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Recap: Fringe, Episode 4.5, “Novation”

This week we open at the Federal Building in Boston. A cavalcade of dark vehicles pulls into a parking garage. Peter is led out by guards and greeted (well, more like not greeted) by Broyles. Broyles and the guards accompany Peter to a secure interview room.

At the lab, Olivia enters to find Walter hooked up to a machine that’s injecting him with something. Oh, it’s adrenaline. This is how Walter is getting sleep ““ and waking up ““ these days. How clever, and dangerous. Olivia tells him that the man calling himself Peter Bishop has stopped cooperating with the FBI. He claims he’s Walter’s son and will only talk to him.

Hillsdale, NY. A man enters a home and finds a woman, possibly his wife, tearing up the place looking for something. She’s wearing a sweater she doesn’t like and claims she’s looking for the electric bill. The man goes to shower and the woman heads for a safe in the bedroom closet. He comes out of the bathroom for some reason, and sees that the woman’s face is all translucent. She demands his research files. The man sees his real wife’s body lying on the floor. The imposter grabs his skull and starts literally pressuring him for information. She morphs to look like Nadine Park, who was killed in the season premiere.

After the credits and some commercials, Walter is brought in to FBI headquarters, accompanied by Astrid. Broyles tells them that DNA proves that the man saying he’s Peter is somehow related to Walter. Walter theorizes that maybe this “Peter Bishop” is from an as-yet-undiscovered dimension. Broyles gives him a list of questions to ask Peter, and Olivia assures him they’ll be observing and he can leave any time he wants.

Peter wants Walter to help him figure out why no one remembers him. He explains that he was the power source for the machine Walter built. Walter says he didn’t build the machine, and the little boy he tried to save all those years ago drowned. Peter realizes the Observer must not have intervened. (Astrid ““ and presumably the rest of the group ““ wonders what the hell an “Observer” is.) Peter has determined that he must be a paradox. He reaches out to Walter, touching his hand. Walter is disturbed and jumps up, demanding to be let out.

Olivia gets a call from Lincoln, who’s at the crime scene in Hillsdale. She joins him and learns that the house belonged to Dr. Malcolm Truss, a research scientist who left Massive Dynamic ten years ago. The dead couple in the house, however, is Truss’ estranged wife Karen and her boyfriend, who was tortured before he was killed. Truss doesn’t live there anymore. Meanwhile, Nadine has tracked down Truss and demanded his help at gunpoint.

Lincoln and Olivia are waiting in Nina’s office. We learn that Nina took in Olivia and her sister after their mother died. Lincoln is intrigued. Nina asks how Walter’s handling the whole “Peter Bishop” thing and learns that he’s not doing well. Olivia tells her a shape-shifter abducted Truss that morning and asks for information on him. Turns out Truss was working on cellular replication (for amputees and burn victims) but Bell shut the project down for “ethical” reasons. Well, that’s new.

“Nadine” is forcing Truss to drive her somewhere. He says his work was useless. She shows him her see-through chest ““ which is not nearly as racy as it sounds ““ and tells him she was successfully treated for cancer, but the cells “didn’t take” and she’s still dying. Truss seems interested in helping her, but tells her he doesn’t do his best work at gunpoint.

Olivia tells Broyles about Truss’ work. Peter has fiddled with the wiring in the room where he’s being held and set up an intercom, so he can hear them and vice versa. Peter tells them about the shape-shifters’ memory disks. Lincoln wants to let Peter try to crack the new shape-shifter tech. Broyles has to remind Lincoln who is actually in charge, but doesn’t veto the idea. Peter wants to see Walter again in exchange for his help. He tells Olivia that he’s realized Walter and everyone else is different now, and he has to adjust the way he deals with them. Olivia agrees to see what she can do. Meanwhile, Walter’s in the lab going through a box of old things. He pulls out Peter’s silver dollar and starts to smile a bit.

Truss and “Nadine” stop for gas. He tells her he’ll take care of it while she cleans up her bloody face. They get to chatting and he reveals his hope that his wife will someday take him back. Nadine goes to the bathroom, and Truss heads inside to pay. A state police cruiser pulls up behind Truss’ car and recognizes the license plate number from the theft report. He calls it in and is told to wait for backup, but “Nadine” spots him on her way back to the car. When Truss comes out, he finds “Nadine” already in the car and they leave. The cop, naturally, is dead.

Lincoln reports to Olivia that Peter’s still tinkering around with the shape-shifter tech. He asks Olivia why Peter makes her anxious. She knows Peter has a connection to Walter, however tenuous, but can’t understand why he was appearing in her dreams.

Some time later, they review footage from the gas station, in which Truss appears to be alone. Lincoln wonders if he’s a willing accomplice while Olivia thinks maybe he doesn’t know he’s dealing with a shape-shifter.

“Nadine” takes Truss to a nicely appointed lab. He wishes Bell were alive to see what’s become of Truss’ work. Truss quickly figures out why “Nadine” is rejecting the new tissue and thinks he can fix it.

Nina visits Walter at the lab, where he’s making custard, which Peter loved. Aw. Walter says it calms him. He blames Nina for making him break the vial at Reiden Lake that could have saved Peter’s life on the other side. Ah, it all makes sense now. Walter feels he deserves punishment and suffering. He says seeing an adult Peter filled him with “indescribable joy,” but doesn’t think he deserves it. Nina tries to get him to see that he’s not the same man he was years ago and has done a lot of good work with Fringe division. She urges him to take this second chance.

Peter tells Broyles he’s found six strands of DNA on the memory disk. Seems the new shape-shifters retain the DNA of all the forms they’ve taken, and can switch between them at will. They’re total human copies, far more advanced than the first wave, and (if perfected) would be indistinguishable from the humans they copied. Peter does allow for discovery of the memory disk during surgery. I can’t help thinking that all those strands might show up on a DNA test, but what the hell do I know.

Truss, meanwhile, has injected “Nadine” with something that should fix her right up. She starts shifting, and turns back into Truss’ wife. Truss is confused, and then alarmed. He tries to run, but “Nadine” stops him and reminds him that he said he would help. Yeah, but that was before he knew you killed his wife, idiot.

Peter informs Broyles that the disk is sending a signal, and requests a bigger computer to find out the destination. Broyles is impatient, even though this shit is only taking like five minutes. Cool out, dude. Apparently the new shape-shifters have some kind of LoJack system installed, and the one that took Truss is down by the port. Unfortunately, whoever is monitoring the shape-shifters will know that the system has been breached. A team heads down to the port”¦

… where Truss wants to know why “Nadine,” who’s shifted back, looked like his wife. She starts trying to convince him that he’d already let go of his wife, and now he has the chance to fulfill his legacy. Truss tries to inject “Nadine” with something that will kill her instead of inducing “a state of hyper-replication,” but she knows enough about science not to fall for it. She demands that he finish the work he started and produce the cure.

Olivia and Lincoln arrive with several teams of agents and move in. “Nadine” grabs the new vial of serum from Truss and takes off. She pulls off some Spider-man-like moves to escape the Fringe squad and heads for the roof. When Olivia gets up there, she finds several agents have been taken down, and calls for an ambulance. One of the fallen agents manages to tell her that “Nadine” jumped into the water. Olivia looks over the edge of the building but doesn’t see her.

As the injured agent is wheeled away, Olivia tells Truss they need to get a statement from him. He asks if his wife is dead and Olivia confirms what he already knows. He repeats what Bell told him about his work years ago: “Some things are not ours to tamper with.” Lincoln alerts Olivia that the dive team has found a body. They watch as the body is pulled from the water, and see that it’s a Fringe agent and not “Nadine.” Agents are sent after the ambulance, but it’s too late. “Nadine” has escaped.

At headquarters, an agent brings Olivia a file she requested. Olivia reassures Lincoln that they’ll find “Nadine.” She asks Lincoln if he wants to grab something to eat but he declines and heads back to his hotel. An agent brings Olivia the file she requested, and Olivia is like, didn’t this already happen? Then she sees that the files she thought were on her desk are gone, and thinks she must just be tired. I can’t help but be reminded of the funny business with time in “Subject 9.”

Walter goes to see Peter. Peter asks for his help “to fix this.” Walter takes Peter’s face in his hands. He thinks he’s being tempted to repeat his past mistakes. Then he says the boy he tried to save wasn’t his son, and neither is this Peter. Ouch. Walter leaves Peter alone in his cell.

In Boston, “Nadine” is in a bathroom stall at what looks like the train station. She’s wearing a guard uniform and injecting herself with the serum. She retrieves a typewriter from a locker and sends a message saying that the serum works. The response: “We’re sending the others.” Creeptastic.

My question: why is no one questioning the hell out of Walternate? I mean, seriously.

7 replies on “Recap: Fringe, Episode 4.5, “Novation””

I think they’re waiting until a key point in the season to reveal what Walternate is like in this reality.  Lost would do the same thing…give us a bunch of sluggish info-dump episodes before letting the story flow in long stretches.  I was super sad that Olivia didn’t get to see how happy the studly Lincoln would have been to have dinner with her.  Is she crushing on nerdy Lincoln?  I told you Josh would be looking foxy.

I may have posed this question already, but it’s the internet, I don’t care, etc.

Why is the framework of the show operating under the premise that Peter should have died?  The Peter we have (ie from the other universe and living in ours; the one we know) would have lived if the Observer hadn’t interfered the first time.  In fact, he only saved Peter from the lake because Peter was supposed to live.

Yeah! Wait, what? I keep getting so confused about whether or not Peter was “meant” to live. At first I thought the Observer intervened so that Peter wouldn’t die, which would mean that he was supposed to die, which is why the Observer had to fix things and prepare Walter for losing his son (again). Because the Observer messed up and this way it was fixed, yeah? But then supposedly Peter was supposed to survive so that he could fix the machine and create the bridge, which would mean that the Observer who intervened was doing the right thing all along… So damn confusifying. Not coincidentally, I do love the little moments when this show reminds me of Lost.

And that’s a good point, that this Walternate could very well be different from the one we remember. I guess it didn’t occur to me because (other than Colonel Broyles) all the alternates seem pretty much the same as last season. Now I’m extra anxious to see Walternate again.

Or maybe Peter really was supposed to die (which is why the Observer distracted Walternate) but he had to be saved the first time because of what Walter was going to do?  Does this Alternate-Life-Plan universe thing and the Observers’ function account for people knowing what’s going on in other universes?

To get back to Lincoln for a moment – doesn’t it seem like Olivia hasn’t noticed/remembered other Lincoln who was totally and obviously in love with her when she was alternate Olivia?  I don’t get that.  It’s like Clark Kent/Superman stuff or something.

As for whether Peter is supposed to be alive – was it bringing Peter back that ripped a hole in space/time?  Maybe Peter was supposed to die in both universes, but since he was about to die twice in the same universe, the Observer saved him so he could put the Machine together and not exist anymore.

I can’t figure out why he’s back other than that the latent ~love energy~ from Olivia and Walter was such an issue that it was distracting from whatever their Next Big Task is (according to the Observers).

[sidebar: this made me think of the fact that until Peter came back, then no one knew about the Observers…and for some reason that reminded me of The Silence (Silents? they sound the same) in Dr. Who.  The Observers seem to be a more benevolent version of The Silence in that no one knows who they are or remembers them.  Although I suppose the Observers aren’t actually supposed to interfere. Even though that’s what they keep doing. /sidebar]

I’m just gonna have to keep watching…

In the season premiere, the Observer built a tool that was supposed to remove the lingering traces of Peter but he ended up not using it.  Since he didn’t save Peter in this reality, Walter never met him, although he still would have seen him distract Walternate in the lab in the other universe.  Maybe in this reality Olivia doesn’t have such a sharp memory and can’t keep track of things the way she did in past seasons.  I’m sure Massive Dynamic still knows about the Observers.

Lincoln is going to end up figuring into the mix even more solidly.  The one in the other universe recognized the Cortexiphan people.  I don’t think the Lincolns even know about each other yet.

What you said, re: the Observer and that little machine he built but couldn’t bring himself to use. I still wonder if he got in trouble for that.

@jen*, I think people in the Fringe-verse(s) are supposed to be able to remember the Observers, but everything in this universe (and the other, presumably) has “reset” so it seems like people have “forgotten” things we would expect them to know. Remember when Olivia “met” Lincoln this season? She did meet him in our universe, just not in this version of reality, so it seemed like she forgot. And if they were to meet an Observer now, they would certainly remember it (unless somebody were to reset reality again.)

With the Silents, though, something about them literally makes people forget they ever saw them, no reality-reset necessary. At least, I think that’s how they operate. If it seems like I’m confused by Fringe, you should see what it’s like in my brain after an episode of Doctor Who.

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