Short on action this week but long on backstory, as we're back in 1985 -- and we even get the fully awesome blip-bleep-bloopy 1985-esque theme music. The episode's great from the get-go, with Peter's mom running desperately across the ice of Reiden Lake after finding a note in her son's bedroom telling her that he's "going home." Turns out that young Peter was fully aware that he was in the wrong world -- the Dodgers aren't in Brooklyn! -- only his misunderstanding of how to get back home is that he needs to get down to the bottom of Reiden Lake, which is why he's tied a rope between himself and a cinderblock that he uses to break the ice of the lake. Fortunately, Mom is there to pull him out.
Walter is in the midst of his Jacksonville experiments, singling out Olivia's ability to cross over as the best way for Peter to get home. But her ability only manifests itself during moments of great stress, like when her stepdad beats her. We see the fire that Olivia caused -- and we also see her try to tell Walter, who already suspects, about the abuse but, heartbreakingly, she's crossed over to the alternate Earth, which is how Walternate finds out about Earth Prime.
Oh, and of course Olivia and Peter meet -- in Jacksonville and in a field of white tulips bioengineered by Walter -- because they have always been destined for each other, yadda yadda yadda. It's partly sweet, partly reminds you of the naked married eight-year-olds of that weird "Love Is…" comic strip.
Daniel is a writer in Newfoundland with a wife and a daughter. He thinks it's awesome that young Olivia was such a huge Led Zeppelin fan, unless he misunderstood her drawing. Follow him on Twitter (@DanMacEachern) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reiden Lake, back in 1985. Feet traipse through the slush. Back at the Bishop house, Elizabeth vacuums the living room and then stops to call up to her son that it's lunchtime. She gets no response. Instead of then angrily calling Peter by his full name and ordering him to get his butt down there, like my parents would have done, she goes upstairs to Peter's room. He's not there, but she finds a note on the bed that says, "I am going home." Well, that makes no sense! Then he should be there!
Frightened, Elizabeth rushes out of the house, while we see it's Peter walking across the lake. He stops in the middle, ties a rope around his waist, and we see that he's carrying a decorative cinder block with him. He lifts it up, and then slams it down on the ice, which doesn't break.
Elizabeth is rushing through the woods, yelling Peter's name. He hesitates when he hears her, and then again when he sees her come out of the woods at the edge of the lake. She runs toward him, and he lifts the block up over his head again, looking somewhat uncertain, and then he drops it again. This time the block breaks through, and sinks to the bottom, taking Peter along with it. Elizabeth yells some more and jumps in after him. Take it easy! Boys will be boys! I'm sure I can't be the only who occasionally tried to drown myself when I was a kid. And I will commend Peter on the stick-to-it-iveness that today's generation doesn't have, what with their GameBoys and Twitter. Fortunately, Peter here clearly wasn't a Boy Scout, or maybe they don't actually have those in Earth-2, so Elizabeth easily unties the rope and brings him back up to the surface. He's less relieved than you'd think, yelling, "You're not my mother! I want to go home!" and so forth. If he keeps it up, I can't imagine Elizabeth is going to be too quick to whip up some hot chocolate while he dries out in front of the fireplace.
And then we get the beyond-awesome bleep-boopy 1985 opening credits with the Asimov font. It's really cool, but at the same time I can't help thinking that maybe they should be using a song by Huey Lewis and the News, for complete mid-'80s immersion. Or perhaps if Huey Lewis and the News is too expensive, Ray Parker Jr.
Anyway, after the credits we're at the Jacksonville Daycare Center, where Walter, wearing that wig that is some kind of unholy shag/mullet combination, is in the centre of a ring of children, leading them in some form of secret ritual where he tells them to close their eyes and ignore everything except the sound of his voice. "Clear your minds. We discussed that your imagination can take you anywhere you want to go," he says. But one of the boys taps the hand of an unsmiling little girl with long straight blonde hair. Who could that possibly be? "I don't know what Snuggles will do if we go somewhere," he says. She tells -- this turns out to be Nick -- him to put Snuggles on his feet and he'll come with them, earning a slight rebuke from Walter, because how can Olivia be concentrating if she's talking? But Walter also wordlessly picks up a teddy bear on the floor and puts it on Nick's feet.
Walter's assistant comes in to tell him his wife is on the phone. "Tell her I'll call her back later, he says, and Ashley says, "She said to tell you that she's here, in Jacksonville." Walter's surprised, but then recovers and makes up some nonsense about how Thursday is early day this week, so he's going to go home, and they all can too, and all the children cheer -- except for Olivia, who watches Walter leave, looking frightened.
Walter comes home and embraces a worried-looking Elizabeth, and asks where Peter is, and the next thing we know he's telling Peter, "Of course the Dodgers play for Los Angeles," and Peter insists they play in Brooklyn. "And the Red Lantern isn't supposed to be green. I've never had a baseball mitt ever," he says, indicating the glove Walter's holding.
Walter says, "Peter, you were very sick for a very long time. It must have confused you, mixed up your memories, son," and Peter yells for Walter to not call him that, and starts in with the "I want to go home! You're not my mother!" stuff again, while Elizabeth tries to soothe him.
Later, Peter's asleep, and Walter is sitting at the kitchen table when Elizabeth walks in. And look, I realize they didn't have HD in 1985, and maybe this blurring is to try to help us see Walter as looking 25 years younger, but the blurriness this week kinda made my eyes bleed a little.
Anyway, Elizabeth says they can't keep this up, because it's making him crazy. "What's the alternative? Tell him the truth? He'd be locked up. These lies were supposed to be a temporary measure. We were supposed to have him home well before it got this far," says Walter. "It's been six months, Walter," she says, and he tells her that getting him back wasn't as simple as he'd hoped. Yeah, that trans-universe traveling hasn't been quite as easy as he thought it would be, Elizabeth, so get off his back! He reminds her (and us) that he can't just build another device to cross over because the texture of the universe has changed from his crossing: "It cannot withstand any more damage." Neither can Peter, says Elizabeth, who worries about Peter's distress, and the fact that he doesn't trust her, despite her being his mother after all. Walter points out that she's not his mother, which is bound to smooth things over nice and easy. "I won't keep lying to him like this," she says. "It's not vanity. I can't keep him safe if he doesn't trust me." Walter wants more time, because he thinks the children are the key: "The children should be able to cross over. And when they do, they can take Peter safely home with them," and then he makes a joke about Peter riding on their feet that Elizabeth has no idea what the hell he's on about. He just wants a little more time. She nods and walks away, all blurry.
Meanwhile, Olivia's happily reading A Winter's Tale, which I'm sure has all kinds of parallels and references in tonight's episode of Fringe but I didn't sign on for no book-readin' to go with my television-watchin'. Then her stepdad comes in and lights into her, because apparently he already told her to go to bed, and dammit, he meant that! Olivia bolts and runs through the house -- and then she's suddenly in an empty field, dark. She looks around, confused, and then looks up shocked, as some large object's shadow slides over her -- and then she's back at home, with her stepdad finishing his threat: "... ever run from me!" And he grabs her by the back of his head. Hmmm. Stepdad seems to have taken her disappearance and reappearance completely in stride.
The next morning, Elizabeth is cheerfully making breakfast for Peter, who sits glowering at her. "Do you really think I don't know that you're not my mother?" Jesus, kids, amirite? It's always the same thing with them: "I want a cellphone! Can you drive me to the mall? You're not my mother because my mother is in an alternative universe!"
She doesn't want to get into this, asking how many questions she's going to have to get right before he believes her. "You got some wrong," he points out, but she says maybe he's confused because he was so sick. "He makes you say that, doesn't he? 'Cause he's the one who stole me," says Peter. "Stole you from where, Peter?" she asks. "From the other world at the bottom of the lake," says Peter. He says he knows that he sounds crazy, but he's not. Elizabeth decides they should get some air. Maybe run some errands, head down to Decorative Cinderblock Warehouse to replace the one that's at the bottom of Reiden Lake.
Meanwhile, Walter's showing up for work at Jacksonville, and he looks terrible, according to Ashley. Yeah! He's all blurry and he has a weird wig! He tells her he wants to separate the children and begin independent testing, only he's distracted when he realizes Olivia's inside (he can see her through what is presumably one-way glass). "She didn't have a very good night either," says Ashley.
So he goes in to see