"Subject 9" has been my favorite fourth season episode so far. There have been some complaints; for example, one person said that he was not happy because he found the episode to be anti-climatic. At the very end of the last episode, Olivia and Walter realize that they are seeing the same man, so they say that they need to find him, and in this episode, they do so without any effort on their part. I can agree with that, but other than that, I am very happy with the episode. I remember wondering whether or not Olivia and Walter would tell Astrid about the man that they were seeing, and we learn from this episode that they did confide in her. We get some really interesting questions regarding what happened in this timeline, or, perhaps, further developments would be a better way of putting it. Olivia and Nina are very close, which leads me to believe that Nina was Olivia's legal guardian, since Nina remembered Olivia being interested in a boy with whom she wanted to go to a dance. Walter and Olivia are closer, and Olivia doesn't seem to resent Walter for the Cortexiphan trials (which did still happen). Walter and Nina's relationship is much different, with a lot of hostility ("Viper!") that was not there before. It's all really interesting.
The Cortexiphan trials, again, did still happen, but they didn't happen the same way. Olivia ran away from them and never finished, and somehow, this led to her not being so angry with Walter as an adult. Astrid had never heard of Cortexiphan, and Olivia had not known that there was any connection between the Cortexiphan subjects ("Why me? Why now?"), which means that episodes such as "Bad Dreams" (1.17) never happened, and this bothers me, because this makes even more episodes that couldn't have possibly happened. There already were so many, and now, there are even more. We learn that Cameron James is the first Cortexiphan subject that Olivia has met, so episodes such as "Bad Dreams," (1.17), "The Road Not Taken," (1.19), "There's More than One of Everything" (1.20) (since they hadn't heard of Reiden Lake), "Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver.," (2.16), "Concentrate and Ask Again," (3.12) and so forth never happened. I also don't get the impression that Olivia has ever shown any abilities beforehand, which could be because the Cortexiphan wasn't administered to her as long, but I have always believed that Olivia's ability to remember numbers is because of Cortexiphan, and we know that she still has that ability, at least.
I absolutely love Olivia in this episode; Anna Torv, as usual, is amazing, and, also as usual, so is John Noble. We see some fantastic on-screen chemistry between the two of them during this episode; we have never seen them like this before. Walter faces the possibility of having to go back to St. Claire's, something of which he becomes aware when he finds opened mail in Olivia's jacket that suggests that Walter be placed back at St. Claire's. It looks like I was right about why Sumner agreed to allow Walter to leave in the first place; Olivia is his official guardian, and he was more inclined to trust Olivia than he was Peter. Walter's fear could, very well, be why he calls Astrid "Claire" (something that I honestly didn't consider until listening to the Fringe Podcast episode of "Subject 9"), and I absolutely love that scene. "Really? Claire?" Astrid responds. "That doesn't even start with an A." This tells us that despite what some of us had thought, Walter still tends to get Astrid's name wrong in this timeline. I love the scene in which Walter completely loses his cool in the hotel room; he is truly slipping away, since we have never seen him that bad. He feels incredibly guilty for what he did to the Cortexiphan children so many years ago, which is ironic because, as previously stated, Olivia doesn't seem to harbor as much resentment.
Something that I find odd, though, is that Olivia seems to be seriously considering sending Walter back to St. Claire's, and we know this because of the conversation that she has with Walter over root beer floats. Based on this conversation, she seems to be struggling between her choices but clarifies that regardless of the decision that she makes, she is doing what's best. The reason that I say that this is odd is because you wouldn't think that allowing Walter to be placed back at St. Claire's would be an option that she would be willing to consider. Yes, as she said, she wants to do what's best, but she must also be aware that she needs Walter's help. That's why she freed him from St. Claire's in the first place, isn't it, to enlist his help? She needs his expertise, so I just find that to be a bit odd. I love how shortly after that, Olivia is battling for power with the cop, and she tells him to look at her boss's name (Phillip Broyles) and then his boss's name, saying that she's sure that he will recognize that name, but it's left at that. You have to love Olivia, and that kind of attitude has been present since the pilot episode, so that hasn't changed. I just wonder if it's the president's name that he reads; that is the impression that I get, but I suppose it could also be a senator or something to that effect.
This episode reminds me of "The Arrival" (1.04) in some ways. Olivia and Walter buy Root Beer Floats, a dessert that is seen in that episode, and also, Olivia suggests that Walter left the lab because he wanted to prove that he was competent, which reminds me of what happens in that episode. Something that is definitely confusing about Walter (and again, this is something that I had never considered until The Fringe Podcast mentioned it) is that Olivia says in this episode that Walter (in this timeline) hasn't left the lab in three years, but we know that this isn't true. At the end of the season 3 finale ("The Day We Died"), he is at the Bridge Room with Walternate and the two Olivias, so is that a continuity error, or did Olivia mean besides that? If she meant besides that, I wish that she would have been more specific and had said, "Walter, besides the Bridge Room encounter..." Maybe she knew that that would remind him of Walternate and the Other Side and would get him worked up; that's a possibility. Also, I don't know if I was the only one who noticed (besides my boyfriend, since he did, too), but Walter looks very sick in this episode, and since I'm sure that that is not a reflection upon John Noble, there has to be a reason for that, a reason that he was made up to look so sick, and I know it's not just me; if you didn't notice, look again.
I don't know if anyone else noticed this, either, but the apartment in which Cameron James lives looks a lot like the other Olivia's apartment in the Redverse, and, in fact, I'm pretty sure that it is the same building. We see a good glimpse of the other Olivia's apartment in "Bloodline" (3.18) when an Observer watches her enter, and both the exterior and the interior look the same to me. Now, I'm not suggesting anything other than that it was the same filming location, but I still find it interesting. I love the scene in which Walter mentions to Cameron that Cameron hadn't like raisin toast when he was a child, and Cameron says, "Have you ever had raisin toast?" He is a character that really develops in the small amount of time that we know him, because by the end of the episode, his previously held anger and resentment toward Walter turns into compassion (which could be the track down which Olivia had driven). Much as I had suspected he would be, Peter is back by the end of this episode, and he shows up naked in Reiden Lake, which is interesting, to say the least. I was hoping that his being naked would boost the ratings a bit, but no such luck (not even his return did, apparently).
I find it interesting how the Observer present at his return doesn't appear to be September, and I just find that odd because you would assume that if anyone would have been there, it would have been September, but maybe it was January; January, from what we could tell from the premiere episode, seems to have an interest (if we want to go so far as to call it that) in the Fringe Division team and how events have happened differently without Peter. Is that because he is the Child from "Inner Child" (1.15)? I really hope that that is answered for us, the fate of the Child and whether or not he is, for sure, an Observer, even though I really think that it's totally safe to assume that he is. Also, I find something else worthy of mentioning; it seems like whenever Walter is nervous and can't find a solution to a problem, being physically comforted by someone, such as someone holding his hand, for example, helps him, and it usually results in him developing an idea. For example, in "Of Human Action" (2.07), he's very nervous after Peter is abducted by Tyler and consequently can't think of anything, but he has an idea when Nina comforts him and encourages him. In this episode, he doesn't want to be left alone outside of Cameron's apartment, so he asks for Olivia's phone so he can talk to Astrid; it's clear that he is motivated by connection and doesn't like feeling alone, which is why he relates to Aaron in "Alone in the World" (4.03).
What is especially interesting, though, is that Peter doesn't seem to understand why he's not remembered, which is interesting because I know that a lot of fans (not necessarily myself) had previously thought that when he and Walter made the plan that they did in 2026, they knew that it would lead to Peter no longer existing; they knew what kind of sacrifice they would have to make, but now, unless Peter has no memory of anything that has happened since the events of "The Day We Died" (3.22), we have to dismiss that, because he expects people to remember him when he finally comes back, and he seems very confused when Olivia asks him who he is, and I do have some details regarding the next episode, "Novation" (4.05), but I will keep that under wraps for now. I do understand the stance that some took in regards to this episode, saying that they feel cheated, and I even agree to a certain extent, but I don't agree with the people that say that the pacing is slow, since, as previously stated, this has been my favorite episode of the season so far, and I give it 9 Olivia Maneuvers. "Novation" looks like it will be another great episode, and I'm happy that Peter is back because (I'm hoping that) that means that the old timeline will be restored soon.