Monday, 17 October 2011

FRINGE, 4.4 - "Subject 9"

Monday, 17 October 2011
While an appealing character-building episode, "Subject 9" was unfortunately built around a central mystery that wasn't mysterious—to me, at least. Given the focus of this season is the "erased" Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) from the timeline, was I alone in theorizing the "energy apparition" Olivia (Anna Torv) saw hovering over her bed was Peter trying to make stronger contact? To some extent this undercut the episode for me, as it thus became an hour where Olivia and Walter (John Noble) tried to solve a non-mystery. And even muddying the water by pointing a finger at Cameron James (Person Of Interest's Chadwick Boseman)—a man who could astral project when he was part of Walter's Cortexiphan child experiments in the '70s as Subject 9—did little to convince me otherwise.

However, putting aside this episode's plot failure, it was still a good episode with some memorable moments. Of particular delight was seeing the relationship between Olivia and Walter explored in the new timeline, as Walter left his laboratory for the first time in years (to prove to Olivia he's improving as an out-patient, having realized she has the final say on his fate regarding an assessment of his mental health). John Noble was once again brilliant throughout, especially when Walter flew into a bizarre rage while staying at a hotel and being unable to control his mysophobia. It was great to see Olivia acting as both Walter's friend and guardian out in the wider world (developing a slight father-daughter vibe), and with Walter knowing she has such power over him it was excruciating to see him try and keep his sanity in her presence...

Plus there was an unexpectedly great guest-star performance from Chadwick Boseman, who played Cameron James (real name Matt Liddle). Despite his limited screentime, Boseman crafted a very engaging and likable character; another child of the Cortexiphan trials whose life has been ruined in adulthood, as he's cursed to move metal with his mind whenever he becomes emotional (an ability that had a particularly nasty outcome involving a girlfriend with fillings in her teeth).

As I said, it was a shame the core to this episode wasn't more involving, because it had good moments and appealing interactions. But it mainly existed for one purpose: to return Peter. By the end of this episode, he's unexpectedly surfaced in Reiden Lake, where he drowned as a boy in this altered timeline. I was expecting Peter to be absent from the show a good deal longer, and don't really understand how he's managed to return (considering nothing Olivia or Walter did seemed to aide that process), but hopefully the next episode will enlighten us. (To be honest, I'm not expecting a plausible explanation for anything involving Peter's situation this season, so my expectations are prudently low.)

At any rate, it should be interesting from a character standpoint to see how everyone reacts to Peter's outrageous claims to be the adult son of a little boy who drowned, from an alternate universe where he survived. I wonder if Peter has been living in a third dimension separate from the two we know, which might explain the source of those new shape-shifters introduced in the premiere? As I've said for a few years now, it seems plausible to have the two universes unite to fight a common enemy. Might that enemy be from the future, given the time distortion that went with the blue energy that signaled Peter's attempt to communicate? We'll have to see what Peter's story is next week, but knowing Fringe the details will be sketchy at best, or he'll be unable to remember too much about what happened to save the writers a big headache.


  • Is it even worth mentioning that Cameron James was a nod to director James Cameron? Everyone knew that, right?
written by Jeff Pinkner, J.H Wyman & Akiva Goldsman · directed by Joe Chappelle · 14 October 2011 · Fox