I take the titles of Fringe episodes seriously.
It seems that everything done on the show is a clue or hint at what to expect down the line. I didn't know the meaning of "Novation", so I looked it up. The substitution of a new obligation for an old one.
Walter feels his mistakes of the past have come back to haunt him and to test whether he will repeat them. Will he accept this man as his son, as he took Walternate's son in the past?
It turns out earlier theories that the technology for the new shape shifters came from Walternate were incorrect. It was a brilliant man in our universe (Malcolm Truss, played by Arye Gross) who created the formula that had people changing right before our eyes. He even did it for a good cause, to try to help burn victims and others who had lost skin repair their own.
The project was highly classified (aren't they all?) and cancelled due to the whim of William Bell and his concern that they were playing God. Some time after that Walternate must have gotten his grimy paws on it, because they've definitely been trying to perfect it ever since.
All sorts of people got caught up in the mystery this week, including Malcolm's ex wife and new husband. I was totally confused how they fit into the equation until the shifter changed into her in front of Malcolm. I wonder if he'll be a recurring character, since he has the most knowledge about this new group of shifters that are going to invade our universe.
If Peter is right, that that they can change to people on a molecular level, a total DNA exchange, they will be quite the force to recon with. But why was it so important to create that when there are already doubles of everyone on the other side? Couldn't they just send an army of regular humans and infiltrate like Fauxlivia did with Olivia?
Where are our alternate friends, anyway?
The alternate universe barely made an impact on this episode, other than through a new typewriter to communicate with the shifter. I really miss Fauxlivia, Charlie and Alt-Lincoln. I was hoping the cooperation between the worlds would be more heavily utilized than we've seen so far.
What's the deal with this "Peter Bishop?"
Walter absolutely cannot wrap his head around the enigma that is Peter Bishop. He's using what appears to be the Michael Jackson method of sleep therapy so he can get that man out of his head, if even for a minute. I love how curmudgeonly Walter is in this new timeline. The things that come out of his mouth are just as funny, but a tad more harsh, than the man we've come to love.
Nina notices that despite his insistence Peter cannot be his son, he was busying himself cooking Peter's favorite dessert. Finally, a wonderful scene between Walter and Nina. His anguish at seeing the eyes of his dead young son in the eyes of an adult terrifies him and yet pulls him, as well. With the many wrongs he has caused, he thinks the return of Peter is the ultimate punishment for his wrong doing.
Nina sees it a different way. As a second chance. Or, in Walter's case, a third. He lost two sons already. Should he really so readily dismiss that this man isn't his son and turn from him when he is desperately seeking his help? Nina doesn't think so, and by the end, you feel that Walter will eventually find his way to Peter.
Other interesting tidbits:
- Thank you, Lincoln, for being nosy about the relationship between Olivia and Nina! Getting these answers to prevailing third timeline questions makes me giddy. It makes sense why this Olivia is lighter than our Olivia. She spent time in a loving home.
- Olivia took the chance and asked Lincoln to go for a bite to eat. It seems this man isn't as smitten with her charms as Alt-Lincoln is with Fauxlivia's. He's also still living in a hotel. Isn't it time to find a permanent residence? At least we viewers need not worry any longer that we will be subjected to a love triangle with Olivia, Lincoln and Peter.
- Olivia is questioning her "history" with Peter by wondering why he would appear to her in her dreams. It makes sense for Walter to see the man Peter might have become, but she has no idea why he was visiting her.
- Did you notice the shape shifter climbing and running on the walls like freaking Spiderman? What was that? It makes you wonder what they've been doing to them on the other side, because I find it hard to believe that Truss would have coded that little skill into his experimentation.
- I don't know if you're aware, but in reality, stem cell research has come up with a spray on skin that repairs bad burns in mere days. The fringe sciences are finally taking hold.
- Did you recognize the Fringe offices? They were exactly like the ones in the alternate universe. We still need to learn how the fringe division became so honored in this new timeline.
Only two more episodes to go before a two month hiatus. How can they torture us so? What did you think of "Novation" and what do you hope to see in the next two episodes of Fringe?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.