- An otherwise bland case-of-the-week was transformed into one of the season’s more engaging serial-procedurals, courtesy of the emotional weight driven by the central characters and the inclusion of Observer mythology that deepened our understanding.
- The development of both Astrids was long overdue and, in the end, very welcome. Moreover, it was a poignant exploration that informed the case, Walter’s relationship with this version of his son, and offered a kind of cathartic experience towards greater understanding for characters on both sides of the coin.
- Follow-up on September’s decision to not erase Peter!! A particular burning question of mine, the explanation to which was surprising but also contextualizes recent events in the overarching story.
- The episode contained some very nice direction that added poignancy and intrigue to certain scenes.
- Some very good performances and character moves that, for the most part part, felt authentic.
- After making progress in their relationship in “Enemy Of My Enemy,” it felt as though Walter’s regression in his feelings towards Peter was less organic and more contrived for the needs of this episode.
- It’s still distracting that both sides have seemingly given up the ghost on finding Jones and solving more ‘important’ cases. A problem that could be less of a problem if the characters just made reference to the previous continuity.
- It was a tad convenient that Neil decided to die instead of using his ability to out-fox our team.
- The cold open was one of the most intriguing this season, very well done, instantly presenting a level of mystery. The ‘stillness’ of this scene – and indeed most of the scenes with Neil — blended well with Altstrid‘s.
- Altstrid’s own introduction to the the stage was also nicely done, instantly dropping us to her leaden boots as we follow her through a familiar process. The mystery was not who, but why and where she was going?
- For a character who doesn’t show much emotion on the surface (although it’s always there in her eyes) this was an effective way to allow the audience into her perspective — again, ‘boot-cam’ conveys that sense of loss and searching.
- When asked, Broylnate says he “can’t imagine” that Altstrid defected, which is interesting given his own defection to Jones’ cause. He did seem genuinely concerned — and I’d like to think it’s because he cares about all of his agents, even though he’s not on the up and up.
- Peter’s badgering of Walter to help him get home still smacks of selfishness to me, but at least there’s some drive on his part to recall and reference what is obviously going to be an important aspect of the overarching plot.
- Walter’s preference for that famous chess player known as Lincoln, was curious but amusing. At least someone loves him! And to be clear, I’m not an anti-Lincoln, he just doesn’t bring as much to the party.
- Of course, this is all an extension of the ‘connections’ theme. Much of Season 3 was about the bonds between souls being unbreakable, and while that’s true in this timeline, the formation of these connections are different — and this continues to be a valuable exploration into what defines people.
- In much the same way that Eliznate was able to recognize Peter within moments, it was interesting that Walter saw Altstrid for who she is — initially by her response, and then by looking at her, which is obviously a dead giveaway, but he was already tweaked.
- The meeting of Astrids was a nice moment – of the kind that I don’t think we’ve seen since the season 3 finale. It makes sense that of all the people in the worlds, she would seek solace from her other half — after all, who would understand her better?
- It’s a very interesting way of articulating the ‘self help’ that this episode refers to. I also like the fact that one of the overriding memories of her father’s funeral was the cold — it seems like a relatively new experience for her, which says something about what she’s feeling inside.
- Her logic regarding ‘all personal meetings being in the flesh’ was amusing but also carries intrigue. While most personal meetings are in the flesh, I can think of one or two in the show’s cannon that don’t subscribe to this. Man X, and that whole LSD trip, for example.
- I also think it was an important decision to have Altstrid cry. It further breaks down the idea that she’s not normal, even though this is one of her major hangups.
- It was a bit insensitive of Astrid, perhaps, to take exception to Walter getting Altstrid’s name right, in such indiscreet fashion. A roll of the eyes would have sufficed, but the man must drive her up the wall, so I sympathise.
- Altstrid’s Deus Ex Machina theory, concerning two distinct compounds being intentionally mixed together by a guiding hand, causing an unpredictable event, was a neat way to illustrate how the Observers see time. It also brought to mind Olivia’s experiences in the alternate universe in season 3, particularly in out-foxing Milo as the variable he didn’t factor into his outcomes.
- Walter still can’t bring himself to love Peter in the same way that he loved his original Peter. I’m pleased that the story is making this point, because it’s something I long speculated within the context of the original timeline. To see it expressed in this new deck of familiar cards is intriguing, and I appreciate Altstrid’s perspective on this matter:
“Wouldn’t it be preferable if you chose to believe he was your son, then you could love him and be happy.”
- This is something that makes inroads into another thematic aspect of Fringe, that of wish-fulfilment/imagining a better set of circumstances. It’s something we’ve witnessed in high-concept happenings such as Olivia and Peter in the tulip field of dreams, and in the more grounded concept of Olivia overcoming her doubts concerning Peter’s affection for the *drum roll* ‘definitive her‘. And, of course, the alt-universe and timeline scenarios are sandboxes based on the very notion that somewhere over the rainbow..
- Altstrid’s suggestion is simple, but insightful. I’m not sure it’s quite that easy given the complexity of the human heart and the specific conditions that define each — specifically Walter’s, in this case — but it might just go some way to knocking down some doors, and sometimes that’s all that is needed to bring a person to a better understanding of themselves and others.
- I think this accounts for Walter’s reaction. As smart as he is, her cutting logic made a kind of sense. In essence, he’s both choosing and not choosing to be miserable, but what if he could really take Eliznate’s advice to heart for more than a hot-minute and see that his Peter is somewhere in this Peter?
- If God is testing him (which he believes), then maybe part of that test is to take this moment — past, present and future — to let the boy in. Again, this isn’t as easy as Altstrid makes it sound, but nothing worth having for Walter was ever easy, as we’ve witnessed.
- What makes this especially appealing to me is that she’s not just shining a light on Walter’s situation (or Neil’s), but her own. She’s reflecting a resolution that she herself is missing following the death of her father. Unsure whether she was ever special, or rather, normal, enough for him, she’s searching for piece of mind.
- So it’s really interesting that, by the end of the episode, she finds a measure of reassurance through external and internal means. She had to navigate her way to the other side and open up in a way that she never has before, helping others in the process, before her other half was able to tell her the one thing she needed to hear:
“..I know he loves me. Least that’s what I tell myself. Even though it doesn’t really seem that way. You shouldn’t regret that you could have been more for him. It wasn’t you.”
- Of course, we soon find out that Astrid has a fantastic relationship with her father. She lied to Altstrid so she wouldn’t feel quite as alone in what she’s going through. That took a good measure of self awareness to pay it forward like that, and symbolically it strikes me as one of the most powerful single moments of the season.
- I also appreciate that Altstrid isn’t doing cartwheels by the end of all this. She’s still working through her loss, and might even suspect that Astrid lied. But either way, she’s given something and received something to take back with her.
- I like the addition of the Observer storyline in this episode. The mythology is such that finding out September ‘lost’ his ‘flatliner’ at Reiden Lake is believable, while also making the case-of-the-week more interesting.
- In turn, Neil’s use of this technology to save people from suffering, offers insight into the Observer mythology. It also further explores the question of what a ‘normal’ human would be like if they had access to the ability to see time as a convergence of events rather than a linear sequence.
- In this particular case, it produced a ‘compassionate killer’ — someone who knew that these people, and those connected to them, would suffer more through their continued existence than they would if they died. Not that it was his place to make that decision, but, again, this tells us something about the Observers and sheds some light on September’s growing compassion for our heroes.
- September has always been the Observer who got involved, and now that impulse is manifesting into genuine compassion for our heroes — the people he has followed most closely of all the Observers. We know how important connections are in forming relationships, unbreakable bonds, so it seems September has also caught this very human ability.
- Following BTWYNB, I speculated whether September warned Olivia about her impending doom because it has major consequences for the universes/existence, because he cares for Olivia (all versions of her), or both. While I can still see it being both, from a dramatic standpoint, it’s not out of the question that he’s mostly trying to protect The Dunhamnator.
- All of this is only heightened by the fact that we finally get our answer — September not only went rogue, but December somehow didn’t know about it until now. So the big question is, how did he not know that Peter Bishop was back in the building? Why was he unable to see that the ‘traces’ of PB had manifested into a fully-fringed boy wonder?
- Has December (and the other Observers) not been watching closely enough? We’ve seen them observe our heroes at nearly every turn. I have to assume that following his decision to let Peter bleed on through, September took measures to somehow block or distract the other Observers from seeing the true picture.
- This would be a fascinating possibility, as it would further tap into the nature of reality/timelines and the fallibility of perception.
- Alternatively, since the Observers can see time all at once, March’s realisation could refer to Peter’s return at a later point in our linear view of time. Which, would also be a fascinating development.
- I really liked seeing Altstrid looking up at the over here statue of liberty. A totem marker to convey where she was, but the symbolism also carried a lot of depth, particularly with the look on her face.
- Altstrid corrects Walter on getting her name wrong because she hasn’t built up that experience with him, plus she lacks the social cues that the other Astrid might have.
- It was neat seeing more Observerbilities, with March walking through solid objects and ‘disappearing’.
- “God, or God-like powers!”
- Walter’s “I think I love her!” and Astrid’s reaction, were nice touches.
- The little interactions between Olivia, Altlivia and Peter were also quite amusing at times. Did Altlivia cop a look at Peter’s bum?
- Altlivia’s “hey girls” was lol-worthy.
- Altlivia telling Walter that he missed her was also a moment of amusement.
- Altstrid pointing out how Walter talks through Astrid was one of several poignant moments in this episode.
- Olivia basically suggests that Altlivia’s type is Walter/nate. However, she likes “the nice guys”. Little does she know that Olivia likes Lincoln-bot too, although she’s coming round to the idea of Peter, it seems.
- I detected a weird, flirtatious vibe between Walter and Altlivia. Given that it was later referenced this was probably intentional.
- Both Astrids mothers died of cancer when they were children.
- Alstrid’s father died. Astrid’s dad is still alive.
- The Observers can pass through solid objects.
- September lost his flatliner the night he didn’t save Peter from Reiden lake.
- September disobeyed December’s order to erase Peter.
- Coffee is a new experience for Altstrid due to the Blight making it both rare and expensive over there.
- Neil was able to see past, present and future at the same time, courtesy of September’s flatliner.
- As expected, September is still alive, given the nature of the March/December conversation. (Though it’s possible that his gunshot wound stems from their discovery of his disobedience, further illustrating the flux of time.)
- Who’s Lincoln’s goddaughter? Or rather, why was Lincoln really benched?
- How did September conceal the truth about Peter’s return from the other Observers?
- Is there additional context to March’s claim that Peter has “returned”.
- Did Neil catch a glimpse of Olivia’s impending death?
An episode that captured poignant themes offered just enough character and mythology to make it resonate as an episode of particular importance. A nice journey for the two Astrids, filled with special moments.
Best Moment: Astrid and Altstrid final scene.
Best Performer: Jasika Nicole.
Best line: “You shouldn’t regret that you could have been more for him. It wasn’t you.”
8.5/10 Seriable Stars