Fringe season 4 episode 5 review: Novation

We've waited patiently for Peter and the show to return to Fringe, so was it worth the wait? Billy finds out, in his review of episode five, Novation…

This review contains spoilers.

4.5 Novation

Fringe can do one of two things: it can either tell a story, or it can progress a greater story arc while indulging in some character development, and it was the latter that we got this week.

Peter’s return posed many questions, almost none of which were answered by Novation, as entertaining as it was. What worked for me was that Peter, who is generally pretty smart, worked out that he was somehow a temporal anomaly pretty quickly, and that got over the “Why don’t you know me” parts quicker.

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What that led to was a more rapid reintegration into the Fringe fold, even if the rest of the characters have no idea who he really is. Perhaps it could be argued that they’re far too easily convinced that Peter is on their side, but another two episodes of him in a cell would have been tedious in the extreme.

The shapeshifters were always good Fringe fodder, and the centre of Novation is the efforts of one of the new variety to stabilise her skin to have less visible internal organs.

Arye Goss (medical examiner Sidney Perlmutter in Castle) turns up as the ex-employee of Massive Dynamic who has the research knowledge to deliver the required opacity, and from that point onwards this plays like a slightly twisted version of Terminator 2. What I liked was the duplicity of Nadine, played mostly by Michelle Krusiec, in manipulating the scientist to do her bidding out of sympathy, while ruthlessly killing anyone, including Truss’ wife to achieve her objective.

What it’s easy to forget, watching all this, is that she was sent to our dimension for a purpose, and the scene in the station at the end tells us that she’s the spearhead of a bigger incursion, but not why.So the big question that the typewriter sequence poses is, is Walternate up to his old tricks, or is there another unseen enemy the Fringe division needs to deal with?

They’re obviously not going to give us any clues yet, but as usual with this show, it’s about what we’re not shown as much as what we are.Logically, there are only two possible outcomes to the current Peter dilemma. One where he really ceases to exist, along with the impact he’s had on those around him, or the other, where the timeline snaps back into place and they accept his place in that universe.

There might be a third way, a perverse Fringe way, but I’m too dense to distil that from the narrative we’ve so far been presented. Could it be that the shapeshifters are another paradoxical anomaly, like Peter? You could go bonkers thinking about these things, I’ve concluded.

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It’s also worth noting that the number of differences between the universe before Peter disappeared and now are growing rapidly, like they’re multiplying exponentially.

In this story, we find out that Olivia was brought up by Nina sharp, that the Fringe division has no knowledge of the observers, and Walter didn’t build the inter-dimensional machine. And, is Olivia starting to hit on Agent Lincoln? It appears so.

One nice allusion I noticed was the metal box that Walter kept Peter’s things in, which was a lunch box promoting the classic Gerry Anderson series, UFO, the same one that Joshua Jackson was once poised to join the remake of. As I’ve not seen any new information on this production for over a year, I’ve concluded that it’s effectively dead, and this is possibly an acknowledgement of that.

Fringe still manages to be interesting, even if the current path it’s taking seems somewhat convoluted. As such, I’m looking forward to the next one with some anticipation.

Read our review of Fringe episode 4, Subject 9, here.