Fringe: Reciprocity

29 Jan

Basic plot: People from the FBI, Massive Dynamic, etc. are working to crack the code on Fauxlivia’s files to find any information on Walternate’s plans. Then shapeshifters start turning up dead so they really start trying to crack the code to find out the names of the shapeshifters so they can get to one before they’re killed and question them. They also start looking for the assumed mole that is going around killing the shapeshifters, with the help of Nina’s handy dandy unbeatable polygraph. Meanwhile, the team goes to see the machine, which is being housed at Massive Dynamic, and Peter just entering the room causes the machine to activate. MD wants to do tests to find out what it is about Peter that reacts with the machine, and Walter wants to find some brain DNA something or other that Bell stored away when he took out the pieces of Walter’s brain, in the hopes that he can use it to regrow the pieces, get his full mental faculties back, and be able to think like Walternate so he can figure out what his plan is and save Peter. Olivia makes overtures of forgiveness towards Peter, and it’s all hunky dory, but then Walter discovers that it’s actually Peter who’s killing the shapeshifters. I don’t think Olivia’s going to be too pleased when that secret comes out.

This episode was the first time that the show really addressed Peter’s emotional state post-Fauxlivia betrayal. And man, is he in a bad place. He’s kind of reverted back to his season one persona, when he was supposed to be this super tough con man/mercenary bad boy. He’d gone pretty much totally away from that as he re-connected with Walter and made a little family unit with him, Olivia, and Astrid, but now that that’s gotten all messed up, so has he. Walter’s hypothesis, that all relationships involve reciprocity (hello, episode title), including Peter’s with the machine, meaning that when Peter activated the weapon the weapon “activated” Peter, makes a certain kind of sense (in a Fringe way, anyway) and would explain his seemingly overnight shift to the dark side. But the boy has been through an awful lot—I mean, pre-show, he was kidnapped and taken to an alternate universe, his mother committed suicide, and his father was in a mental hospital, then during the show he found out about the kidnapping, he went back to his universe, found out his real father is pretty evil and wants to destroy the world he grew up in (and oh yeah, use him to do it), came back after Olivia basically declared her love, started dating Olivia, and then found out that he was actually dating the alternate universe’s Olivia while the real Olivia was trapped over there. Just a couple of those things would be enough to mess anyone up, so it’s really not surprising he’s gone all dark. And I’d rather it be because of what he’s been through then because of the machine—if the machine has somehow weaponized him, that’s going to be a lot harder to get back to normal from. Hopefully he will get back to normal because this version of Peter is pretty disturbing. And even though in retrospect he was at least partially manipulating Olivia when he explained why he didn’t want her to read Fauxlivia’s files (he’d clearly already read them at that point so he knew she didn’t write about how dumb he was—bad Peter!) the fact that he seemed the most normal in this episode when was around her is hopefully a good sign. After all, in the musical episode, which at the time seemed like a random one-off but has turned into an exercise in foreshadowing, she did end up saving him.

Other notes: The title card glyphs for this episode spelled out alter, the seahorse glyph showed up on Peter’s bag, and the Observer was in the background when Olivia and Broyles were at the crime scene where the first shapeshifter was discovered (for previous observer sightings/glyph codes/etc., go here: Lost just wishes it could be Fringe).

On another note, I know this episode wasn’t written by JJ Abrams and I don’t know how much involvement he even has in the show any more, but someone was totally cribbing from Alias in this episode. Compare:


And Alias:


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