Gene the cow put on her best party hat for last night's Fringe season premiere, an episode that brought us shapeshifters, transdimensional typewriters, a new team member, custard, and a kiss that revealed an unexpected alliance. Spoilers below...
At some point during this episode, Olivia says to Peter, "There really is no point where things just can't get weirder." And while, next to exploding people and man-eating parasite, a shapeshifting supersoldier seems perfectly mundane, the mysteries on Fringe just keep getting weirder.
So Olivia is back from her visit in the other dimension, having popped quite suddenly and dramatically out the windshield of her car. But she hasn't come back alone. A soldier from "Over There" has followed her (well, technically proceeded her) so that she can be interrogated and then knocked off the chessboard. And, to help him in this quest, he can be look like anyone he kills by placing a strange three-pronged device inside their mouth.
Meanwhile, all is not well for the Fringe Division. The higher ups don't see the team getting results and want to terminate the entire group, leaving Broyles struggling to defend it. And Peter's growing a bit weary of the dimension-hopping, evil scientist-chasing game and is ready to get out of dodge. And, when a doctor tells Peter and Walter that Olivia is irreparably brain damaged and won't wake up, he doesn't exactly have warm fuzzy feelings toward her work.
But then Olivia's own supersoldier abilities kick in, and she's healed up, spouting code words in Greek, and telling Peter that everyone's lives are in danger. This is enough to put Peter back in gear and taking charge. Soon we're watching an old tape of Walter's identifying the killer of a murder victim as the shapeshifting soldier from another dimension (complete with an ecstatic, drugged-out girl telling us, "He's from another universe, man."), and our intrepid Fringe investigators are soon on the soldier's tail.
This draws another character into the team's orbit as well. Amy Jessup, an FBI agent with the New York office, is instantly intrigued by the Fringe Division and gloms onto Peter faster than you can say "ulterior motive." Granted, she seems to fit in quite smoothly with the others, and doesn't bat an eye when Walter does things like reach bloody gloved finger into Astrid's custard mixing bowl (though he does receive a nice smack from Astrid), but red flags go up when she says she's been waiting for the Fringe team all her life — and what's the deal with Bible code she's typing up at the end? At least Peter cuts her down when she tries to bullshit him by quoting cliched Shakespeare. This is Fringe, Amy, not The Next Generation.
And it looks like we'll be seeing our shapeshifter around for a while, thanks to his killing poor, poor Charlie and taking his form. We'll probably be seeing more of his transdimensional typewriter as well, a device that seems to exist in both universes and which he uses to communicate with his higher ups in the other dimension. But who's on the other end, and what information do they hope to get out of Olivia?
Oh, and let's talk about this for a moment:
Once I got past my flashbacks to The Wire, this actually made a lot of sense. After all, it couldn't have been a coincidence that Olivia was hired to work in the Fringe Division. Does this mean that everything that happened last season — Olivia's awakening, Walter's reprieve, and Peter's reunion with his father — were all orchestrated by William Bell? Well, the man is a genius.
Also, there were some great Peter details coming out of this episode. It's sort of amusing to watch the writers wink and nod at the audience, even if some of those winks are a touch horrifying. Like when Walter tells Peter that Peter loved custard as a boy and just doesn't remember, it's a little jab telling us that this Peter, the Peter from the other dimension, isn't quite the same boy Walter lost. And a new mystery has opened up with the Greek blessing Olivia delivers to Peter when she wakes up, the same blessing Peter's mother delivered to him each night. Did Peter's mother know that Peter came from the other dimension? Is another version of her still alive Over There? And do the words have a greater meaning in the coming conflict?
Finally, this episode left me hungry for some of Peter's birthday custard — preferably without the blood.