Fringe: It's All About Family (And A Dysfunctional One At That)
Fringe: It's All About Family (And A Dysfunctional One At That)
I just watched Fringe's winter finale. It took a while, I know. I figured that with the eight-week hiatus, I might as well delay watching Thursday night's episode a bit; the episodes preceding it were just so good, I knew I couldn't wait that long.  I ended up watching earlier today, rather than holding out for another week or so.

We've always known that the Peter we're seeing is from the alternate universe, that our Walter nabbed him after the death of the original Peter. It's the one major reveal I expected to see at the end of this season, not halfway through it. Imagine the possibilities of the gang realizing that their connections to the imminent catastrophic collision between two worlds is much bigger and goes way beyond Walter's knowledge and experiments. It's someone they've been working with! It's Peter!

More questions have been raised now that Olivia knows that Peter is from the alternate universe. Nope, I'm not thinking about the end game; there's been some speculation about who from the other side is responsible for the imminent war between worlds, but I'm not going there. Fringe stood out for me because of the deep connections between the main cast: the strained father-son relationship between Walter and Peter, the budding romance between Peter and Livy, and Livy's childhood as a subject of Walter's cortexiphan experiments. Seeing how these connections affect their work with the Fringe Division has been fascinating, perhaps more fascinating than the cases themselves. So, with Fringe's return early in April, Livy's discovery will be absolutely critical.

Think about budding romance between Olivia and Peter. They almost kissed last week. Well, it didn't become a kiss, although that's the closest they got to acknowledging their feelings for each other. Still, their mutual respect and admiration for each other has been one of the most natural things I've seen on television and it would suck seeing all that go down the drain after Livy's discovery. Some of us (me included) have been waiting for them to take the next step, but things could be awkward between them after Livy saw Peter's glimmer.

And then there's the discovery's effect on Olivia and Walter's relationship. In the past few weeks, the spotlight was trained on the ethical questions raised by Walter and William's experiments, the full extent of which we had yet to see. In the winter finale, Olivia finally saw how deep her involvement was in those experiments, and questioned Walter's motives. More than the possible change between Livy and Peter, I'm expecting to see Livy treat Walter with more skepticism. Especially now that events are getting much worse, and now that Walter seems to remember more--and isn't willing to divulge them to anyone.

As for Peter, he's gaining a better understanding of the extent of his father's work. But when he finally learns that his existence is mostly a product of his father's work, it's going to complicate the already strained relationship between father and son. Past episodes have seen the two bond like they weren't apart for eighteen years, but something has to be given up for the greater good. Walter's taken that risk before in his early years, but he's not willing to risk Peter again. Peter surely is thinking the opposite.

Toss all that into the bigger picture. With the possibility that the war between worlds is not a side effect of the experiments, but rather an answer to Walter getting alternate Peter, you'll end up with something pretty messy. Well, messy in a good way. Expect all the personal stakes that were raised in the past few episodes to intertwine with the impending battle: love for family and friends colliding--perhaps mashing up--with scientific advancement. The past few weeks proved that Fringe has done this very well.

We ended last week's episode with Olivia's discovery, her understated reaction, and Walter's plea not to tell anyone about it. In the next few weeks, we'll see that Fringe is not entirely about the science, but how messing with it affects the relationships we have, and that's what makes it one of the best television shows at the moment.

(Image courtesy of Fox)