Episode Title: "Neither Here Nor There"
Story by: Akiva Goldsman & J. H. Wyman & Jeff Pinkner
Teleplay by: Jeff Pinkner & J. H. Wyman
Director: Joe Chappelle
Previously on "Fringe":
To save our world, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) stepped into the Doomsday Device to counter the machinations of his true father, the alternate Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) aka Walternate. When the Device activated, Peter found himself experiencing a vivid vision of the future in which Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) was not only his partner, but his wife as well. In this future, Peter learned that Walternate had come to our world on a last ditch mission to save his world before it was destroyed. With the destruction of the alternate Earth, our world began experiencing the same Fringe events that tore the alternate Earth apart.
Seeking revenge on his son, Walternate helped terrorist groups further destabilize our world and he murdered Olivia. Realizing that the two worlds couldn't survive without each other, Peter's consciousness returned to the present and he used the Doomsday Device to tear a hole in the universe, bringing the Fringe teams of two worlds face to face, including both Walters and both Olivias. Peter then disappeared without anyone noticing while Olivia said that by working together, the two Fringe teams would have a better shot at saving both worlds. Outside, the mysterious Observers remarked that no one remembered Peter because he no longer existed…
In the room between universes, Olivia and her alternate self (aka Fauxlivia) exchange classified files and harsh words for each other as they lay the blame for the crisis on each other's worlds. As they leave, Peter briefly flickers back into existence and then disappears again. Elsewhere, the Observer known as September (Michael Cerveris) meets his superior, December (Eugene Lipinski) and they remark that somehow traces of Peter Bishop still exist despite his erasure. December says that September must eradicate the last traces of Peter. The next day, the Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) of our world comes over to the house of his FBI partner, Robert Danzig (Joe Flanigan). From the warm reception that Lincoln gets, it's clear that he is close to Robert and his family.
Later that day, Lincoln and Robert pursue a suspect across rooftops and into an abandoned warehouse. Splitting up, Lincoln takes out the suspect and cuffs him, but when he goes to find Robert, he finds his partner on the floor as a translucent man takes something from his blood. The translucent man escapes out a window and Lincoln is left to watch as his friend dies. Some time later, Olivia and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) arrive on the scene and Olivia takes the lead in questioning Lincoln about what he saw. When Olivia is less than forthcoming about giving her name or which division she works for, Lincoln becomes upset and demands answers. He notes her licence number and vehicle as she drives away with his partner's body.
Hours later, Lincoln tracks down the vehicle to Harvard and eventually finds Walter's lab just as he brings a pigeon back to life for a few seconds. Olivia isn't happy to see Lincoln and she threatens to call his superior at the FBI to report him for interfering in her investigation. He in turn threatens to call the press about the FBI's secret division at Harvard. When Olivia gets a call about another victim of the translucent man, Lincoln insists upon coming along and she reluctantly lets him. At the crime scene, we see that the victim is a young woman and her skin was changed just as Robert's had been. Olivia is impressed when Lincoln is able to identify a witness in the crowd who saw the man who attacked the girl.
From the witness, the team has their first picture of the killer. Olivia thanks Lincoln for his help and he points out that he could do more if he had the full picture. So, she brings him to meet Philip Broyles (Lance Reddick), the director of Fringe Division who ups Lincoln's security clearance and gets him to sign an iron clad NDA. They show Lincoln that the translucent man has killed nearly 30 people in just three days. Without any discernible connection between the victims, Lincoln suggests that Robert's iron supplements may have been a factor that links the crimes.
At a Radio Shack like store, September buys several old pieces of equipment before saying that he needs them to erase someone from time. Back at the Harvard lab, Olivia, Lincoln and Astrid find Walter hiding in his isolation tank fearful of a man that he saw in the mirror who wasn't there. Olivia is able to calm Walter down to the point that he is able to function again. He takes Lincoln's hypothesis and runs with it, establishing that each of the victims had heavy levels of metal in their bodies, which the killer then extracted from their blood. Elsewhere, we see the translucent man inject the stolen particles into his own body. Back at the lab, the team makes a connection between the killers and the fact that their victims were all taken near rail stations.
Setting up a surveillance sting to catch the suspect, Olivia tells Lincoln how she met Walter under similar circumstances, but her partner didn't survive in this incarnation either. They then get a call from two other agents who spot the suspect in an industrial area. But before they can get there, one of the agents is killed and the other is shot. Lincoln volunteers to stay with the injured man and save his life while Olivia goes after the killer. Olivia tracks the killer back to his warehouse as he burns his files. They get into a fight which goes poorly for Olivia until she manages to shoot the killer multiple times.
While tending to the injured agent, Lincoln is told that there were more than one of the killers. He tracks down the other translucent shapeshifter and kills it, realizing afterwards that it was the same man who killed his partner. As the FBI cleans up the scene and takes the two bodies away, a surviving shapeshifter takes the form of the girl who was killed in the car before fleeing. Back at FBI headquarters, Lincoln is surprised when Olivia ensures that Robert's body is released back to his family (against Fringe policy) to give them closure.
At the lab, Lincoln returns to see Olivia just as Walter confirms that the new shapeshifter had to have come from the alternate world. Olivia then brings Lincoln with her to the juncture between worlds, as he sees Fauxlivia and the alternate world for the first time. Fauxlivia also promises to look into the new breed of shapeshifter. Back at Harvard, September is about to activate his device to eliminate the last traces of Peter, but he decides against it. Inside the lab, Walter goes to bed watching television, but he is fearful when Peter's face appears on the screen, the same man in the mirror that he saw earlier.
After one of the best seasons in recent television memory, "Fringe" came back with a remarkably strong episode that seemed to play more like a pilot episode than a fourth season premiere. There were several nods to what happened in the third season finale, but this was Lincoln Lee's show and it was told almost entirely from his point of view.
Seth Gabel has been engaging as the Lincoln Lee of the alternate world, but there's something about his geekier counterpart in our world that is more compelling than expected. This Lincoln actually seems to be a more emotionally rounded character and he was very competent without dipping into the smart guy stereotypes. There was also a nice nod to the fact that Lincoln and Olivia had met before in the previous timeline. But from a dramatic point of view, making this their first meeting in the new timeline carried more dramatic weight. Instead of Lincoln wondering why Olivia was no longer so masculine in her mannerisms (she was possessed by William Bell during their first meeting in the old timeline), we got to see Lincoln get angry at Olivia for stonewalling him and build up some tension between them before they gradually got on the same page.
Even the quiet scenes of Lincoln meeting with Robert's family demonstrated how close he was to them and to his partner. That helped make Lincoln's pain at losing Robert seem more palpable. Other sequences such as Lincoln's disarming of a shapeshifter and his knack for observation in the field proved that the "Fringe" writers aren't going to use him as the butt of easy jokes. To put it another way for the "Angel" fans out there, Lincoln has skipped over the Wesley Wyndam-Pryce klutz phase of his existence and jumped ahead to the interesting parts.
The main "Fringe" cast was also terrific as usual. After watching Sarah Michelle Gellar barely register while playing opposite herself in "Ringer," I have a new appreciate for what Anna Torv does as the two different Olivia Dunhams. Both of Torv's characters feel distinct from each other and they have their own personalities. Their back and forth at the beginning shows that there is still tension between them that's not going away anytime soon. But Fauxlivia seemed sincere when she said that she would investigate the new breed of shapeshifters. The new partnership between the Fringe teams of two worlds is still in its infancy, but it is a very intriguing angle.
While John Noble doesn't reprise Walternate this week, his performance as the more addled version of Walter was hilarious and affecting as always. This Walter is an even more tragic figure than before and he can barely function within his lab, much less out of it. His brief resurrection of the bird was a great moment of wonder for any new viewers that wandered in and I loved Walter's inability to call his FBI handler/bodyguard at the end anything other than "darling" or "Timmy."
As for Peter Bishop, Joshua Jackson only appears in brief tantalizing moments. It was a smart decision not to show Peter's first appearance to Walter even though it was obvious what had happened. Otherwise the last image of Peter on Walter's TV screen wouldn't have been as effective. Peter's reappearance also gave the Observer (September) his own subplot as he assembled a machine to eliminate the last traces of him. Who knew that old electronics stores were so dangerous? But September defied his fellow Observers again when he decided not to erase Peter. I think that despite the seemingly emotionless actions of the Observers, September feels affection for Walter and Peter. He saved both of their lives years before and he may end up holding the key to Peter's eventual return.
The one moment I expected in this episode that didn't come was Lincoln's first meeting with his alternate self. But that will likely be a big deal when it finally happens. It was glossed over whether Olivia remembered being partnered with the Lincoln Lee of the alternate world and there weren't any moments when she seemed to have any recognition of seeing him before. Olivia's story about what happened to John Scott in the new timeline is also worth noting. I've long suspected that John Scott is still alive in the alternate world and his return has only been contingent upon Mark Valley's availability. Even though Valley has signed up with "Harry's Law" this season, I wouldn't be shocked if he shows up for an episode this season.
"Fringe" remains the best show on Fox and the fourth season is off to a great start. This series deserves to run for years and years, I just hope more people tune in this season.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.