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Fringe Season 4: 5 Questions About “Neither Here Nor There”

Everything old was new again as Fringe returned to our screens last night with an all-new history following the removal of Peter from the timeline. No wonder that we have five questions about “Neither Here Nor There.”

What Has Changed?
It was never explicitly stated in the episode, but the idea that Peter Bishop has never existed – as stated at the end of the last season – doesn’t necessarily seem to be true; Walter’s comment about some people “dying twice” would suggest that both reality’s Peters did exist, but that Walter wasn’t able to save the Peter that we knew this time around. While Olivia explained that, in the new history, she was the one that checked Walter out of the mental asylum, little else was revealed about what has changed in this rewritten timeline, but things definitely are different: This Walter apparently never leaves the lab if he can help it, sending Astrid out to crime scenes with a camera, and sleeping in the lab, which raises at least one question for longtime viewers: Is he still in charge of Massive Dynamic? That is, of course, if Massive Dynamic still exists…

What Do The Observers Want?
For three seasons, we’ve had hints of the agenda behind the Observers’ actions, but last night’s episode was particularly frustrating on that subject: their official agenda seems to include preserving the new timeline, even if it means eliminating people from ever existing… but how do they know how to do that? And why are they immune to time being rewritten?

Why Does Peter Still Exist?
We saw him flicker in and out of existence once ourselves, and he’s apparently appeared twice to Walter – in a way that, just possibly, could convince Walter that he’s going mad again, given enough time – but… why isn’t Peter gone? There were enough references to “holes” in people’s lives or things being wrong throughout the episode to suggest that time hasn’t been rewritten entirely successfully, so is Peter’s survival part of that, or vice versa? If Peter somehow had the power to fuse realities together, could he somehow be immune to other cosmic laws – and if he is, how long before he forces himself back into full existence?

Where Do The New Shapeshifters Come From?
Given both Fauxlivia’s reaction to being told about the new shapeshifters and rules of basic dramatic tension, it doesn’t seem as if the new shapeshifters that appeared this episode – And am I wrong, or was the shapeshifter identification out of nowhere? Was there any evidence that would give Walter that impression for sure, or are we simply meant to assume that it’s a sign of his own paranoia? – are necessarily from the alternate reality. If they’re not, then are we about to uncover a third reality preparing to go to war with “our” reality? Or has the rewriting of time and fusing of realities had the side effect of creating all manner of new creatures with agendas of their own?

Why Is Lincoln Lee So Important?
This is the third time Lincoln has been introduced in the show; he was the leader of Fringe Division in the alternate reality, and then we met “our” Lincoln for the first time last year – a meeting that, according to the Observers, was rewritten out of existence by Peter’s removal from the timeline. So what to make of the fact that he reappeared this time around? Just as Olivia had a connection to Walter that she wasn’t aware of, initially, is there some link between Lincoln and Fringe Division that no-one knows about yet? Is it coincidence? Is Lincoln just similar enough to Olivia at the start of the show – Her exposition about the way in which she joined Fringe Division in this new version of history underscored that, surely? – that it’s suggested that Fringe Division needs that dynamic (with Olivia as the new Peter) to work?

Overall, it was a strong return for the show, if a frustrating one – I want to know what has changed in time! Is Charlie alive again? Where is Massive Dynamic? But, as Olivia said, sometimes answers just lead to more questions. But then, questions are what we’re all about here…


  • Thespoon2

    walter realized that it was a shapeshifter because remember the old shapeshifters had the disc connected to their spines, well walter pulled out a silimar device from thyis second shapeshifter that looked like it, and the hollw people were stealing mercury from people’s bodies because they needed it.

  • Michael

    The Observers remind me of the Geomancers from VALIANT, who following Unity (an event that changed time) set out to put things right, a task that was covered in issue zero of Rai, which laid out the next 2,000 years of the VALIANT Universe.

  • MrKismet

    I think this episode was a meta-commentary on the DC New 52 reboot and the apparent pointlessness of Flashpoint (apart from the ego-assuaging of Geoff Johns).

  • NewFaithfulFringeFan

    The season opener left me incredibly confused, but I loved it!  Is it me or that shapeshifter who the beat the tar out of Olivia looked kinda of Peter?? 

    I started watching Fringe early last season and I’m so glad that I did.  All of the actors are wonderful and the storylines are perplexing, yet enjoyable and at times touching.

  • nailsin

    The machine still exists yet only Peter (with Olivia) could operate it. At the end of last season Walter now says opening a door between universes was an accident. My guess is that for some reason Walter was unable to save either of the Peters and so buried in his work he “stumbles” into the other universe. This damages the other universe’s cohesion and so the war begins with shapeshifters etc.
    Another thing revealed last season was that Walter built the machine not The First People. I think this new time line is actually the original time line and Walter will send the machine back in time to bring about the time line we all know. How Peter appears is all apart of the nasty business of a paradox. Walter will deliberately attune the machine to Peter so if the machine exists Peter exists.
    The core of Fringe centers around Walter’s meddling. He hinted that all the weird things happen because of him punching a hole between universes disrupted the laws of physics. Perhaps he was only half right. Sending the machine deep into the past is what caused all of our myths and legends of paranormal activity because this act disrupted the laws of physics. So Walter is God but only by accident.
    I think Lincoln Lee will cause a love triangle for Olivia when Peter comes back.
    Charlie is most likely still dead since the shapeshifters still happened were he still alive he’d already be Olivia’s partner.

    Or maybe not.

  • Michael

    It can be considered a commentary on everything DC has done wrong in the last decade.

  • demoncat_4

    when the shape shifter popped up my first thought walter net was up to no good for payback. and the observes must figured that peter some how survived and could undo the new time line and are trying to not let that happen.

  • Squashua

    I’m just watching this episode now, and am at the part at the start where the two observers are talking and one mentions to the other his “intervention” which was his appearance to Walternate which distracted Walternate from recognizing he created Peter’s cure. 

    The older observer hands the intervening, younger observer some sort of tool.  The intervener is apparently out to finish erasing Peter from existence, but to be honest, if he just erases HIMSELF from existence, the timelines should be put right.


  • Squashua

    I love it.

    Walter gets all this cool shit from the other side and what’s the first thing he does?


  • Anonymous

    I think the thing with Lincoln is that he is supposed to be in the Fringe Division but, the existence of Peter kept him from being there somehow. According to the older Observer, Peter was supposed to die. With him out of existence things are happening as they should be happening.

  • Sladewilson

    Which would be really funny since it’s DC that’s putting out the new Fringe comic book…

  • Anonymous

    Considering the ratings the premiere received (yes, up from the horrible season 3 finale, but still) I doubt they’ll give Fringe 22 episodes this season.

  • Michael

    Apparently the Observer, September, was never supposed to save Peter from drowning, so what we see now is the true timeline in the Observer’s eyes, while what we saw in the previous three seasons was the wrong timeline.

  • Sam Robards, Comic Fan

    I don’t know what to think about this. I’ve been a diehard Fringe watcher from the beginning, but I pretty much hate reboots. This also made my wife, who’s listened to me complain about the DC reboot as of late, completely understand why I’m in such a tizzy over it. I think her exact words were, “I hate reboots.”

    To that end, this kinda reeks of what Marvel tried to pull in the 90’s with the Spider-clone affair. “See? We’re not getting rid of Spider-Man, we’re bringing the ‘ORIGINAL’ Spider-Man back!” *BARF*

    Either that, or they just didn’t know how they wanted to end the whole “War of the Multiverse” they have going and just wanted to put it off for another season.

    I’m afraid this reboot, along with the pitiful marketing push this season’s gotten, is going to cause season 4 to be the last for Fringe. And it’s one of my top-five all-time shows, too.

    Still, I’ll keep watching and I’m interested to see where things go from here!

  • 0bsessions

    Where are you hearing that? It was firmly established in “Peter” that September’s mistake was interrupting Walternate, thus interfering with the cure. He was then charged by the elder Observer (December, I think?) with correcting it (Because Peter was very important), which led him to save Peter.

    I believe the mistake in the end was that, while Peter was supposed to live, he wasn’t intended to end up in the primary universe.

  • 0bsessions

    Reboot and plot mechanic are two entirely different things. If this was intended as a full on reboot, I’m reasonably sure they wouldn’t go to the trouble of continuing to employ who is likely the most expensive actor on the show. This is pretty clearly just a step along the road.

  • Sam Robards, Comic Fan

    That’s true.

    One of the things that can kill tv drama is the fact that the entertainment media throws every tidbit of information concerning a show and its actors out the second they hear about it. IE, we know Joshua Jackson isn’t actually going anywhere because he hasn’t said he’s leaving the show/hasn’t been fired, etc.

    Seriously, when they killed the black guy on CSI (I forget his name), it was clearly intended to get his character out of the way so the actor who played him could go to jail on drug charges.

    Going back to Fringe, I hope they don’t linger too long on this new status quo because, as I and at least one other person have noted, I’m not sure how many more episodes Fox is going to give us. You don’t want to rush your story, but if the network pulls the rug out, which isn’t outside the realm of possibility, I don’t want there to be a ton of dangling plotlines.

  • Jacob

    I really doubt that.

  • Jacob

    Which really only established that Joshua Jackson cannot write Walter’s voice for shit.

  • Jacob

    Not right. We don’t know what else September has been involved with, but it’s not unreasonable to assume a good answer to that question would be “A shit load” considering that they’re depicted as being “old as fuck.” Everything he was involved in would be gone.

  • Jacob

    I thought he was making that serum? He got it from Over There?

  • Jacob

    They already ordered the 22 episodes. That would be a dick move if they really pulled the plug mid-season. Also, Fox seems pleased with the 1.5 rating.

  • Jacob

    It’s actually the opposite. Jackson and some of the producers have come out and directly stated that he’s still under contract and has not been let go. They’re keeping him to continue Peter’s role.

  • Anonymous

    Massive Dynamic is still there. Re-watch the scene where Oliva and Lincoln go into the room to meet Fauxlivia. You can see something at the bottom with the Massive Dynamic logo.

    My question is, if Peter no longer existed, where is our character’s explanation as to why there is a meeting place for both universes?

  • Squashua

    He’s an observer.  He’s supposed to observe.  His only interference (his first mistake as far as we’ve been shown) was being present to observe the cure being created and his presence disrupting Walternate.  Sort of a Schrodinger’s Cat problem.  Since then, any direct action he has taken was a result of his observation/presence.

  • Squashua

    He tells us such.  He’s working from notes from the boxes that Olivia is passed from Fauxlivia at the start of the episode.

  • Michael

    Hmmm… if they want him to live, why do they want to erase anyone’s memories of him?

  • Michael

    “Old as fuck”, and now we know that Peter traveled back in time to place the pieces of the machine in the past (this is according to the comic book. Whether that’s canon or not I don’t know. It will have to wait until the show shows the audience who exactly went back in time and to where).

    Anyway, what possible connection could there be between Peter’s quantum leaps through time and the Observers? Could he be their forefather, somehow? If the comic is not canon and what actually happened is that many people went back in time, could the Observers be their descendants, or even be them in evolved forms?

  • 0bsessions

    I’m not sure if you’re a comic book reader, but it makes more sense in context of things like One More Day and every DC Crisis in that it’s a selective alteration of the timeline.

    It’s right there in black and white that the Observers have repeatedly stated that Peter was not supposed to die in 1985 because he was very important. September was not supposed to interrupt Walternate’s experiments and Peter was supposed to live in that timeline.

    I don’t know what rationale they have for why they want Peter erased from the timeline, though I’m sure we will have one in due time. That said, in context of the show, it’s completely false that September was not supposed to save Peter as it’s stated as the complete opposite in “Peter” where the elder Observer chastises September for interfering with the timeline and tells him in short order that it is his responsibility to repair it and make sure that the boy lives. This is further indicated by September’s continued interference in Peter’s life in an effort to keep Peter alive.

    Peter was always destined to get into that machine, that much is made clear by the show. The mystery at this point is why, after that occurred, the machine continues to exist and why Peter’s existance past that event is detrimental to the timeline.

    My best guess is that Peter’s removal from the equation was to remove the “personal” element from Walternate’s motivation. Walternate was always bent on saving his world through any means necessary, but the fact that Walter stole Peter adding a personal vindictiveness. Removing Peter from the equation leaves it at a simpler motivation of saving his world, making it easier for him to work with Walter where before it may have been impossible with that disdain over the kidnapping present. It’s a flimsy rationale, but it’s the best I’ve managed to develop as yet. That said, I’m certain they’ll explain the reason why Peter’s survival was essential previously, while his existance is a bad thing now.

  • 0bsessions

    A smart move if ever there was one. It’ll head off at least a good chunk of the backlash from Peter’s disappearance knowing he’ll be back eventually.

  • Watchman93

    I don’t think Observers can do that, they can kill one another like the one before who wanted to save that one girl from dying in that plane crash.
    Where was I?
    Oh right. I don’t think Observers are affect by the timeline or even can be considered in the timeline since they all stood there looking on both sides of the two universes. They always stand on the outside, they’re unaffected by the timeline because they’re always outside; could that be why they can’t just erase the Interventer…because none of them are actually apart of the timeline in the first place?
    They are there but never in any place at any certain time only if they want to, I think that’s why he can’t be erased, since all Observers aren’t apart of the natural timeline.
    If I’m not making sense can you contact me to tell me I am not making sense. 

  • Michael

    I read comics, yeah, heh.

    I haven’t memorized every episode of Fringe, having seen most of them only once, so any details like the ones you alude to from Peter escaped me when I made the original posts.

  • Shadowpdf

    Trust in the Fringe, young padawan.  All will be explained.  Sort of.  Eventually.

  • bamboohoangdo

    i have no idea why Lincoln’s here! the replacement for Charlie or Peter? it didn’t work at all. i prefer Charlie get back to the team. as for Peter, what if everybody thinks Walter just goes nuts again? as a result, nobody believes what he saw!!

  • 0bsessions

    Lincoln’s there because he was popular. It’s literally that simple. Lincoln was very well received by audiences in the alternate universe, so they decided to bring in Gabel on a full time basis. I don’t see him as ever being any more essential to the core of the show than Astrid or Broyles or any more important than Charlie was. It’s about time they expanded the main cast anyway.

    He’s nobody’s replacement, he’s just a new character. Look at him like Desmond or Ben from Lost, folks that were introduced, had immediate popularity and had their roles expanded as a result.