Fringe 4.01 "Neither Here Nor There" Review

A tv review article by: Paul Brian McCoy, Chris Murman

The teams on the two worlds work together to solve the case of a shapeshifter, and Agent Lincoln Lee joins his world's team when no one remembers the existence of Peter Bishop.

Fringe airs Friday nights at 9:00 on FOX.

Chris Murman: This show always ends the episode by raising more questions. I'm curious what your questions were. My main one was WHY DIDN'T WE SEE PETER MORE?!?!?!? :)

I know that's not very writer friendly, so let me try again.

It has to be the first thing people wanted to know after coming back from a layoff, correct?

Paul Brian McCoy: Right off the bat you're going to make me stifle the "wanting to see Peter" jokes, aren't you?

I agree. But I like how this one took off. I can do without some Peter for a while. Or maybe make do with just a glimpse of Peter.

I honestly don't know how long I can keep from making dick jokes.

Chris: You're a professional. Just channel your professional-ness.

Paul: Thank goodness we're not talking about this week's Parks and Recreation!

Chris: I don't have enough medication to keep a stream of consciousness going to talk about that show.

Paul: Ha! Okay, back to Fringe then.

Chris: So you're happy about easing Peter back in.

Paul: LOL!

I honestly didn't really miss Peter. I want to see more of this new world.

Chris: It was a very "man on the street" approach to the new world. Kind of like the New 52 #1 issues.

Paul: The creators are calling this a series premiere rather than a season premiere, so that's rather apt. And while I thought it got a little heavy-handed at times with the "something's missing" dialogue, I thought it was a very nice new beginning.

Chris: By virtue of changing things, you almost HAVE to spend some exposition re-establishing the status quo.

Paul: Yeah, they've got to rebuild that groundwork.

Chris: I know there will be other connections, but for now the only link between the two universes is the Olivias throwing snarky barbs back and forth to each other? In a strange building next to the statue of liberty?

Paul: I was amazed how in just a matter of a minute or two I was back in love with Fauxlivia over Olivia.

Chris: You can't be the only one. It seems to me that for the "main" universe characters they are intentionally playing them off to show that they just aren't the people we fell in love with over three seasons because Peter made them...better?!?

Paul: You're right.

Chris: Olivia is an empty bitch, Walter is crazier than normal.

Paul: Olivia's always been distant and a little chilly - especially after she lost her partner/lover back in the beginning. And Walter... poor Walter.

How John Noble doesn't have a shelf full of Emmys is beyond me.

Chris: It's because nobody respects well-done sci fi.

Paul: True.

Chris: You have to be a science teacher making meth to show the voters you mean business. Or apparently a high school football coach in Texas.

Paul: I'm sure Walter could whip up a nice batch of Meth. You know, if he wanted.

Chris: He made drugs nobody had heard of before!

What about the other two main characters on the "old team"? Broyles seemed the same.

Paul: Maybe a little more hard core, but we didn't really get to see him much. Although I like the way in the new world, Fringe Division is super-duper-secret instead of just secret.

Chris: Astrid seems to be the only one benefiting from Peter being gone. I really like her more in the field and helping Olivia out now.

Paul: Yeah, it's good to see her out getting her hands dirty. Of course, it's because Walter is such a basket case, which makes me sad.

Sad in an "invested in the character" way, not a critical way.

Chris: He was hard to watch, especially after learning he never leaves the lab. Sleeping in the back room.

Paul: This is what, the fourth version of Walter that Noble has gotten to play?

Regular Walter, Walter with his brain pieces back, Walternate, and now Broken Walter.

Chris: Wow, he really doesn't get any credit for great work. Except for getting a part in LA Noire!

Paul: I've been watching him host Dark Matters over on the Science Channel.

Chris: Okay, high level question, here. When we are supposed to go along with "Peter never existing" does that mean neither Walter ever even HAD a child?

Paul: I'd say, from the looks of things, it appears both Walters lost their Peters.


Chris: So, Walter never crossed over to go get the other Peter? Or did he?

Paul: I can't remember if it was something from the preview for next week or something the Observers said. But it looks like both kids died.

Walter crossing over is another matter. I've very curious to see how the writers play this out.

Chris: Because everything else seemed to happen, Fauxlivia even commented how everything that happened on her side was the other's fault. Meaning he had to crossover for SOME reason.

Paul: Yeah, I'm willing to bet that's what happened. Walter crossed over but failed to save Peter. And then everything went to hell.

We still had the shapeshifter spies and all, for example.

Chris: Because if Walter didn't piss Walternate else could this war have started?

Paul: Exactly.

Chris: There's just a lot of stuff to wipe Peter's name out of if all of him never existed. Like all the notes and stuff referring to him being the key to the machine - which still sits where we last saw it, by the way.

Or how peace was ever brokered to begin with. Or where the link between the two universes came from.

Paul: So he's still the lynchpin, just not in the way we found out last season. Those are the details that will determine whether or not this season comes together like the last two have.

I've been very vocal in my support for this show, even during the rough patches, and I hope this season doesn't let me down.

Chris: Right. So where do you think he is right now?

Paul: I have no idea. But, the fact that he's showing up in mirrors and glimmers as an echo that our Main Observer is supposed to erase is an interesting approach.

Chris: Well, they certainly put all their eggs in one basket with this season.

Paul: Yurp.

Chris: Okay, well then let's move on to the one Observer with a conscience. What do we think his deal is?

Paul: Again, I have no idea.

That's what I love about this show. It goes places that I'm not expecting. Sometimes it doesn't make a lot of sense, but the imagination and energy usually carry me though.

Chris: So the Observers. Are they aliens? From a different universe?

Paul: Just so long as they're not angels I'll go with whatever the writers tell us.

Chris: Bald, strangely dressed aliens with a penchant for tinkering with electronics. Well, not strangely, just not dressed to blend in any way in my opinion.

Paul: I'm wondering if having "California Dreaming" playing in the diner where they met is supposed to be a clue.

Chris: Well, this is a JJ Abrams joint, but this show doesn't seem to me the type that has a million Easter Eggs. There are a few but I don't really watch the show for all of them most of the time.

It's one of those "I'll appreciate it later when it's pointed out to me" kinds of things.

It's crazy, I was listening to a podcast with Lindelof and he talked about how with Lost they trained viewers to just scour every inch of footage for any clue that could mean something in the grand scheme of things.

Paul: Ha!

Chris: We really have turned into that as Lost fans haven't we? Even though I'm not a huge Easter Egg finder I still gain appreciation out of discussing them.

Paul: It's a way of at least hinting that there's a larger plan behind the weekly installments. Whether they pan out or not.

Chris: Damon said that people went on and on about the finale to Sopranos and what eggs people could find in the diner.

Paul: Yeah.

Chris: He said to himself, "David Simon doesn't do that, maybe a show just is what it appears to be at times." But because they came out at the same time, egg searchers did the same thing to both shows.

You don't ever hear about anyone doing that with the Wire do you?

Paul: Fringe doesn't usually play that game either, really. There are little bits here and there, but they seem to present their plots in a pretty straight-forward manner. There are mysteries that need solving and surprise twists and turns, but the focus is on the weekly experience.

And building that to an overall seasonal experience.

They don't tend to lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Chris: Well said. What did you think of Lincoln taking Peter's spot as Olivia's partner in the main universe?

Paul: I liked that A LOT. Especially with the way Olivia has been recast as the hardened bad-ass.

Chris: It was strange for me because I got to know his alternate before I got to know the real character.

Lee was the hard-ass team leader on the other side.

Paul: He's another that's getting to really stretch by playing a third iteration of his character. Although this one is pretty close to the Our World Lee that we saw at the end of last season.

Chris: True.

Paul: I'm just hoping we see Charlie again.

Chris: But again, I knew his alternate first. I can watch Fauxlivia and appreciate her because I got to know the real Olivia first. Same with Walternate, Astrid, Broyles, etc.

Paul: It's nice to see the bleeding over of the Other Side into Our Fringe.

Chris: Meaning?

Paul: Our side becoming more militant, Astrid getting into the field, bringing Lee into the fold.

Chris: Guess I never thought of it that way. We are becoming to speak.

Paul: Or something closer, anyway. It's like the stuff that I loved about the Other Side are being integrated into Our Side.

Chris: Just with Walter-nuts. Sorry, had to try.

Paul: Nice one. I said a few times last season that I'd watch a Fringe series set entirely over there, with no reference to our world at all.

Chris: I think that is the one bit of trepidation I have about the direction of the show now. The other universe is its own thing. And last season, alternating between the two was interesting and showed off the talents of the writers.

But I worry that if they keep doing that this season it will begin to meander a bit.

Paul: Hmmm. I heard that instead of switching from the Blue and Red credit sequences to represent the two sides, this season's Orange credits represent a world with no Peter. But with him still appearing, I wonder if he's going to be the thread that ties the two sides together narratively.

I mean, will we get stories from the two sides again, but with appearances of Peter being woven into the fabric?

Chris: He doesn't stay gone long, right?

Paul: I don't know. I've avoided all spoilers.

Chris: If television was truly for us fans, they would give us a full season without Peter. Just so we could truly enjoy this new status quo.

But seems to me by the time we get to the Xmas break he has to be back.

Paul: Probably.

It would be interesting if, in recreating reality as a shared one, Peter is the origin of the Observers somehow.

Chris: Can't imagine them wanting to erase Peter if that was the case. It's probably like when Bruce or Cap had to travel back through time to get to their perspective comic book universes.

Instead of time it will be realities.

The Observers want Peter gone, but he will fight back.

Paul: Well, they're wanting to erase his echoes. Not Peter himself, really. And he's always been important to them.

Chris: True.

Paul: They've got an opportunity to get very timey-wimey with this show. They probably won't go that way, of course.

Chris: Good or bad thing?

Paul: An interesting thing.

Chris: The timey-wimey part?

Damn you for making me type that.

Paul: Ha!

Chris: I think that part of Lost was when only the true fans of the show hung on.

Paul: That was when I loved Lost the most.

Chris: Like when the island was thrown off like a record skipping?

Paul: LOVED it!

Chris: And Linus having to redeem himself. I remember having to explain a ton to my wife during those days.

Paul: My parents watched every episode and had no idea what was going on. But couldn't stop watching.

Chris: Time travel and changing history, tends to bifurcate fans for some reason.

Paul: I'd like to think that when Peter rewrote reality, it's possible that the event itself became the origin of the Observers, making sure they have always been there to keep things on track to reach this point.

Instead, the Observers will probably just be aliens or something. Oh well.

Chris: That is a good point. When fans start pontificating about what the story could end up being, the reality is often something much more simple and not as fun at times, right?

Paul: Yeah. I'm just glad we got an actual Multiple Reality Science Fiction show out of this. Anything else will be gravy.

A show where the alternate world isn't just a gimmick like in Sliders or something, but was actually the focus of the plot and character development.

Chris: I really enjoyed the war between the two realities. Knowing that is gone for now makes me a little sad.

Then again, the war could still be going on, just more subversive. There's no real force policing the two in actuality.

Paul: We do have new shapeshifters.

Chris: Hmmm

Paul: Creepy Visible Man/Woman shapeshifters.

Chris: Am I correct in thinking one of them came back from the dead at the end of the show?

Paul: That's what it seemed like. Are they making human shapeshifters? Possibly a third side in the conflict?

Chris: They seem to be implanting devices that turn them translucent from what I gathered. What I couldn't figure out was when the main shapeshifter pulled his fingernail out. It was some sort of revelation to him.

Can't for the life of me get what it was.

Paul: Maybe that was a stage of transformation? I imagine we'll get a lot more information as the weeks go by. And Fringe Division has a whole lab full of them waiting to wake up.

Chris: He was injecting some sort of pee-colored liquid into his arm after all.

So both worlds will possibly have to team up against a third side...interesting.

Almost like when the Scranton and Stamford branches at Dunder Mifflin had to merge! LOL!

Paul: Ha!

Chris: We really do watch too much TV don't we?

Paul: I know I do.

Chris: According to my wife, affirmative.

So, what would you give this episode?

Paul: Well, as far as season/series premieres go I thought this was a remarkably solid one. I'm comfortable with .

I can't wait to see where they take it.

Chris: Yeah, I was thinking about five because of all the great directions this season could go, but Walter made me so sad that I can't do that. here as well.

Paul: It's the little dialogue ticks that keep me from going higher. But I thought plot-wise it was great.

Chris: Inserting Peter into the story should be a challenge.

Paul: Just look in the mirror if you're looking for Peter.

Chris: I'm all Petered out.

I'll stop now.

Paul: Of course you realize this is the new ending of the review.

Chris: Of course.

Growing up in a small West-Texas town that didn't have a comic book shop, Chris only heard whispers of this type of media in IRC and CompuServe chat rooms. It was only until he matriculated to college that he experienced the joy of standing in a sea of B.O. listening to men argue about nerdly things. Surrounded by small humans now, Chris patiently waits for nap time so he can catch up on his favorite drug: television shows. He just finished his fifth year of writing for Comics Bulletin.

Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle and Nook, or can be sampled and/or purchased at Smashwords. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.

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