Entertainment Magazine

Review #3219: Fringe 4.8: “Back to Where You’ve Never Been”

Posted on the 16 January 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: John Keegan

What happens when network scheduling snafus, overeager press releases, and entertainment site competitiveness add up to spoil the future return of a first season recurring villain? Episodes like this one, that could have ended on a shocking mid-season cliffhanger, are undermined in an significant way. The strength of the production is enough to keep it from collapsing entirely, but how much better would it have been, had the ending not been spoiled?

Review #3219: Fringe 4.8: “Back to Where You’ve Never Been”

It’s deeply unfortunate, because the first seven episodes of the season led the audience towards a compelling couple of key questions: where was Walternate, and what role has he been playing in the shapeshifter attacks on Fringe Prime? When Walter refuses to help Peter find a way back to his original timeline, it seems rather obvious that the time for answers has come.

Unfortunately, it also begins with the emergence of a shapeshifter attack in Alt-Fringe, which automatically changes the perception of what has been happening. If both sides are being attacked by the new shapeshifters, how can it be Walternate’s doing? Thanks to the spoilers regarding the return of an old villain, Mr. Jones, the answer is obvious. And the audience is left waiting until the writers get around to the reveal.

Thankfully, there were other elements that kept this from being a long chore of a waiting game. First and foremost, there was the infiltration mission with Fringe Prime’s Lincoln Lee, which was a treat. He was very convincing when trying to convince the guard of his identity, and it proves that the entire cast is capable of pulling of the subtle differences between versions of their characters.

The scenes between Peter and his “parents” were also brilliant. As much as the truth about Walternate was telegraphed, it was great to see yet another version of Walter. This time, he has the dedicated purpose of the original Walternate, but his moral code remains intact. I could watch scenes of that caliber all day long.

There was also the surprising moment between Olivia and the injured September, who has a portent of doom to deliver. Apparently, for things to be put right, Olivia must die. And since there are various universes and timelines currently in play in the story, it’s not at all clear what that’s supposed to mean. Is he referring specifically to that incarnation of Olivia, or does it mean all Olivias?

By the end of the episode, it’s hard not to be pleased with the results. It would have been a solid mid-season cliffhanger, to say the least. But it’s also hard not to be disappointed when a major reveal was effectively spoiled long before the episode aired. Those who were lucky enough to miss the spoilers likely felt more satisfied in the end.

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

Final Rating: 8/10

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