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Review #3030: Fringe 4.1: “Neither Here Nor There”

Posted on the 27 September 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

There was a lot of speculation as to how “Fringe” would change after Peter used the machine to create a bridge between the two universes. We may not know each and every detail, but we do know that things are now very different in the Fringe Prime universe. One can assume that things were equally different in the Alt-Fringe universe, but at this point, we just get to see Fringe Prime.

Review #3030: Fringe 4.1: “Neither Here Nor There”

In this altered timeline, Peter was never there to help bring Walter around enough to be a fully productive member of Fringe Division or moderate Olivia’s somber bitterness, so both of them are a lot closer to the characters as they were at the beginning of the series. Since Charlie was still killed, Astrid is the field agent watching Olivia’s back.

At least, that’s how it is for now. As this episode demonstrates, the status quo might change sooner rather than later. Lincoln Lee is introduced in the Fringe Prime universe as an FBI agent whose partner is victimized by an updated, more dangerous kind of shapeshifter, and this brings him right into the Fringe Division world. The fact that it also serves as a convenient hook to bring the viewers up to speed is a nice touch.

Meanwhile, the Observers are not happy about the fact that things are not as clear cut as they had hoped them to be. Peter was supposed to disappear from each universe, which would apparently restore the balance that was broken with Peter’s abduction and survival. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Peter keeps flickering into existence. Worse, Walter keeps seeing him, and since Walter is still the really unstable Walter of yesteryear, this causes a lot of issues.

But these are just the broad strokes of the opening act of the season arc; what is really interesting about this episode are the little details. Newer viewers won’t necessarily miss the callbacks to previous seasons, but longtime fans will definitely appreciate the connections made from John Scott through the tense Olivia/Fauxlivia interchanges. It’s all those little details that demonstrate just how much has changed for Fringe Prime, which whets the appetite for the inevitable exploration of Alt-Fringe’s alterations.

As always, the cast is excellent. Consider that this is yet another version of Olivia, Walter, Lincoln, Astrid, and so forth, and yet they are played with subtle differences that make them believable, fully-realized characters in their own right. I can’t think of many other casts on television that could pull it off this often or this well.

Overall, this is possibly the best “Fringe” premiere yet. It may not be the exposition-heavy episode that many people expected, but frankly, it’s better this way. I’d rather them take their time showing us the changes and playing out Peter’s fate, rather than telling us all about it and rushing Peter’s return.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 3/4

Final Rating: 9/10

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