After a one-week Fringe marathon, the anticipation of the fourth season premiere was eating me alive. "Neither Here Nor There" certainly lived up to its name, but was it a worthy successor to the disappearance of Peter Bishop?
Starting the episode with a confrontation between the Olivias was like a dream come true. How I have waited for the characters to spend serious screen time together! Anna Torv was awe inspiring as always, playing each Olivia with just the right amount of disdain for the other. With the changes in Fauxlivia at the end of season 3, I wonder how it would have played out if they had remembered Peter. Would the reception have been softer, or just as icy?
The introduction of my favorite Stargate alum, Joe Flanigan, as Lincoln Lee's partner Robert Danzig was a fleeting tease of the worst kind. They gave just the briefest hint of how incredible it would be to have him on the show. And then they erased him. It was the first time I had fallen so quickly for a guest character on the series and been so let down by their loss.
My new hope for the season is that we will find him on the other side! The producers made it pretty clear that within the boundaries of our Fringe universe deaths weren't always permanent, right? I know other Flanigan fans had to be as piqued as I was. Shall we start a campaign?
At the very least, the introduction and death of Robert Danzig brought to us our Lincoln Lee as a member of the Fringe team. His assimilation with the unit felt natural, especially Olivia's hesitation at bringing him on board and then astonishment that he got to work before her. After what appeared to be years of working cases alone, she found in Lincoln a worthy partner.
The haunting references to Peter's absence were worked compellingly into the script. Outside of flickering images and Walter seeing him in the mirror, there was so much pain buried within each implication. It was there in Olivia's observation that Walter had nothing to tether him to the world, that he remained a bit on the outside because he was missing a bond to society. Walter followed that up with an allusion of his own; how much he hated that two people who were meant to be together could be torn apart.
It was just weird to see everyone we love walking around with gaping holes inside of their souls. Olivia was distant and cold, Fauxlivia was without the light she gained from having Peter's baby, and Walter, without his loving son, lived in the lab, not even assimilating enough to have a home. The loss of Peter truly ripped the hearts out of our beloved characters.
Amazingly, even the Observers, usually so grave and composed, were unlike themselves. It was my mother who pointed out the Observers' look of childhood innocence. They appeared to have a sort of wonderment at everything, and the main Observer was genuinely perplexed at Peter's refusal to be so easily erased.
It was as if Peter and the Bishops proved to be completely beyond the Observers' control. The Bishops' love and innocence, the choices they made in spite of the possible repercussions were never expected.
I assume as we move through the season, the Observers will either be out foxed by Peter and his fierce desire to return to our worlds, or they will have to readjust their own reality to allow him to come through. I just hope Walter isn't driven to the breaking point and that our Olivias find a happy place of their own before Peter returns - because when it comes out that Peter has a baby, there is no telling what it will bring out in them.
So, yes, seeing our characters fight the love and memory of a man who has been erased from their lives does live up to the disappearance of Peter himself. I'm looking forward to seeing how his return continues and particularly how his determined spirit will affect everyone as he struggles to return.