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.