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Fringe Season Premiere Review: Olivia vs. Olivia

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After a one-week Fringe marathon, the anticipation of the fourth season premiere was eating me alive. "Neither Here Nor There" certainly lived up to its name, but was it a worthy successor to the disappearance of Peter Bishop?

Lincoln and Olivia

Starting the episode with a confrontation between the Olivias was like a dream come true. How I have waited for the characters to spend serious screen time together! Anna Torv was awe inspiring as always, playing each Olivia with just the right amount of disdain for the other. With the changes in Fauxlivia at the end of season 3, I wonder how it would have played out if they had remembered Peter. Would the reception have been softer, or just as icy?

The introduction of my favorite Stargate alum, Joe Flanigan, as Lincoln Lee's partner Robert Danzig was a fleeting tease of the worst kind. They gave just the briefest hint of how incredible it would be to have him on the show. And then they erased him. It was the first time I had fallen so quickly for a guest character on the series and been so let down by their loss.

My new hope for the season is that we will find him on the other side! The producers made it pretty clear that within the boundaries of our Fringe universe deaths weren't always permanent, right? I know other Flanigan fans had to be as piqued as I was. Shall we start a campaign?  

At the very least, the introduction and death of Robert Danzig brought to us our Lincoln Lee as a member of the Fringe team. His assimilation with the unit felt natural, especially Olivia's hesitation at bringing him on board and then astonishment that he got to work before her. After what appeared to be years of working cases alone, she found in Lincoln a worthy partner.

The haunting references to Peter's absence were worked compellingly into the script. Outside of flickering images and Walter seeing him in the mirror, there was so much pain buried within each implication. It was there in Olivia's observation that Walter had nothing to tether him to the world, that he remained a bit on the outside because he was missing a bond to society. Walter followed that up with an allusion of his own; how much he hated that two people who were meant to be together could be torn apart.

It was just weird to see everyone we love walking around with gaping holes inside of their souls. Olivia was distant and cold, Fauxlivia was without the light she gained from having Peter's baby, and Walter, without his loving son, lived in the lab, not even assimilating enough to have a home. The loss of Peter truly ripped the hearts out of our beloved characters.

A Frightened Walter

Amazingly, even the Observers, usually so grave and composed, were unlike themselves. It was my mother who pointed out the Observers' look of childhood innocence. They appeared to have a sort of wonderment at everything, and the main Observer was genuinely perplexed at Peter's refusal to be so easily erased.

It was as if Peter and the Bishops proved to be completely beyond the Observers' control. The Bishops' love and innocence, the choices they made in spite of the possible repercussions were never expected. 

I assume as we move through the season, the Observers will either be out foxed by Peter and his fierce desire to return to our worlds, or they will have to readjust their own reality to allow him to come through. I just hope Walter isn't driven to the breaking point and that our Olivias find a happy place of their own before Peter returns  - because when it comes out that Peter has a baby, there is no telling what it will bring out in them.

So, yes, seeing our characters fight the love and memory of a man who has been erased from their lives does live up to the disappearance of Peter himself. I'm looking forward to seeing how his return continues and particularly how his determined spirit will affect everyone as he struggles to return.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
  • 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (143 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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I was kind of disapointed by this episode... I had the feeling the show did not really know what to do with itself now that they had erased Peter. Felt like a repetition of things that happened earlier already.

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When it comes to this show, I want to feel discomfitted, uneasy. Especially in regards to the core relationships. So while I miss Peter's presence, I am fascinated by the toll his absence has taken on those left behind. The introduction of Joe Flannigan - and nearly instantaneous loss - leaves me convinced of his eventual return (Think Checkov's "If there's a gun on the mantle in Act One it will be fired in Act III"). Opening with a tense scene between Olivias was just the kind of jarring I was hoping for. Things are NOT okay in either universe, and Lincoln Lee's use as a both a character we know already and as a 'viewpoint' novice to bring the newbies up to speed were excellent choices. Fringe is a show that consistently exceeds expectations and manages to keep me happy (This side's Astrid and Walter - Aster? is my very favorite relationship, I admit it freely) while always raising the storytelling stakes.

Sp mckenna

Great review Carissa! Is it me, or does anyone feel like The Observers are very similar to the members of The Adjustment Bureau? (i.e. making sure things stay on the "right" path.)

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Not to be too treacly but I found the Observers inability to comprehend the importance of love and connection a very important theme. The reliance both worlds have on technology unchecked without human compassion has consequences. This combined world is supposed to feel awkward...and it does. Very much looking forward to this season's exploration. It's so great to have these characters back on my television, especially Lincoln Lee.

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i want peter to come back! olivia is so cold, and walter so sad. and i'm pretty sure fauxlivia didn't have a baby. i hope they don't drag out the peter returns story too long...what if it gets cancelled before another season?!

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So... are they remembering Peter or not? I'm not sure if I'm geting it... Because Walter refers to Peter as a man he sees, but Olivia mentioned that she knows how it feels like to lose someone (the second time, not the first time, she was talking about John). And she didn't remeber Lincoln, why?

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You are right about Joe. His character was instantly likeable. Robert
Danzig provided the powerful reason for Lincoln to join the Fringe team.
Alternate Robert Danzig should not be far behind or alternate Lincoln Lee.

Enaya

I don't know if I like this episode. It just felt so wrong, not like Fringe. I know it's what the scenarists wanted, but err, I don't like the idea of a whole new world, without Peter. I just want the good old Fringe I like...
But it was nice to see Lincoln, I really like the character.

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Nick, I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking this.

Nick m

Is it wrong that I don't really miss Peter too much with prime Lincoln around?

Fringe Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

You know they did a study on sarcastic people, and they get more illnesses than other people. Something to do with negative energy.

Robert Danzig

Fauxlivia: You know, being you and living your life, only me more homesick for my universe.It must be hard to develop trust in people when all you've got is yourself. It must be terribly lonely.
Olivia: Just because you have walked in my shoes, don't you think for a moment that you know me.
Fauxlivia: Yeah, keep telling yourself that.