FRINGE: 4.03 Alone In The World — REVIEW

alone-in-the-world-review


“Alone In The World” attempts to symbiotically fuse stand-alone fare with overarching story, but was it a hit or a bust? Read our review to find out.

THE GOOD

  • An otherwise tepid case-of-the-week was given depth through its service to the larger mythology.
  • A well-paced affair that retained my attention throughout. It managed to win over much of my cynicism through some nice emotional chords.
  • Callbacks to the past. Particularly information gleaned from Walter’s retelling of that fateful night.
  • Greater subtlety and not quite as much hand-holding. The brief scene with Olivia drawing and looking through the FBI database was a nice insertion that would pay-off at the end.
  • The episode featured some nice character development from Walter, liberating both him and the overarching story.
THE BAD

  • Still no physical sign of Nina (unless she’s a toaster in the OT). We’re almost at the point where I’m wondering how essential she is to the remaining story.
  • Likewise, the lack of Walternate and information on the BBM (Boom-Boom-Machine) is felt. It’s easy to see the benefit keeping a certain storytelling focus at this point, but I’m curious to see what else is going on in this new dawn.
  • There’s a deadly and unpredictable universe-destroying Machine, and those best-placed to figure the thing out are messing around down tunnels? Yeah, that’s a problem that the story is yet to address. What’s next, rescuing cats (“dogs”, over there) from trees? Hey, I have a vacuum cleaner that needs fixing.
  • The Gus thing was pretty lacklustre and wrapped-up a bit too neatly. If fungus is a bigger threat than the BBM, I expect the situation to reflect that.
  • Episodes that Fringe REALLY doesn’t need to be rebooting at this stage: Night Of Desirable Objects. Earthling. What Lies Below. Should I brace myself for Snakehead II?
  • I’d still like to see real mythology episodes that directly tackle the meta story. I’m happy to see things play out but the overarching story is where Fringe lives.
THE OVEREVIEW

The story continues with good old Dr. Sumner evaluating Walter’s state of mind. It’s a nice opening filled with little cues that signal Walter’s anxiety.

He’s terrified of being sent back to St. Claire’s — a fear that wasn’t quite as prevailing in the OT. Watching him grapple with his hallucinations while defending his sanity was compelling.

Sumner seems little less antagonistic compared to my OT memory of him, though there was a slight toxic air of ambiguity regarding his intent:

“I can make recommendations for your continued care — whatever that may be“.

Walter’s resistance somewhat echoes Olivia’s struggles last season when she was trapped in the AU and influxed with Altlivia’s memories.

The fact that Sumner knows about Walter’s torment helps illustrate the gaps that exist between himself and his fellows at this point. Sure, they’re worried about him, but he has no-one to really act as a buffer between him and the rest of the world.

The story seems to be flirting with the possibility of an Olivia/Lincoln romance, though I struggle to be invested. As far as I’m concerned the PAIR are just making a SPECTACLE of themselves. *ding! ding! ding!*

The meat of this episode really revolves around Walter and his connection to Peter. Aaron is a conduit to that larger story. You can trace the parallels between Walter and Aaron’s sense of loneliness, providing further insight into Walter’s emotional state.

Along the way it’s directly confirmed that both Peters died. The implication being that September still distracted Walternate from the cure, perhaps believing the moment to be important after all, yet chose not to save the pair from the FLOD (frozen lake of death) — now the scene of another crime.

Peter had already served his function in the OT, bridging the two verses and putting things back on track with how they were “supposed” to be.

It continues to interest me that the story is positioned around a guy who “doesn’t exist”, yet permeates its emotional core. We’re still on our way to determining just how much our heroes really *need* Peter.

Logically, they don’t. They’ve existed their ‘entire lives’ without him, yet some emotional bonds cannot be broken. This almost inherent gravitation is the kind of thing I was hoping to explore.

Though at the same the ‘need’ is largely predicated on the collapse of the other timeline and Peter’s hauntings. Therefore, the pull might be more effectively realized as a choice as opposed to a need.

Aaron’s psychic connection to the organism continues to inform the wider story. A similar situation was explored in the episode 6B, where an emotional connection had to be broken, or, rather, consciously let go by someone who didn’t want to be alone.

Walter convinces Aaron to give Gus the peace sign by winning the boy’s trust — an emotional moment which illustrates how the depth of emotion can make a difference.

There’s also the question of which Peter is Walter hankering for — his original son, or the Peter who died en route from the alternate universe?

From Walter’s point of view, I’d say his connection in this timeline is largely with his original son, since he barely got to know Peter the Red.

But I’ve long felt that there is a larger point being made. While the show’s exploration of identity and the soul remain valid, there does seem to be a suggestion that true consciousness spans verses and timelines; that the definitive self in this story is not here or there, but reflected in the spectrum.

Walter’s self lobotomy was quite shocking but believable given his character and desperation. It evokes memories of Grey Matters and raises some interesting parallels.

But rather than concealing secrets, it leads to him trusting Olivia with his ordeal — an admission that carried risk since Olivia needs to justify his release from St. Claire’s. Walter showed the kind of courage he empowered Aaron to have.

Which leads to a wonderful coming together, tying in the episode’s earlier tease to reveal that Olivia has also been experiencing visions of this wondrous man.

Hers are, quite rightly, through dreams. She’s drawn a picture of him from memory. A recurring theme and a dose of symbolism that sends an anchor to the very core of her backstory.

“A shared vision like this. He must be real! And if he’s real, we have to find him!”

BOOM! Now that’s one way to end an episode. It’s no longer where is Peter Bishop, but Find Peter Bishop.

CASE NOTES

  • It was interesting to see Walter and Broyles interact. Where before Broyles may have come to Peter to find out how Walter’s getting on, he now has to go straight to the man himself.
  • “I’m not losing my mind!”
  • Finding out that Aaron led the bullies into the tunnel on purpose certainly alters my perspective of that scene. I don’t believe he knew they were going to die, but we’ve seen before that emotional intent is often a complicated thing — another parallel to Peter and the BBM.
  • So, Walter’s essentially responsible for the death of Walternate’s son — very interesting.
  • How ‘locked-in’ are these important moments that the Observers observe?
  • “I’m thinking flame-throwers” — this obviously ups the stakes for young Aaron, but it’s cute to see Olivia suggest a solution so pyro, given her OT abilities.
  • As I touched on in my AITW review, there’s always consequences. Something to bear in mind when Peter returns.
  • Walter says he crossed over with the intention of bringing Peter back. I’ve long argued that deep down this was always in his heart. Is this a bit of truth coming out, or just Walter distilling the details?
  • “The organism is a vast neural network!”  In many ways our heroes represent such a network. They’re certainly becoming more aware. This may also offer insight into how timelines work in the story. How connected is the NT to the …Network?
  • “You’re going to kill Peter!” Hope Aaron doesn’t grow up to have identity issues!
  • I really enjoyed the way Aaron’s release on the organism was visually represented. Dare I say, it carried shades of Inception.
  • I love how Walter promised never to leave Aaron and the very next scene the poor kid is being shuttled off. “Thanks for all the fish, kid!” :)
  • We’re now on our way to finding Peter Bishop, but I can’t help but feel this episode takes us one step closer to finding Man X — one of the show’s burning mysteries.
  • I’d love to know what Peter has been doing or saying in Olivia’s dreams. Or..maybe I wouldn’t.
ANSWERS

  • Alluded to in previous episodes but confirmed here — Walter’s Peter The Blue died as he did in the OT, which led Walter to cross over in an attempt to save the other Peter. Upon their return they fell into the FLOD, but this time September didn’t save Peter. The boy had already served his purpose.
  • Walter says that he has no family, perhaps intimating that Elizabeth also committed suicide in this timeline.
  • Nina exists in this timeline. It’s implied that she’s running Massive Dynamic.
  • Olivia has been seeing Peter in her dreams for the past three weeks.
MYSTERIES

  • Where is Peter?
  • How did Walter make it out of the FLOD?
  • Where did Gus come from? Why wasn’t there more curiosity about the nature of Gus?
FINAL THOUGHTS

A good episode that fills in some important grey areas while opening things up a bit for the continuing story.

Best Moment: Walter and Olivia reconnecting through their shared encounters with Peter. A really satisfying moment.

Best Performance: John Noble.

Best Line: “I don’t want to lose you. I can’t lose you..not again..”

Takeways: Be kind to Fungus. Hide lobotomy instruments from Walter. Draw your dreams!

Episode Rating: 8/10 Seriable Stars

 

 

Comments

  1. Dessy says

    “I’d love to know what Peter has been doing or saying in Olivia’s dreams. Or..maybe I wouldn’t.”
    Your reviews never fail to make me laugh Roco!
    This is definitely my favourite episode far, largely because of the end.

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  2. Overrkast says

    Why did September save peter the first time around? He said because the boy was important, so why did he Peter die in the new timeline. If there are where they are suppose to be why didn’t he let him die the first time around too?

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    • runthegamut says

      I’m wondering if he did save Peter, but as far as Walter knows he drowned. From what I remember in that episode, Both Walter and Peter were unconscious when they were pulled out. But that doesn’t solve the problem of where Peter is, just that he didn’t die.

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    • says

      @Overrkast: The ‘first’ time around I assume they still needed Peter to bridge the two universes. He went on to serve that purpose at the end of season 3.

      There was no need to save him again in this ‘new’ timeline, because Peter’s already performed his function. According to December, their role is to ensure that things play out as they are supposed to — apparently this doesn’t include a timeline with Peter post-BBM.

      I’m sure there’s more we’re yet to learn.

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  3. Pwnsauce says

    Agreed that we need more full mythology episodes, but I’m crossing my fingers that once Peter comes back, he will set off a major mythology movement.

    Roco, you touched on it very lightly in your review, but what are your thoughts on Peter vs. Man X? If you look at Olivia’s drawing, it looks strikingly similar to Man X, who, coincidentally was also a drawing in Olivia’s mind. I think it may be a coincidence, but I would be interested to hear you elaborate on that point and why you think it brings us closer to unlocking the Man X mystery.

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    • Con says

      Maybe the timeline we saw in the first three seasons wasn’t the first time through the loop. (It’s been implied that it isn’t, anyway.) Maybe Mr. X is someone Olivia knew in a previous iteration of the loop who started to bleed through in her subconscious, just like Peter is doing now.

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    • says

      Roco, you touched on it very lightly in your review, but what are your thoughts on Peter vs. Man X? If you look at Olivia’s drawing, it looks strikingly similar to Man X, who, coincidentally was also a drawing in Olivia’s mind. I think it may be a coincidence, but I would be interested to hear you elaborate on that point and why you think it brings us closer to unlocking the Man X mystery.

      @Pwnsauce: I agree that it looks somewhat like the Man X drawing, though it’s possibly because they’re drawn by Olivia (so to speak).

      As for the revelation, I feel it brings us closer to Man X because it seems like an intentional parallel — that is, Olivia extracting the image of someone from her mind who she hasn’t physically encountered (as far as we know) in her current timeline.

      Given that Walternate murdered Olivia in the OT, yet Man X is apparently the man who’s going to kill her, I just assumed that her mind has or is already experiencing Man X in another timeline — i.e. the Peterless one that we see her in now.

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  4. says

    I wonder what purpose Peter served in the other universe? If Walter went over there to save him the implication is that Walternate could not. We all know Walternate missed out on saving his son because September distracted him and Walter witnessed this.

    So if September felt no need to rescue Red Peter from the FLOD does that mean he didn’t distract Walternate this time? Why not? He must have known Walter would try and start everything in motion once Walternate “failed”. Did Walternate fail? He must have or Walter is just a straight up kidnapper.

    OK, I’m starting tie myself up ina mental Gordian knot. Someone help me here.

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  5. OldDarth says

    Least favorite episode of the season. ‘Gus’ never grew on me and did not like the way Olivia was written this episode except for the final scene.

    Don’t buy Olivia being unaware of Walter’s crumbling mental state and her support to Lincoln for a non-existent issue only exacerbated her ignorance of Walter’s condition. Also, although obviously played for fun, making Olivia and Lincoln so similar in manner and dress is not interesting dramatically. The two of them need to be broken up and work with different partners.

    Never a fan of story telling based on characters withholding information from another to create false tension.

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  6. runthegamut says

    I loved Walter and Olivia connecting at the end. It was very reminiscent of 3.03 The Plateau, where Olivia connects with Projection Peter just when we think she has accepted her new life. And here we are in 4.03, just when we think Walter will lobotomize himself and obliterate any connection to Peter, we see the shared vision. Very cool.

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    • Mike Mike says

      I also don’t want to wait until the end of the season for Peter to come back, that would piss me off.

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  7. Mike Mike says

    My favorite line of the show was Walter saying “I’m not insane” as he opened his blood soaked eye. So funny.

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  8. qbanarik says

    I just can’t come to terms with the Observers “solution” to the problem September created in the first place. No, red Peter was not supposed to be dead, he was supposed to live on his own universe if September hadn’t intervened. Wouldn’t the easier solution be to go back in time and re-write the timeline from that “moment” point? That was the irregularity he created! Ugh!

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    • says

      “Wouldn’t the easier solution be to go back in time and re-write the timeline from that “moment” point? That was the irregularity he created! Ugh!”

      In some ways they have. I guess a lot hinges on whether September still distracted Walternate/how ‘locked in’ that moment was.

      There does seem to be a certain balance to what they’ve done though. Walter crossing over at Reiden Lake was both the opportunity that got them out of a jam and the apparent solution to the irregularity. That might be neither here nor there but I find it quite interesting.

      That being said, there are definitely some missing pieces to this puzzle.

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  9. Pam says

    Great Review, Roco! Very insightful, as usual. Here are a few points I would like to mention, though.

    You have said “The implication being that September still distracted Walternate from the cure, perhaps believing the moment to be important after all, yet chose not to save the pair from the FLOD” – but, Walter says that he found the cure but, only too late. So, what if Walter (and not Walternate) found the cure and since Walter wanted to save at least one Peter, he crossed over? There may have been no interference from September, whatsoever.

    “Walter says he crossed over with the intention of bringing Peter back. I’ve long argued that deep down this was always in his heart. Is this a bit of truth coming out, or just Walter distilling the details?” Good point – this makes me wonder if Walter had a clear definition of self & alternate self in the 80s as he has now.

    “Walter says that he has no family, perhaps intimating that Elizabeth also committed suicide in this timeline.” – Looks like blue Elizabeth is weaker than Red one, either by choice of because of the circumstances that have shaped her personality.

    Thank you so much for these wonderful reviews!

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  10. TomC says

    This kind of episode is why Fringe is the greatest TV show around (if not ever!).
    Nothing else could give you a ‘Giant-Man-Eating-Fungus-thats-sort-of-a-brain” monster of the week… and you beleive its something they’d come up against. Also, has there even been a tv show where one of the main characters tries to do a LOBOTOMY on themself!?!? I dont think so (the ‘im not crazy’ line from walter when olivia showed him the drawing while he has a HOLE IN HIS HEAD! was classic walter).

    p.s. taking all bets that peter is Man X.

    p.p.s. “As far as I’m concerned the PAIR are just making a SPECTACLE of themselves. *ding! ding! ding!*”. Awful, Awful joke yet brilliant!

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  11. Peanut says

    Thanks for another perceptive and enjoyable review, Roco.

    As you have observed, Roco, the Fringies are fiddling while Rome burns—chasing fungi and relatively minor cases while the fate of two worlds hangs in the balance. In fact, it is puzzling to me that Peter was taken out of the equation. Peter was the one best suited to bridge the universes—from the Red World but reared mostly in the Blue World and sympathetic to both sides. It’s made the task more difficult.

    What is significant about three weeks? That’s how long Walter has been seeing Peter. Does Peter understand that Olivia and Walter don’t remember him?

    Not only should the question be where did Fun-Gus come from but also shouldn’t the team suspect that there are more fungi out there? I will point out that Fun-Gus apparently didn’t kill anyone until it killed the two boys supposedly to defend Aaron. Then Fun-Gus suddenly went on a killing spree? Why kill the homeless man, for example?

    Glad to see the neurostimulator head thingy back.

    Roco, I too wondered about pyromaniac Liv. This version of Olivia seems more aggressive—killing her stepfather in this timeline instead of just shooting him & wanting to bring on the flamethrowers. If Plan A is bring on the flamethrowers, then I shudder to contemplate what Plan B could be.

    The awkward initial talk Olivia has with Linc was just to show off their matching birth-control glasses and set up the exchange between them after Linc escaped Fun-Gus? Or maybe to illustrate that Olivia can be clumsy in interpersonal situations because warm-and-fuzzy—just not her thing usually.

    Linc needs a Fringe team user’s manual. You know, useful information such as Walter expects lab visitors to bring him sweets (pastries, gum, candy, etc.). Astrid could clue Linc in on other stuff—for instance, this version of Olivia probably also likes peacoats if he’s got a romantic interest in her.

    I suppose one of the parallels is that Aaron was quantum entangled with Fun-Gus just as Olivia and Walter are quantum entangled with What’s-His-Name? I’m not a scientist, but I would think that even if September used the Erase-A-Man, that quantum entanglement would still remain. By the way, can’t we think of people more deserving of erasure than poor Pete?

    Fringe Memo: have Timmy (or is it Tommy)–Walter’s guard or whatever he’s supposed to be (by the way, where was he this week?)–lock up sharp objects in the lab to keep them away from Walter. Don’t let Walter perform procedures with sharp objects unless someone else is in the lab with him. For goodness sakes, get him some kiddie scissors with rounded tips that don’t need to be under lock and key.

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  12. jacksonheights says

    Dear Peanut,

    Excellent analysis. Those birth control glasses, Fun-Gus, Erase-a- man, flame throwers, pastry lacking team.
    Can’t wait for your next review.

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    • Peanut says

      Glad you enjoyed it, but frankly, I spend a lot of time after each episode wondering what just happened. I count on Roco’s deep analysis of each episode to make sense of it all, particularly the visuals & many thematic elements. Then the questioning can begin. And I always have plenty of questions. I’m like What’s-His-Name–I want answers! Well, maybe not as badly as he does …

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  13. Fading-Dream says

    I’m a bit torn. I really thought this episode was well done, but it feels a little too late in the show for this type of thing. Other than the first episode, it feels like they really aren’t taking advantage of having Peter missing. Season 3 really impressed me due to each episode (at least for the first half) built on the mythology. This season, which I admit didn’t have quite as much room to work with mythology as season 3, seems to be favoring the stand-alone episodes. I’ve said it before, and once again, they should really focus on how Peter missing makes things different. One thing that’s bugging me is the world hasn’t changed at all. While the characters are impacted, the world is virtually unchanged. So much hinged on Peter’s existence in the world that it shouldn’t be able to exist as it is.

    Another thing that is annoying me is the lack of the parallel universe. We’ve seen bits, but there is nothing like season threes focus on that world. Switching between the worlds episode to episode kept the show interesting and breathtaking. While the show is still the best thing on tv, I find myself rather underwhelmed by the season so far.

    Basically, I want more mythology!

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