Meet my new friend, he’s a real fungi…
4.03 “Alone In The World”
Writer: David Fury
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
THE ONE WHERE Fearing his hallucinations of Peter mean he’s going mad, Walter develops a bond with a boy who develops a bond with an extremely aggressive fungus.
UNIVERSE Over here – the orange credited version.
VERDICT Where the first two episodes of the season got away with putting procedural plots ahead of the “where’s Peter?” question because there was plenty of other stuff going on, “Alone In The World” feels like it’s dodging a big, Peter-shaped elephant in the room. Yes, Walter’s “hallucinations” of Peter and fears of madness are directly related to his son’s disappearance, but there’s only so long you can tread dramatic water before a show starts to get a tad frustrating – even if you have to cut the showrunners a little slack when you consider it’s impossible to look for someone if you don’t know they’re missing.
The case of the week is standard Fringe fodder, albeit rather less imaginative than the show’s best creations. The killer fungus is brilliantly designed (it looks rather like the alien gunk that covers the Earth in Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds ), and there’s some superbly gory moments with exploding bodies, but you can’t avoid the feeling we’ve seen it all before – better.
Even though this isn’t the best episode plot wise, however, it does give John Noble a chance to shine as Walter. As well as playing his relationship with Aaron, the boy who’s “friends” with a fungus, brilliantly – it’s totally believable that he would see the kid as a surrogate for the son he lost – he delivers one of those “full range of emotions” performances. There’s fear, joy, sadness and desperation – he even tries to give himself a DIY lobotomy.
It’s only in the closing scene that the episode gets truly interesting, as Olivia reveals that she’s been having dreams of Peter too. Now that they know they’re seeing the same man, maybe the hunt for Peter can begin in earnest – something the show will need if minor frustrations aren’t going to turn into major gripes.
THE SEX FILES With Peter absent, it looks as if Olivia has designs on Lincoln – a neat reverse on his unrequited love in the other universe.
IT’S WOTSISNAME That’s The Shawshank Redemption and Roswell High star (and Death from Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey ) William Sadler as Walter’s psychiatrist, Dr Sumner. He previously appeared in season one episode “The Equation”. Anyone else think he’s starting to look a lot like Rutger Hauer?
SPECULATION Walter explains that he lost his Peter in the same way as in the original Fringe timeline, and that he went to the other universe to bring back Walternate’s son. But in this sequence of events Peter died after falling through the ice – presumably the key difference in this timeline is that the Observer never stepped in to rescue the Bishops from the freezing water?
SPECULATION 2 Nina Sharp is mentioned, but we’ve seen very little of Massive Dynamic this year. It clearly exists in this timeline, but is Walter still the CEO? We’re assuming not.
OBSERVING THE OBSERVER Look closely and you can see him walking past the front of Walter’s lab building at Harvard, just after Olivia and Lincoln have picked up Aaron.
Walter: “I’ve seen the movie with the talking toys. Oddly disturbing.”
Fringe airs on Wednesday nights on Sky1 in the UK.