The return of Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) wasn't as enlightening as one hoped, but I'm not sure what else was really possible. Fact is, Peter's back from the "great beyond" and determined to restore everyone's memories with the help of Walter (John Noble), who's less keen about assisting this strange young man—despite DNA proving he's definitely an adult version of his drowned son. This is one of those developments that seems perfectly reasonable, but knowing it's unlikely Walter won't eventually help reverse the damage done by The Observers means you're hoping they don't spend too long on it.
I'm a little frustrated this fourth season's putting so much emphasis on Peter's situation, really, as it's taking a great deal of the story away from what's been the primary concern of the show for awhile now: repairing the damage Walter did to both universes, so they can once again coexist. Maybe the writers have a plan to merge these two goals together, but I'm not so sure. It's probably more like the Peter situation's going to be the focus of season 4's first half, before they get back to business with the dual-universe issues.
"Novation" spent a lot of time with Peter being interviewed by his friends and father, but he didn't seem particularly upset that nobody remembers who he is. I know Peter doesn't exactly put his emotions on display, but it felt a little strange that he wasn't more upset by the fact his own father and girlfriend have no clue who he is. His reaction felt too blasé for me, although I can perhaps understand Peter feeling like this is just another crazy day at the office. Instead it was left to Noble to communicate the deep emotions of the situation from his character's perspective, as Walter tried to make sense of what's going on here. Is Peter lying? Is this all a trick? Is it for the best that he's been punished by losing Peter as a child in this timeline, so reversing this change may not be for the best?
This episode also had a case-of-the-week story with the hunt for a hybrid shape-shifter called Nadine (Michelle Krusiec), who abducted a Dr. Malcolm Truss (Arye Gross) because he invented the basics of cellular replication she needs to survive. Her plan being to have Truss fix her artificial skin without him realizing her true nature or intentions, as she's already killed his wife in her earlier efforts to find him. A standard storyline, let down by a slightly wooden performance from Krusiec, but it's always fun when the show's dealing with these shape-shifters, and I confess one of the obligatory twists with a police officer's identity worked like a charm on me.
This wasn't a great episode, although having Jackson back on the show felt like a hole had been filled that I didn't previously feel was there. Some of the background details were also appreciated, like confirmation that Nina (Blair Brown) became the surrogate mother of Olivia and her sister after Olivia shot their father dead and fled from Walter's Cortexiphan trials. The way this episode setup what appears to be an invasion of hybrid shape-shifters, who will be totally undetectable, was also a good note to end on. It's still unclear where this new breed of 'shifer comes from, but is the possibility of a third universe all that unlikely? Or perhaps whatever realm The Observers come from?
written by J.R Orci & Graham Roland / directed by Paul Holahan / 4 November 2011 / Fox