I watched the first season of Fringe on DVD and I’m glad I did as I’m not sure I would have stuck with it had I had to wait each week for a new episode at the beginning. And Fringe seasons 2 & 3 were a different beast from season 1. By the end of season 2, Fringe had become one of my must-watch programmes, and continues to be so into season 4, despite a re-set and a few weeks gap in between episodes 4 & 5 (but at least Fringe had set up the season before its break, unlike Glee).
Of course it was Pacey that was the main selling point of Fringe at the beginning, but the alternative universe episodes last season showed that Fringe can work without Pacey very well. The first few episodes of this season, however, have felt like precursors to the real season because Pacey was not there and we knew would eventually have to turn up. Novation has now nicely set up various strands for this season and I feel in good hands.
Firstly, one ongoing strand is going to be Peter Bishop’s role in this new universe where no-one remembers him, because he died as a boy in the lake when Walter was bringing him over. I prefer to think of this as a 3rd alternative timeline (as Walter hinted to), rather than our original world, because there are so many different variables going on here. A world where Nina Sharp was foster mother to Olivia for one. So how can Walter3 and Olivia3 remember Peter when he never existed in their timeline? The only way would be to reset back to the original timeline and lose this 3rd reality where Walter never had a son grow into adulthood. I’m not sure how they will resolve it, and I’m not sure I want them to resolve it neatly, which I’m excited by.
The other main ongoing plot is obviously going to be with this new breed of human hybrid shapeshifter. I spent the whole episode wondering where I had seen the Nadine shapeshifter before (apart from one of the earlier episodes, natch) and when I looked her up the only thing I would have seen her in was in Community’s ‘Competitive Wine-Tasting’, although her mad-dash across the ceiling (or did I imagine it) when she was running away from Olivia reminded me of Deathstrike in X2. It was far too obvious that she had taken on the form of the fallen FBI agent and I was disappointed that Olivia could be so thick as not to check out the agent before dispatching him, but they had to let Nadine go free to serve future storylines. Why though in the station did she return to the Nadine form when the FBI know that face and she has so many other forms to choose from now? I loved the return of the alternative typewriter too, now a lime green model and no need for a mirror?
So who is the evil mastermind behind the new shapeshifters? Walternate? It has to be someone from the alternative universe – but are they now timeline4 because Walternate was never pursuing Peter, because he was dead? We haven’t really seen him this season so don’t know his motivations. Also the Olivia and Fauxlivia interactions haven’t revealed how the two timelines met and merged yet – they have implied that Fauxlivia took over Olivia’s life, but how did Olivia come back if she was not pursuing her return to Peter? I’m not sure all these questions can or will be answered. I also don’t remember Peter being such a computer/electronics whizz-kid before. Yes, he was intelligent but able to hack a hybrid computer chip in a matter of hours using an apple laptop? Maybe the time in limbo, or the giant machine, upgraded our Peter.
Following Pacey’s explanations to Broyles, I’m sure one of the main characters is going to be an underground shapeshifter during the season. I’m sure the Observers are going to play a role in this season again too. I have missed them and missed Fringe. Good to have you back, old friend.