‘Fringe’ 4.04 Recap: “Effect Before Cause”

OK, now we’re getting somewhere. It’s not that I’ve disliked the case-of-the-week episodes that ‘Fringe’ has focused on so far this season, but I’m eager to see some progress to the overarching storyline as well. While Friday’s episode doesn’t quite jump whole-hog back into that, it does at least move us forward and set the stage for some interesting developments to come.

In ‘Subject 9’, Olivia repeatedly experiences a strange electromagnetic force that causes distortions in time. Walter links this to one of his old Cortexiphan test subjects, a boy named Cameron with the power of astral projection, which had side effects much like Olivia describes. Although the Walter in this timeline hasn’t left the lab in over three years due to extreme phobias of germs and crowds, he agrees to accompany Olivia in tracking down Cameron. Walter is worried that she’ll have him re-committed to the loony bin if he doesn’t show progress in adapting to the world. Unfortunately, it’s a rough road; he has a panic attack and major freak-out in a hotel.

The now-adult Cameron’s real name is Mark Little (Chadwick Boseman from ‘Persons Unknown’). His father lied about the boy’s name in order to scam the government. Mark claims that he no longer has the ability to astral project his consciousness and hasn’t been causing the problems that have plagued Olivia. He does, however, still experience the electromagnetic side effects during times of stress. When the time ripple attacks Olivia in his presence, Mark is able to dissipate the field and make it go away. Walter believes that, with proper amplification, Mark should be able to destroy the source. So, he and Olivia drag Mark out to a power plant and wait.

Eventually, the blue time ripple thing shows up again, and Mark very nearly destroys it. However, at the last second, Olivia senses a presence in the anomaly and stops Mark. Just as the magnetic field disappears, Peter Bishop pops up out of the water at Reiden Lake. An Observer watches from the shore.

Soon, Peter calls the FBI, where a very confused Broyles wants to know who this strange man is and how he knows so much about Fringe Division. Olivia goes to visit Peter in a hospital. While he’s naturally very happy to see his girlfriend again, she has no idea who he is. It would appear that, for the next few episodes at least, Peter will have to work with Olivia and Walter to figure out why no one remembers him.

Other things of note in this episode: In this timeline/universe, Walter hates Nina Sharp. I also take it that he has not inherited control of Massive Dynamic either. Somehow, Nina has a very motherly relationship with Olivia. I’m not sure how they could have gotten so close.

I think this is an interesting direction for the show. It occurs to me that everything we’ve seen this season must take place not just in a different timeline, but in a whole new alternate universe that branched off from the point of young Peter’s death. (The season’s new orange credits would seem to back this up.) This leads me to believe that the original universe that we followed for the first three seasons (green credits) may still exist, and we may wind up seeing some overlap.


  1. JoeRo

    I definitely enjoyed this weeks episode and was happy to see that Peter is back. One of my concerns was that the search for Peter would become a season-long arc, but that fear has been put to rest with this most recent episode.

    Regarding the number of universes in Fringe, I’m thinking that there are four total at this point. We have the original universe (our universe) or “universe A” and the parallel universe that our Walter visited “universe B”. With the creation of the new timeline we effectively have two new universes (A2 and B2 respectively) that are alternate versions of the original two universes we’re familiar with. I find it interesting that Peter has managed to arrive in the A2 universe, as opposed to returning to his own universe. I wonder if the events at the end of last season, bringing both universes together in a “soft spot” on Liberty Island and Peter’s subsequent removal from the timeline, preclude Peter from returning to his original universe, and if so why is that the case.

    This is where things get sort of confusing. My big hope for the immediate future of Fringe is that the writers try to explain exactly what happened when Peter joined the A and B universes together that caused his disappearance. I’d also like to know where Peter has been in the meantime and whether or not it’s possible for Peter to restore the timeline to its original state.

    This season of Fringe still has quite a lot of questions to answer, but so far it’s off to a decent enough start.

    • Josh Zyber

      I like everything you’ve written here, JoeRo. I’m sure Peter will explain where he’s been (as best he can) in the next episode. I suspect that, from hiserspective, he’s been right there in the room with them the whole time, but somehow phased in a way that they could not see, hear or sense him.

      I don’t think that Peter needs to “restore the timeline” so much as just find a way to get back to Universe A. Universes A2 and B2 will continue to exist when he leaves.

  2. J.J.

    I don’t think that there’s a new universe at all.
    Peter has to have been around in this universe- walter created the machine in response to Peter’s visit in the future. And the machine (which we know was turned on by the other side) was fine tuned to Peter. I believe that the only thing that’s changed are memories- nothing has truly changed, it’s just that people remember things differently. For example- say peter managed to subdue a suspect in a case- in this universe thanks to the observers’ changes to their memories everyone would think that olivia somehow managed to subdue the suspect by her own without peter but that’s not true- it’s just her memory of the event that’s changed.

  3. mlemaire

    I’m thinking not so much different universes, but different timelines. Peter’s actions have created another timeline altogether. While these two universes are ultimately the same universes as before (with the changes as a result of no Peter), the original timeline still exists (possibly changed in some way as well). In this way, Peter will try to get “home” to the original timeline and complications will ensue. That might explain why some characters have been less present (such as Walternate) over the last few episodes. Walter did say that his son died and he crossed over, only to have Peter die in the lake, after all. All I know for sure, is this show continues to be interesting and entertaining.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *