In the sprit of Earth Day Fringe decides to do some reusing and recycling with their past stories in this recent episode. Borrowing a fringe event from season one "Nothing As It Seems" replays a familiar scenario for both Peter and Olivia in this current altered time-line. Since David Robert Jones is back in this time-line it just makes sense he follows a similar path as he did those many seasons ago.
Exactly like "The Transformation" (episode 1.13) a self-infected Marshall Bowman is onboard a plane when he begins his transition into a mutant beast like creature. Only in this version's time-line Bowman doesn't complete his transformation midflight and crash the plane, he just wines up getting arrested for causing a disturbance during the flight. However, after the plan lands and Bowman is in airport security his transformation does become complete. Bowman dies shortly after his transformation and that's when fringe division gets a call. Immediately Peter remembers the almost identical case, and also since Olivia has almost returned to her former self, the two of them help fast track the investigation for Walter and Lincoln.
I have to admit I didn't see this type of episode coming after the series re-introduced David Robert Jones. It makes complete sense after watching the episode that certain cases could be revisited because of the absents Peter. As much as I enjoyed the way the show took a fresh angle to their old work I'm kind of on the fence if I'd like to see them do it again. Since Jones was responsible for a good handful of fringe cases during his short run in season one there now is an opportunity to return to some of Fringe's best episodes. The bank robbers who walked through walls to get Walter's teleporter in "Safe" (episode 1.10) is one of my personal favorites. However, I fear repeating all of Jones' former fringe cases in this season might make this always fresh series quickly become stale. I'm not saying reusing a different version of an old Fringe episode was a bad thing here in "Nothing As It Seems", because it definitely wasn't, I'm saying I hope this isn't a reoccurring concept.
This episode did address some newer issues to its credit. With Olivia being back to normal, normal as in what Peter and the audience remembers, it brings up some concerns about where Lincoln fits in. The alternated time-line Lincoln Lee in the main universe obviously started to have feelings for Olivia and with Peter back in the picture it sucks romantically for Lincoln. Lincoln seems like a pretty stable guy from what has been seen of him so far this season so there is nothing to indicate he would go after Olivia or double cross Peter to get to her for himself. That's not to say it couldn't happen, but this awkward sexual tension between Lincoln and Olivia is bound to come up once more before the season is over.
With the universe almost back to normal with Peter and Olivia back together "Nothing As It Seems" did also have some other past Fringe similarities. This episode had its fair share of classic Walter moments for some great comedic relief. There was a whole bit with Walter bringing out a huge stack of unopened past birthday presents for Peter; one for every year after he died in this time-line. A nudie mag for Peter's 16th birthday and some beer for his 21st were just some of the humorous gifts Walter had compiled over the years. The whole Walter/birthday present stuff may of seemed like a just a gag for some laughs, and it was at times, but I like to think it was just a great story tool to bring Walter and Peter closer together.
Fringe is about half way back to normal compared to last season, but that just means there is still plenty of mystery here in season four. Fingers crossed for some higher ratings for these last few episodes down the stretch so there can be a season five to properly end this series. There are rumours of FOX keeping Fringe around for a possible half season return next year to end the series if all goes well for the rest of season four here. As much as I would love a full fifth season to conclude the series, half is still better than nothing.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.