Fringe 4.05 "Novation" Review

A tv review article by: Paul Brian McCoy

The translucent shapeshifters return to plague Fringe division, and a former Massive Dynamic scientist is involved. Meanwhile, Walter meets with Nina Sharp.

Fringe airs Friday nights at 9:00 on FOX.

Peter's back and Fringe Division has him! Locked up, that is.

Our first episode of the season with full Peter doesn't really let us down, thanks to the return of the new Shapeshifter and a guest-appearance by Arye Gross as a former Massive Dynamic scientist named Malcolm Truss. We've also got a new twist on the already twisted Peter/Walter relationship.

I know I've been saying I didn't want Peter (Joshua Jackson) back this quickly, but I can't complain about the character dynamic he brings to the show. Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) is a nice addition to the cast, but since this is the Our World version of Lee, he's a bit too restrained to balance out the coolness of Olivia (Anna Torv).

Peter brings a wild card element to the group that I'd forgotten about. But after just a few scenes of cocky banter I was back onboard the Peter Train.

Um…

Anyway, this was a return to the overarching plot and it looks like there is a definite new conflict brewing between worlds. There's no hint of who's behind the Shapeshifters, but their lines of communication are very familiar. In other Shapeshifting news, it turns out these Shifters can store multiple identities and switch between them after sampling their victims' DNA.

That's very Leviathan (this season's Supernatural Big Bad), right there.

And it turns out the whole translucent skin issue that these Human Shapeshifters have is a design flaw that our current Shapeshifter, Nadine (Michelle Krusiec) is trying to fix, with the help of Dr. Truss. Gross does a good job as Truss, further cementing his skills at portraying nebbishes, and Krusiec slips comfortably from vulnerable to threatening at the drop of a hat.

The real draw of the episode, though, was the reunion of Peter and the rest of Fringe Division. Interestingly enough, it's the one character with no real Peter experience, Lee, who is the most willing to give him a chance. I don't know if that's intentional or not, but I like the fact that those who worked with him before the Rewriting of History are the most hesitant and hostile toward him.

In the biggest surprise of the evening, Walter (John Noble) rejects him flat-out and we get a glimpse of what's going on in Walter's head. The guilt that he's lived with over the years since both Peters died has crippled him emotionally and he believes that his suffering is just. He doesn’t feel he deserves to get Peter back, which sucks for Peter.

You see, Peter needs Walter's help to figure out why he's back. After just a few minutes of questioning, he's able to suss out the source of the mystery (the Observer didn't fish them both out of the lake after the ice broke in this version of reality), but doesn't know what it means or how he can be there if he was supposed to be dead.

Unfortunately, Walter considers him to be a temptation and refuses to allow himself any relief from his guilt by refusing to have anything to do with him. After years of watching Walter obsess over whether or not Peter was his real son, it was a shocking moment. It hurts to see him embrace this pain when he could finally start to heal.

I know, I know. We've really only had a few episodes of this new, more damaged version of Walter, but he's so much more delicate than the Walter from previous seasons I can't help but want to see him get better. Noble's performance brings that out in me.

And I wish they'd stop showing him with that lobotomy spike shoved in his eye in the "Previously On" segments at the beginning of each episode. That freaks me out every time.

Equally shocking was the revelation that in this reality, Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) took Olivia into her home and raised her after the tragedies of her childhood. I still can't decide if she's hiding things from them, or if she really doesn't recall things like Truss' name until they check the Massive Dynamic records. Regardless, she's creeping me out.

Especially that scene where she tries to convince Walter that he should forgive himself.

It's a world gone topsy-turvy!


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 US, Kindle UK, 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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