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'Fringe': 1985

215_peter_0443 Wow.

OK, forgive me, but I’m going to spend the entirety of this post raving about how great “Fringe” was tonight. 

Right out of the gate, you knew this episode was something special. Not only did the notorious floating location marker tell us we were back in 1985, it changed from its regular stainless steel to a more '80’s geek sci-fi font (if you can name the font in the comments below, you get +3 to your nerd attributes). This level of detail took what could have been a good episode and turned it into probably the best hour of “Fringe” so far.

In that opening scene, we watch a 25 years younger Walter Bishop pitch for funding to a dark room full of generals. He passes around a cellphone and explains how he copied it from an alternate universe. He even takes the generals to the roof to peek through his magic looking glass at the Déjà Vuniverse as a zeppelin docks at the Empire State Building. I’m sure Walter got a fat government check so fast, he probably thought he was a failing bank (political humor!).

And then the opening credits rolled, '80’s style. Anyone who can honestly say they didn’t love that credit sequence needs to have their remote control revoked. You don’t really love television.

Previously on “Fringe,” Olivia discovered what every viewer had guessed a year ago: Peter is from the alternate universe. So tonight, Walter stops by to explain exactly what happened. For the past season and a half, we’ve gotten snippets and clues. Heard stories. Now we get to see them played out and see how it differs from what I know.

215_Peter_0205  Back in 1985, Walter had his funky mirror that allowed him to play voyeur to his double, who he names Walternate (I can’t believe his assistant didn’t think that was funny). Both universes’ Peters are sick, struck by a fatal genetic disorder. Walternate diligently works on a cure, and Walter watches him. Walternate does have access to more advanced technology, but come on, Walter, try to look busy.

Our Peter dies in his father’s arms and is mourned by a blond (Walter’s assistant Carla Warren), a brunette (his mother Elizabeth), and a red-head (Nina Sharp). After the funeral, Walter and Elizabeth speculate on whether or not Peter had a good life and if he knew he was loved. It was a beautiful monologue delivered by John Noble. Then Walter shows his wife the alternate Peter alive and well, trying to ease both their grief. 

Drunken, depressed Walter continues to watch Walternate work on a cure, but when he finds it, he is momentarily distracted by the Observer observing. Only our Walter knows it worked. 

So that’s why Walter crossed to the other side. He didn’t go planning on kidnapping Peternate. He wanted to cure him and leave him with his family. That might be the biggest reveal of the episode. I’d always assumed that Walter’s trip between worlds was an act of desperate grief, not a rescue. 

What happens next is the birth of the show we watch and love. Walter crosses over. Dr. Warren brings Nina to stop him, but she only ends up with an arm wavering between dimensions, which William Bell will later build her cybernetic prosthetic to replace. 

Walter’s cure breaks in travel, forcing him to snag Peternate and bring him back to our reality to cure. Walter’s every intention was to return the boy to his real parents once saved from death’s door, but once he had his son in his arms and with his mother, Walter knew that wasn’t going to happen. He couldn’t give up Peter again. 

We have seven more episodes left in the second season of “Fringe,” and I couldn’t be more excited. If “Fringe” can stay anywhere close to the quality of “Peter,” it’s going to be a fun ride.

Astrid Action – Nope. No Astrid action this week. Instead, we get Dr. Carla Warren, her 1985, blond equivalent. Man, Astrid better up her game when she gets back. Dr. Warren’s got some big shoes and bigger degrees. She may have seemed like scientific arm candy in the beginning, but she proved herself by the end. Dr. Warren was the final voice of reason, reminding Walter that opening a wormhole would rupture the fabric of reality. “Forever ruin both universes.” Man, that was good. 

Spot the Observer – Apparently, everything that goes wrong went wrong because Walternate spotted the Observer. The Observer, or should I say September (which is how our special bald watchman is now referred to in the cast list), just wanted a front row seat for the big discovery. 

Possibly the best scene in tonight’s episode of great scenes was September meeting up with the other Observers to confess his mistake. August and December walking out of “Back to the Future,” which in the Déjà Vuniverse apparently stuck with original star Eric Stoltz, and discussing its “interesting theories.” They’re Observers. Makes sense they’d watch movies. And have Slusho.

Then in the end, we get to see Walter’s first interaction with the Observer. As it was described way back in “The Arrival” early on in season one. Even though I knew exactly how that scene played out, I still tensed up when the ice cracked. 

How loud can I yell this – “Peter” is exactly what “Fringe” needs to be. Beyond the fact that it contained some of the best writing in the series and an incredible performance by John Noble, “Fringe” truly separated itself from its brethren “X-Files” and “Lost” by showing the audience what exactly happened. “Fringe” teased, then followed through. I know the instinct must be “if we show them everything, we won’t have anything else to show,” but cast that aside, “Fringe.” Showing me just made me want to see more. Was Bell secretly prodding Walter to open the door even though they knew the possible consequences?  How did the Bishops explain a child who was supposed to be dead and buried? Why is the Déjà Vuniverse so much more advanced than our universe?

I want to watch more “Fringe.” Now.

-- Andrew Hanson


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PHOTO: John Noble as Walter Bishop and Orla Bradly as Elizabeth Bishop. FOX Television

Comments () | Archives (11)

Ah, I loved this episode! I agree, I want it to be next Thursday right now!

It was fabulous. Except they still haven't told Peter yet. Soon though, very soon...

I'm very happy with myself, because I guessed that this was when Walter and Peter fell through the ice before my parents, but mostly because when I saw the location marker saying it was 1985, my first thought was Back to the Future.

Argh, my mother hated the opening credit sequence. She freaked out because she thought it was a permanent change. I'm definatly making her read this tomorrow. I would have her read it right now, but she'd kill me for waking her up.

Can't wait till next week! Maybe we can steal -ahem- *borrow* Doc Brown's DeLorean and watch the rest of the season. And the next one. And the next one...


Sadly, some Canadian teenager will the be first and possibly last to comment on your article here, but I do agree, tonight's episode was fantabulous. From the moment the "opening title sequence thing" started with the old-school style, I was like... wow, a 2 month hiatus, and the first time they switched up the opening, must be a special episode; it sure was.
I hope they keep up the amazing work, and don't end up getting washed out... *cough* Heroes.

Although I will have to wait for Hulu to examine it more closely, I am quite sure the font is Amelia -- which I literally just used in a project for NASA, a DVD about the solar system which will be out in schools next month.... certainly raising our cred with the middle school students who will sense the subtle "cool-ness" in the logos. I texted the producer of the DVD the second I saw it and she was just as excited. Perhaps there is something to this "M-theory" after all.

The font is Amelia. It's the same font as The Yellow Submarine.

Amazing episode.

What a wonderful show, indeed! Unlike other shows that thrive on getting "Lost" by teasing the audience from week to week, this one revealed nearly everything and only made the whole show more fascinating, tantalizing and riveting.

And, what an amazing performance from John Noble. It's a complex character he's playing, and he manages to make Walter seem so comprehensible, humorous, and empathetic. Wouldn't it be great if he got an Emmy nomination this year? This performance certainly deserves that recognition.

I am now officially hooked. "Fringe" is the most fun one can find on television these days. This was certainly a fine hour of entertainment, and I also want more. Now.

And I'm guessing the font was "Amethyst Regular," a True Type font.

Yes....I, too, want to watch more Fringe....NOW.

This was one of my favorite Fridnge episodes. I was rather stunned that Walter actually had to rescue Peternate, I always believed he took Peternate selfishly.

My biggest question is how come Walternate hasn't taken Peter back? If the other universe has more advanced technology wouldn't Walternate be oppsessed with finding his stolen son. That is unless in the other universe they think he's crazy since his wife would have seen him take Peternate.

I have to think Walternate would now about the other universe since they are more advanced their. This show may lead down a path where the two Walters meet in a showdown for Peter.

Folks the Font is Asimov

I think that since the Peter who died was kept at home and didn't have a "proper" life and who only had a few people at his funeral (all of which we were familiar with) allows for the Peter from the other side to be allowed more open interaction - but maybe with those who would not put it together that he was "already dead". So, this would seem to naturally lead to the kind of "con artist" or "wheeler dealer" lifestyle that we first saw with the first episodes of Fringe.

Also, we don't hear about Elizabeth Bishop or even see her. So maybe the one on the other side went nuts and was the one admitted into St. Claire's - just as it was she who had the coin-flipping scene with young Peter on the other side and it was our Walter on our sides who shared that scene with Peter. The other side's Elizabeth seemed to me to be a bit more self-assured than the one on this side - so that could play out differently too. Either it meant she took a deeper drop psychologically (and ended up in St. Claire's) or got determined to find out what was going on and motivated Walternate into doing something, just as the Elizabeth on our side motivated Walter not to return Peter to his proper parents. And what of the Observers - doesn't the opportunity to keep Peter alive throw a larger thing out of balance (the two worlds) while attempting to balance whatever importance they see he's needed for - unless they foresee Peter in a major role involving the war between the worlds.

Last week, in "Jacksonville," we learned that when you open a door between the universes and take something from the Déjà Vuniverse to this side, a like object of similar mass must go from this side to the Déjà Vuniverse.

So who went from our side to the other after Walter brought Peternate back here?

And I agree with Steve C: that dialogue about how Peter had always been sheltered due to his sickness and couldn't go out and make friends like a normal boy was your answer to how the Bishops explained a boy who was supposed to have died. No one knew him when he was alive, so no one knew he had died.

I am curious about what happened to Dr. Warren, though. She didn't seem the type to just go along with Peternate staying on our side. How was she appeased or kept quiet?

What an outstanding episode.
Hope the producers can build on it to even greater heights.

However my biggest question is - Where did Walter's wrinkles go?
That's some make-up.


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