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Fringe Season 4: 5 Questions About “And Those We’ve Left Behind”

As the song goes, time kept on slipping in last night’s episode of Fringe. What was behind it? That would be telling… but even that wouldn’t answer all of our five questions about “And Those We’ve Left Behind.”

Is Time Malleable?
Something that stood out to me about Raymond’s time bubble, especially considering the way this episode ended: He kept going back and changing the past, and yet the future was never impacted. Sure, during the periods where he’d be running the time bubble, there would be effects elsewhere, but they’d disappear as soon as the time bubble shut down. But he actively changed Kate’s history, and yet nothing changed beyond the notebook being scrubbed in the present. I can’t work out if this is just lazy writing or something else; considering the amount of time travel and, more importantly, time being rewritten that we’ve seen in the series so far, if it is lazy writing, it seems to have come out of nowhere. So is it a clue to something we don’t understand yet?

Were Kate and Raymond Analogous to Peter and Walter?
Raymond abused science and messed with forces that he didn’t understand to save the person he loved, with disastrous consequences; as we know from the last season of the show, that’s exactly what happened to the Walter who crossed universes to save (a) Peter. Sometimes, Fringe seems like the most pessimistic show on television. But it’s interesting to revisit the idea of the scientist who’ll do anything for love – Sorry, Meatloaf – at a time when Walter would rather shut out Peter altogether (“The Subject”? Even worse, “it”?) than engage emotionally. Are we supposed to take it that “good” scientists ignore their emotions for the good of the world, this time around? If so, see what I said about the show seeming like the most pessimistic show on television.

Why Did Peter Appear To Olivia and Walter?
The discovery that Peter didn’t remember appearing to Walter or Olivia before his return was surprising, and just brings up all manner of questions: Was that the same Peter (Is there another Peter?), and if so, why can’t he remember doing that? Or does he remember, and he’s lying for some reason? What if it’s a future Peter, trying to stop himself from coming back? And so on… But, talking about revelations that came out of nowhere…

Is Peter Trapped In Another Parallel Earth?
“Maybe it’s not time that needs to be reset. Maybe it’s me.” The sudden, surprising suggestion that it’s “our” Peter, but that he’s on another parallel Earth is a massive one for the mythology of the show. It’s not that the idea of infinite parallel Earths hasn’t been raised before, but if this is the case, then it suggests that everything we’ve been watching all season has been like the “Over There” episodes last season… Something that “counts,” but isn’t necessarily the same show as the one we normally watch. Suddenly, I become suspicious of the opening titles, and the way that they’ve been amber since the season started. Last time they changed color, it was to suggest that we weren’t in “our” world, but another one altogether. Have we been getting clues all along about this? And if this is a parallel Earth, will we ever see the one that the show started on ever again?

Was That The Worst Product Placement We’ve Seen Yet On Fringe?
Fringe has had some terribly obvious product placement in the past – Wasn’t there an awkward scene where Olivia and Peter talked about how great their car was, once, or am I imagining that? – but Lincoln’s “You need to see this, oh please let me show off how great Sprint’s video phone is” moment was… weirdly patronizing, really, and something that stood out like a sore thumb during what should’ve been a much more exciting moment. It was, in its way, a perfect summation of this entire episode; something that should’ve been better, but, somehow, just wasn’t. Or am I the only one who was disappointed with what we saw last night?


  • TF_Loki

    Yeah, Amber means it’s not the Blue world from before. It’s different. Did you miss how the history wasn’t the same?

  • Matt Swanson

    I think the machine created a third separate universe that balances the two by creating a blended version.  Also just looking at the picture up top here, did anyone else notice all the agents where their badges sideways in this world? Is that a sign?

  • Anonymous

    What about the “four years ago” time slip? A reference to the fact that this is the fourth year of Fringe? I seriously expected something big to happen ever since I heard “four years”, for example, having Peter see the first meeting between Olivia and Walter in a time jump.

  • William Schmidt

    The product placement was even more obvious to me because locally there was a Sprint commercial right after Lincoln’s use of his Sprint phone.

  • Anonymous

    I, for one, loved this episode, and anything that reminds me of season two’s ‘White Tulip’ is a good thing.  After this episode, I’m leaning towards the theory that we’re in a third alternate reality (which is kinda what I had hoped would happen after Peter engaged the machine).  The emphasis on both Peter’s realisation (“Maybe it’s me.”) and Olivia’s line at the end (“I hope that you get back to her.”) seem too obvious to not mean anything.  It feels like heavy implication that not only is Peter away from the Blue Universe, but that the show is going to start focusing on him trying to get home.

    Bullshit product-placement and inevitable time-travel-consequence holes aside (which I will give leeway for), the writing on this show for the last two and a half years has been impeccable and nothing suggests that it’s changed so far.

  • Jacob

    His question isn’t whether things are different, clearly they are. It’s whether or not this is the same universe as the Blue one, but with Peter erased from it, and not a separate universe altogether (like the Red universe).

  • Snuffpuppy

    Was i the only one that found it strange that Walters old house, empty since he was taken to the asylum has circa 90’s furnishings when he was last living in it, but a modern flat screen TV.

  • Eightiesologist

    Product placements are annoying and almost always corny (particularly the automobile money shots). But i’ve gotten to the point where i find it a necessary evil in a world where i never see a commercial because i DVR and yet want my low-rated television show to stay on the air. These things aren’t free.

  • Jim

    I wonder if the fact this new Universe’s color is amber means it’s a universe that is stuck.

  • Anonymous

    I loved this episode. Peter and Walter break my heart ….and i hope that eventually we see them back togther again. This relationship is beautifully crafted and developed by Josh and John.
    As for the product placement …i for one dont mind it at all ……it keeps our show on the air. I am eternally grateful to each and every sponsor who advertises during the show and for those who offer their products to place on the show.
    I want Fringe to be around for a lot longer. So lets get behind the sponsors and advertisers. We need them.

  • demoncat_4

    from the looks of things and the way peter does not remember certain events like appearing to walter and oliva. odds are peter might be trapped in another alternate earth formed from the machine merging the two earths  plus the product placement shows even fringed  is willing to sell out to any one or those willing to make a deal with fox.

  • Randomlychelle

    I noticed that as well the flat screen really stuck out to me lol

  • Rylock79

    They can put whatever ads they want in the show, as long as it stays on the air.

  • Xaos

    One more indication that this might be a third, newly created and/or previously unseen universe: the season opener was titled “Neither Here Nor There”

  • Dave Morris

    I guess I can live with the product placement (sigh) if it helps to bring us this great show…

  • Shawn

    I think time was only changed and affected within the bubble/sphere of his house. Nothing outside it was affected or changed as a result of his changing the past. The other stuff were time slips and displacements as a result of this but the past wasn’t altered outside the sphere. I thought.

  • Tulissima

    For me, the most present question is: if this is a third alternate universe, why would Walter and Olivia have glimpses of our Peter? Even for Fringe, that doesn’t make sense. Theories?

  • Shaun

    Graeme, you obviously haven’t been paying close attention in past seasons… Sprint phone placement happened A LOT last season, and through all three seasons there were obvious Ford auto placements (it appears Nissan is the new car sponsor this season, though less blatant than the Ford shots in years past), and everytime a laptop is used either a Dell or Apple logo is seen.

    Given the show’s challenges in the rating (live ratings, at least, which is all that most outdated networks seem to care about) anything that helps keep the show financially viable is fine with me.

  • Shaun

    This was a wonderful episode… I think the whole season’s been great, but this one was a standout. Not sure what you were so disappointed about, Graeme.

    Some people think the show is moving too slowly, or that this timeline/other universe isn’t important and want our familiar “red” and “blue” worlds back, but I think this is heading somewhere intriguing and we just have to stay patient a bit longer. Especially true since next Friday’s Fringe is the last one until January 13.

    Of course, if this ends up being the final season there’s not much time left to wrap things up, so there is that concern. I would hope FOX would give the showrunners ample warning/time to resolve things satifactorily. Either that, or WB (which produces Fringe), should move it to the CW and pair with Supernatural on Fridays next season. CW’s ratings expectations are lower, and it could be win-win for both shows.

  • Shaun

    No theory, just a suggestion to “stay tuned” and see what it means… Given that the visions/dreams of Peter have been a plot point all season, I’m sure we’ll get an explanation. Unlike a different show that Abrams helped create a few years ago, Fringe has been good about explaining things as it goes along.

  • Cforshaw672200

    It’s either time-travel, or you are talking about FOUR parallel worlds, as everything here affects “Over There” as well. Four realities is too many, especially as the show lives year to year.

    What has happened is that time has changed, but this is the same two worlds. But at some point this year, we will be going back towards the old time-line: they confirmed a return to the future seen in last year’s finale a while back.

  • 0bsessions

    I’m with Cforshaw, I’m calling red herring on the third universe hints. It simply doesn’t add up as it requires having a fourth universe to account for Over There, which is feasible, but seems a bit of a stretch.

    Additionally, the Observers themselves distinctly pointed out the fact that Peter was erased from the timeline. As complex of a concept as it is, the idea that the prime timeline was merely drastically altered makes more sense than this taking place in yet another set of universes from a plotting standpoint. I think the mentions of “get back to her” and hints at a third universe are simply the characters making excuses in a refusal to accept something that goes beyond even what they’ve experienced as part of Fringe division.

    This seems like more One More Day than yet another universe. Selective alteration of the present timeline.

  • Tenormadness365

    I noticed that too. Pulled me out of the moment.