing Peter to come back into existence: fitting, given that in order to remove Peter from the timeline in the first place, the Observers had to prepare Walter to be willing to let his son go.
As much as I appreciate the return to some of the dynamics we’re used to, I will miss the relationship between Nina and Olivia and, come to think of it, the more involved relationship between Walter and Olivia. In some ways I found Olivia’s attitude toward the consequences of her choice in memory sets a little odd: she doesn’t seem to be all that concerned that even though she gained her memories of Peter and her old life, she gave up everyone she loves and who loves her in this universe. Reality is a matter of perception, and the memories of the original timeline are now Olivia’s reality, even if she must continue to function in this new Amber timeline. But who’s to say which timeline is the ‘real’one?
I was glad to see Lincoln featuring more prominently since he’d been relegated to the background in the last couple of episodes, and I am curious as to where they’ll take his character from here. As much as I like what Lincoln brings to the team, he’s felt rather extraneous since Peter began consulting with Fringe division again even more so now that Olivia and Peter are back together. In the previews for next week’s ‘Everything In Its Right Place’, our Lincoln seems to be working with the alternates on the Other Side, so perhaps we’ll see him functioning as a liaison between the two universes.
One of the most pressing questions I have at the moment, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, is what on Earth is David Robert Jones’agenda? I’ll be interested to see if this case will somehow tie back into ZFT and the Pattern a storyline which took a back seat once the alternate universe and shapeshifters came into play. If Jones had been responsible for the majority of the Pattern occurrences and then got side-tracked by his fixation on William Bell and his desire to crossover it could explain why it faded into the background, and why this case happened now in this timeline. There’s also the question of the ship at the end of the episode: what the hell is it? What are all the beasties it’s carrying, and where are they going? I thought I saw creatures reminiscent of the ones in both “Unleashed” and “Snakehead”. Perhaps one aspect of Jones’endgame is to destroy both worlds so that he has a blank slate for the ‘better’species that he’s created. He’s certainly egomaniacal enough!
I thought ‘Nothing As It Seems’did a great job weaving together hilarious, touching, and revealing character moments with a case that seems to be setting the stage for the rest of the season even as it refers back to a number of previous episodes. It felt like a return to the Fringe we all know and love, while staying true to the new timeline and characters we’ve gotten to know these last several months. Having attended the fantastic scoring sessions for the next two episodes, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next! B+
P.S. Good news for Fringe fans this morning: the ratings jumped back up to a 1.2 in 18-49 with 3,112,000 viewers watching live.