Recap: Fringe 4×08 – Back to Where You’ve Never Been

This is an interesting episode, since it was actually intended to be the mid-season finale back in late 2011. Then there was baseball or something, and it got postponed. However, the bright side is that now that we’re back in full force, all of the cliffhanger points look like they’re going to get answered next week. Hallelujah, because if you watched this, you know that there were a lot of cliffhangers. Universe-hopping, lots of Walternate, double Lincolns, more shapeshifters, Olivia’s first encounter with an Observer post-versecollision, and the return of one very scary (and great) former villain. Sound complicated? Let’s jump in.

We start with dropping into Peter’s dream, a homesick-feeling wave of nostalgia to a kitchen where a scantily-clad Walter is making chocolate chip and banana pancakes for Peter and Olivia. However, Peter realizes in the dream that Walter/nate is the only one who can really help him – he can “just fix that infernal machine.”

After being turned down by Amber Walter, who says he lost everything all because he tried to help another Peter, he turns to Ambers Olivia and Lincoln. Weighing the options, they decide to help. However, the stipulation is that Olivia must stay behind, and that they are there to work on their own separate missions and Peter absolutely cannot be compromised by Lincoln. Hello, foreshadowing.

However, it wouldn’t be an episode of Fringe without some great monster-of-the-week action, so what looks like some illicit men’s restroom session in the Redverse is actually a new shapeshifter sucking the life out of another poor soul. However, with an interruption from a transit officer, he runs out, literally jumps up and over a bus, and then gets hit by another bus.

Every time we see Walternate early on in this episode (I keep typing Walternater – should that be a thing?), he seems to be back up to his old tricks. Clearly he knows more than we do, but ultimately we learn that, as with all great villains, he’s acting from the core of his being. Walternate believes what he’s doing is the right thing, whether or not we’ve seen all of his plan (hint: I doubt we have. He’s too sly for that easy of a reveal.). More than once, Walternate orders the Fringe division out of a shapeshifter case, which frustrates Fauxlivia to no end; however, we later learn that Walternate has been tapping into the shapeshifter intelligence feeds for a while – what he calls monitoring and Peter calls spying – and that Red Brandon is actually a shapeshifter and has been for a while, unfortunately.

This faceoff between Walternate and Peter was a little less climactic than I had imagined it would be, but it did take a different tack. After Walternate stun-guns Red Brandonshifter, he tells Peter that “you are the only person I can trust.” Shortly after, he says he needs Peter to deliver a message to the Blue Verse (naturally, Walternate wouldn’t be Walternate without manipulating both the situation and someone’s emotions). Walternate wants Peter to tell the other side that he, Walternate, is not the enemy and that they need to understand that the shapeshifters are a threat to them all. After being thoroughly emotionally mushed (not to get technical on you there) by Walternate, Peter agrees. I roll my eyes at Walternate.

Having stowed away Amber Lincoln in a maintenance closet, Fauxlivia and AltLincoln go to Broyles to ask for leeway, though it’s revealed that he already knows about Amber Lincoln. However, he does grant it to them, but only if they keep him informed. They agree and leave, and in one of the more shocking turns of the episode, it’s revealed that Broyles is working with the esteemed big bad David Robert Jones, who put out the order to kill Peter and Amber Lincoln earlier in the episode. Broyles informs DRJ that Fauxlivia and AltLincoln are coming, and he says that he’ll be waiting – to turn the two into shapeshifters? I’ll be honest, my fingers were tingling with anticipation of the evil to come. We’ve had a lot of inner struggle this season, and I’m excited to see some legit Fringe work for a little bit.

Finally, we come full circle back to the Amberverse, where Amber Olivia is lying on the stage at the opera, just waiting. The Observer September appears in the seat in front of her, having been shot in the chest. He’s only there briefly, but he knows all about her, of course, and tells her that he has seen all possible futures, and in every one the result is the same: “You have to die.” She turns for only a second, and then he’s gone. What does that mean, do you think? Is it Amber Olivia who must die, or are we speaking in a broader sense of the character? Must she die immediately, or is September speaking vaguely of a different version of the future? So many questions!

A few highlights of tonight were Amber Lincoln’s performance with the guard at the gate, the Lincoln/Lincoln face off at the pier, and the shocking reveal that Red Broyles is actually a rogue agent (or shapeshifter?) working with David Robert Jones. Another touching moment was when Fauxlivia asks why Amber Lincoln trusts her, and he said that Peter told him that, “at the end of the day, she’s a good person.”

With regards to this season’s theme, about how characters affect each other, I thought it was a strikingly good episode. Any time the characters have met with an alternate self, there’s immediate mistrust and fear, rather than an inherent trust. When forced to come face to face with yourself, you alone know your worst habits and just how untrustworthy you can be, which makes dealing with that directly a whole lot more difficult than it would seem. To another degree, when you meet the alternate self of someone you know, love, and trust – do you trust him or her, or do you treat them like a stranger? Because the Fringe agents are all always on high alert, they immediately mistrust everyone they meet, but I think it’s worth a second look with regards to the relationships.

So what did you think of this week’s episode? I know I could benefit from a rewatch (Would that this hoodie were a time hoodie!), and occasionally I have to rely on the Internet to remind me of things. Did I miss any references? Any further speculation? Important: Where does Nina Sharp figure into all of this, after that exciting cliffhanger from before hiatus? Excited for next week, where it appears only Peter knows who DRJ actually is? Let’s hear it!

All images property of Fox.


About Bailey

I'm a writer and a feminist. I read a lot of books and I watch a lot of television.

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