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Fringe Season 4: 5 Questions About “A Short Story About Love”

After a few weeks’ vacation, Fox’s Fringe returned last night with what may be the opening of its final run of episodes ever. But did the somewhat revelatory “A Short Story About Love” manage to fulfill your need for new information, theories and answers about just what the hell is going on with Peter, Olivia and Walter, not to mention the state of all reality? Unsurprisingly, we had some questions…

What Does Olivia’s Memory Mean?
So now we know, fairly definitively, that Olivia is actually regaining her “real” memories, of the timeline she existed in before Peter was erased – And that revelation, that Peter isn’t trapped in an alternate world as he’d led everyone to think, but that he was actually in an altered-history-version of his own world, was both very welcome (Finally, answers!) and very sneaky (So, it is what we’d thought first time, before we’d gotten sidetracked by the alternate world idea!) – but we don’t, really, know why she’s regaining those memories… Is it just that, as she grew to know Peter again and fall in love with him, everything returned to “normal,” or something bigger than that? Is Peter’s presence in the timeline slowly changing everything back to the way it was? And if so…

Will The Observers Try To Erase Peter Again?
Just because erasing Peter didn’t take the first time, that’s not to say that the Observers won’t try again. After all, if they were willing to take out one of their own in order to protect their actions, what’s stopping them from trying to erase Peter again? And, of course, this time taking some kind of precaution. Which is to say…

Do We Now Know Why Olivia “Has To” Die?
With Olivia dead, Peter will have lost his strongest emotional tie to reality, meaning – if we’re to take our rogue Observer friend at his word, which isn’t necessarily the right thing to do, for all we know – that he might not be able to return from erasure a second time around. When Olivia was told that she had to die, was that an instruction – In order to save the world, Olivia has to die – or a warning – That the other Observers believe that the death of Olivia will save that particular timeline? Just because we have an understanding about what brought Peter back into a timeline that he really shouldn’t exist in doesn’t mean that all of Fringe‘s secrets have given themselves up just yet.

What Is Lincoln’s Role?
Lincoln, as we saw clearly tonight, is a spoiler in the Peter/Olivia romance, in that he’s in love with Olivia himself. Is this a clue about Lincoln’s ultimate loyalties? After all, if Peter’s presence in the timeline is somehow reverting everything to the way things used to be before he was erased, then Lincoln will end up dead in the reverted timeline. How peacefully will he go into that dark night – especially if, with Peter gone for whatever reason, he’ll not only get to live but might be convinced that he’ll also have more of a chance with Olivia? (Despite my convictions otherwise, Lincoln didn’t die at the end of Season 3’s “Stowaway”.) Is Lincoln going to be convinced to betray the Fringe division by the Observers and/or David Robert Jones?

How Will Walter React To Discovering That His Reality Is False?
If we don’t get a scene next week in which Walter discovers what Peter learned this week – That he’s living not in a world that he should exist in, but a world that was artificially manipulated and therefore unnatural, and somewhat “false” – I’ll be very, very disappointed. Walter is the one character who, it seems, should be able to take this kind of information in somewhat sensibly – or, at least, without losing his mind (again). And who’s to say that he might not have some ideas how to detourn the process for his (and other people’s) benefit, if everything is reverting? There’s definitely a lot of meat in Walter’s reaction to this development… I can only hope that we don’t find that skipped over in favor of expediency.


  • Michael Sacal

    The Observers didn’t erase Peter from the timeline, he did that to himself when he stepped into the machine, which Walter from the future created. The Observers were going to erase the memory of Peter from everyone’s mind, but September failed to do so, which led to his return and the subsequent revelations from this episode.

    The questions is, why would The Observers want the alternate reality to become the main reality? Wouldn’t that erase their existence, as revealed in the previous episode? Are they trying to destroy themselves?

  • sandwich eater

    I’m just glad the show is starting to tie up it’s lose ends.  We finally know what the spiral, burrowing machine from Season 1 is, and we now know who the Observers are.  I don’t know if the show is getting another season, but if they give closure at the end of this season it would be a good time to end the show.

  • Annisia

    How would Lincoln end up dead if the timeline is reversed? Unless I’m missing something, he met with the team in the original timeline when Olivia was possessed by Bell, helped with the Dana Gray case, and then went back to Hartford.

    In the Season 4 timeline, he meets with Olivia after his partner is killed by a new-flavour shapeshifter, and even the Observers remark that they don’t remember meeting each other. Olivia probably wouldn’t in this case, but Lincoln would. So why would he die?

  • Michael Sacal

    He wouldn’t. The author of this article got some details wrong.

  • Liam471

    I was thinking the same thing about Lincoln. The only dead agents from “this side,” that mattered to live were John Scott & Charlie Francis. Both Lincoln’s are still alive, though the “over there,” Broyles who’s working with Jones & shapeshifters 2.0 was dead and is now alive in the altered timeline.

  • Shadowpdf

    On Olivia dying … The statement by the Observer that she has to die is in reference to her then current personality (the personality she had at the time she met the Observer and was told that she had to die).  THAT Olivia had to die.  In other words, that persona of Olivia had to die, or fade away as is happening now, in order for the real world (the one with Peter in it) to reassert itself.  Olivia’s memories are changing from a world without Peter to the real world memories with Peter.  She dies, or that part of her does, and the world will be set right again.

  • Vicsage

    “unsurprisingly, we had some questions…”

     graeme that is all you EVER have….   try fomulating  your articles that dont start off with question  or that consists of questioin s in the first place……

  • Vicsage

    nsurprisingly, we had some questions…
    and unsurprisingly they are based in details he never gets right 

    CBR can you listern to us?>

  • Shani

    Does anyone remember an episode that went into the future and showed Olivia and Peter together but then Olivia’s funeral (and Peter giving a speech). It seems ages ago. But wouldn’t that future/older Olivia be the one who has to die–or to put it more simply, isn’t Olivia’s destined to die in late middle age or something but not now as a young woman?

  • Houman Sadri

    Why would Lincoln end up dead in the reverted timeline?  ‘Our’ Lincoln only appeared once before this season, but was not killed off.

    EDIT: I see that has already been addressed. My bad.

  • Demoncat4

    walter once he if peter does tell him the truth no doubt will be happy to have the bond back but will also have to work to fix things to protect people.  lincoln will proably work to stop olivia and peter and prevent his demise even if as a twist he sets in motion olivas death and he  could turn out to be the mole .

  • Anonymous

    What does Olivia’s memory mean? It means what the show revealed that Peter was home all along. Olivia’s special powers made her the one human being who could remember Peter. In fact she’s probably the reason he exists at all.

    Will the Observers try to erase Peter again? Yes.

    Do we know why “Olivia has to die?” No but a good guess is that in order to erase Peter Olivia has to go.

    What is Lincoln’s role? Typical love triangle plot.Love can make a man do crazy things. It can even turn a good man to bad. So yeah he may go traitor.

    How Will Walter React To Discovering That His Reality Is False? Walter’s reality isn’t false. The Observers have been trying to fix what Walter did in saving Peter. So the reality this season has been in was the real original timeline but Peter changes all that.

    The best question to ask is…why did Walter build the machine and send it to the distant past? He probably does it in order to save both Peter and Olivia from the Observers. With Olivia, Peter in the machine is practically omnipotent making him more than a match for the Observers.

  • Michael Sacal

    The writer of the article must have been thinking about Broyles, who in fact died in the original timeline. He is the one who wouldn;’t want things to go back to the way they were because for him that would mean being dead.

  • Twincast

    Heartwarming episode. :) And I can proudly say that they never fooled me once with all that talk of the old timeline being somewhere out there. =D

  • Jamatasque

    I watched every episode of Fringe not too long ago to refresh memory. I’m fairly certain he never died. In the “main” universe he works with the team in one episode before going back to his own job. 

  • Ian

    It will be great if Fringe gets a 5th season, but really the producers should plan for it to be the shows last as I don’t see it getting another reprieve into a possible 6th season.  The shows main problem has proven to be a great first two episodes of set-up but then an excruciating wait for the eventual build-up afterward that takes almost 3/4 of the way through the season before a GREAT payoff towards the final episodes of that season.

    If the show ends with a definitive ending for the series I will most definitely buy a collected series DVD box set, but if it only ends via cancellation w/out a true ending I know I will not.

  • LightningBug

    Do you mean alterbroyals?

  • Rta

    the writer of the article ALWAYS get the details wrong….

  • Don Owen

    As I recall, when Peter was in September’s mind, he was told point blank that this was his reality and his Olivia, only an altered version.  Not an alternate reality.  For some reason, he needed to be told again in this latest episode before he believed it.  Peter has been written as superbly stupid in this season and it’s been driving me insane!

  • 0bsessions

    Unlikely considering Broyles was never in love with Olivia. I think that the writer’s pretty clearly mixing Lincoln up with Charlie Francis from seasons one and two.

    ETA: And yes, I know Charlie was never in love with her either, but I have to imagine mixing up one of Olivia’s partners with another makes more sense than mixing her up with the Broyles from an alternate reality.

  • 0bsessions

    “The best question to ask is…why did Walter build the machine and send it to the distant past?”

    This was covered in the season three finale. He sent the machine into the past to stem the collapsing universe.

  • phoenix219

    We have blatantly been told that 1) Love was the main factor in Peter’s lack of erasure – you can probably infer that it is some quantum entanglement (remember the old couple in the apartment building last year that coudln’t let go of each other, and were manifesting each other in a thin spot between the universes?)  and that 2) Olivia’s memories are coming back because of the cortexiphan Alt-Nina was dosing her with – if you can imagine a better world, you can make it a reality. (going back to the childhood flashback last year.) We also have been told that Peter and Olivia’s child is important, but that it has to be *that* particular pair of them – again, i’m assuming that the cortexiphan and Olivia’s special abilities are part of the mutation that leads to the eventual evolving of the Observers themself. I’m more curious as to why September seems to be the only one that realizes how and why “the boy” is important to begin with.

    I am somewhat confused as to how the use of the Beacon in this episode ties to its first appearance in “The Arrival” and need more clarity on a lot of the first half of Season 1, including the Observer-ish children found by the FBI.

    Are we even watching the same show?  Lincoln is not dead in either original timeline. Lincoln-ate was burned but recovered, and our Lincoln was introduced during the Bell-ivia/Soul Magnets arc – he has never died.

  • phoenix219

     That doesn’t explain who created the machine in the actual, pre-interfernece “original timeline.”

    My personal assumption is that in the original ,1) the damage is caused anyways due to bell/walter experimenting with the AU, but 2) there is no war since there is no kidnapping, and Peter is working with his father for the DoD (as seen in his memory slips in last years finale after touching the machine.)  The two sides (with no war or kidnapping) would team up to save the universes and Peter and Olivia would still fall in love, and be the perfect unity of the two universes. It wouldn’t stop the damage destroying both sides, so and together they would all build the machine to save the Universes, powered by Peter and Olivia; I’m assuming it would take years to develop this kind of tech, which would lead to the 2026 wormhole sending the parts of the machine back, with the plan being to leave clues for the assembly of the machine in the 2010s as opposed to its completion in the “future” which is too late to reverse the damage.  But, by Septembers interference, a “war” is started, which throws off the timeline, where Peter would have used the machine to bridge the universes and stop the unintentional damage of the 80s experiments. (In this theory, the events we see with the kidnapping/cure, would have been a rewrite of timeline #2, which instead of leading to a perfect future, instead leads to the time loop we witnessed ending last season.

  • phoenix219

     Uh… Peter didn’t erase himself. Peter bridged this universes.

    What caused the timeline change was September NOT saving him from drowning.

    Peter knew too much. I don’t think the main Observers realize that Peter is the key to their own future. They are operating under a “non interference” prime directive style ideology. Peter’s purpose (as far as they know) was to bridge the Universes and stop the damage from destroying everything. Once he accomplishes this, they do not want or need him – he knows about them, he’s interacted with them, he must be removed. He is no longer needed, and is in fact a danger to them.

  • Anonymous

     According to Peter but Peter is just as lost as everybody else. So I’m not so sure about that.

  • Michael Sacal

    Peter erased himsself from existence when he activated the machine. That is what caused history to change (i.e. the Observer not saving him).

    Chicken, egg…

    I don’t recall seeing anything on screen that hints at the Observers changing history to retaliate against Peter for activating the machine, though it’s possible that one thing has nothing to do with the other. If that was the case, would you happen to recall in which episode it was established?

  • Michael Sacal