The title "Back To Where You've Never Been" is fantastic. Watching my beloved "over there" characters reminded me with much greater emphasis that I have no idea who these people are.
While it was slowly set up before the hiatus to uncover what I now believe to be the truth - that Peter has no home to go back to - this episode leaves me with no hesitation in my supposition.
Our story starts with Peter enjoying the company of "his" Olivia and Walter (although I expected Walter to be without pants) during a lovely pancake breakfast. He awakens from a dream, more determined than ever to get home. My belief is that as of this moment, he is home. No amount of physics or fancy gizmos or elixirs from either universe will take him to where he wants to be.
Olivia and Lincoln are working together really well now, and they head over to the other universe with Peter for some recon (it still gives me chills when someone sees the World Trade Center still standing for the first time). I know Peter dismisses these two, but I think he will eventually regret seeing, even for a moment, the likes of Olivia fussing with Lincoln's hair. I'm betting he will know his fate before and after it happens. Again. I know that's confusing, but read on.
What's up with Walternate? I'm torn right now. I think Elizabeth has a pretty good head on her shoulders and her trust in her husband is true. Her immediate recognition of Peter as an adult was extremely touching and she knew something had to be amiss if Peter thought her husband was trying to kill him. There was no doubt in her mind that would not happen.
Meanwhile, someone took Altlivia (she no longer deserves the title of Fauxlivia, since she hasn't impersonated Olivia) and Charlie off their case. Not just them, but the entire Fringe division. They wonder - what if that strange bird Olivia is right and Walternate isn't the guy they've always thought he was?
It's a very cool aspect of the new alternate universe. They seem to have no malice toward our side, because it doesn't appear things got as bad over there as they did when Peter survived. Sure, they still use amber and have some crappy anomalies to deal with, but they view us as more odd, straight-laced ducks than a universe to fear. I like it.
So the Fringe team was questioning Walternate's motives, and Elizabeth was certain he wasn't behind anything malicious against Peter. The Walternate I knew wouldn't want Brandon in the office while he was talking to his son, but this was not the Walternate I knew. It is so hard getting that through my thick skull. It was made a bit easier when, wielding a weird looking gadget, he ZAPPED Brandon, revealing him to be a shapeshifter. Walternate wasn't kidding when he said everything is not as it seems. Not only is Peter desperate for Walternate's help, but Walternate is for Peter's as well. A mutual desperation society is being built!
Peter was shocked that Walternate trusted him. Given his original old man, we were all shocked at that. Walternate explained that since Peter holds no allegiance to either universe, he trusted him to do what is right. In so many words, Walternate said, "Oh by the way, I'm hoping you'll lend me a hand and tell the other universe I'm not the shapeshifter menace!" Peter's a good guy. We already know he's not totally self-involved. As much as he wants to return home, you know he's going to work on bringing the universes together. Again.
What did you think of the big reveal? I don't know if Nina Sharpe is somehow involved from our side, but we now know that David Robert Jones is alive, well and working with Alternate Agent Broyles. So much for the Alt Broyles I came to love, whose death I mourned. Bad, bad Broyles!! Playing with shapeshifters, no less. The good guys are bad and the bad guys are good. These are some exciting new players we have to deal with, wearing familiar skin suits, and I'm more excited than ever to find out more about them.
A quick aside before my big finish - due to the change-up this season, Anna Torv, not nominated for a Golden Globe this coming Sunday, has now played the following characters: 1) Olivia Dunham 2) Fauxlivia Dunham 3) Fauxlivia acting as Olivia 4) Olivia thinking she is Fauxlivia 5) Olivia acting as Fauxlivia 6) Bellivia 7) New Olivia Dunham 8) Altlivia Dunham. Honestly, I might have left some incarnations of her character out. Does Future Olivia count as a separate character? All the while, Josh Jackson has been one Peter, playing opposite the many Olivias. Stunning, no?
There was a lot to process in this hour, and there was still one piece of evidence left to support my theory that Peter is already home. As Olivia waited for Peter's return in the opera house, an Observer appeared. He told her she will have to die. Observers aren't ones to mince words, and yet they also speak in riddles. I think he meant that the Olivia she has become as a result of Peter being erased has to die. He tells it like it is, but doesn't give any explanation for what he says. Erasing Peter and letting him die in the pond caused problems larger and with farther reaching ramifications than those that occurred as a result of his surviving the first time around.
So, what to do? The Observers will have to toy with the idea of reinserting Peter back into both worlds, and therefore somehow reinstating everything back to the way it was. That's my big idea. Nope, I don't have an inkling if this will come to pass, but where's the fun in a show like Fringe if we don't posit theories? Now you have mine. What might yours be?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.