Friday, April 2, 2010

Fringe “Peter” and the “Walternate” Universe

Photos from Fox

Let’s be honest here. Fringe (Fox) is really John Noble’s show, and that became very evident in the episode “Peter” that explored the mystery of how the Peter we know came over from the alternate (or “Walternate”) universe. Since day one of this series I’ve said that John Noble deserves an Emmy for his portrayal of Dr. Walter Bishop, and this episode is validation that he may be the best actor in any TV series this season. Unlike other shows like “Lost” that leave viewers with too many questions, Fringe answered quite a few in this episode. While we know that Walter loves his son, this episode shows how far Walter is willing to go in order for his son to live. This episode was probably the most interesting and revealing of Fringe so far, but is was also the most heart-wrenching and thought provoking as we see what the love a parent can have for their child can make them do to protect or save them, even causing a rift in the fabric of the universe.

Most of the episode takes place in the mid-1980s, under the premise that Walter Bishop is explaining to Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) why the Peter she knows is really Peter from the alternate universe. It seems that in both universes, Peter has a genetic disease and is dying. Walter also has created a literal window into the other universe, and is watching alt-Walter work on a cure for alt-Peter, as that universe is more technologically advanced. But, sadly for Walter, his Peter dies right after Peter gives Walter a coin he has been playing with. Walter and his wife Elizabeth (Orla Brady) are grief stricken, but Walter still has hope that alt-Walter will be able to save alt-Peter.

Walter later shares his magic window with his wife, who sees that her son still lives in another universe, and this seems to crank up Walter’s resolve to save alt-Peter. Things get complicated when alt-Walter finds the cure but doesn’t see it because one of the Observers distracts him with a video call. Walter, worried that this will mean alt-Peter will not be cured, he decides that, based on what he’s seen, he can create the cure himself and will cross over to administer it. To the objections of his lab partner Dr. Carla Warren (Jenni Blong) who says Walter will shatter the universe in the process, Walter creates a mechanism to allow him to cross over. At Reiden Lake, near the place alt-Peter and alt-Elizabeth were staying at the time, he sets up shop. When Warren and Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) try to stop him, Nina’s hand crosses into the portal of the cross over and seems to glimmer like everything else from the other side. (This explains Nina’s special hand and arm contraption.)

But when Walter gets to the other side, he finds the vial with the cure has shattered, and his only option is to bring alt-Peter back to Walter’s universe. We see that Walter’s wife is consoling a sickly Peter while Peter is playing with his coin – in a same scene as we saw with Walter in his time but the scene is being played out with his wife alt- Elizabeth. There is one big difference in that this scenario: Peter does not die. Walter enters and tells her he found a cure and has to take Peter to the lab. Walter also finds an excuse so alt-Elizabeth can’t tag along. He walks with Peter to the portal and they step through, arriving at the other side on the frozen lake. One thing Walter did not plan for: the ice snaps, possibly from the heat from his device or maybe even from it possibly partially being in two universes for a short time. Walter and Peter are plunged into the icy water. It looks like they will both drown, but we later see the Observer has saved them and is driving them away in a car. It seems that the Observer has screwed up royally when he interrupted alt-Walter with his video call, and the other Observers told him to fix the problem caused by his inadvertent interference in the timeline. Since they claim Peter is important, they must make sure that he lives, and the Observer tells Walter that "The boy is important, he has to live," before he gets out of the car and disappears.

Walter races back to the lab with Peter, and Warren tells Walter that William Bell has ideas on how to fix Nina’s hand. Walter says he will return Peter, and after Warren leaves, Elizabeth enters the lab and sees her son alive. When Walter tells her that alt-Peter must go back, she hugs him as if she has no plans to let him go.

In the “present” time with Olivia, Walter tells her that "I couldn't lose him again.” Though viewers knew that Peter was from the alternate universe for quite some time before Olivia found out, this look into how this all came to be may have been the most interesting – and most moving - hour of television I’ve seen in a long time. While Olivia may now understand and maybe even forgive Walter, whether she will tell Peter - or WHAT she will tell Peter – remains to be seen. The big question now is - what is alt-Walter doing to get his son back and is this why there seems to be a war brewing between both sides?

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

No comments: