'Fringe' recap: Peter gets 'weaponized'

This week’s Fringe, an episode titled “Reciprocity,” was about breaking codes and breaking down defenses. It began on a rather light note, when it was revealed that our heroes had cracked the encryption code on the alternate-world-Olivia’s case files. (In deference to Walter, who this week started using the widely-employed fan term “Fauxlivia,” that’s what I’ll call her here.) What was the key to the code? All Walter would say, with a slight shudder, was, “Fauxlivia ruined U2 for all of us.” (Bono ruined U2 for me quite a while ago, Walter.)

I was glad to see much of the hour was set in Massive Dynamic, where the nearly-assembled doomsday machine and Nina Sharp co-habit. Upon the entrance of Peter, Olivia, Walter, and Broyles, the lab surrounding the machine began to shake from a spike in electro-magnetic activity. Peter, whose nose bled at the same time, recognized that he was the thing that had set off this reaction. We also met bio-medical engineer Dr. James Falcon, who I’m sure you pegged as someone to keep a close eye on right away simply because he was too male-model perfect not to be either a new very good guy or a very bad guy. Turned out he was the latter, a shape-shifter who’d be killed a bit later. Oh, and we were blithely informed that William Bell had invented a super-duper lie detector machine far superior to the kind ordinary law enforcement uses. Really, Nina keeps a lot of stuff to herself, doesn’t she?

Walter told Nina about his mission to make himself smarter, to equal the intelligence of Walternate and restore his missing brain matter. Nina was very suspicious throughout. She balked, as she so often has in the past, about letting anyone see William Bell’s research materials. When Walter requested Bell’s notes, she said they were 15 years old and so difficult to locate. Nina has pulled this 15-years-was-an-eon-ago eye-rolling bit before. A bit later, she suddenly revealed that she’d not only found Bell’s notes, but also had vials of a “retro-viral serum” that would re-grow Walter’s brain cells. Problem was, it had been tested on rats and chimps, and Walter, in his blithe haste, inhaled the chimp stuff, which led to some monkeyshines back at the lab, suddenly craving a banana split and baring his teeth at Astrid to “display dominance.”

The humor was short-lived. Dead shape-shifters started cropping up, and they were traced to a list of names (“government employees, cops…”) in Fauxlivia’s vast file. Wondering about all this, Broyles suggested that “someone on our side” had told Walternate, and Olivia got to say, in a clipped, hardboiled manner, “We got a mole.” This kind of feint was well-done, since it briefly distracted us from Peter’s suspicious behavior right from the start of the hour, when we saw him return home and then lie to Walter about it. It turned out he was not, as I and you may have thought, out on an Oliv-ooty call, but rather on a mission that was the key to the hour.

Which was that Peter himself was dispatching the shifters. We have been periodically reminded of Peter’s shady past, so seeing him blasting mercury-filled humanoids wasn’t far-fetched. Less believable by the hour, however, was the idea that Peter was ever a very good con man. This evening, speaking to Olivia in the context of embarrassing girl-diary-like entries Fauxlivia left behind, he said, “I’ve conned people,” and in seasons one and two, we saw that side of Peter in action occasionally. But Peter can’t ever seem to con his father or Olivia for very long. Walter tumbled upon Peter secret quite quickly, and I don’t think he needed the chimp serum to do it: Peter had left the notes he’d cribbed from Fauxlivia’s file right on his bedroom desk.

Walter’s discovery of Peter’s actions led to a short speech that gave the episode its title. Boiled down: “Every relationship is reciprocal,” said Walter. “When you touched the machine, it changed you… it weaponized you.”

The steady gaze that Peter gave his father — and seconds later, as we gazed at the machine — suggested that Peter has already accepted his “weaponized” state and is willingly acting upon it.

This Peter may at first seem not to square with the more Zen-like Peter we saw last week, the man who had been sending a book to the Olivia he was in love with, to help her understand why he has trouble getting close to people. But then we remember that his favorite book is If You Meet The Buddha On The Road, Kill Him! — ostensibly a self-help-ish, self-awareness tract, but one that talks about accepting responsibility for who one really is. If Peter has decided that at least part of him is a killer, then Buddha and the rest of the universes had better watch out.

Stepping back a week, I haven’t figured out how this week’s hour squared with the Observer info we gleaned last week, have you? As Olivia said — twice — “We’re always just a step behind.”

Fringe benefits:

• Lotsa good Brandon stuff this week, including momentary suspicion that our favorite Massive Dynamic slab o’ science was a murderer. It was Brandon who also said that William Bell had been looking for copies of the First People book some years ago.

• Playing in the background of Walter’s lab, perhaps to rinse any lingering U2 melodies from his brain: Leo Sayer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.”

What did you think of “Reciprocity”?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (174 total) Add your comment
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  • yummycupcake

    I’m really sick of Olivia’s whining. At this point I miss Fauxlivia. I’m tired of Olivia whining “Poooooor meeeee! Fauxlivia ruined my liiiiiife!!! She got to have sex with Pacey Witter and now he’s sloppy seconds!!! Waaaah!” Ugh. Bring back Fauxlivia!

    • tracy bluth

      I didn’t think Olivia was whining. And I don’t miss Fauxlivia at all.

      • Esteban

        Inspiration is everywhere is the tag line on my own blog so I would say that there is no limit to what can inirpse, from the mundane every day flotsam and jetsam of life to high art, music, food and of course the people you love!Enjoy the day!Erin

    • Buhroyles

      Olivia is actually trying to get past the fauxlivia situation but everyone keeps trying to protect her. Like she said, what happened is in the past and she wants to do something about the future.

    • PJ

      Olivia never said that in the ep. I don’t think you watched it at all.

      • yummycupcake

        I never said she said that in the ep, but she has been a whiney mess since she’s been back.

      • Tajah

        @yummycupcake sometimes torture will do that to you.

      • mike

        Yeah, it’s been a “whole” 3 episodes since she’s been back and she has been “getting over” her own drama and now understanding what everyone else has been through. It seems like longer since there was the hiatus but in the scheme of things Olivia has actually gotten over it fairly quickly. I’m fine with the progression. Fantastic season!

      • GooGoo

        Yes she did say fauxlivia was in the past.

    • DN

      Your inability to understand the nuances and depth of Olivia’s character that the writers have developed in her says everything.

      You have a right to dislike what you called, ‘whining’ on Olivia’s part, but that remark shows you comprehension does not run deep. Imagine someone else living YOUR life for an extended period of time, taking the man you are now in love with.

      • yummycupcake

        Ha, I love how just because I am starting to dislike Olivia you attack me. I certainly have an understanding of Olivia’s character. Yes, she’s damaged. That doesn’t mean that I have to like HER and her general mopy-ness, which she has been like since the beginning of the show. We get it, her life sucks, and I’m sick of watching her wallowing in self pity. I found Fauxilivia to be a much more dynamic. I have the same to say about BSG and how mopey and dark it was all of the time. A little levity can go a long way and there were never any light moments and it was always depressing. Which is how I find Olivia, she is depressing.

    • M

      Hey, I would whine about someone else getting with Pacey Witter.

      • yummycupcake

        well, i’d take Pacey as sloppy seconds any day… :)

    • mika

      I’m not seeing whinning? She’s had to face some hard truths about herself since coming back to find that NOBODY noticed that it wasn’t her. Not her boss, not her co-workers, not her friends, not Peter. And much of this is her own fault as she realized that she shut other people out to the point to where few knew her well enough to know something was wrong. That would be the kind of blow to your ego that would take some time to process. So I don’t think three whole episodes is lot of time to build that story over. Last night there was a major progression, even a turn-around.

      • Ruby

        Agreed. I’ve been really impressed with how the writers developed her character post-alternate universe. It feels very realistic, and how I would expect a normal person to feel. Sorry “yummycupcake,” but you have no idea what you’re talking about (as I would expect from a Dawson’s Creek fan). Oh, and keep up the good work writers!! The show keeps getting better and better!!!

    • Rush

      I bet she’s wondering if that baby’s butt Peter seems to be extruding from his forehead is hers or not.

  • Mikaylah

    I don’t think Olivia was whiny tonight. I felt she had made a lot of progress in understanding/accepting what had happened. I liked the part where she read Faulivia’s “diary” and realized how similar they really were.

    I’m scared about Peter. I hope he doesn’t go TOO bad.

  • Kyrjar

    Hard to imagine Olivia being so reticent about Peter after having said they belong together. Plus he is freaking adorable and hot at the same time. Not only was Peter conned by fauxlivia but even worse he has the doomsday problem. Olivia is deserving of him less and less.

    • Berny

      I think Olivia still loves Peter but she’s still hurt from the fauxlivia incident. She won’t be mad forever, in fact she was trying to move past it today. Who of us doesn’t get stung from a betrayal even if it’s unintentional.

    • Casey

      What’s with all this anti Olivia sentiment? She felt betrayed by the man she loves, she wasn’t going to cuddle up to him right away. But she’s obviously worked through it, as we saw this episode. And what’s with people siding with either Olivia or Peter? It shouldn’t be like that. They belong together, and deserve each other equally.

      • tracy bluth

        thank you.

      • susan

        I remember the same thing happening The X-Files. Fans divided themselves into Mulderist and Scullyist camps and then spent all their time defending their favored character as perfect and the other character not worthy of breathing the same air. It was both laughable and entertaining because the fans were so dang serious about it, like they were real people. Clearly, some things never change.

      • aimee

        Yeah, I don’t get this character hate lately. Quit bashing Olivia or Peter. I love them both darn it! :D They need each other or all hope is lost.

    • FP

      Really? I think it’s exactly the contrary. Olivia deserves some happiness in her life, she loves Peter and now he’s lying to her when she’s finally opening up to him after deservedly feeling hurt.

      And isn’t it funny that the conman was now conned? Altlivia deserves to die for doing it to poor Peter, but Peter having done the same in the past must be something endearing and charming. Because he’s so adorable and hot.

      • taxgirl

        Even when he’s being bad, Peter is definitely adorable and hot. Yum! :-)

      • KK

        I feel like Peter wasn’t so much “weaponized” as reacting to being conned – acting of his own will instead of reacting and being proteted like the asset he is. Also we know Newton was killed a wihle back, and wasn’t the next guy on the list (in the fountain) killed prior to Peter reacting to the doomsday machine?

  • Peter

    All around good episode. Love the glare that seemingly evil Peter gave to Walter. I too don’t get ow it ties in with the Observers and what not, but hey I’m along for the ride. Plus I actually like the Friday night scheduling.

    • Irais

      Great thinking! That really brakse the mold!

    • Carlos

      I liked your facebook page. My inaitrspion is found in the little details. Today I was taking pictures of jellyfish tentacles it helps that I work at an aquarium, lots of inaitrspion there. You should come pick out a bigger fish for your tank ><}}}*<

  • Peter B

    Did anyone else notice how close a call Broyles had in his car this evening — reminescent of how that ambulance was ran into last week. Makes me suspicious that Broyles maybe on someone’s hit list from the alternate universe.

    Glad Walter started using Fauxlivia, finally.

    Yeah, Olivia was less whiney.

    Did anyone notice in the preview for next week it looks like Olivia has picked up more than a couple of habits from her time being in Fauxlivia’s shoes?

    • Ames

      I noticed the near accident too. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with the story, so wondering why writers had it in there. Afraid it was some sort of foreboading to Broyle’s fate.

    • Jane

      I watched that “almost accident” scene a few times to see if I could pick up on anything. I didn’t see anything but it HAS to mean something. Can’t wait to find out what.

  • tracy bluth

    That scene with Peter and Walter was both chilling (Joshua Jackson has a great “killer glare”) and heartbreaking. This is yet another reason I hope The Observer’s comment was about Walter and Peter- I love their scenes together. I also hope people’s theories that Sam Weiss was one of the First People are somehow true- it’s been too long since Kevin Corrigan was on.
    Also, did anyone spot an Observer?

    • Observer

      I was with crowd just behind the koi pond…watching the scene being processed by the FBI.

    • Jim

      Lol, with the Observer popping up at every Fringe crime scene, you would think the Fringe team would keep a lookout for them each time, wouldn’t you?

    • Irishgirl

      I agree with you about the end scene between Walter and Peter. Peter’s glare disturbed me, and I can’t decide if it was meant to intimidate Walter or frighten him (and the audience). I am also bothered by the fact that it appears Olivia hasn’t picked up on Peter’s fear of being the weapon. Granted, she was upset about Fauxlivia, but she is right that everyone treating her with kid gloves is not allowing her to move on. But her apology to Peter was disappointing because I thought she was finally going to acknowledge not only his betrayal by Fauxlivia, but also his fear about being a part of this weapon. Olivia was always very good at honing in on what was bothering Peter when no one else could. Perhaps all this drama with the switching places and her confused feelings for Peter have knocked her Peter-radar off, but still I found it disappointing that she didn’t see that he was lying to her. I have a continuity issue with this episode as well. I can’t figure out how Peter got away to kill Dr. Falcon. Astrid receiving Fauxlivia’s files, the tests on Peter, discovery of the first dead shape shifter, discussion with Broyles and Astrid about Faux’s files, the interrogations at Massive Dynamic, Walter inhaling the virus, the end of the interrogations, the discovery that Dr Falcon left early, and the discovery of his body all happened in the same day. How and when did Peter get away in order to kill Dr Falcon? This entire episode took place over one day. And a long day it was since all the stuff I listed above happened while it was still daylight, since we see that Peter killed Bermudez when it was still light out. So, I just don’t see how Peter killed Dr Falcon. And how was Peter able to read the discs from the Shifter’s backs? Unless I’m forgetting something, I don’t think the team has ever gotten an intact disc to try to read it. How do they know they can even read them….that this side has the tech to read the disc? So, how did Peter read the four he got? Don’t get me wrong, I liked the episode, but I think it had holes and wasn’t as complete as last week’s episode.

      • jen

        I had the same continuity issue as you. How could Peter have gotten away to kill Dr. Falcon? I can’t say this is the shows best episode because of the plot holes. I’m hopeful there’s a deleted scene that fixes this. But even with those holes it was still a decent episode.

      • carrie g.

        I may have an answer that somewhat fills the holes (and I haven’t read anything beyond this point to know whether someone has mentioned this or not) – who called Peter when he said he had to return to Massive Dynamic for more tests? Presuming that was an actual phone call from a real person, the person on the other end of the phone is obviously working with Peter and that would explain the timing issues. It would also explain how Peter had the print out of the names (unless I missed an explanation for how he got that and figured out the “OLIVE” code so quickly; this theory makes me nervous, btw…).

      • Alan of Montreal

        hmm…interesting…who would be working with Peter, then? Astrid? Nina Sharp?

      • Francini

        I totally agree with you Irishgirl. Peter definitely did not have the opportunity to go out and kill Dr. Falcoln. He was at M.D. with everyone else. I have tons of questions from this episode such as:
        1. What was in the bag that Peter brought into the house at the beginning of the episode?
        2. Why did Brandon have Dr. Falcoln’s blood under his fingernails?
        3. Who texted Peter when he was talking to Olivia and told him where to find Bermudez?
        4. How does Peter get information from the disks.
        I also thought it was interesting that the shapeshifer told Peter that they are not allowed to kill him. Maiming him, I guess is alright!

  • Mark

    This episode was crazy. So much to process

  • Trenton

    It’s personal to Peter…I think everything that has happened to him and those he cares for, and add his role in an impending dooms day ex machina, it is personal. He doesn’t want those he loves to get hurt…its like when a captain goes down with the ship, except he’s jumped the ship and swimming right for an ice berg to chip at it all by himself. Plus no con man likes to be conned. What I don’t fully get is why not share what he found? My only guess is that he doesn’t want either universe to get destroyed. And in the end he doesn’t fully trust his adoptive side to be all that magnanimous

    • grace

      I have to agree with you. I think he’s pulling an Angel when he went all lone ranger in order to bring down Darla and Drusilla. Also like, Trenton said he doesnt want to see his loved ones hurt and he figures that if he does it all alone nobody else has to get hurt. Either way the shape-shifters didnt have any important information, Peter said so himself, that he hadnt found anything. So if he really was being weaponized, it wouldnt make sense to kill shape-shifters that have no vital info. I just think it’s a personal thing.

      • AB

        could you be any more of a dork? Angel was soooo last decade.

  • Leithen

    I really am enjoying the multiple layers. Peter as proactive makes a lot of sense, given his credo that you can’t look to others for answers. I’m looking forward to next week. Getting to see Anna Torv all dolled up will provide an interesting counterpoint to her “dressed down” uniform as Olivia.

  • Leithen

    Other thing….during his whole conversation with Dr. Falcone, Peter knew he was a shape shifter. Rewatching that scene, does he believe anything that’s said?

    • Orac

      You have to wonder if Peter knew there was something wrong with him that should have shown up on a scan, that Falcone just wasn’t telling him about. And wondering why that was so…

    • Irishgirl

      I don’t think so. The way Peter looked at Dr Falcon when he was telling Peter the results, I got the impression that he didn’t believe him. Hell, I didn’t believe Dr Falcon. When Walter tells Peter about finding Baird, Peter cuts his eyes to Falcon. Then Peter tapping him on the shoulder to thank him, that’s when I knew Peter’s night time excursion had something to do with Baird’s death, and that Falcon was probably a shape shifter. I was hoping it was a red herring, because it seemed too obvious.

  • Jon

    I like how Folivia referred to Peter as PB in the diary and before that he was making PB&J with Walter. I also liked Brandon’s “can I swallow?”

    • tracy bluth

      That was the first time I made a “That’s what she said” joke during a Fringe episode.

      • Watcher

        That was my thought too…I also found it hilarious when Walter had whip cream on his face and when Nina called him he said her name seductively while eating the whip cream from his finger

      • tracy bluth

        I love Nina/Walter interactions.

  • Peter The ShapeShifter Slayer

    Great episode. Can’t wait to be inside the machine.

    • tracy bluth

      Your name= WIN.

      • Carmelo

        Wow – how heartbreaking it is for you and your deghutar to have experienced the after effects of such a horrible crime! But you did the right thing getting that baby to safety, even at the expense of worse relations with your deghutar. Now, at least HER deghutar has a chance for a happy and normal life.

    • clarkson_fan

      First of all, love the name! That made me crack up.
      And i while i’m worried and scared about Peter, i do understand why he did what he did…and i love Josh Jackson and his acting.

      • darclyte

        Agreed about Josh. How he and John haven’t been given Emmys yet is ridiculous…or at least noms.

  • Marty

    Well, first of all if she has been “whining” it’s been for only 2 episodes. I didn’t feel she was doing that. She’s a person not a shapeshifter. There are reasons why people react this way. She got past it on this episode so that’s the end of that. Happy?

  • KC

    Incredible episode again this week. Loving Fringe Fridays!

  • Shapeshifter

    If you cut off our fingers do we not scream in pain? If you shoot us, do we not bleed…mercury but still. Who are you to decide how human is human pb…who are you.

    • Tajah

      He is the man of the machine. Not only does he get to decide who is a human, he gets to decide which universe lives. Badass.

    • darclyte

      Sorry bud, but you’re a machine. The pain you feel are artificial nerve endings. Peter isn’t a killer since Shapeshifters aren’t alive. Destroyer is more appropriate since you “destroy” machines, you don’t “kill” or “slay” them. Also, he could be “Peter, Destroyer of Universes” which is very similar to an actual demi-god title.

    • Ames

      Peter, while looking for parts of the machine told Fauxlivia there has to be a way to save both universes. Now that he has waged war on the shape-shifters, is that still his belief? I’m nervous.

      • elena

        I was wondering the same thing. I hope Olivia still remembers how many people helped her and cared about her on the other side, and doesn’t let Fauxlivia’s skankiness life takeover stop her from wanting to save both worlds. Oh Peter! You need some people to talk to, STAT.

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