Fringe “Subject 9” TV Review

It’s finally time for Walter to step out…

4.04 “Subject 9”

Writers: Jeff Pinkner, JH Wyman, Akiva Goldsman
Director: Joe Chappelle

THE ONE WHERE Olivia’s mind is creating big, blue, magnetic, time-warping balls of energy, while Walter – scared that Olivia will have him recommitted to St Claire’s – finally takes a trip out of the lab.

UNIVERSE Over here – the orange credits version.

VERDICT Finally – Peter’s back! After skirting around the issue for the last three episodes, season four belatedly gives Joshua Jackson the chance to earn his salary, with a surprise reappearance in the middle of the lake where he’d previously drowned (in this timeline, at least). While it’s good to have Peter back, however, his return is almost too easy, seemingly the result of a series of fortunate events and Olivia’s intuition rather than any grand plan. Maybe the answers as to where Peter’s been will come later? Or perhaps the writers decided that explanations weren’t necessary. Either way, the fact that no one has any recollection of Peter – even though he remembers them – sets up the next few episodes nicely.

And this episode is about more than Peter. While other characters appear (Broyles and Astrid have extremely limited, screentime), it plays like a two-hander between Anna Torv and John Noble. Cue plenty of thoughtful chat, as Walter tries to prove he isn’t crazy (Noble gets better and better – his hotel room paranoia scene is fantastic) and Olivia is more impulsive than we’ve ever seen before. But what’s in store for them now that Peter’s back?

ANOTHER WORLD A few major changes in a Peter-less world. First off, the Cortexiphan kids appear to have been unexplored in this version of our universe – the files have been sealed for 20 years, Astrid has never heard of the trials, and Olivia tells Cameron that she’s never met any of the other test subjects. This timeline is clearly radically different.

Also, the main characters’ relationships with Nina Sharp have shifted. Walter now despises her with every fibre of his being (she’s a “viper”, apparently), yet she’s almost like an aunt to Olivia – note the affectionate pats on the arm, and the reference to Olivia looking nervous when a boy asked her to the prom. Perhaps Nina took Olivia in after she ran away from the Cortexiphan trials?

OBSERVING THE OBSERVER Rather difficult to miss: he’s standing on the bank of Reiden Lake when Peter makes his soggy reappearance.

WHAT’S IN A NAME Walter’s name recall’s getting worse: here he calls Astrid Claire. “Really?” she replies. “That doesn’t even start with an A!”

THE NEO THING It adds little to the plot, but it’s a nice touch that Walter got his idea for his multi-camera Peter detector from watching The Matrix.

BEST LINE
Nina Sharp: “We create technology. How it is used is not our concern. We just own the patents.”

Richard Edwards