Thoughts on Fringe Season 4 Premiere Neither Here Nor There

by Amy Yen

More than almost any other show on TV, it’s wonderful to have Fringe back, just in terms of my almost complete certainty that I will get an enjoyable hour of television. The only other show I would put in its class would be Parks and Recreation (whose premiere was excellent, btw). Fringe is wonderful because even when it’s not quite what you want it to be, it has so many layers & interesting things to think about, it will still almost always be better than 95% of everything else on TV.

So, the season 4 premiere, “Neither Here Nor There,” wasn’t quite the epic mythology piece we were all not-so-secretly hoping for. Instead, the producers (or more likely, the network) decided to backtrack on last year’s (wise, I thought) decision to abandon all notion that they were going to attract any new viewers & just went neck-deep into the mythology. Maybe it’s that the sudden surge in genre-friendly Friday programming re-opens up the possibility of people discovering the show…but I have to say, as much as I thought this episode (& from what I understand the first part of this season) was trying to be as accessible as possible, I can’t imagine someone tuning in for the first time & the first scene being Olivia Dunham arguing with an alternate version of herself.

So, maybe I don’t know so much about this new direction, but I did think this episode did do a good job of setting up the new dynamics of the season, at least for the blueverse, & also introducing a lot of very interesting questions about how characters are affected by Peter Bishop’s being erased from the timeline. It did a particularly good job of re-introducing the blueverse version of Lincoln Lee, who in this timeline, never investigated the “Stowaway” case with Peter & Bellivia last year.

I loved the first scene with Lincoln at his partner’s house. What a remarkable little scene. Think about it, it’s the only scene with the partner & it makes you care about him in about three minutes. And it makes you care about, understand, this Lincoln we barely know, with the combed-down hair & the dorky glasses & buttoned-up suit & tie. (Again, such a simple & elegant job of contrasting him with the cocky, wild-haired Lincoln we know from the redverse.) But in three minutes, you get him.

As dorktastic as this Lincoln is, he is both completely capable on handling himself & also shows himself to be as naturally brilliant of an investigator as he is on the other side. It’s again smart writing because this Lincoln is totally different from the one we know, but you can see that they’re still the same person, the same way Walter & Walternate and Olivia & Fauxlivia are.

I really liked Olivia’s slow acceptance of Lincoln throughout the episode, how difficult it was, despite the fact we knew it was going to happen. Lincoln has to prove several times that he is a good investigator & a worthy partner for this Olivia, who has been alone for so long (“There is no one else. There is only me”). It is because Seth Gabel is so compelling in portraying this version of him (essentially a brand new character) that I didn’t miss Peter’s presence much at all this episode.

Not to say I wasn’t constantly thinking about how Peter’s absence affected things (more about this in the bullets), it’s just that Lincoln being there makes it less urgent to me that they bring him back immediately. I think they can take their time & let the story play out. Of course, I have no idea how it will. I’m still confused about September the Observer & his increasingly bizarre actions. Wasn’t Peter being erased from the timeline what he predicted (& presumably caused somehow)? Why is he suddenly so queasy about finishing the job?

So, overall, I’m still not convinced on whether this whole Peter storyline is a good one or not, but Fringe is one of those shows that has earned itself a lot of blind trust on my part. It’s not like I won’t be tuning in. And you should too.

Other random thoughts about “Neither Here Nor There”:

  • Orange (oh as EW pointed out, amber!) credits. Among the new phrases listed: Viral therapy, quantum entanglement, time paradox, psychic surgery, gravitons, existence. As vague as usual, except for quantum entanglement, which we’ve already dealt with. And existence, which seems…ominous.
  • “He just never had anything to tether him to the world.” The subtle & not-so-subtle differences in all the characters, the Peter-shaped hole in their lives, are all pretty fascinating. Olivia & Walter are pretty obvious, but the brief bits we get with Fauxlivia seem telling too. She’s definitely not quite as likable as she had grown to be last year. She’s back to who she was in Over There Part 2, when she first made the switch & infiltrated our side. Except in this timeline, she didn’t fall for Peter, didn’t change & start to care, didn’t ever come to want to stop Walternate.
  • I wonder if that also means that redverse Lincoln & Charlie never came to suspect Walternate’s evil ways, since Fauxlivia’s non-pregnancy means they probably never found out about the switch. Can’t wait to see how things are changed in the redverse.
  • Interesting that the blueverse Fringe division is both more official (& has seemingly more resources) & more secret in this timeline. Wonder why that would change, based on Peter not being there.
  • The translucent people/pseudo-shape-shifters quite deliberately called back to John Scott’s condition in the pilot. I even thought for a second this might turn out to be the same case…a situation in which Olivia & John never caught up to the bad guy from that episode, so he never exploded his lab or John.
  • “Just so you know, I know what it’s like.” So in this timeline, John Scott never recovered at all? Is that because Peter never forced the suspect to talk using completely illegal interrogation techniques?
  • “There’s more than one.” Oh, we know. We know.
  • One glaring thing that does still need to be explained regarding the new timeline: if Peter never existed or died as a child, how did the chain of events leading up to the universes merging even happen? Because we know in the original timeline, it all started when Walter ripped a hole between universes to try to save the Peter from over there. If he never did that, what caused all the damage on both sides that is referenced by the Olivias in this episode?
  • “What I do know is that this tech isn’t from here.” “Not from here? You mean like, from China?” “No. Not China.” Heh.
  • The red room scan totally gave me Alias flashbacks.
  • Love the grin on Fauxlivia’s face when she spots Lincoln. Seriously can’t wait for the Lincolns to meet each other.
  • After seeing Ringer, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation of just how good the Fringe cast, particularly Anna Torv & John Noble, is at playing against themselves.
  • “Sometimes answers lead to more questions.” I would say, almost always, in a JJ-verse.
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3 Responses

  1. I’m very very excited about the addition of Lincoln Lee to the main cast. I can’t wait to see where the writers take us next!

    Here’s my (snarky) thoughts on the season premiere:
    http://theoncominghope.blogspot.com/2011/09/fringe-neither-here-nor-there.html

    • Definitely, I totally think I wouldn’t be so cool with this new direction if it wasn’t for Lincoln. He’s just such a likable, compelling character.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Hyde blog…

    Use of such emphatic words in this article shows an intense excitement in what this guy is trying to convey….

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