A shift of universal proportions has taken place and Fringe as you know it won't be the same. Say goodbye to the classic blue, and even sometimes red, intro credits and say hello to the double gold opening. Fox's fan favourite series has re-invented themselves once again with the season premiere of Fringe's fourth year.
Picking up only one week after the events at Liberty Island's cross universe bridge we see both Olivias trying to make their new alliance work without a solid foundation of trust. With Peter being erased from both sides' history and time lines have been altered leaving no trace of the younger Bishop. Walter has been living out of his Harvard lab while Olivia, Astrid, and Broyles are all still operating out of FBI's most secret department, Fringe Division. In this episode, "Neither Here Nor There", a fringe event that mirrors the series' pilot episode four years ago involves the Lincoln Lee character from the main universe as his introduction as Fringe Division's newest member.
Well I guess Fringe has done it again. This fourth season premiere as changed the whole look and feel of the series; and so far for the better. Where other series may start to become stale in repeating their successes in past seasons Fringe takes the alternative route and turns their show upside down. Within the opening five minutes of the season premiere there was an obvious change to how the show felt with a shift in it's direction. All previous story-lines have had to be altered with the erase of Peter so it almost feels like an entirely different show.
Other than the episode's opening and closing scenes "Neither Here Nor There" takes place entirely in the main universe. Seth Gabel has been promoted to series regular and gets re-introduced to the show's leads as Lincoln Lee. Agent Lee from the main side met the team last season when Bell was in Olivia's body but because of the time line change he meets everyone again for the first time (hope that makes sense). Throughout the episode each character subtly explains how the Fringe team we all know and love over these last three years came to together without Peter. Olivia had sought out Walter at St. Claire's after the first fringe event of the biological attack on the plane involving John Scott. The fringe team had been together ever since with no trace of Peter in that equation. Don't worry Joshua Jackson hasn't been written off completely back he still is in the opening credits. Also he seems to be haunting Walter as he somehow appears in little flashes, but again no one knows who he is.
Because very little of the alternate universe was touched on in this episode maybe next week we will see the changes from their perspective. Kind of like how they switched back-and-forth between universes last year. Instead of seeing the alternate universe here in the season premiere a sizable portion of the episode was devoted to the observers. It seems like after the Liberty Island bridge event there shouldn't be any trace of Peter for either side but the observers know the full story and understand he is still there in some capacity. In this episode the main observer is instructed to assemble some kind of device to erase Peter completely but by the end of the show he has a change of heart and doesn't flip the switch. This is probably the biggest question mark coming back to the series without Peter being there, so it will be interesting to see what Fringe has in store for Jackson's character as the balance between worlds is being restored.
Since there was no Walter and Walternate scene I was a little disappointed, but not by much as I'm still intrigued how they will make these two each other's own villains without Peter being the catalyst. John Noble hasn't lost a step as he again brought the full intensity of Walter in this episode. Everyone in the cast for that matter remains at the top of their respective acting games and with that universal bridge as connection to their alternate versions of their characters this season can only get better.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.