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Fringe Season 4: 5 Questions About “A Better Human Being”

Why does Olivia remember things that she shouldn’t? Will Peter be freaked out by the change, or happy that “his” Olivia is coming back? Last night’s episode of Fringe played with the limits of reality once again, leading to this week’s five questions about “A Better Human Being.”

What Is Going On With Olivia?
If we’re to believe Peter’s intuition, then the memories Olivia is recovering are, somehow, the Olivia from the first three seasons of the show… but how, exactly? Apparently, Walter has worked it out and the answer has something to do with Cortexephan, but sadly we weren’t given the explanation: Is Olivia crossing over with other worlds, and retaining the memories of all the alternate Olivia she’s coming in contact with? Is this Olivia’s abilities nothing to do with the ability to cross between worlds, but instead something to do with her empathy, as per Walter’s comments about what she was like as a kid this episode, and Cortexephan is simply boosting those abilities just like it boosted the earlier Olivia’s? Or is this something different altogether?

What Is So Important About Cortexephan?
If this Olivia doesn’t have the ability to cross between worlds naturally, but instead has some other latent power, then perhaps she’s been a red herring all along. Maybe the fact that she’s been being kidnapped for tests that she doesn’t remember has less to do with her abilities and more to do with the fact that a test subject who’d react to Cortexephan was needed for some reason…? What if, again as per Walter’s suggestion, someone has taken the original 20 Cortexephan samples and has reverse-engineered it, and has just been using Olivia as a guinea pig to make sure that it worked…? If that’s the case, then…

What Is David Jones’ Plan?
If, as the final scene of the episode suggested, Nina isn’t actually involved in this – or, at least, not the Nina that we knew – then everything seems to be coming back to David Jones again… So why would he care about Cortexephan or Olivia? Is the clue in what’s happened to Olivia, perhaps? I’m beginning to wonder if the fact that David Jones was last seen in the old timeline is actually more important than we’ve been led to believe, because…

What If Peter Is Doing This?
Well, after a sense. What if Peter’s idea of being able to go home is based on faulty thinking, and that what we’d all originally thought was happening – that this is Peter’s Earth, but with a different timeline after the Observers’ tinkering – is actually the case. What if Olivia’s memory isn’t being overwritten with the Olivia of another world, but instead being restored to what it was, originally – She said that her old memories were “hazy, like a dream,” which feels like it could be an important line; what if Peter has always been home, and it’s not that history was rewritten, it’s just that the Observers somehow managed to make everyone think that it had been…?

A flaw in that theory: Lincoln should be dead, if that was true. But, of course, given all of Fringe‘s other plots, who’s to say that Lincoln is even Lincoln? Which reminds me…

If That Was Nina At The End, Then Who Is The Other Nina?
So let’s assume that the Nina in the chair at the end was the real Nina… Does that make the Nina at Massive Dynamic a shape changer? We’ve known that they’ve been on the loose, and working for David Jones, for some time, after all. Or what if it’s the Nina from the other Earth? Of course, it’s just as possible that the Nina in the chair is the other Nina or a shape changer as some kind of attempt to mess with Olivia’s head… Next week’s episode should be a very interesting one indeed; at this point, can we trust what anyone says…?


  • JAV

    What if universes are merging? And since Peter died in this current season’s universe there is no merger happening with him right now, (because he is from another universe), and everyone else, (and at the moment just featuring Olivia), is merging with their counter parts. 

  • Coryjameson

    This season of Fringe has been such a sad disappointment. I have to say, it really does deserve to be cancelled.

  • Weisinger73

    Don’ make no sense to me!  

  • Michael Sacal

    “Peter has always been home, and it’s not that history was rewritten, it’s just that the Observers somehow managed to make everyone think that it had been”

    Upon realizing that he’s been home all along, Peter will fall to his knees outside the statue of liberty over there while both worlds merge into one and he’ll shout, “you maniacs! you blew it up!”

  • Cforshaw67220

    Are there Observers in the other universe? And if not, why not? 

  • sandwich eater

    I thought this was a weak episode.  The unraveling of Nina Sharp’s plot and Walter tasting the chemicals were pretty awesome, but the main story of this episode was pretty lacking.  I felt like face-palming when they used the bee pheromone metaphor because smell doesn’t travel at the speed of light, and the kid knew everything that his brothers were doing instantly.  I felt like they never really explained what was going on.  Peter and Olivia caught 2 of the brothers but they made no effort to find the rest of them.  I mean it sucks because they devoted 2 seasons of the show to tracking down test subjects from Walter’s experiments, but they didn’t even try to catch the rest of the murderers in this episode.

  • Anonymous

    Sure. The same Observers that we have seen thus far can travel between both worlds easily, as seen in that season 2 episode titled “Peter”. So I guess the same few people observe all the worlds, instead of having multiple version of them in different worlds.

  • Demoncat4

    the nina in the chair is proably either the shape shifter or a nina from the altetnerate time line for the real nina is the one running md after all nina is suppose to be the queen b of fringe. just have to  wait till next episode for answeres

  • Tomfitz1

    Maybe it’ll all make sense by the end of the season.

    And that’s a very big IF!

  • Sam

    Come on. It’s always as good and the the season is getting better. If you want to talk of a sad disappointment, let’s talk about Terra Nova.
    That said, I’m not for shows that get too long so one or two more seasons would be sweet and more than enough (remember the X-files? they sould have stop after six seasons for example)

  • Yanks5179

    The last scene with Nina reminded me in a way of X-Force, early on, when Cable found out that the Domino that joined his team was really Vanessa Carlyse the entire time and the real Domino had been a prisoner of Tolliver.

  • R.O.

    [quote]A flaw in that theory: Lincoln should be dead, if that was true. But, of course, given all of Fringe‘s other plots, who’s to say that Lincoln is even Lincoln? [/quote]Lincoln is alive and well in both realities in both “timelines.”  The odd man out is Charlie, the new-timeline “our” universe has never mentioned him that I can remember.

  • Revilolive

    Yeah Charlie is the only one who hasn’t been accounted for, but he’s never really played an important role anyway. And I don’t believe any version of Lincoln has died. 

  • Squashua

    It is my opinion that this is not a third and fourth universe, but simply the first two rewritten with different timeline due to the loss of Peter; with Peter having come back, so are memories.

  • Kapriniotis

     Ratings show a decline, the channel is losing money with each episode. Some fans may still like this season, but most of us have given up.
    Sad but true

  • Anonymous

    Even tho I am keeping up with the story, I think having two earths/dimensions AND an altered timeline is just too much for an entire season to bear and keep the casual viewer interested.  I have to admit the last several episodes have been more about exploring and explaining this new timeline rather than telling good stories that affect the characters. That’s not a good thing.

    The creators need to wrap up this altered timeline story, get some version of Peter back to some version of the original timeline, and either return to the central conflict of two Earths or introduce a new one.

  • WhatHuh

    Kind of easy to see what is going on. David Jones survived, went into hiding and created new shape-shifters, replaced various key people and is using drugs to give Fringe Division new memories (Walter takes a lot of drugs as he stated, so easy to throw more in there).

    Jones thought Peter was no longer alive due to the Observers, so that wrecked his plans. Jones is trying to merge both universes together is all. No idea why as of yet. Maybe it is the only way he can live due to his apparent death awhile ago.

  • Yanks5179

     Ratings in this day and age are so, well, overrated because they fail to take into account those who watch online or on demand.  Myself, and at least 10 other people I know, watch the next day because of prior obligations in its Friday night timeslot, a timeslot which is often the deathknell for shows like this BECAUSE it’s a Friday night when much of the target demographic is typically not home.  Unfortunately, TV decides so much on ratings mistaking quantity for quality, you know what I mean?

  • chintzen

    I think the Nina at Massive Dynamic is the real Nina, the one whose hands you can see. The evil Nina is the one drugging Olivia and she wears gloves all the time. Evil Nina is in the room with Olivia at the end and our Nina is still back at Massive Dynamic pondering with Walter and Lincoln what could have happened to the cortexiphan. I believe DRJ is pulling evil Nina’s strings and she could very well be a shape shifter.

    I suspect that Peter really is home and that September’s failed attempt to alter the time line is unraveling. Olivia isn’t the only one changing. It seems like Walter is too. It could be that Westfield was where the timelines started merging. But why weren’t Walter and Olivia affected like the others? Could it be that September created a new time line for these characters only? And that may be why he said that Olivia would have to die – because her memories of Peter are so strong that they literally transcend any timeline he tries to create.

  • Response

    If they would have done more with the Olivia and Nina relationship, Nina at the end versus Nina at MD would be clear to the viewer, but they decided to spring that as a surprise, foul play.
    So we know little of Olivia and Nina as a bond, only that Olivia questions Nina’s ethics ; is Jones going to test Olivia asking her to prove her love for Nina to the extreme?

    Since Olivia has been made Peters girfriend since 3.10 Firefly, I hope they will give her her importance back, and that she will save Nina and herself, what about some pyrokinesis?

    Walter saying here that Olivia had her ability because of cortexiphan, is strange, as the new Olivia ran away, and we were told that Cortexiphan only worked 24 hours, also according to Walter.
    Olivia does not question that?
    It seems that Olivia does not know Jones, so the memories are false, injected, projected or S1 Jones never happened?
    In ability he knew Olivia, and said who could have killed her a long time ago, Jones Olivia’s father?
    And the killing of the stepfather, never happend?

    Either way, one of the Olivia’s old or new has been having false memories thanks to cortexiphan, why rewrite the few facts we knew about Olivia only to throw them away again?

    And as Walter was only made different because of his socalled phobia and the endless speeches John Noble got to explain this Walter as different, no surprise that once those speaches are gone, you have the same Walter, bad acting ? Same goes for the Walternate version.

    Anna Torv is the only one who really gave us other different versions of Olivia and Fauxlivia, as their circumstances were changed, Faux never was Over here, and Olivia had a different upbringing.
    Now she had to mix old and new Olivia and then accept the memory as old Olivia, so is Fringe saying that memories are what define a person?
    What Anna is doing with all these nuances , doing all the hard work in the timeline arc, is truly awesome.

  • Susanschwartz9

    Love this show..the actors are great and everything gets explained at some point. Meanwhile it’s good for our minds to try to figure out what is going to happen. My friends and I would never miss an episode…..our only complaint is we would like to see Peter and Olivia get together and stay together the Olivia with the blond hair not the one from walter nets universe!
    it would be great episodes to see them as a couple solving all the problems of the iniverses.