In with the old and the new. "Novation" has the reappearance of youngest Bishop as well as a proper introduction to the newest version of shapeshifters. Baseball makes the heart grow fonder as Fringe returns to it's Friday night home after an extended wait from last week's World Series.
After the events of the last Fringe episode that caused the return of Peter to this new time-line the Fringe division is still trying to figure out who he is and what to do with him. Under FBI lock & key Peter meets with Walter in hopes of solving his paradox existence. Meanwhile, because there is always a meanwhile on Fringe, the newest model of shapeshifters make another appearance kidnapping a former Massive Dynamic biochemist to help fix a flaw in their upgraded design. With the threat of newer, deadlier, shapeshifters out there the Fringe team reluctantly decide to consult with their shapeshifter expert/mystery detainee; Peter.
Fringe is back and so is Joshua Jackson. Jackson's Peter Bishop has been absent for the first four episode's this season due to the fact that ...well he didn't exist. Back from wherever reality he has been stuck in between Peter is taking his time and adjusting gradually to this new altered time-line. Even if it means adjusting in a FBI interrogation room. The concept of Peter being a paradox for both universe has slowly made sense for Fringe fans since Peter's true origins were revealed at the end of season one, but Peter seems to finally start understanding his place in the world (or wrongful place to be exact) after his first reunion with Walter. Obviously Walter at first rejects the initial notion of an adult, living, version of his son since he explains his Peter died that night under the ice at Raiden Lake. Meaning no Observer intervened in this new time-line. John Noble and Jackson's two scenes are bookended apart from each other in this episode but the final scene has a brilliant ironic tone to it. Peter becomes the Bishop family who is rejected for not belonging and his reaction is priceless.
"Novation" doesn't devote the entire episode to Peter's return rather most of it is spent with this season's newest type of shapeshifters. These new versions of the shapeshifters, what Fringe producers are calling the 2.0 model, pose an even greater threat than before. The 2.0 shapeshifters don't bleed mercury or rely on those pocket/mouth devices to change their appearance anymore. Instead these upgrades seem to be able to morph at will to any previous form they have taken before while also mimicking those people down to the DNA level. Making them almost impossible to track or discover. My theory is Walter or Peter will have to come up with some kind of 2.0 scanner before another cast member falls victim like Charlie. Since this was only the first full episode with the 2.0 shapeshifters I'm still not a hundered percent on the details. Things like do the just need a DNA sample to replicate someone else? Or do they still need to kill their victim before taking their place? In any case these 2.0 models still have one continuing feature from the first model in that they both have a memory discs.
That memory disc similarity between the two shapeshifter models creates the perfect segway for Peter to get involved and contribute to a Fringe division that still treats him as a potential threat. After Peter starts helping the Fringe team track down the shapeshifter that kidnapped the biochemist is where Jackson really has some fun on screen. For starters Peter freakin' MacGyver in the way he hooks up that intercom from his cell. His tech savvy and shapeshifter knowledge plays a big part in him being something more than a FBI detainee but it's the way Jackson plays Peter that make each scene doing those things great. Jackson's delivery and rapport between each individual character is not only fun to watch but is important so that he kept things light heart and never goes on the defensive the Fringe division; as well as his visits with Walter.
Having Jackson return to Fringe even if it was only a four episode absence was just flat out fun to watch. Peter may have not been heavily involved, in the field wise, with the shapeshifter 2.0 story-line but his presence gave the show that added boost. I think removing a key cast member from a TV series for a short while actually helps a show rather than hurt it, as it builds up a demand for viewers to look forward to. If it wasn't for Peter's return I would have been a little upset that this episode didn't include the second universe's new time-line because its been awhile since Fringe has included that part of the show. The shapeshifter 2.0 stuff was great though with an added bunch of both new hints and questions about this new time-line. Hints like Nina being Olivia's foster parent and no one knowing about the observers. To questions like are the 2.0 shapeshifters sent by Walternate? Or what was that glitch or moment of déjà vu Olivia experienced at the end of the episode? So many possibilities and this season is just getting started. Man I love this show!
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.