The displacements of Fringe

Posted by CB Droege

The fourth season of Fringe is certainly more peaceful than originally anticipated.

When the previous season of Fringe ended, we were left with a lot of questions, but the new season has skirted some of the potential conflict.

When last we saw these characters, their worlds had been merged and Peter had disappeared as if he never existed.

The new season would need to cover the complications of a world made of two universes - some buildings torn in half, with almost every person meeting their double and suffering from inevitable overpopulation.

I expected the first scene to be of a devastated wasteland: Olivia and Fauxlivia standing on the roof of one of the few remaining skyscrapers, or perhaps in the doorway of a zeppelin, overlooking the devastation, knowing that they caused it, but also knowing that it was better than the alternative.

Instead, it’s almost business as usual. Peter is gone, and that’s this season’s subplot, but otherwise, the only effect of the machine is that it built a bridge between the worlds, a single room where the alternates overlap, rather than the entire world overlap we might have expected.

Some of the characters are also a bit fudged. Walter is a bit crazy again without Peter’s recent influence to keep him grounded. Olivia is a bit hardened to real emotions lacking that same influence. Astrid seems to be her field partner in Peter’s absence, quickly replaced by her world’s version of Agent Lee. 

It’s an interesting premise, but it doesn’t quite work for me. It’s explained that in this newly Peterless world, Peter died as a child in both worlds. If that’s so than why is there still the animosity between the Walters, since that was born of Peter’s kidnapping? And why didn’t both of the Walters normalize a bit?

One Walter went a bit mad because he was riddled with the guilt of having raised an alternate version of his own son, while the other rose to power, motivated by the events. In this new world, they should both be the same sort of Walter now. Similarly, Olivia should be less dichotomous, since the Fringe Division of the other world would not have been so myopically focused and hardnosed.

Some of this can be explained by the shadows of Peter which still remain, and perhaps we’re supposed to believe that if the erasure of Peter was complete, then these things would all rearrange, but at this point it’s like we’ve got a whole cast of characters who don’t make any sense, as if any one of them looked into his or her past, they would see a serious lack of motivation for who and where they are.

The cases of these first couple episodes were still entertaining. I’m not saying that the show is not worth watching anymore. I just hope that some of these holes get patched up soon, or many of us are in danger of falling through.

Fringe plays Friday nights on Fox.