It's been eight long weeks, but Fox's Fringe is finally back, folks. This week's 'Winter Premiere' episode (that's what Fox was calling it) returns with plenty of twists, turns, and shocking revelations to make up for the show's long absence on Friday nights.
"Back to Where You've Never Been" is almost too complex to even begin to summarize, but I'll try to do the recap anyways.
With Peter out of opinions and answers he confronts Walter one last time for help on the machine, in hopes to find a way home. After realizing the Walter on his side of the universe will never help him Peter turns to asking Walternate for help. There is just the little matter of crossing over to alternate universe to do so. Peter and Olivia come up with a plan to send him and Lincoln Lee over without anyone else knowing to attempt to sneak into the D.O.D. (Department of Defence) where Walternate works. After Peter and Lincoln cross over they wind up right in the middle of the same shaper-shifter 2.0 problem they have been having on their side. From then on out everything you thought you knew gets turned upside down.
What I love about this show is just when you think you have everything figured out Fringe changes the story and adds layer upon layer to their mystery. To say Fringe is a complex show is would still be an understatement. With this season's introduction to an alternative time-line everything from the past three seasons is both on and off the table in terms of continuity. This fourth season's post-Peter reality has shown many minor changes to both sides to help show Joshua Jackson's character's temporary existence absence. Eight episodes in and those minor changes are quickly starting to add up and things are only getting more interesting.
"Back to Where You've Never Been" marks the first time in this season where Walternate is actually shown (excluding the small scene from last year's finale used in this season's premiere). The lack of Walternate was confusing during the early episodes this year as he was still being mentioned in every episode but never seen. My guess is the writers brilliantly used the combination an absent Walternate and the introduction of the 2.0 shape-shifters to make for an easy assumption/connection to be made between the two. After all Walternate has always been seen as the shows main bad guy. Then out of nowhere Fringe slams the viewer's preconceptions in reverse and turns Walternate into the good guy in this new time-line. Apparently Walternate has been tracking these new shape-shifters and not creating them, so no one is quite who they seem in this new time-line.
Since Walternate stepped down from being the series' resident bad-guy (for now at least) it was only fitting for someone else to take up the role of the villain. And who better than the fan favourite season one villain: David Robert Jones. Even though Jones, played by Jared Harris, was killed back in the first season by Peter (which was also subtly hinted at this episode) because of the new post-Peter reality Jones is back and is even more well connected. Not much has been explained yet but all signs are pointing at Jones being responsible for the shape-shifters, the attacks on both universes, and the alternate Broyles & Brandon Fayette working with him.
This 'Winter Premiere' left a lot to look forward to in coming episodes. Is Walternate's alliance with Peter genuine? What are Jones and alternate Broyles up to with those new shape-shifters? What's going to happen to the regular Lincoln Lee in the alternative universe? All big questions, but perhaps the most mysterious has to be who shot the observer at the end of the episode? Fringe seems to have endless new possibilities for where they take their show with this new time-line and I for one am glad I don't have to wait another eight weeks again to see them unfold.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.