'Fringe' recap: 'I'm not from here, am I?'

This week’s Fringe began with science — fringe science, to be sure — and ended with great emotion. As far as I’m concerned, the series has really hit its stride: Its storytelling now surges along confidently, doling out the droll humor, the yucky alien imagery, and the deep anguish and terror of loss that resides in the heart of Fringe.

The return of Sebastian Roche’s Thomas Jerome Newton, the First Wave head from the alternate universe, early in the episode promised lots of Fringe mythology. Newton had three alt-agents to contact — shape-shifters occupying bodies that included, accidentally, a stoned dude who’d been smoking what Walter analyzed as Lemon Zinger. They were assembled to carry out a plan to bring over the episode’s title figure: “The Man From The Other Side.”

In Walter’s lab, we got to see a shape-shifter embryo (wet, blobby, slicked with mercury and “partly mechanical”). Walter and Peter explained to Olivia (and therefore to us) that they’d figured out Newton’s method: he locates a spot in our world where and when the harmonics of our world and the other world synchronize. And so at exactly 3:31 p.m., Newton was on his way to literally bridging the two worlds, only to encounter the fabulous Bishop boys’ counter-attack: their own machine designed to disrupt the harmonic synchronicity. We caught a glimpse of a body that shimmered in from the alternate universe, a bit of damaged goods that Newton would at the end of the hour be shown nursing to consciousness and addressing as “Mr. Secretary.”

In the aftermath of the resulting zap, Peter was knocked senseless for more than a day — but he didn’t disintegrate, the way the FBI man next to him had. This was enough to confirm some suspicions he’d had and to assemble bits of information in a way he’d never done before.

The result was one of the most beautifully acted scenes in Fringe history. Peter lying in bed (symbolically, the sick son who’d been close to death as a child) greeting Walter with cold anger and a series a blunt sentences. “I’m not from here, am I?” “You brought me back.” “I understand everything now.” “I am not your son.”

The acting here was superb, by Joshua Jackson, so quietly enraged and heartbroken, and by John Noble, so crushed (at the start of the episode, Walter had started to tell Peter about his past, but they were interrupted by the case that ended up disclosing some of that information anyway).

By the end of the episode, you could say that everything Fringe has done so far to integrate Peter into the team — finally happy and helpful with his father; enjoying his honorary-FBI work with Olivia — has been undone. He’s gone, in the wind, perhaps reverting to the secretive, bitter, scurrilous character he was before the series started. It’s a wrenching, daring move on the part of the show. (Can next week’s episode, filmed as part of Fox’s all-musical week, possibly address any of this serious stuff, or will we have to wait two weeks to get back to the nitty-gritty?)

Who do you think “Mr. Secretary” is? And most important of all: What did you think of the way the show presented Peter’s new interpretation of who he really is?

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Comments (141 total) Add your comment
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  • Bryce

    I think Mr. Secretary is alternate universe Walter Bishop. I think this entire “war” will have been fought in order to get his son back.

    • ken

      sorry for the repeat bryce, your comment hadnt posted yet

      • Bryce

        No problem, great minds yadda yadda

    • Q

      Agree. And I think Bell is “over there” to try and stop him. I don’t think I’m going to like Walternate – I think he’s One Bad Dude!

    • allie

      Interesting I like it. I was thinking he was William Bell but I like your theory better.

    • darthwilson

      I agree! This has been my theory since the walter flashback episode. The walternate is the “bad guy” from the other universe.

    • Emily

      That sounds very compelling

    • jw

      BINGO!

    • Waiting for Charlie’s return

      Yup.

    • justin

      Sounds plausible to me.

    • BlueRoze2001

      I agree…did anyone notice that when the embryo was dying he grabbed Walter’s hand to say “I’m Sorry”?

      • haleysname

        i agree, and also at the end you could see Mr. Secretary’s profile slightly, and that looked like Walter’s nose to me. :-)

    • CC

      I agree. That hand at the end? It looked Walter-ish.

    • Anika

      I agree! I wish it was Alt-Elizabeth over Alt-Walter but with John Noble in the part it’s all good.

    • Steven

      Yep, definitely the Walternate. That Noble (get it?) honker was too recognizable.

  • ken

    mr secretary= walternate, back for his son

    • darclyte

      Agreed.
      Next week’s episode looks STOOPID and unwatchable.

      • sluggo

        I agree that Walternate is Mr. Secretary. I also agree that next week’s episode is a throw-away designed to fit in with some stupid Fox theme week. How can Walter go from being so despondent this week, to telling fairy tales next week. This kind of an episode might have be OK earlier in the season, but no now.

      • justin

        Are you crazy?! This is the perfect time to put this kind of an episode on. This bombshell Walter just dropped on Peter could virtually change the show forever! To have a perfect follow-up episode would be more than a freaking miracle! I say give them time to come up with a viable solution, and besides, almost every hit show has broadway-inspired episode.

      • justin

        I know I’ll watch it.

      • Blue Sunflower

        Yeah. I certainly won’t be rushing home to see it, and even then I’ll put it on mute. It definitely sounds like the dumbest thing on Earth. If I wanted to watch Glee I’d watch Glee.

      • haleysname

        During the X-Files, they threw in a couple of silly episodes once in a while, and I thought they were fun. They don’t have to deal with the big stuff all the time, a nice departure if done well.

      • Blue Sunflower

        I’d agree, haleysname, if it weren’t for the fact that we’ve only got 4 episodes of the season left, and we just entered into a crucial part of the storyline.

      • Anika

        I agree with Justin. Plus I think the audience needs a week to breathe before jumping back into the very serious story that is being presented. Well timed, Fringe.

      • sluggo

        Justin – I’m pretty sure that the writers have already come up with a “viable solution” to the current storyline. You do realize that they write these things ahead of time, right?

      • justin

        I’m sure that is the case, but let this breathe for a while. Don’t rush to the conclusion. I hear there are only 4 episodes left. I’d rather them take their time.

    • Ames

      Right off the bat, I liked this theory. But would Walternate risk so many lives to get Peter back so many years later? My initial thought is no, but we don’t really know Walternate or what he’s been thinking all this time. Interesting though.

      • Nic.

        I think Walternate has become obsessed with getting his son back and it has taken years to discover the technology that will allow him to cross over. I think he is going to be one pissed off, mad scientist! His obsession has reached the point where he does not care what losses are incurred, he just wants his son back and to have revenge on Walter (I think Walternate caused the fire in the lab that killed Walter’s assistant and sent Walter to the mental hospital).

      • Lisa

        I like the theory of Mr. Secretery being Walternate. But the timing for me doesn’t add up. Nic. mentions that Walternate is here now because it took years to develop the technology to cross over but in the episode where we see Peter’s story from Walter’s perspective, didn’t Walter say that he was watching Walternate find a cure for his son because the alternate universe is more scientifically advanced then ours? If I have that right, then how could it have taken Walternate all these years to figure out how to cross over when it took Walter not long at all? I don’t mean to doubt, it’s just, to me, that doesn’t line up.

      • Blue Sunflower

        I don’t think Walternate was working on Alternate Universes. I guessing one of the different choices he made from our Walter was to not take drugs, and therefore never saw into the other realities. If so, then Walternate would be very behind on the technology, and would just now be catching up. It took Walter and Bell years just to get the car to go over.

      • Lisa

        hm makes sense. I guess he would have had to realize that Peter was taken to another universe, instead of just a runaway or plain ol’ kidnapped, in order to look for him there. Thanks Blue Sunflower.

      • haleysname

        Walternate was the more absent father, right? I’ll bet he doesn’t care if he gets Peter or not, he’s just trying to cross over for the sake of science or some other reason. these are NOT the same character. Also, why would he care if he’s risking lives, the people from his side are unaffected (peter and the guy on the bridge for example)

      • thorswitch

        In regards to whether Walternate would risk so many lives to get his son back, but we know our Walter was willing to take one of the biggest risks in all of history to try and save Peter. NO ONE had *ever* crossed universes before and no one knew for sure what the effect would be. Walter could have torn apart the fabric of the universe for all he knew, but he did it anyway, so I have no problem thinking Walternate would take a lot of risks to get Peter back.

        As for the technology, it could be that they were ahead of us medically, but not in terms of I guess this would be some kind of quantum physics or something? I don’t think that the other universe is necessarily more technologically advanced than us in general, but moreso in some areas than other.

        A last thought – I’ve been mulling this same theory since episode “Peter,” but I’ve also noticed that everytime I think I know where the show is going or how it’s going to resolve something, I end up wrong. Last week, I was SURE that Walter was going to tell Peter the truth, and then the guy’s time travelling would just wipe it out – but they went a totally different direction. So while this still seems like the most likely theory, the fact that it does seem to be a likely theory kind of makes me doubt it. I know, weird, but…

    • 4k4k

      I thought that right away.

      • ObiHave

        I guess we’re all in good company. I knew the guy on the bridge looked familiar.

    • Meme

      Wow. Those two kids, that I remember pyilang around and having fun, are all grown up. It looks like your joy of yesteryear has lasted and joined your love of today. Here\’s to your beautiful future!

  • jolema

    You knew the moment Peter called Walter dad that everything was going to go downhill from there.
    The scene where Peter confronts his dad was powerful and sad. I am looking forward on how the
    season is going to end.

  • Angie

    I’m completely heartbroken. I don’t think it’s realistic that Peter wouldn’t demand answers to questions from Walter — why did he bring him from the other side? how? what happened to his real parents? what happened to the other Peter? etc., etc. Or maybe it’s just that I need Walter to explain everything to Peter so that he’ll forgive Walter. Peter in the hospital bed was just chilling! I hope he hasn’t changed forever. Sniff!

    • Q

      Next week’s episode looks like another direct reference to an X-Files – Triangle, the episode shot on the Queen Mary and set in the 40′s. Also, is anyone else bothered by the plot similarities with LOST right now? Another universe, people crossing over, last week’s time travel? I know JJ Abrams isn’t involved in Lost anymore, so what’s going on?

      • Temp

        Ive always been surprised that Fringe seems to have nearly the exact same story as the comic “Ex Machina” – alternate universe same as ours but slightly more technologically advanced. Im not sure if the comic started before lost, I think close to the same time. The writer for Ex Machina also wrote for lost for a few seasons.

      • sidsy

        I think, much more than Lost, Fringe parallels His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I love it because its wonderful to see elements of the Golden Compass explored beautifully on screen, unlike the ridiculous film.

      • Dicazi

        An alternate universe is an old. hoary SF concept. Anybody using it is bound to look like they’re stealing it from someone else.

      • Wilson

        Yes, I am bothered by the plot similarities to Lost because this was one thing that Fringe had last season that was not time-travelling and different from Lost, so it wouldn’t be ripping off the older show…but then this season, Lost comes up with the alternate universe and…it pissed me off. It’s like Abrams is ripping off his new show for his old show or something…

    • mcklowry

      I actually really appreciated the way Peter refused to hear Walter’s side of the story. It’s a callback to Peter in the early days of Fringe division. He always assumed his father was crazy/wrong and never gave him any credence. Same goes now. He’s so angry, he just doesn’t want to hear it. Add on top of that, the guilt tied to his mother’s death. It was all just brilliant, brilliant stuff.

      • tipsy

        yeh, that was very in character. he and OLivia react to this kind of stuff differently. Olivia always puts differences aside to find answers because she is very self-less and puts other people`s interests before hers. OTOH, Peter is pretty Peter-centric and tends to run from problems, which is what he admitted himself. This is very Peter reaction.

        I also think he ran from Walter and Olivia because he now knows that she “lied” to him too, since she can identify alt-uni people by their glow.

    • thorswitch

      I think Peter was too much in shock to even *want* answers initially. I mean, absolutely EVERYTHING about who and what he is has just been thrown into chaos – he’s been completely unmoored from the only reality he’s ever known. I’m sure in time he’ll want answers, but right now, he needed to confirm what he was thinking and then find a way to deal with the truth.

  • Eli

    i think Mr Secretary is the Walter from the other side

  • Kimberly

    Good episode, I think alternate Walter is Mr. Secretary, trying to cross over to reclaim Peter.

  • Anjali

    Walternate = Mr. Secretary
    Joshua Jackson = awesome!

    Next week’s musical episode looks fantastic! Can’t wait!

    • Luisa

      I was 286 went to Jenny Craig and lost like 40 lbs. in 4 months. The food does taste good but it is utorageously priced. The same meals at cub cost like $2.65 and are like $5.50 at JC. My local office gave me very little counceling they really were just a glorified grocery store. But I did lose 40 lbs. fast so I did like it and it was worth it. I have been doe with it for a few months had two surgeries and have not gained any weight back. Any comments let me know.

  • jayemeff

    I wonder if Peter will now track down Newton and try to be sent to the other universe to find his real parents.

  • tipsy

    Mr Secretary is Walternate, how can there be any doubt? His schnozz under the mask is unmistakenly John Noble`s. The man on the bridge (Mr Secretary) walked and dressed like Walter. And the dying shapeshifter appologized to Walter for having failed the mission. Put all tree together and you get Walternate. But the nose sealed the deal. Just wait for screen caps of it to hit the Net and prove it.

    • Alex

      I had figured the Secretary was Walternate, but good point about the dying shapeshifter! I couldn’t figure out why he/it was helping them, giving them all that info. Now it makes perfect sense.

      • Sekolatika

        By June 16, 2010 – 3:05 PMawww loves! i’ve done pretty well kpenieg slayer in his own bed at night, but every morning he hops in bed with me to snuggle. pretty much the best thing ever haha

      • Leila

        They are not going to like this, but, you can eat what you want, how much you want, where you want and still keep a proper wegiht for life at best diet on earth .netKeep your money for other things, bye

    • Ames

      OK, I’m convinced.

  • Julie

    Why John Noble hasn’t been nominated for an emmy yet is beyond me. He is easily the best actor on television these days.

    • cjscott

      I completely agree! The scene at the end where Olivia tells Walter that Peter is gone was so heartbreaking! John Noble’s chin quivering was so emotional, you don’t see actors who are able to show that much emotion without even saying a word. Kudos to Joshua Jackson too – he’s come a long way from Dawson’s Creek!

      • 4k4k

        I think all 3 are fantastic in Fringe. I think John Noble is long overdue for an award as Walter.

  • Brigid

    I’m also a long time watcher of Grey’s Anatomy. Last season, I cried at nearly every GA episode. This season, nothing yet. However, Fringe made me really teary eyed last night. John Noble is with out a doubt one of the best, most beautifully, subtly expressive dramatic actors on television now. I can not get enough of this show.

    • Ilir

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  • psb1962

    I HATE TO SOUND LIKE A BROKEN RECORD…BUT…I THINK MR. SECRETARY IS ALTERNATE WALTER AS WELL…I ONLY HOPE PETER CAN FORGIVE OUR WALTER AND CARRY ON AS USUAL!!!

  • daviddavid

    What a terrific episode; and, just for the record, ‘Flash Forward’ was brilliant too … I thought for a second that Mr. Secretary was Leonard Nimoy …. Belly … but, after reading the above thoughts, how could it not be Walter-nate.
    Loved the show … brilliant acting … yes, the show has really hit its stride. In many ways, THE best show on TV right now … terrific writing!

  • daviddavid

    and, great moments from Joshua Jackson … tre-brilliant!!!

  • Hannah

    This was such an amazing episode. It broke my heart when Peter called Walter “Dad” in the beginning ‘cos I knew his identity would be revealed at the end of the episode. I agree with everyone that Walternate is Mr. Secretary. I really hope Peter comes back. Joshua Jackson was amazing in this episode and John Noble’s lip quiver at the end was so brilliant. Give this man an Emmy already!

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