Mark Watches ‘Fringe’: S04E01 – Neither Here Nor There

In the first episode of the fourth season of Fringe, we are introduced to the lives of our cast of characters who no longer experienced Peter Bishop. The small changes to their lives are exacerbated by a new team member, and violent group of killers, a possible war with the parallel universe, and the mysterious flashes of someone they don’t recognize. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Fringe.

I think the writers have taken the mind-shattering reveal at the end of season three and chosen to do something unexpected here: slowly reveal this season’s mythology. “Neither Here Nor There” is a slow episode in a way, but none of it felt unnecessary or forced. Things have so fundamentally changed for the Fringe Division that it’s sort of impossible to drop us into the action without a whole lot of exposition. That exposition is spread out over 45 minutes as well and the process helps us to get a better picture for how these two universes will work together, what a Peter-less existence is like, and what we can expect from the format of the show.

Like season three, Fringe is now entirely serialized, a choice that I feel has energized the show and made me love it more. It has also allowed the writers to explore the “monster-of-the-week” format, though I do admit that this episode might have been stronger if it had focused a bit more on the ramifications of the season three finale. The cold open, though, does directly address this. We see that the two universes have agreed to get along for the sake of it, but that doesn’t mean that Olivia and Polivia have to get along, either. As the two trade barbs and insults, I just want to grab them and hug them and make them understand. But they are not the same people as they were at the end of season three. If you recall in “The Day We Died,” Fauxlivia is ready to agree that the destruction of the other universe is immoral, but here, she’s much more abrasive and rude. (ALSO LOOK AT THAT AMAZING ROOM THAT WAS BUILT AROUND THE BRIDGE.)

The Observers are still a huge part of this show’s mythology, too, though September is tasked with a terrifying job throughout “Neither Here Nor There.” I thought something was wrong with my television during the prologue when I saw something flash across the screen. I had to watch the episode days after it aired through my cable’s On Demand service, and it’s pretty wonky as it is. So I thought that is what I saw flash behind the Olivias. But September is ordered to fully take care of the problem of Peter. What problem is that? Despite being erased from time, he is still bleeding through. So September must fully erase his entire life from those who knew him. As December tells him, “They can never know the boy lived to be a man.”

YEAH COULD YOU NOT. But it’s part of the mysterious purpose of the Observers. They act to correct the timeline, don’t they? September intervened when Walter stole his son from the other universe, and then they had to act to ensure that the universes didn’t collapse. Was Peter always supposed to disappear, regardless of the universe he was in, or was that all because of what his father did?

“Neither Here Nor There” also introduces a new full-time character that is brilliant and welcome and MORE SETH GABEL IN THOSE CUTE GLASSES ALL OF THE TIME. I loved Lincoln’s character in the alternate world a whole lot, and the show introduces his alternate version in our world extremely well. Actually…I do have a small complaint. WHY DID YOU NAME HIS PARTNER DANZIG. Oh god, what if he started singing Misfits songs. Yeah, it was distracting because….that name. That name means only one thing!

Okay, that’s petty. I know! But everything else about Lincoln’s introduction is done to act as a reintroduction to the world of the Fringe Division, but one without Peter. It’s actually rather brilliant once you think about it. How else are we going to find out how Astrid, Walter, and Olivia operate? Instead of just telling us, we move through the perspective of Lincoln, who becomes furious at the mysterious nature of his partner’s death during a chase. Why does Olivia Dunham have the power to take his partner’s body away? What is it about the killer (THAT CREEPY TRANSLUCENT MAN) that prompts her department to have legal precedence? Why so much secrecy?

Like his parallel universe counterpart, Lincoln is highly observant and persistent, and these two qualities help to get his foot in on the investigation. He’s the one who notices the prospective witness at the second crime scene. (Who, by the way, I thought was Morena Baccarin at first, and I nearly peed myself with joy. AWWWW IT WASN’T.) In his own way, Lincoln helps, and I’m glad his character does get a choice and is not only an insert for the audience. He has an effect on Olivia’s case in a positive way, and I starting hoping that this would be the way the show would allow him to continue being on the Fringe Team. He brings an interesting dynamic to a team that also doesn’t seem the same anymore.

Actually, that’s an important point to bring up. We see the small things that are different since Peter’s disappearance. Olivia was the one to get Walter out of a mental institution. Astrid is field agent now, not a caretaker of sorts for Walter. (Though she does get Walter’s pants for him.) (Also, please give us an Astrid-centric episode soon, Fringe.) (How are we in the fourth season without any significant backstory on Astrid?) (I’m going to stop these parenthetical asides before it gets away from me again.)

What makes “Neither Here Nor There” as strong as it is (aside from character development) is that the plot, which seems like a random case unconnected to anything) is the huge reveal that these translucent people actually are part of the show’s greater mythology. The thrilling pursuit scene in the railway station first expands this idea when Lincoln is told by a wounded cop that there is more than one of these beings. (Also, Olivia doesn’t blink when she shoots anymore!) And even after Lincoln shoots the second one, the camera pans away to show us that a third being is watching the entire thing.

Given that this was near the end of the episode, I was confused as to how this would be resolved. Truth is, it is not resolved at all. Walter discovers a device within one of the bodies that looks just like the module found in the shapeshifters. Which…but….they have a truce with the other universe! Are they producing new shapeshifters? Did the shapeshifters evolve or mutate on their own? This revelation also serves to remind us just how goddamn weird this show can be. I forgot that Lincoln has NO FUCKING CLUE what the shapeshifters are, or why there is a module in someone’s body, or WHAT THE HOLY FUCK IS GOING ON. Oh my god, Lincoln is totally me when I start a new series RIGHT??? It’s true IN EVERY UNIVERSE.

So what does Olivia do? Oh, right, she takes him to the Machine room. And it is easily the best moment of the show, and I’m so glad that Lincoln does not say a thing. I actually love that the bulk of the shot after Lincoln is run through security is totally silent. He just takes in the room, the two weather systems, and A FUCKING DIRIGIBLE, in complete silence. Even more bewildering, Fauxlivia arrives to take the component piece and Olivia makes a point of stating that she now has justification not to trust their side. Oh god, I love the cursory glance at Lincoln, only long enough to acknowledge he is there, and then Fauxlivia just ignores him the whole time.

The ending helps set up the other recurring motif we’ll deal with in season four: Walter Bishop still has flashes of memory of Peter. September ultimately does not go through with erasing Peter, and Walter sees a complete image of him in his television. It’s not even a flash. He’s there, staring at his father. I don’t think that the entirety of season four will deal with this; we’ll probably have some resolution of this plot line midway through the season. But at this point, I’m glad we weren’t dumped with tons of information in the season premiere. The writers are allowing this new version of everything to have space to breathe and stretch out. It feels like they’re merely setting up dominoes, awaiting the moment when they can knock them all down and we’ll all shriek and sob in response.

Basically, I’m ready for the ride that is season four of Fringe. BRING IT.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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35 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Fringe’: S04E01 – Neither Here Nor There

  1. NB2000 says:

    Less than two minutes into this episode and I simultaneously remember just how much I loathe Fauxlivia and how I love Anna Torv for making me hate the character so damn much. Please writers, let Olivia punch Fauxlivia in the face at some point this season. Please?

    As sad as I am that we don't have Peter around (I mean properly, not as a flashy almost-ghost), having Our!Lincoln back, potentially for good, makes up for it big time. He's every bit as dorky and awesome as he was last time, yay!

    One of the things that stood out most to me was how much more colourful everything seemed. Olivia and Astrid's shirts were so much brighter than anything I remember them wearing before (and they both looked gorgeous to boot), and Walter's lab seemed to have a lot more colour in it. I didn't catch it until my second watch but there was a LOT of blue, red and yellow in the set decoration (I particularly noticed the shelves in the fridge and some bottles with fluids in those colours). Hey thematic colours!

    • psycicflower says:

      When Olivia and Our!Lincoln (fandom needs to come up with names to separate the two Lincoln Lees) were walking down the corridor towards the bridge room the corridors were largely blue and I kept hoping we'd see the ones from the other side were red, although they did go through that red light thing.
      (I only copped around the third time the titles came up around the ad breaks that the credits are yellow, as in we now our blue, red and now yellow universe.)

    • core013 says:

      I'm definitely in favor of face punching.

  2. Karen says:

    I didn't dislike this episode, but at the same time, it did feel like a bit of a let down. After last year's finale, I was all geared up to see how the two universes having bridge would work and seeing the two universe's characters work together. But then we got this episode which did a cursory nod to that issue and then mostly focused on a Monster of the Week plot.

    That said, I think it's interesting how Peter's absence has affected Walter and Olivia's personality. Seeing more of Here!Lincoln was nice, but I wanted to see There!Lincoln too (and only part of that is because I shop Fauxlivia and There!Lincoln). Although without Peter being around, wouldn't Fauxlivia still be with her boyfriend since they only broke up because she was pregnant with another man's baby?

    I have to wonder how the show is going to handle Peter's return. I mean, if somehow they do bring Peter back into existence, will it apply retroactively? For example, will Fauxlivia have her baby again? Because a lot of Walter and Olivia's character development over the last three seasons is because of their interaction and relationship with Peter, but if that isn't going to be restored then all that character development will have been lost.

    • rabbitape says:

      I've been asking myself the same questions about lost character development and what will happen upon Peter's return. Given how much the Fringe writers love emotional twist and turns (and gut punches) I'm sure we'll get good stuff, but I'm still very interested in how it will all play out and what the ramifications will be.

      This season opener felt like starting over to me, and I'm thinking that maybe with all the hype over last season, Fringe is expecting a lot of new viewers this season, and they're seizing on the opportunity to acclimate the newbies. It's really the only way I can view this episode as more than a let down, since, like you, I was expecting more on the two universes working together.

      Still, I'm super happy to have the show back, and I did enjoy the episode!

  3. @lula34 says:


    The shallow part of my soul just wants many gifs of Seth Gabel in his glasses. So someone get right on that, please.

    Finally, "I'll need to see the anus," is quite possibly the most amazing line ever uttered on network television. I love you, Walter Bishop.

    (Now that Kyle Chandler has rightfully won his Emmy, please to be giving one to John Noble next year, Emmy people, as well as one for Anna Torv. Thank you.)

  4. monkeybutter says:

    One of the many benefits of watching Fringe: I get two posts in one day!

    I thought it was a good start to the new season. I wasn't on the edge of my seat about the monster-of-the-week, but I was completely absorbed by the new characters. Olivia seems changed, to the point that I want to go back and rewatch Fringe from the beginning to compare. I loved the opening scene between the Olivias, and it got even better when this happened:

    <img src=""&gt;

    And yay, Astrid's working outside the lab! I really hope she gets to be the focus of an episode, too, but a more active role is a good start! I'm always happy to see Lincoln, and I hope he sticks around for a while (not just so that I can ship him with everyone). He's the character we can relate to most since we're new to this Fringe division, but he's also curious and a good investigator, and pretty game for all the weird stuff that goes on around them!

    <img src=""&gt;

    And Walter 🙁 He lost his son twice (and Olivia has had a hole in her for as long as she can remember). I feel so bad for him at the end, when he goes to sleep in the lab. He's so alone. And, you know, Frankensteining it up in the lab. Did you catch the opening?
    [youtube wd_MYkU-Ljc youtube]
    Philosopher's Stone! Time paradox! And he brought that pigeon back to life! I'm hoping that this is how we'll get Peter back. I wonder if he's flashing through the other universe as well? Anyway, I'm worried how other people are going to react to Walter claiming to see a man in his lab.

    Yup, so ready for this season!

    • SecretGirl127 says:

      Thank you so much for posting that first gif. I totally missed it. Now I'll have to be on the look out for Observers and Peter.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Oh great, I didn't even think about that. I just know I'm gonna miss Petergeist like I do the Observers.

    • rabbitape says:

      Haha, I love that "Existence" is in the credits, alongside quantum entanglement and viral therapy.

  5. core013 says:


  6. psycicflower says:

    Just finished watching the episode (legally and live on tv at a reasonable hour, what is this strange new world) and my main reaction right now is that I want to give Walter and Olivia all of the hugs. Walter has no one to keep him tethered and is all alone living in his lab, afraid to ever leave, while Olivia clearly finds it hard to trust anyone and seems so isolated. She has that hardness and distance that hasn't been tempered and spread more to the rest of her life outside of family by her friendship and relationship with Peter. It's just sad to see them both so lonely.

    I'm really curious to see how this universe plays out and how much of the past is different. What other cases are different, what characters haven't they met, what information do they not know any more? (Thank you Fringe for continuing to deliver on my weak spots of alternate timelines/universes.)

    That whole toast conversation at the start though just reminded me of this
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

  7. (How are we in the fourth season without any significant backstory on Astrid?)
    Every time the writers try, they end up writing a whole episode about Peter playing Asteroids or Walter reading Asterix comics or Broyles fawning over Astro from The Jetsons or Olivia lecturing people on the use of the asterisk.

  8. echinodermata says:

    Hi JFlan! Bye JFlan! (If he doesn't come back, that is some underuse of an actor with an established sci-fi fanbase. But hey, shapeshifters and parallel worlds: that's the recipe for bringing dead characters back. (Fringe hasn't done cloning, has it?))

    Things I thought while watching:
    – Back off on the ominous strings, show.
    – As always, more Astrid plz.
    – Loling forever at the zepplin.
    – Anna Torv I love you a lot.

    • core013 says:

      I totally had the same reaction. I just kept thinking, he's way too high profile to be dead already.

      • SableFlag says:

        Right? I saw him and freaked the fuck out, and then he died, and I was PISSED. I love his character (which, admittedly was almost the same as on Stargate Atlantis, which I adore.)

        • psycicflower says:

          Same here. I was all 'yay' when he turned up and then 'wait, what' when he didn't even make it through the first part of the episode.

    • Hotaru_hime says:

      I was watching and then sat up ramrod straight, pointed at the screen and shouted, "SHEPPARD?! SHEPPARD?! DON'T DIE!"
      So of course he died.

    • aurelia says:

      Since the shapeshifter they showed at the end had the face of the 2nd victim (that we saw) I wouldn't be surprised to see him as a shapeshifter at some point down the road.

  9. fieldofwhitetulips says:

    Oh Fringe, how I've missed you. A sort of slow but solid start to the season, they really marketed this episode toward new viewers I think. However, the promo for next week looks amazeballs.

    Anna Torv deserves ALL OF THE AWARDS. She managed to have sexual chemistry with HERSELF. I just wanted to weep in the first 45 seconds of the premiere over how amazing she is (I managed not to). I can't wait to see the Olivia's relationship blossom as they work together! YAY! Also, tumblr noticed that Anna finally isn't blinking when she fires a gun too.

    <img src="; /> (source)

    I am so excited to get further in the Observer plot line, which it certainly seems we will. My heart surged a little bit when September stared up at Walter's window and then turned off his device, but I'm worried about the consequences. I'm also curious about the new Observer we saw speaking with September at the first crime scene. He looks an awful lot like the kid in Inner Child.

    They did such a great job at making the team feel different, like something was missing. I miss Peter more than I thought I would, but I love the addition of Lincoln Lee. A character that sees from the audience's perspective is something we haven't had on Fringe for awhile, and it's rather refreshing.

    And now some of Lincoln Lee's adorable face

    <img src="; /> source
    <img src="; /> source
    <img src="; /> source

  10. SecretGirl127 says:

    "Oh god, I love the cursory glance at Lincoln, only long enough to acknowledge he is there, and then Fauxlivia just ignores him the whole time."
    I didn't think she just gave a cursory glance and ignored. I thought she gave a glance, it registered for her that Lincoln is a nerd in the other universe, sneered, and she spent the rest of the time barely containing her glee at getting to tease her Lincoln about what a dork he is on the other side.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Oh god, I wish we could see that. The Lincolns have to meet each other.

      • Dent D says:

        I want to see Lincoln mercilessly make fun of Honest Abe (I AM SO USING THAT NAME IT IS THE BEST) for his glasses and lack of 'cool'.

        Also, somebody amusingly mentioned that Olivia and Fauxlivia might as well be sending each other angry sext messages for all the sexual chemistry they had together.

        I just want to know whether or not Fauxlivia is together with Lincoln or not. Since Peter doesn't exist she can't have had a baby, but I suppose there are other ways for her and her boyfriend (Frank? I honestly don't remember his name, argh) could have broken up. Which is kind of a shame because he was a pretty nice and awesome guy, from what I could tell.

        And poor Astrid. Even if she is now a field agent, she is still relegated to "the agent who fetches Walter's pants".

        I'm so excited to see what September is going to do next. I am hoping he'll seek asylum from the rest of the Observers by contacting Walter. Oh god, does Fringe even know about the Observers still? Did September still contact Walter back in the day? I'm so excited to see what has changed and then how Peter is going to be brought back into reality for good. CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS FRIDAY.

        • monkeybutter says:

          Now I'm wondering about Frank (looked up his name to be sure, ha), too. I hope they show how relationships have been affected in their world now that Peter's not there, instead of just leaving things as they were.

          And yeah, Honest Abe is the new guy, so he can be pants-fetcher now. Astrid should be off doing awesome things.

  11. Hotaru_hime says:

    It was a bit of an underwhelming episode until we saw the woman who died in the car on the stairs (WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA?!) and it was revealed that they are some sort of proto-shapeshifters. Like… what the fuck? But it just looks so goddamned exciting, I can't wait for the rest of the season!!
    A few points:
    -Awww, Lincoln and his hipster glasses!
    -Olivia wearing colors!
    -Astrid in the field! THANK YOU WRITERS! DO MORE!
    -Walter! All the sads- stuck in the lab and monitored at all times by strangers. I would like to get to know Tom, though.

  12. @sistinas says:

    I wondered if anybody would catch the Danzig named character, I got a good laugh 🙂

    I wonder if this is some sort of continuation of in jokes with music-related names since in the past they had one named David Robert Jones (David Bowie's real name) and one named Thomas Jerome Newton (the name of the space alien charcter Bowie played in the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth)

    What next? James Osterberg? Henry Garfield?

  13. plaidpants says:

    Now that my boyfriend has finally caught up on Fringe, we can go back and watch this season. I admit I was hoping for more on the two universes working together, but I was pleased that there was something at the end.

    I was not expecting the Peter flashes, and didn't even see the first one. I did totally catch the one behind Walter towards the beginning, and rewound it like 5 times til the bf could catch it.

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