And a Cathode-Ray Tube Please: S on Fringe’s Season 4 Premiere “Neither Here Nor There”

Lincoln Lee and Olivia Dunham Neither Here Nor There

What struck me most about “Neither Here Nor There” was how seamlessly the show slipped back into the everyday without Peter. This is not to say that his absence didn’t leave a mark, because it did. Interestingly, the absence of Peter left subtle changes in the world due to his lack of influence on those around him. It was the choices to handle the absence with subtlety rather than having his disappearance leave a profound change in the worlds that I found most compelling.

It was the details in which our world was different without Peter. Walter is more fragile, as Olivia says; he has nothing to really tether him to the world. He is scared to leave the lab and far less adjusted than the Walter who had Peter to guide him. Which leads to Astrid, she now plays a larger role in the field liaising between on site investigation and Walter back in the lab. Astrid’s role here is less of a babysitter and more of an agent and lab assistant.

Astrid Neither Here Nor There HeaderOlivia has formed a closer bond with Walter, probably something that was initially developed out of necessity to reach Walter when she first got him released. Olivia with Peter still had a bond with Walter but this is slightly different. When Walter is scared and jumps out of the isolation tank it is Olivia who is able to calm him down, the role that Peter would have played did he exist. Olivia is still cool and guarded, but she’s searching from answers. She also lets Lincoln Lee is rather easily, she sees something in him, relates. She seems to know that he can help her.

Everyone seems a bit off, our Fringe team, Altlivia, and even the Observers seem out of sorts. The absence of Peter is that abstract thing that is missing yet is indefinable for all these people.

Peter’s disappearance obviously has caused some more major ripples (or unripples?) in the timeline, obviously Walter is more unhinged due to the lack of familial bond, and Olivia and Altlivia never had their relationships with more. More complicated is I’m assuming that Altlivia never had baby Bishop. I don’t want to headache too far into the messed up time-stream but there is certainly going to be some explaining to do on the part of the writers.

Of course there were other bits of this episode that were of importance, most notably the ever increasing role of The Observers attempting to fix the mess they made when they allowed events to stray off course, allowing Peter to survive.

It’s the mystery of the Observers and the organization and rules that they operate within that I’m finding more intriguing than the straightforward question that we’ve been relentlessly teased with for months; “Where is Peter Bishop?”  The real question “What does a cathode-ray tube have to do with it?”

The introduction of Lincoln Lee as a full time character is also a big shift for the Fringe team. While everyone with the exception of Walter was new to the concept of Fringe Division at the beginning of the show, Lincoln Lee plays the closest parallel to Olivia. He is an agent who lost his partner in a freak occurrence and is relentless in his search for answers. I can only assume it’s that similarity in situation and determination that allows Olivia to trust him so quickly.

I’m going to be upfront, I’ve been a huge Lincoln Lee fan since he appeared “over there”.  I’m so thrilled that Seth Gabel is joining the regular cast and will be part of the core Fringe Team and not only because is kind of a mega cutie. Lee is our fresh eyes into the fourth season of wacky and weird Fringe; he can call attention to things that we now take for granted having lived in this world for three full seasons. When the bodies of the victims are kept secret he is the one to point out how really strange, secret and really separated from the world that Fringe really is. Already he is a breath of fresh air into the team.

We didn’t see much of the team from the other side outside of the meeting with Altlivia. They were discussed regularly by the team and a week into working with them there is still a serious lack of trust between the two teams. Walter hates Walternate because he knows him better than anyone else, this line is particularly significant when taking into account the inner turmoil expressed by both Walters last season over the extremely difficult decisions they had made, and continue to face.

The case of the week plays into this complicated relationship between the two sides. They are chasing a man (and it turns out to be more than one assailant) who is killing people and draining them of the excess heavy metals in their body. Sound familiar to you?  Well it does to the Fringe team too. They discover that this is a new type of shifter running around, and since the former mercury based shifters reported to Walternate they have reason to believe the same of this newer model.

The new shifters not only provided a weird case for the Fringe crew to investigate but it feeds directly into what I’m assuming will be a major point coming up in this season. How will the two sides work together? There is already lack of trust between two teams who are meant to work together, but now there is presumed evidence of machinations at least on the part of the “over there” team.

Peter’s sacrifice may have bridged the two worlds but he didn’t bring them together. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the two teams work together and against each other.

Another question this season will face (and presumably soon) will be how to reinsert Peter Bishop into the world. He was supposed to be erased by the Observers using a contraption that included a cathode-ray tube (something I particularly enjoyed for the fact in comes straight out of an old television set, a wink to the audience anyone?) I wonder how he will be able to return in a way that feels not only justifiable to the audience in terms of story, but also satisfying for the mystery we’ve been kept in. Lastly, if he returns but the world remains as it is now (as of this episode), where does he fit in? All issues we’ll be facing as the season goes on.

One last thing to leave you with – how absolutely marvelous the skies looked in the room where the worlds collide. Something about the dark skies, the zeppelins and Lincoln Lee’s utter amazement were just perfect.

How did you feel about episode one without Peter, did you like Olivia feel a gaping hole in your life? How do you think he’ll be brought back into the story?

Let me know in the comments what you are most looking forward to in Season 4.

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