"Peter and the Machine" [chapter 2] (BEYOND THE FRINGE chapter #2A)

I don't know how anyone else feels about this comic, but I, myself, feel like I have an intense love/hate relationship with it. I love it because, well, it's awesome; we get so much insight into what Peter has gone through since "The Day We Died" (3.22), but it's all so confusing and doesn't make much sense, at least, not to me. For example, who is Dian Cecht? Are we ever going to understand who he is and how he seems to know so much about Peter and his life, why he is wearing a suit in the time period in which he is? Does the latter part of that question have anything to do with the Observers? He says that he is neither Olivia nor "the Bishop," and initially, I had thought that he said "the Bishop" because he had heard Peter say his last name and didn't realize that it was his last name, but I don't think so anymore, not given what knowledge he eventually reveals. Also, now that I have seen the most recent episode, "Novation" (4.05), I notice a potential continuity error. He says to Cecht that the "universe is trying to correct itself by wiping me out," yet he seems to arrive at that realization for the first time in the episode, so unless he has no memory of doing any of this, that is a continuity error, most likely, and it can't be said that it's because the comics are not canon; Josh Jackson is writing these A stories.

Much like he tells his beloved team in "The Day We Died" (3.22), Peter tells the tribe chief upon whom he stumbles that he has seen the future and that it is worse than anything that he could possibly imagine; it is, in fact, nearly word for the word exactly the same line, which I don't like because it kind of weakens the strength of the line from the season 3 finale, knowing now that it wasn't the first time that he delivered it. I do like the panel of images that we see when he says this, though; we see Olivia with a bullet in her head, we see a picture of what appears to be Red Olivia and Red Lincoln together as Red Olivia loses her baby, so my guess is that when the Redverse was destroyed, Olivia and Lincoln were officially together romantically, and we see a limbless Colonel Broyles, among other horrifying scenes. Not too long after that, we see Sam Weiss, and I am so confused. Is this the Sam Weiss that we know from the series, and if so, where do I even start with questions? What happened to him in the timeline in which he and Peter are in this comic? How did he eventually make it back to his time, and if he didn't, does that mean that he ceased to exist in his time? Is he his own ancestor, and if that's the case, why does he look identical to himself? Everything that we know about genetic science says that that is impossible, but that's where time travel becomes shaky; you have paradoxes that don't make any sense.

I certainly hope that he didn't stay in that time and therefore ceased to exist in his time because that would mean that we won't ever see him again. I want answers, and I don't know if we will get them as it is. Peter, in this comic, entrusts Sam with the First People's information, assigning him to protect it and to "tell our story," so why doesn't Sam tell Peter and Olivia and Walter that they are the First People? Why, in "The Last Sam Weiss" (3.21), does he tell Olivia that he is not supposed to intervene? What about the 6955 kHz frequency? Obviously, it ties into the mythology, but how? Why are there two boxes (two Machines, for that matter)? Peter soon jumps to a scene in which he is at the Statue of Liberty, and an agent tells him that the world is falling apart. What time period is this and which universe? Is this meant to be the scene from "The Last Sam Weiss" when Peter goes to the Statue of Liberty and thinks that he's in the Redverse? He then encounters September, and September says that he has to come with him. Peter replies" not yet," which tells me that he knows he's going to be obliterated from existence when he's done, so, again, why doesn't he understand that now? September then tells Peter that Peter is the last piece of the Machine, which reminds me of Harry Potter. I give this comic 8.5 kHz; very telling but even more confusing.

"Subject 9" (4.04)

"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.

"Alone in the World" (4.03)

Not too long ago, I was talking to my boyfriend and said that because everyone will assume that Walter is going even crazier than they thought due to the "hallucinations," we would be seeing Dr. Sumner from "The Equation" (1.08) again, and I was right, and it makes a lot of sense that he would be seeing Walter on a regular basis. Peter and Sumner had a bit of an altercation, and Sumner told Peter that he did not believe Peter to be a dependable guardian for Walter because of his history as a con-artist, but Peter, more or less, threatened him, telling him that he did not want Peter as an enemy. Now, without Peter in the picture, Sumner probably willingly agreed to allow Walter to stay at the lab, since he probably regarded Olivia and Astrid as reliable, dependable guardians, as long as he could visit Walter on a regular basis. Peter's "bleeding through" the timeline is beginning to get obnoxious; now, Walter is even hearing him when he is trying to communicate with someone else, such as Broyles. Walter is definitely in this episode a lot more frequently than the last episode, which is a good point, in my opinion, but the science itself did little to captivate me. I consider this to be a rather average episode, and I give it 6.5 Moldy Explosions.

Something that I didn't pay much attention to until after reading the BEYOND THE FRINGE #2B comic is that Olivia tells Aaron that she likes to draw and draws Peter from memory (from her dreams), and in that comic, she is a painter. I love this scene, too, because she assures him that he will like Walter because Walter is not scary, and Walter proceeds to tell Aaron to take his shirt off and get on the table. I love those kind of fresh Fringe moments, and I am reminded of the scene in the pilot episode in which Olivia and Charlie are talking at the lab, and Walter walks by them and tells Olivia that he is going to need her to strip down to her underwear. Once again, we see that Peter apparently loved G.I. Joe as a child, since Walter holds on to a G.I. Joe toy that belonged to Peter as a child, similar to how Peter showed a G.I. Joe toy of his to the Child in "Inner Child" (1.15). Yet again, we see Olivia and children having very good relationships, and once again (in this timeline, that is), we see Astrid spending a lot more time out in the field than usual, which I'm happy to see. I love the Toy Story reference near the end of the episode, when Walter quotes it and says that he has always considered the premise to be disturbing. Toy Story was one of my favorite films as a child, and I still love it; some of the best children's films really are the Disney and Pixar collaborations, and I love how Walter makes the reference because he shares a bond with Aaron.

Walter seems to relate to the boy; he understands the boy's loneliness, which calls back what Olivia says in the premiere episode, which is that Walter has never had anything to tether him to the world. Another reason that the connection exists is that Aaron reminds Walter of Peter. He screams to Broyles that if he destroys the organism, he will kill Peter, since Aaron and the organism are linked, when, obviously, he meant Aaron, not Peter. Olivia doesn't seem to understand why Walter would call the boy Peter, as if she doesn't know where he is getting the name from, which is odd because you would think that she would know about Peter; she would, after all, know what initiated the war, wouldn't she? Once again, we hear Chris Tilton's "Man in the Mirror" piece from the premiere episode, which makes me happy because I really do love that piece; it is so immensely beautiful, and I really hope that there will be a season 4 soundtrack, but at this point, it isn't even clear if there will be a season 3 soundtrack. Chris Tilton said that because of piracy, it is very difficult to release television soundtracks, which doesn't make sense to me, because television music is not all that readily available, especially not in good quality, but that's what he said.

I love Olivia's line when she offers her opinion toward how to destroy the organism; she says, "I'm thinking flamethrowers." All that I really have to say about that is, what a BAMF. The victims, after being exposed to the "spores," definitely look really disgusting, and it honestly turned my stomach. That is something that is great about Fringe, its occasional, exceptional ability to turn your stomach. I love the milkshake scene between Walter and Aaron, and from this scene, we learn what enraged Walternate in this timeline. Basically, everything happened the same way, except September didn't intervene when Walter and Peter fell through the ice, and Peter drowned, but what about Walter? Walter fell through, too, yet he is obviously alive. My boyfriend suggested that maybe, Walter was able to break out of the ice, but that just seems too easy, like a cop-out. Also, if September's intervention was removed from the picture, how exactly did that happen, and why didn't September not distract Walternate on the Other Side so that Walternate would discover the cure and save Red Peter? That makes no sense, especially since if that's the way events would have unfurled, the war theoretically would have never happened.

I wonder, though, if when Walter tells Aaron the story of what happened to Peter as a boy, he does so knowing that he is breaching protocol? After all, we learn directly from the previous episode ("One Night in October") that civilians are not to be made aware of the parallel universe, and here is Walter telling a boy about its existence. Perhaps, Walter wasn't thinking about that, or if he was, maybe he was thinking that since Aaron is a child, no one would believe him, anyway, even if he were to tell people, or, perhaps, Walter was thinking about the fact that he's not supposed to tell people about the parallel universe, but he didn't care; Aaron asked, and he wanted to answer him. He may have felt that he owed him an answer after scolding him for touching the G.I. Joe toy. Aaron doesn't believe Walter, anyway, so it's very unlikely that he would ever tell anyone, but still, Walter couldn't have known that Aaron wouldn't believe him, especially since children tend to have very vivid imaginations. When Aaron calls Walter out on his insanity, Walter simply nods, and the matter seems to be dropped, so it could very well be that Walter knows that this isn't something that he is supposed to be discussing with a civilian and is therefore content with Aaron not believing him. It could also mean, however, as tragic as it may be, that he agrees with Aaron because of the conversation that he has with Sumner at the very beginning of the episode.

I love something that Broyles says in this episode, because it mirrors what Carla Warren says in "Peter" (2.15) when she is trying to convince Walter not to travel to the Other Side. She says that "for the sake of one life, you will destroy the world," and Broyles, in this episode, says, "We can't sacrifice countless other lives to save one boy." This is further evidence that the writers certainly know what they are doing, and I feel like a lot is paid off. This episode returns to a frequent theme on Fringe - letting go. Near the end of the third season, Walter tells Peter that he doesn't want to let him go, and Peter says that this time, Walter has to. This show very centrally focuses on questioning how far you would go for someone that you love and how, sometimes, you have to let go of what and/or who you love. In this episode, Aaron sees the organism as a friend since he has spent his life "alone in the world," and Walter tells him that he has to let it go. October is Bullying Prevention Month, so this episode comes to us at a perfect time, and I'm sure that it was intentional, as the episode shows us what kind of damage bullying can do to a person. The episode, as observed by other fans, as well, definitely has a strong The X-Files feel to it, which definitely gives it a creepy tone.

I wonder if we will ever see Aaron again. Because of Aaron's connection to the organism, Walter knows that he has to try to get Aaron to cut his connection with it, and this really reminds me of "6B" (3.14), when Olivia has to try to convince Alice, the elderly woman, to let go of her husband for the greater good. As I said, again, that theme of sacrifice is so heavily prevalent in and intertwined with the overall story, and it's obvious that because Aaron is a young boy that is probably right around the same age that Peter was when he died (maybe a tad bit older), Walter is reliving Peter's death, which is why he is so motivated to save Aaron's life and says that he can't lose him, not again, something that seems to confuse Astrid. Walter promises that he will not leave Aaron and that the two of them will see each other again soon, so I really hope that we will see him again, but I agree with Darrell of The Fringe Podcast in that unfortunately, I don't think that we will. I love the sentimental value of the scene between Olivia and Lincoln near the end of the episode; at the beginning of the episode, Olivia tells Lincoln that if he ever feels "freaked out," she is there for him, and now, he tells Olivia (after recovering from being attacked by Gus) that she looks freaked out and proceeds to ask if she wants to talk.

Nina and Massive Dynamic are mentioned, so that answers the question regarding whether or not Massive Dynamic exists, although apparently, as Darrell of The Fringe Podcast has pointed out, the Massive Dynamic logo can be seen in the Bridge Room in the premiere. I've known for a couple of weeks that Nina and Massive Dynamic would appear in "Subject 9" (4.04), but also, it made no sense to me that Massive Dynamic wouldn't exist, since Peter wouldn't have had direct or indirect involvement in its establishment. I absolutely love the ending (although I'm glad that Walter wasn't able to carry out the lobotomy, as that is quite the unsettling scene as is) because Olivia knows that Walter isn't crazy, since she has been seeing Peter in her dreams. What doesn't make much sense, though, is that Walter says that he has been afraid to tell anyone for weeks, but he does tells people in the premiere episode after hiding in the tank, for example, but maybe, he just means that he has been afraid to tell anyone since. Also, however, Sumner recites reports of Walter having claimed to have seen ghosts, so he obviously told someone, but I won't try to think too deeply about it. Now, the question obviously is, how will they "find" Peter? The promo for next week's episode, "Subject 9" (4.04), looks awesome, and I can't wait.

"What If... Peter Never Died?" (BEYOND THE FRINGE chapter #1B)

"What If... Peter Never Died?" is a really interesting comic; as a B story, it gives us a scenario that might have played out had something happened differently, so much like my "Collapse into Tomorrow" fanfiction does, it gives us a glimpse into a separate parallel universe that is not a part of the TV series. In this universe, Peter never died as a young boy. Perhaps, he was never sick, or perhaps, he was, but Walter and/or doctors either found a cure for his illness or found a way to keep it dormant. At any rate, Peter, now in his teen years, and Walter still don't have the greatest relationship; Walter is dismissive and doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to Peter. For example, when Peter receives news that something that he wrote is going to be published, he tells Walter, and Walter doesn't really seem to care. He just gives Peter money to buy pizza to celebrate by himself, which is really sad. Bell and Nina are in a relationship, as we see them in bed as Walter speaks to Bell over the phone. We also know that apparently, the lab fire never happened, or if it did, it didn't kill Carla, since she is alive. There is, however, an incredibly profound difference in this universe, which I think says a lot, and that is that in this universe, the parallel universe is public knowledge.

In this universe, Walter stands as a public figure; he is famous and appears on television to talk about the parallel universe. Although people cannot travel to a parallel universe, they can look into one using one of Walter's windows, and the primary purposes seem to be to see how you, yourself, are different and also to see people that you may have lost in this universe, to see them living. Peter meets Olivia, and she doesn't think that this is right, and I agree with her. We cannot possibly grow as humans if we have such an ability, to see people that are supposed to be dead, for example, because grief will be much harder, possibly impossible, to surpass. Olivia is an artist, a painter, something that I didn't know about her (is she in either the Blueverse or the Redverse, I wonder?). I love the "white tulip" reference, since Olivia painted a painting of white tulips; apparently, even in this universe, they have special meaning. Also interesting is that Peter seems much more timid and introverted than I would have thought him to be, and he is even bullied; the Peter that we know from the TV series seems like the type that would bully rather than be bullied. The best part of this comic is, perhaps, the scene in which we see Astrid and the Milkshakes and who appears to be Broyles enjoying the show in the crowd.

Olivia really seems quite different, as well. She is not the typically stoic, serious, "down to business" kind of girl that we know her to be (in the Blueverse, that is); she is definitely more of a younger Redverse Olivia. She is sassy, fashionable, preppy, etc., and don't get me wrong; she is a teenager, but I definitely get the impression that Blueverse Olivia has been the way that she is for a long time, which makes me wonder if in this universe, the Cortexiphan trials didn't happen, or if they did, maybe they didn't involve Olivia. Peter discovers that he has done what Walter hasn't done yet; he has managed to develop the window into a portal, so that he can do more than just look "over there"; he can actually go there. He looks "over there" and sees that this particular Peter is not ignored by his father, that he and his father have a great relationship; he also sees that his mother didn't leave Walter (another difference in this universe, which is that Elizabeth apparently didn't die). I love the ending, how instead of going to the parallel universe, Peter goes with Olivia, and Walter finds out what Peter discovered. You get the implication that now, he might pay a little more attention to him. This is a great comic; the animation isn't bad, the story is compelling, and I give it 8.5 Dropkicks. I don't know if comic #2B will follow this storyline, but we'll find out soon enough.