This review contains spoilers.
4.1 Neither Here Nor There
I watched the season opener of Fringe with that I-told-you-so smugness that only TV and film reviewers can wear. Primarily because, as I predicted this in episode 17, Stowaway, last year, it appears that our dimension’s version of Lincoln Lee has been drafted in to replace Peter in the Fringe team.
This is a peculiar introduction to the team for him, because in the original timeline, the one before Peter didn’t exist, they’d already met. Having them meet again under entirely different circumstances for the first time feels a little like a repeat, even if the details are different.
The trouble with these incongruities is that if you're not an avoid watcher of the show, you're going to be utterly confused, if you're not already.
With now a cessation of hostilities called between the two dimensions, it’s an opportunity for Olivia to exchange some snide comments with the alternate version of herself. As interesting as this presentation of the inner struggle is, I did start to wonder, while they duelled, what the basis for their deep mutual antagonism was? Because her dislike of Altivia was pretty strongly based on her sleeping with Peter, who neither Olivia or Aitivia now no longer recall.
The only conclusion I could draw in that message was that jealously is a unique emotion that transcends even temporal tinkering, or that Peter's not gone entirely from their minds, somehow.
As with so many shows coming back for a new season, those behind Fringe seem determined to grab the odd new viewer, by explaining itself to anyone who’s somehow managed to avoid the previous three seasons. Thus, they run a typical ‘new boy’ plot, where Agent Lee is introduced to the weirdness of working for Fringe division, in all its wackiness.
To help establish him, they drafted Joe Flanigan (Stargate: Atlantis) in to be his partner, who is then promptly killed in the post-credits sequence. The rather obvious link this creates is to lead Agent Lee to find out more about the team that walked off with his body after he’s killed by a radical new threat.
I must congratulate the effects team on the show this week for the work they did on the translucent shapeshifters. Not quite film quality effects, but really convincing and a wonderfully odd-looking result.
The inference is that Walternate is still up to his tricks, as these shapeshifting agents bear an uncanny resemblance to the technology used by his original infiltrators.
As Fringe goes, this ended up a rather lightweight narrative, which was more about getting Lincoln established with Fringe, and providing a few new plotlines that the subsequent stories can expand on. Of these, the most intriguing has to be the further implications of the Watcher not entirely deleting Peter from time, and how he keeps turning up in Walter’s field of view. Will this lead to a conflict within the Watchers?
Joshua Jackson is listed as appearing in the first four of this season's stories, so draw what you will from that information, and its accuracy. If he's getting paid for the odd ghostly image on the TV, then he's got the softest acting job on network TV, but I'm hoping he's contracted to do more than this.
As a season opener this was a much softer landing than previously, and that probably is more to do with them establishing a new order after Peter's removal. It's far too early to say if season four of the show that stuck a finger up at Fox's attempts to kill it off is going to be the best yet. But Fringe has got progressively better each year, so one can only be optimistic that the trend will continue.