Fringe Review: "Alone in the World"

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"Alone in the World" was all about Walter and his tentative reconnection with Peter, a son he doesn't know exists. A man that nobody knows exists.

Seeing Walter so fragile was painful. Especially when he was talking to his psychiatrist, so frightened that anything he said would be used against him, sending him back to the mental hospital. It was sad that such a brilliant man was unable to entertain the possibility that he was witnessing an event. Instead, his immediate reaction was the return of his insanity.

Walter and a Child

He was getting more frustrated with the fleeting views (and voice) of Peter and Astrid took the brunt of it, especially when she acted as a go-between with Walter and Broyles in the field, because Walter wouldn't leave the lab. When Broyles asked if he had any ideas from his streaming view of the scene, Walter sarcastically suggested Bigfoot.

The case was about a boy, Aaron, as alone in the universe as Walter, who somehow made a bond with a living organism that also felt an intense loneliness. During the case, Aaron lived with Walter, enabling us to gain insight into Walter's current condition, as well as his memories of Peter.

Our speculation that Walter crossed over in an attempt to save alternate Peter years ago, but failed, was correct. The Observer didn't step in during that timeline, and Peter drowned in the frozen lake. It was good to learn something concrete, ending all speculation as to why the universes were still at odds.

The circumstances of Walter's fear of insanity were so intense that he finally decided to lobotomize himself. Thankfully, Olivia walked in on him and got him to open up about his anxiety. Instead of condemning him, she fished a drawing out of her pocket. She had drawn the man who was haunting her dreams. Peter.

Once Walter realized his hallucinations weren't singular, he stressed their need to find the person they are seeing, for he must be real. If a child can form a bond with a simple organism, then they cannot deny the bond they must have to this man they are both envisioning. It was a moment that will hopefully lead us to the meat of the season, finding Peter Bishop!

Other thoughts:

  • Once Walter realized the organism was a brain with neurons and synapses, he decided to name it: Gus.
  • Olivia telling Walter he was out of time to save Aaron was like telling him he had to watch his son die all over again.
  • The gross out factor during autopsies is all the rage these days. There is always a medical examiner eating his lunch in front of a mutilated body.
  • After Lincoln's near death experience, his light banter with Olivia demonstrated their burgeoning friendship. I like that there are things going on behind the scenes that we are not privy to as of yet.

While it wasn't a heart pounding episode, it was heart wrenching as the depth of Walter's fear was presented. It was just what we needed to move to the next step. Olivia's revelation knocked the angst out of Walter and should give him the determination he needs to discover who is invading their lives. I, for one, cannot wait to see what happens next!


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (98 Votes)

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


I guess it's a tribute to how real this series sometimes feels that we wonder what's going on "behind the scenes". Since it exists only on the screen, there technically really isn't anything going on behind the scenes. Just sayin'.


i want history to rewrite itself! not for peter to return and have nobody know him; have him in love with olivia and she's never met him! that's just depressing. maybe when he comes back they're memories will become in tact or something


In the season premiere, Olivia mentioned that Walter was let out under her care as an FBI agent. I'm sure there were some restrictions, thus the doctor checking on him. Peter never lived to adulthood, but was a child. Walter still kidnapped Peter from the other side, but he died in the process. And good call @invasion18! I didn't even connect Olivia running the facial recognition program at the beginning. Love this collaborative effort to get at the truth!

Uncle jackass

@kyukayu, it appears that the Doctor Sumner (played by the enigmatic William Sadler) was the psychiatrist that allowed Dr Bishop out-of ward. In Season 1, episode 8, "The Equation," Dr Sumner acts as the opposing force that re-incarcerates Dr Bishop and hence eventually allows him to solve the case from within. In this M-Universe, it appears that he is on temporary loan from the ward on the supervision of Dr. Sumner provided that he is on medication and care. @Elizabeth Marie, I might have mentioned previously that the "Peter" up to a certain point in the time-lines, that "they" knew, never existed and died in both Universes. Hence, Dr Bishop does not recognise an adult Peter Bishop. Waltergate still blames Walter for "stealing" he's Peter in the alternate universe as well. Both @Richard and @Brent explain it succintly.


Wow! now that i think of it, thats why Olivia is busy running the facial recognition before lincoln interrupted her in the beginning of this episode.She saw Peter in her dreams.. John Noble is awesome as Walter as always but he really shines this episode, portraying Walter's weak and fearful side. I can't help but pity him in this episode. Think its about time for Peter to come back..A love triangle between olivia, lincoln and peter would be awesome XD


Wow!! that was better than I expected,I was getting a little worried about how this whole thing would develop,why did I doubt the writers for a second there? Amazing episode,interesting that Olivia was dreaming about Peter. The writing (cheers to David Fury),and well..John Noble is just too good for the Emmys.


If Peter never exists, how could Walter get out of the mental hospital.
Is there anyone who can give me a retional explanation for this?


As usual, reading your reviews just makes me hunger for more fringe..........keeps me going until I can
see another next week. Your thoughts and insight into all that goes on with Olivia, Walter, etc., really
hits the nail on the head for me. My heart aches for poor desparate did he feel to try to lobotomize himself............There is nothing better than re-visiting the show over and over again, except maybe revisiting it once again with Peter in the picture......Hopefully that will occur within the next week or two.......can't keep us waiting for very long...............anticipation!!!!!

Kitanishi h mcdonald

This as such a sad episode. Walter is even more devastated than pre-machine-usage :( Hopefully they manage to get Peter back now that both Olivia and Walter know they are not insane.


That was so sad. Loved that Lincoln immediately started referring to it as Gus. Loved the interplay between Lincoln and Olivia-Lincoln "I'm fine", Olivia "Well let me know if you freak out", Lincoln (attacked by Gus)"I'm freaking out, can we talk?".

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Fringe Season 4 Episode 3 Quotes

Walter, I'm scared. I want to come home. Do you hear me? Walter.


Remarkably pungent stench.