Quick Take: Fringe, “Back to Where You’ve Never Been”
“Give me the gun – we’re doing this my way now.” – Peter
Review: Fringe, “Back to Where You’ve Never Been”
(S0408) Despite being mired in the dismal bog that is the indefinite hiatus of NBC’s Community, the return of Fringe stands as the weird, shimmering light at the end of my week. We return to where we were before the holidays – several episodes behind the intended fall cliffhanger – with Peter under house arrest, struggling to gain the trust of his father in order to escape the split “Amberverse” and return to his own timeline. Although it still isn’t clear that Peter even has a universe to return to, it’s clear that the machine holding the two universes together is both the problem and the solution.
The episode itself doesn’t serve well as a reintroduction to the Fringe universes – the more serialized, plot-heavy aspects of the episode might swiftly spook off any newcomers – but you won’t hear me complaining about the rush of excitement thrust upon us. The other side has finally gotten their first glimpse of the new, biological shapeshifters, but their Fringe division is blacked out by the Department of Defence; Walternate, too, seems perplexed by the appearance, and sends in the military to secure the shifter’s corpse to keep it confidential – that is, to himself.
Peter, meanwhile, is quick to convince Olivia and Lincoln to help him in his venture to the other side, opening up a portal in the all-familiar theatre with the same machine Walter used in Reiden Lake. He and Lincoln make it as far as the ferry to Liberty Island, but while they’re waiting, their deception catches up with them, as Fauxlivia and alt-Lincoln follow up the momentary rip in the universe with a full squad of agents.
The prisoners’ escort gets thrown off the trail, however, when Walternate gives the order to have Peter and Lincoln killed. Their assassin sets up the scene to look like an attempted escape, but it wouldn’t be much of a show without the only character that remains constant after four seasons, and Peter and Lincoln escape. Lincoln pulls his alternate self and Fauxlivia off of Peter’s trail long enough for him to escape to his other-mother’s house, where he is immediately recognized. The military is soon to arrive, however, but Mrs Bishop remains steadfast in her refusal to let them take Peter alone, and accompanies him to see Walternate.
Elizabeth is strongly requested to take her leave, and Peter finally gets a chance to speak with a Walter, although the ominously villainous one. Having been aware of Peter’s presence for some time longer than his first appearance “over there,” he has prepared himself for this encounter. He calls in alternate-Brandon to testify to Walternate’s innocence in being involved in the appearance of the new shapeshifters, and subsequently shoots him in the face with a high-tech stun-gun, revealing Brandon to be a shapeshifter himself. His actions allow Walternate to strike a deal with Peter, claiming that he can trust his son’s alleged neutrality in their war.
The final five minutes have been the ones I’ve been waiting for since the finale of season three. While Olivia idly waits for Peter and Lincoln to reopen the tear in the theatre, she is startled by the appearance of the Observer, September. Bleeding from the gunshot in his chest, September delivers a foreboding message: no matter what the outcome, Olivia must die. As mysteriously as he appears, the Observer vanishes, leaving Olivia with something to pass the time. Fauxlivia, meanwhile, is following up a lead with alt-Lincoln that was fed to them by their Colonel Broyles – though all is not as it seems. Broyles’ strings are being pulled by the notorious David Robert Jones (Jared Harris). His reappearance – while also a bonus for Mad Men fans – is the first since his demise at Reiden Lake long ago in season one when Walter and Peter killed him by plugging the hole in the universe with him partially inside. May his journey to the inevitable villain’s death be even more extensively exciting than last time.