In the ninth episode of the fourth season of Fringe, the return of an adversary from many years ago (and another timeline) brings about a violent and dangerous challenge for both Fringe divisions. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Fringe.
I’m at a point with this show where I just want to hug it tight and let it go. I think I’ve told all my personal friends to take a week off from life and just binge the show from the beginning because you don’t understand THIS IS PERFECTION. This episode in particular is such a clever and rewarding example of why this show works so well as a serial narrative, rewarding all of us who’ve kept up with the story. So many character beats and plot twists carry weight because of the history attached to them.
I also recognize that while Fringe certainly isn’t lacking in mind-melting twists and turns, a huge reason why I enjoy the show is because it doesn’t mind taking time for small, subtle emotional moments, sometimes using a whole episode just for one crescendo. We’ve repeatedly seen how the writers for the various episodes are willing to take risks not only with the narrative, but with the audience. They introduce highly-detailed alternate worlds. They introduce numerous versions of the same character. They bring back a villain we haven’t seen since season one, and it’s not done in a way that ignores his death or his impact.
“Enemy of My Enemy,” however, is one of those Fringe episodes that is remarkably thrilling and fast, full of intense action sequences and a seemingly non-stop set of plot reveals. Bringing back David Robert Jones ia brilliant choice for this show, not just because HE IS SO TERRIBLY FUCKED UP, but also because he’s one of the main reasons season one ended on such a high note. That was when Fringe started moving towards existing as a serialized drama, and his appearance was particularly shocking and satisfying. It’s not merely a case of bringing back a character just for the audience to go, “A-ha!” This is a strategic chance to not just use Peter, but to explore another side to the character of Jones.
However, the most impressive thing the writers have done in season four is to make this new version of Walternate a sympathetic character who is decidedly not evil. It was my favorite twist in “Back to Where You’ve Never Been,” and it’s explored further here. Even if the two versions of Walter in this new timeline certainly have a lot in common with their counterparts in seasons one through three, we all fell for the misdirect of Walternate. We expected him to be evil, to be behind the shapeshifters, to have killed Brandon because he’s an awful person. Instead, this turns into a WONDERFUL chance to unite both universes.
On that note, I’m glad the show has done this. We saw in season three how two universes could come into conflict with one another, and I honestly don’t know how else the writers could further that idea. Seriously, how rad is that scene where both universes sit at that table, looking at their alternate, wondering how they’re going to catch someone who is threatening both of their universes? On top of that, this episode utilizes Walternate and Elizabeth to explore the idea of chances lost and grief. It was nice to see Elizabeth back in such an expanded role, and her visit with our side’s Walter was just HEARTBREAKING FOREVER. Truthfully, though, her character has become this example of selflessness. A version of her son has appeared in her life, and she doesn’t hesitate to help him go back to where he came from, assuring that she’ll never see him again.
She also helps Walter approach forgiving himself. This version of Walter has been forced to live a life in the shadow of his errors, and he’s never allowed to forget what he’s done. Why should he forgive himself? Why should the world forgive him? He’s so far into his own shame and despair that the idea of moving on is just so alien to him. He killed Peter in the other universe, and it’s more sensible to him to accept that this version of Peter is just a punishment from some sort of deity. But it’s Elizabeth who helps him see past that, and I was just so touched that she did this by telling him that she forgave him. Not forgive; this happened some time ago. She moved on, and she wants him to as well.
BUT CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT DAVID ROBERT JONES??? Oh my god, I’d forgotten just how violent he always was, and this episode is a fine example of a character who just accepts that they’re a one-note antagonist. I am perfectly okay with his character lacking a sympathetic depth; this man gets what he wants by doing whatever he pleases, including killing his own shapeshifter just as a demonstration. He’ll kill sixteen people in a hospital just because he can. What I’m most interested by, though, is his history in this new timeline. Clearly, Peter riled him in some guttural way, but we don’t yet know the logistics of this. How much is similar to the story of Jones from season one? We know that he’s still interested in traveling between universes, but is his collection of amphilicite an attempt at creating a terrorist event? Why would he want to create another hole between the universes if he can just travel between the two with the help of his shapeshifters?
Honestly, though, this episode leaves me with a whole lot of questions and a painful anticipation for what’s to come. What was the blood sample from that Olivia gave to Astrid to test? Why is alternate Broyles working with Jones? (Oh my god, I love this twist to alternate Broyles, because in season three he also acted as a spy of sorts, but that was for Olivia when she was trying to return to our world.) Will Olivia and our Lincoln finally just form a relationship because they are so adorable? What was in the syringe that alternate Broyles prepared for Lincoln?
Of course, the one big shocker in “Enemy of My Enemy” is that we are given confirmation that Nina Sharp’s experiments with Olivia that we saw at the end of “Wallflower” ARE TO HELP DAVID ROBERT JONES. WHAT THE HOLY LIVING HELL IS GOING ON?!?!?!?!?
I love this show. I just love it so much.