It's been just days since our worlds collided -- and the opening credits are a pale orange (or perhaps amber?) -- and Olivia and Walter especially are still suspicious of the other universe's Fringe team. “If you can't trust the people you're dealing with, what then?” Olivia asks Fauxlivia, as they exchange files in an attempt to sort out various universe-saving methods. But the casework continues as well, and it seems somewhat strange for the episode to perfunctorily deal with the collided worlds and then proceed into a Freak of the Week episode.
Lincoln Lee over here gets dragged in after his partner in Hartford is killed by a man with translucent skin and Fringe division picks up the trail. Lee has no memory of his previous work with Fringe; that's because with Peter erased from the time-stream, Lee apparently never came into contact with Olivia et al. Peter's absence manifests itself in certain ways, although for the most part it's as though details have changed while the overall picture remains similar; Olivia still first came into contact Walter seeking his help on a case, which then became a long-term Fringe assignment, but without Peter around, Walter has remained frightened of the outside world. He's spooked by sudden noises, he sleeps in a makeshift bedroom in his office, and he doesn't go into the field on cases, using field agent Astrid instead to relay data via camera to the Harvard lab, where Walter's experiments seem a little more creepier: ear-growing and dead-bird-reviving.
We see a fleeting glimpse of a blurry Peter, like a brief vision of a taped-over movie on an old VHS cassette (ask your parents). The Observer (easy to spot him in this episode) knows Peter hasn't been completely erased from this universe, and jerry-rigs a machine to finish the job -- because “they can never know the boy lived to be a man,” as December puts it -- but the Observer doesn't actually do it, for reasons we're not privy to yet. Walter keeps spotting Peter -- not that he knows it's Peter -- in mirrors and television screens, but no one believes that crazy ol' Walter is actually seeing anything.
Lee worms his way into Fringe through tenacity and stick-to-itiveness -- and seems to fill a moral conscience role that the cold Olivia and nutcase Walter can't perform as they are in this affected timestream -- and helps Fringe run the translucent man to ground. He's killed 30-odd people, and it's discovered that he's some sort-of biological-mechanical hybrid shapeshifter. Hey, where did those come from? Walternate, of course, and Olivia takes Lee to meet Fauxlivia and pass on the shapeshifter information to her in a bridge between the two universes. Lee manages somehow not to lose his mind when he sees dark clouds out one window and blue skies out another (and oh yeah, a zeppelin).
So: some groundwork laid, not as much as you might think. But look back on this hour of television and ask yourself if there wasn't a moment where you weren't anxious to see what was going to happen next, or looking for Peter in the background and the shadows. Welcome back, Fringe.
Daniel is a writer in Newfoundland with a wife and a daughter. He plans to put off finishing his recap until he knows for sure that that falling satellite is not going to hit him. Follow him on Twitter (@DanMacEachern) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.<
I guess the good news is that in the time since we've left our fearless Fringe investigators, a truce has been declared with their counterparts from Earth-2. So no sending shapeshifters to power up Doomsday devices! I'm looking at you, Walternate! The bad news is that there's still plenty of ill will to go around. Olivia's handing over some boxes of files to Fauxlivia, and also dealing out plenty of attitude. "This isn't gonna work, this truce, because you're not trustworthy," she says, and Fauxlivia offers her default smirk and suggests Olivia's the problem, that she's incapable of trust. Olivia tries pointing out that Fauxlivia kidnapped her and stole her life, so pardon HER if trust isn't exactly her for-TAY, but Fauxlivia saucily says living Olivia's life made her all the more homesick for her own universe: "Must be hard to develop trust in people when all you've got is yourself." Fauxlivia's sliding over boxes of files of her own; hers are black. Like her heart. There's a little more Maury Povich-style "You don't know me!" stuff between the two of them, and then Olivia says "happy reading" adding Fauxlivia will likely find a lot of the cases familiar since she and her people were responsible, and Fauxlivia's all "ditto." They're in some sort of cavernous room with bright lights and some sort of computer monitoring thingy on the wall, and as Olivia walks away, we see just a brief flash of Peter wink in and out of view.
Do the Observers ever like to eat out in nicer places than these diners and greasy spoons they keep rendezvousing in? Some place with a little more privacy? The Observer strolls in to one, where December is already waiting, sitting at a table. Nobody in the diner says, "Holy shit, another one!" The Observer sits down and the two of them start talking about a problem December is alluding to: "It is impossible. The timeline has been rewritten. He was erased. And yet traces of him continue to bleed through," says the Observer. "California Dreamin'" is playing on the jukebox, for the record. December hands over a small metallic bar and tells the Observer that it's their responsibility to ensure events play out as they were intended before his intervention. "They can never know the boy lived to be a man," says December, and the Observer promises to take care of it.
New opening credits! By which I mean differently colored opening credits. The news ones are amber, which means I lost $20 betting on "purple" in the office Fringe season premiere pool.