Finally, the wait is over, and Fringe is back. The fourth season premiere is not, all in all, a bad start to the season. The episode is certainly not boring, as (although probably not as fast-paced as the second season premiere, "A New Day in the Old Town") it is certainly fast-paced. However, as I strongly suspected I would not, I do not like the alternate timeline and want the old timeline to be restored immediately. Too much is different for me to be comfortable with, and technically, the past three years haven't happened. I actually tweeted Joel Wyman very recently (but before the premiere aired) with that concern, and his reply was, "They happened. Trust." I then read an interview a couple of days later in which he assured fans that the past three years did happen, except without Peter, which, to me, means that they didn't happen. Many episodes would have incredibly different causes and effects without Peter. In fact, Olivia tells Lincoln about what transpired in the pilot episode regarding John Scott, and even that happened differently. There are some episodes, in fact, such as "What Lies Below" (2.12), "The Man from the Other Side" (2.18), "Northwest Passage" (2.20), and "Reciprocity" (3.11), that couldn't have possibly happened at all, so the three years that we know could not have possibly happened.
I am, however, comforted by a couple of points. To start, we do know that Peter will be back, but we don't know how, and Josh said something over the summer at ComicCon that I feel is a bit "spoilery," so I won't repeat it in honor of those who wish to stay spoiler-free. Secondly, John Noble said in an interview not too long ago that the fun of the alternate timeline is that it provides a "reset" for new fans but is fun for old fans because we know that the situation will correct itself like it always does, so obviously, that is reassuring. There is much that has changed, as September says to January (CBK?). Additionally, Astrid doesn't babysit Walter as often; she actually does field work, and while I do like seeing Astrid in action, I miss the interaction between her and Walter, something of which there wasn't as much. Instead, someone named Tim watches over Walter, who, mind you, lives at the lab. Without Peter, everyone seems so miserable. Walter is much more bi-polar than he usually is and even causes Olivia to shrink back for a second when he loses his patience with her. It is clear (although my boyfriend doesn't agree with me) that Olivia is not as happy, and I wonder about Charlie. She mentions having lost a partner to Lincoln but is talking about John Scott; she doesn't mention Charlie.
There are a few stabbing lines in the script that remind us of Peter's non-existence. For example, Olivia mentions that there has always been a hole in her life for as long as she can remember, which suggests that in this alternate timeline, she has been conscious of something missing. Also, when Lincoln is angry with Olivia for telling him that her division was taking the body of his friend and partner, Robert Danzig (played by Joe Flanigan of Stargate Atlantis) reminds her that Robert was his partner and then says, "Maybe you can't understand that,"and when he demands to talk to someone else, she says, "There is no one else; there's just me." Seth Gabel, by the way, is absolutely fantastic in this scene; Lincoln looks so angry that he is ready to break down in tears, and Seth grasps this perfectly. Later in the episode, Walter says to Lincoln, "People die; it happens, sometimes, they even die twice." This seems to suggest that in this timeline, both Peters died, and Walter either watched Red Peter die through his window, or he still tried to bring him over which either resulted in Peter drowning in the lake (which makes me wonder, however, why Walter didn't die, too, but it is on par with December's comment that "the boy lived to be a man" because of September's intervention), which would explain why Walternate is angry and hungry for revenge.
During the scene in which Walter notices a wedding ring on Robert Danzig's body, he says, "I don't think there's anything sadder than when two people are meant to be together and something intervenes," and this is quite obviously a stab at Peter's non-existence, especially since we see Olivia directly after he says this. Of course, not too long after, he says to Astrid that he isn't wearing any pants, which is confusing, because it looks to me like he is wearing pants. There is, however, a line that was apparently cut from the episode, as it is heard in a promo but is not in the episode itself, which is a bit disappointing. The line, based on the context in which it is spoken in the promo, looks like it should have been said during the scene in which Olivia tells Lincoln why she ultimately decided to release Robert Danzig's body; she says, "We all get pretty good at pretending that the loneliness isn't there, and then, something comes along to remind us." This obviously speaks to a lot, but I wonder if Anna was asked to perform that line merely for the promo, seeing as how given the context of the conversation that she has in the episode, this line would have been a bit out of context, especially given the latter half of it. It is really unfortunate that Walter is the only one who is seeing Peter, because until others start seeing him for themselves (Olivia, for example, just misses him), they're going to think he is hallucinating.
Walter bringing the bird back to life (although he says that that isn't actually what he does, which confuses me) reminds me very much of this past season of True Blood, as there is a scene early in the season in which Marnie, a witch, resurrects her deceased bird; I was instantly reminded of that. I would imagine that Walter attempting to restore energy to a dead bird speaks to something of larger significance, but I'm not sure what it is. The Fringe Podcast has suggested that it merely pays tribute to "Marionette" (3.09), as Walter, having seen what Roland Barrett attempted to do, is now trying to master the art of bringing the dead back to life himself; I do like that, and that could very well be the case. The Fringe Podcast has also suggested that it is a plot device, as it shows Lincoln what kind of chaos to which he is about to get himself. Something that I find odd is that in "Stowaway" (3.17), when we first meet Blue Lincoln, he is welcomed into the fold with open arms, but now, Olivia tries so hard to block him that she is actually terribly mean to him because Fringe Division is classified. Something that my boyfriend suggested is that perhaps, it's because before, it was easier to keep the other universe a secret, whereas now, that is not the case because of the two teams working together due to the Bridge, and that sounds very reasonable to me.
I love Lincoln; I always have, and it's likely that I always will, and I can't decide which Lincoln I like better. I love them both so much, and I am so happy that Seth Gabel has been promoted to a full-time position as a regular cast member, and I'm so glad that Blue Lincoln (who, by the way, is incredibly hot with a gun) is officially a member of the Blue Fringe Division team; it is just unfortunate that it had to happen in an alternate timeline. Much of the episode is from his perspective, which is really cool, but I wonder if Olivia recognizes him when she meets him but doesn't say so because she is "not at liberty" to say so; after all, since she and the other Olivia still switched places, against, of course, this Olivia's will, Olivia should have met Red Lincoln. I love how Lincoln says that "one of these things is not like the other" when he points out the witness (named Olivia) to Olivia, the same line that we heard him say in "Stowaway" (which, by the way, is yet another episode that we know didn't happen the same way). When Olivia finally shows the Bridge to Lincoln, the "red scan," if you will, totally reminds me of Alias, and I noticed on Twitter during the night that the episode aired that other fans were making the exact same observation. It looks, to me, like the other Olivia does recognize Lincoln, although some seem to disagree. I wonder, also, if the code 315-09x means anything; it is a license plate that the camera ensures that we see, and numbers on Fringe have to mean something.
I absolutely love the first scene of the episode, when the two Olivias are interacting with one another, leafing through case files, because I have been waiting for another confrontation between those two for over a year, and there is so much hostility between the two of them, and it's hard not to laugh at it; granted, I do feel a bit cheated, because now that I have finally seen that confrontation, it doesn't involve Peter, and events haven't happened the same way. However, Red Olivia comments on how lonely Blue Olivia must be, which is yet another line that stabs at Peter's non-existence, but also, it suggests that Red Olivia might still be with Frank, since she never got pregnant. I don't know if anyone else noticed, by the way, but in that scene, Blue Olivia is wearing a blue shirt, and Red Olivia is wearing a red shirt. We do have a new orange intro, with new fringe sciences listed, as well, and those are Existence, Quantum Entanglement, Philosopher's Stone, Psychometry, Viral Therapy, Ethereal Plane, Gravitons, Time Paradox, Psychogenesis, Biolocation, Psychic Surgery, and Transgenics. Some of these are rather obvious, but in regards to others, we will have to wait to see if we can piece together how they will fit, and there definitely seems to be a "psych" motif, which is interesting.
I absolutely love September's line in this episode when the shopkeeper asks him what he needs all of those scientific materials for, and he replies by saying, "I need to erase someone from time." I can only imagine what the shopkeeper must have been thinking after he heard that. I also love one of Astrid's lines, which is that "dead people do not use credit cards," definitely a memorable quote. The scene in which the Shapeshifter breaks off a fingernail is utterly disgusting, and during my second viewing of the episode, I had to turn away, knowing that it was coming. There seems to be a new breed of Shapeshifter, which is definitely game-changing. We know that the team recognizes that they're a new breed, so who created these Shapeshifters? Was it Walternate? If so, then maybe that's how Red Olivia is going to be a bit more sympathetic to this side, realizing that Blue Olivia is sensible not to trust the Redverse. Is September turning soft? That's what I think. I think that, as August developed a connection to Christine, September has developed a connection to Walter and now realizes that he can't bear to erase Peter completely, which tells me that he will have something to do with Peter's eventual return. Chris Tilton's score is better than ever, as the "Man in the Mirror" theme is utterly beautiful and captures the mood of the episode so perfectly. The episode is average (I ultimately give it 7.5 Translucent John Sheppards), but I miss the family and want it back immediately.