Mark Watches ‘Fringe’: S04E16 – Nothing As It Seems

In the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of Fringe, WHY IS SEASON ONE REPEATING BUT NOT REPEATING AND OH MY GOD IT’S GAETA OH MY GOD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Fringe.

I mean, seriously, there were a lot of things that I liked about “Nothing As It Seems,” the least of which is the clever hint in the title. Let’s discuss those things:


Yeah, I may have started hyperventilating with joy when he appeared on screen at the end. MORE ALESSANDRO JULIANI, PLEASE. Does that mean he’ll be a recurring character? Thanks, that would be pleasant because I enjoy his face so much.

Bringing Back The Past

There’s always a risk of dilution in a serialized show when bringing back a character, a villain, or a specific plot. I know there are folks who didn’t like the two episodes in series five of Doctor Who where that one particular villain came back. (I loved it, personally, and that also might be because of IAIN GLEN OH MY GOD I LOVE HIM.) It’s a delicate line between awesome and mediocre, and what the writers of Fringe have done with a plot that calls back to season one most certainly lands this story in AWESOME LAND. The title of this episode was always a clue to what would unfold: this is not as it seems. When Markham stepped out of that airplane bathroom unscathed, I was confused. That’s now how this happens! And every moment after that was twisted from the original story of VertusAir Flight 718. There are more people. The events don’t happen as they should. Of course, we expected a repeat as much as Peter did, too, but that’s what made “Nothing As It Seems” so exciting as a viewer. I just realized that we all thought we were prepared, and we were not even close to being prepared.

Peter and Walter

Yeah, seeing Walter unconditionally accept Peter as his own was gorgeous. He got out all the gifts! I AM FULL OF FEELINGS. Though now I’m a bit confused. If the end of the last episode is any indication, these are our versions of Walter and Peter, and they have been the whole time. So, are we going to see Walter begin to remember? How does that work for characters who do not exist in our timeline, or who do exist in our timeline but aren’t in this one? (I’m thinking of Henry in particular.) Will this affect the alternate universe too?

Actually, Walter had about a hundred billion amazing moments in this episode. I counted. That is an accurate number.


The giant porcupine is still one of the most absurd monsters on television, and it is still incredibly creepy. I will blame most of that on the fact that it can fly, which is both unsettling and hilarious.

Acknowledging Reality

So, while I loved the twist that this has always been Peter’s world, I admit that the last couple minutes of “A Short Story About Love” was really cheesy. I still enjoy it, but let’s not kid ourselves here. My number one question, though, concerned logistics. How would this affect this timeline? How would the characters cope with it? What adverse things will manifest from this? It’s within the first ten minutes of this episode that the writers not only acknowledge the problem with having Olivia turn back into her real self, but they create a believable and realistic conflict with it. If Olivia is choosing to be replaced, that means her memories of the cases she’s worked on are all gone, too. The FBI has a bureau to run and everyone has a job to do. Should they risk keeping Olivia on cases if her memories are of another life? (And hell, do they even believe that this is a real thing? I suppose that’s a moot point because Olivia believes it, and they’ve all seen weirder shit over the years.)

On top of that, this plot twist has created an uncomfortable and depressing situation for Lincoln. This was hinted at in the previous episode, but Peter and Lincoln outright discuss it here. I like that Lincoln knows that he wasn’t officially dating Olivia in any sense, but could you imagine how upsetting it would be to feel like you have a chance with someone you like, and then suddenly they’re in love with a some other person because they forgot they once knew you? Yeah, that’s the very definition of awkward. I’m interested to see how this plays out. Obviously, I want to know if it will affect other characters, but I would feel so satisfied to see the show continue to bring up these logistical dilemmas as Olivia becomes Peter’s Olivia.

David Robert Jones

I haven’t pieced it together. Why is he linked to so many of these cases? Why would he be interested in Transgenetic Manipulation? At this point, each of the things he’s been involved in are all so disparate and segregated. I can’t find out what they all have to do with one another. It’s almost like he’s gathering an army of weird, but for what? Why does he seem to know far more than he admits about not only the two universes, but Peter’s timeline predicament? I like this frustration, though, because I trust that the writers are going to deliver and endgame that will make my head explode. I literally have never felt so unprepared for this show than I do after this episode. HALP.

The ship.

Absolutely the best part of the episode, and perhaps series four. In just a couple minutes, the writers expand the scope and terror of this story in such a way that it injects energy and life into this season’s mythology. Whatever David Robert Jones is planning is a billion times more serious and gigantic than we ever expected. What the fuck is he going to do with all those monsters?

I am so, so, so happy with season four. Let’s do this again next week!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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