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Fringe Season 4: 5 Questions About ‘Novation’

Peter may be back, but that doesn’t mean that Fringe is back to normal. As this week’s episode showed, Peter’s “return” to a timeline that he doesn’t belong in was one more mystery to be solved for Walter, Olivia and Lincoln … and the rest of us. Here are five questions about “Novation.”

Was Peter Supposed To Have Died?
When Peter first talked to Walter, he said something really odd; that he was meant to have died after crossing between parallel Earths that first time. Maybe it’s just me, but that was the first time that possibility had even occurred to me – that the Observers had, essentially, screwed up the timeline and were just fixing things after the full scope of the accident had played out. But if that’s true, then how and why did Peter survive again – and is that question the one that’s going to end up being at the heart of the show’s mythology? Why can’t Peter stay dead?

(As an aside, I loved that Walter pretty much believed Peter straight off, even if he felt that he didn’t deserve such a miracle as his son returning from the dead for a third chance at life. There was something there – Some sense of closeness, perhaps – that I really appreciated, and wished from Olivia, as well.)

Why Did Nina Pull Strings To Get Olivia And Her Sister?
It’s the question Lincoln was going to ask before Nina interrupted, but why made Nina Sharp step in to take care of Olivia and her sister after the death of her mother? Guilt over what William Bell and Walter Bishop had done to her, or something else? Remember, this Olivia doesn’t seem to know that she has the ability to crossover between the Earths if we’re to believe what she told the other Cortexephan subject a few weeks ago, so is it possible that Nina Sharp knows more about Olivia than Olivia does? And while I’m at it…

What Happened To William Bell?
So, Bell is believed dead, judging by the “I wish William Bell was alive…” line. Of course, that was true in the original timeline, but he’d simply crossed over to the other Earth. With everything else that’s different in this timeline, is that still the case, or is he actually dead? Or hiding somewhere on this Earth? We may never find out, of course, unless Leonard Nimoy comes out of retirement for one more guest-shot on the show. But this whole train of thought leads me to wonder…

Who Created The Shapeshifters?
Are these “our” Earth’s shapeshifters? It’s assumed that these shapeshifters are from the other Earth as before, but we already know that these are a different breed, and if we’re to believe what the shifter said last night, one that’s based on technology developed by Massive Dynamic on our Earth (She says it twice, one time even after she’s revealed that she’s not necessarily who she’d originally claimed to be, which makes me think she’s telling the truth). Also, notice the lack of mirror involved in the typewriter communication this time around, which may be a clue. Given that we know that Massive Dynamic seems to have no problem selling off its technology to the highest bidder, no questions asked, in this timeline, it’s not impossible that the other Earth has absolutely nothing to do with these new shapeshifters at all…

What Was Going On With The Duplicate Orders Being Delivered?
This seemed to be answered by the teaser for next week’s episode, but even that only added another important question to be answered, and sooner rather than later: Has Peter’s return broken the natural order of things, and is about to cause a breakdown of reality even faster than the crossing over of the two Earths was managing? And if so, does that suggest that the Observers could possibly be some kind of entity that protects the natural order of things – First, by allowing the Peter anomaly to fuse the two Earths together and arrest both decaying even further, and then by removing the anomaly before it became even more dangerous that the problem it had solved?


  • Anonymous

    Fringe has turned  into such utter crap it’s not even funny. The first half of season 3 was really really good, and then they realized they didn’t have enough gods damned money to tie up all the plot threads they introduced so they just shat out garbage standalone episodes and meaningless explanations in the second half of season 3.

    Fringe could have been great. Now I don’t even watch it cause you know they don’t have a well written ending for this series. Abandon ship now so you won’t be so disappointed by the pathetic ending.

  • aPo

    What show have you been watching. Fringe has been amazing and easily one of the best shows on tv. The storylines has been very interesting and the acting on the show has been great. Sucks that fringe has been snubbed by the emmys each yr

  • Anonymous

    I think that the Observers certainly believe that Peter shouldn’t have survived and that he had to clean up the mess his existence created in his universe in order before the Observers could put the world back to what it should have been if that one Observer had not interfered.  The Observers certainly believe that by eliminating adult Peter from existence they are making right what once went wrong.  But Peter’s continued existence proves that the Observers are wrong in this case – and perhaps they are fundamentally wrong about their own purpose.

    Overall, Fringe has continued to be written very well this season, but the plot developments have necessitated that the whole show have a very different mood than it did last season; I assume that with Peter back, we’ll slowly see the mood change back to where it was at the end of last season.

  • Sverbridge

    I think we have multiple universes going on here.  The shape shifters are from this 3rd as of yet undiscovered universe and the other 2 earths are going to have to combine to fight this new front/evil.  The overall tying force for all the universes to meet at one point is Peter.

  • Brannahdel

    What show have you been watching? It has been given us answers without the loooong delays that Lost had (for example) and it has been throwing curve balls that actually keep your interest. It NEEDS to have standalone episodes. It is the nature of these type of shows. But the stories have been getting a lot more convoluted which actually forces you to think and that is what I really enjoy about this show.

    Also the biggest surprise at the end of season 3, which is what’s fueling season 4 is something that has never been done before as far as I can tell, in any other series. And, it makes sense! Peter was not supposed to have lived. He was saved by an observer, and by doing that, said observer screwed the order of things creating said paradox. The question is now, how do you fix that paradox? Find a way to travel in time to fix things, therefore, truly erasing the paradox (which didn’t work) or try to fix the future with the use of said paradox. Olivia was the wildcard in most of the first 3 seasons. Now, its Peter, and personally, am loving this twists.

  • demoncat_4

    from the looks of things the observers are finding out that peter is important and refuses to die so they are trying to cover their tracks. walter still feeling guility over taking peter from the alt earth refuses to let him self have any more happiness with his family. the shape shifters odds are nia and massive dynamics know the secrets or are involved. and would love Nimoy to come back as bell but not going to happen

  • kalorama

    This show has never been better. It’s become pretty common for genre shows to do a status quo change-up after a couple of seasons, but this is the most effective one I’ve seen so far. Olivia is a much more interesting character post-merger than she was before and Lincoln makes a nice foil for her. This is the best the show’s been in its entire run.

  • Matthew Lane

    Hahahahahaha, no. This season is dreadful.

  • 0bsessions

    Excellent retort, very well present argument.

  • 0bsessions

    In regards to Walter believing Peter straight off, that was quite clearly covered in episode. He could see it in his eyes.

    As for Bell, you’ve got some misinformation up there. Bell wasn’t believed dead until season two’s finale when we saw him “die” on screen. Considering your mention of him actually being on the alternate earth, I have to assume you’re referring to the first two seasons. In the first two seasons, he was never presumed dead, Nina just constantly said he was currently unreachable for various reasons. It was very heavily hinted from early on (Earlier even than midway through season one) that he was in the alternate universe.

  • Matthew Lane

    Was a more complex argument really necassary?

  • 0bsessions

    …yes? What kind of idiotic question is that?

    Your opinion is garbage. Why? Because I said so, and I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d just take that at face value.

  • Matthew Lane

    yeah, but i’m pretty sure i’m not in my 4th season. LOL

  • Bob

    The answer is that Peter should have LIVED in both universes. That’s why he’s still here. The universe is self-correcting the incorrect decision by The Watchers…

  • Paul Penna

    Peter should’ve lived in the universe over there, and he needed to survive to create the bridge between the universes.

    However, because the Observers screwed up he lived over here where he was supposed to be dead which has caused all kinds of things to happen on our side which weren’t supposed to. His death should essentially set our universe back on track.

    Also, I think the reason for Nina’s relationship with Olivia is because in the original timeline she had a similar relationship to Peter – and now Olivia is filling that gap.

    In this episode we saw a picture of Olivia with horses, in Season 1 Nina asks Peter if he remembers that she used to take him riding.

    Without Peter in her life, she had room to look after Olivia instead.

  • ds

    The last season was awful and theyve gone down the terrible comic-book/Heroes route of building a ridiculously complex back story now. The show is doomed. It’s ratings are what? A third, maybe even a quarter of what they started out as? Those sort of numbers don’t lie.

    The fact that the author of this blogpiece can ask something as stupid as “was peter Supposed to have died?” — well, duh, yes, that’s what they’ve been telling us for 5 episodes now and tbh I thought it was made pretty clear in, what, season 2?? Maybe it was the first half of last season. Anyway, the point is, it jumped the shark a long time ago (the animated episode was the lowpoint for me. Maybe if the animation was any good…). It’s dead. Let it die. Goodbye Fringe.

  • Shadowpdf

    Answers:  There’s a third and fourth timeline.  We’re seeing events in the 3rd timeline, a timeline/universe where the Observers did not rescue Peter.  And we’re getting hints about a 4th universe in the upgraded shapeshifters and the phantom appearance previewed for next week (which are really just elements of the 4th universe intruding on the 3rd thanks to Peter having been expelled from his own universe).  Peter has asked Walter for help.  The help he needs is getting back to his timeline.

  • shamont


  • Shaun

    I don’t understand the naysayers… After a really dicey second half to the last season (Belliva and the “soul magnets”? Ugh.), Fringe got back on track at the end of the season and they’ve been delivering solid episodes week after week this season.

    Has it been something of a “slow burn”? Sure. But the characters remain great, and there have been plenty of subtle hints that something big is about to happen, and happen soon.

    I think next week is when things will really kick into overdrive (I’m hearing great things on other sites, where critcs have gotten their screeners already), so don’t give up on the show yet. Fringe is the best thing on TV right now, and it’s a shame that more people aren’t picking up on that.

  • 0bsessions

    I had operated under a similar thought process briefly, though my thought was that the shapeshifters actually came from the original universe.

    That said, this theory holds no water considering the Observers all but confirmed this is the universe we know in their remarks about Peter being erased from the timeline and its inhabitants’ memories in the season three finale and season four premiere.