This review contains spoilers.
4.6 And Those We’ve Left Behind
My wife doesn’t watch Fringe – she’s usually doing something else when it’s on. But this week she did, and with a moderate amount of explanation, she really got into it.
But then, this was one of the better Fringe standalone stories, and delivered a very strong narrative structure where things progressed in a natural and revealing way. More than that, it was also an elegant means to slot Peter’s character back into the Fringe investigative mix without it seeming overly forced or contrived.
The first time bubble event, in the apartment, was so weird that I rewound the PVR to try to better understand what was happening. I’m still not sure where the fire came from, perhaps an electrical short created by the temporal displacements, but in terms of odd events, it was up there with Fringe‘s finest.
Of course, if anything unexplained happens, it’s obviously Peter’s fault, however unscientific that is. This is something that Walter alludes to, in his amazingly cursory examination of Peter, with whom he’s having a great deal of difficultly relating.
Repeatedly through the story scenes like this one, and others, Olivia kept coming back to the same conundrum, that Peter was back, but not back, or not in the right place. The dilemma the show seems to be edging towards is that Peter can either exist, but not be remembered, or not exist but be recalled, but being both back and remembered is somehow an impossible combination.
Unusually, the strongest performances here weren’t from the main cast members, but instead the two excellent guest stars Stephen Root as Raymond Green, and Romy Rosemont as his once brilliant wife Kate.It’s only during the second half of the story that we realise what Raymond has done in an attempt to undo the damage time has done to Kate, and the extents to which he’s prepared to go to retrieve her lost personality. The final act of severance by her, destroying her own theoretical physics notes was rather predictable but no less moving, and avoided swimming in the sort of molasses thick sentimentality that so many American shows attempt to drown their audience in.
I bought the relationship, the pain of losing someone you know to a form of neuro-degeneration, and what having that happen can drive people to do. My only concern is that, without the promise of getting his wife back, even briefly, Raymond would probably end his own life shortly afterwards. Heavy stuff, but handled with an impressively light touch by the Fringe creative team.
While Raymond and Kate provide the Greek tragedy (no, not an economic one…), Peter is the fulcrum on which this particular world rests. Given his experience, it’s great that he can be presented with any bizarre situation, which he just accepts almost without question. I loved the part where Astrid presents him with the ‘Walter Bishop Faraday Harness’, only to be told that it has two prongs that go into the neck. To which he replies “Course it does”, like these are the things that people who associate with Walter should accept, and certainly expect.
Having enjoyed this episode so much, I’m really disappointed to report that it represented a low point for viewers, down 15 per cent from the week before. I can only hope that it can turn that around next Friday before it goes on an already scheduled winter break. Here’s hoping.
Read our review of season 4 episode 5 here.