Will Season 4 Ignore Or Explore?
Season 3 Finale - ‘The Day We Died’*
* - all dialogue quotes are from this episode.
Walternate(2011): ‘You shattered my universe! Do you have any idea of how many deaths you caused?’
Walter(2011): ‘That was an accident! What you have tried to do, you have done on purpose!’
Season 4 starts out with the two universes still in peril but now with a chance for both sides to avert the impending disaster, thanks to Peter. But the price of creating that chance has removed Peter from the playing board. So much of what Walter and Olivia have become is intertwined with Peter’s presence. Without him in the mix how can this new opportunity in the form of the Universe Bridge between the two universes have a chance of success? How well will Olivia and Walter and by extension, Walternate and Fauxlivia, be equipped to deal with this new crisis?
Have the writers have written themselves into a corner?
It is clear from the SDCC Fringe press room interviews that the show runners mulled over using Peter’s nonexistence as a story point. Part of the examination must have been how it could be used within the constraints of a serialized TV show. How can a story be carried out without the involvement of one of the three prinicipals? While Fringe demonstrated last season that it is willing to sit out characters for entire episodes to tell a story, sitting one out for half a season is not doable. It must be concluded that the show runners were able to come up with a story that requires Peter’s return but in a manner that does not void the setup from the Season 3 Finale. What possible story could that be?
Walter(2026): ‘It’s a paradox. I can’t change what happens because it already has happened.’
My expectations for S4 are that, much like it was revealed in Season 3 that the two universes need each other to co-exist; so will it be found that Peter’s presence is also essential. The Observers are able to foresee cause and affect but what they cannot foresee is the human element. What Walter and Olivia are missing from the original timeline are those human qualities for love and compassion that Peter enabled in both of them. Without those qualities they will be unable to arrive at a solution to save the two universes. Something that the Observers seem incapable of comprehending.
Peter's absence should manifest itself in ways that will make him 'Important,' to borrow an Observerism.
Once this Importance is realized by the Observers, they will have to find a way to reinsert Peter into the timeline to preserve all those growth moments the three principal characters have gone through. And that, I suspect, is where the drama will lie. How to do that AND preserve the Universe Bridge that Peter has built? The ripple affects of timeline changes are enormous as seen in last season’s ‘The Firefly’ episode.
How can a successful scenario play out without Peter in the mix? Try to imagine how The Lord Of The Rings would play out if there was no Samwise Gamgee! Or no Spock in The Wrath of Khan! The mind boggles! And, to me, in good and exciting ways.
Walter(2026): ‘But you can make a different choice within what happened. I simply need to find a way to bring your consciousness forward to now so that you can witness what will happen if you make the same choice.’
That does not mean that Peter's re-integration into the Prime Timeline has to be without some changes to the previously established history of the first three seasons. There are several inter-related viewpoints by fans and TV critics that by introducing worm holes and time travel into the mix that the show is bypassing the main storyline. There is the belief that all the hard won character battles and growth will be lost. The side stepping of the main storyline has been addressed in Part 1. The two universes are still on a course of Existence Extinguishment. Nothing has been circumvented. Peter has given the two realities a chance for redemption. Nothing more.
As to the negation of all previous events for the main cast, that could happen, but I have faith in the show runners that they will not let that come to pass. If anything they will expand and deepen those previous moments. Especially if Peter has to be involved in them in some surreptitious manner. There are many hard won moments in the previous three seasons that the show runners are sure to want to preserve both for their impact and integrity in relation to the journey the characters have taken to this point.
Walter(2026): Don’t you see? We could fix everything! We could cheat the rules of time!’
Season 3 was very much about fleshing out Olivia's character. She underwent a journey that allowed her to gain mastery of her inner doubts and make emotional connections with Peter. Season 4 seems poised to do the same for Peter. It could very well end up being a Fringian version of, 'It's A Wonderful Life.'
And like in the Season 3 Finale when Peter needed Olivia's help in order to access the Machine, it would only be fitting that Olivia once again steps up and brings Peter from the 'other' side - whatever that 'other' existence/nonexistence may be - in Season 4 and back into the Prime Timeline we have been watching for the past three seasons.
It could very well come to pass that as Season 4 plays out, the events set in motion by the finale of Season 3 will be looked back at in a more appreciative light. The removal of Peter from the established story line should turn out to be the launching pad for some amazing and touching future episodes.
Peter (2026/2011?): 'Imagine the repercussions.'
Walter (2026): ‘There's no way of telling what the cost may be but it can’t be worse than this. Can't be worse than this.’
The Season 3 Finale may have been more of an intellectual exercise, leaving viewers cold, but it could be the seed from which many emotional character moments spring up from. Much like the introduction of the alternate universe was used to show us more about the characters, it is almost a certainty the Fringe show runners will use the erasure of Peter to do the same thing again.
My prediction is that Season 4 will follow the structure of Season 3. The first handful of episodes will show the impact of Peter’s removal – some by revisiting past moments, others by showing conflict in the present with their counterparts ie Walternate & Fauxlivia – and demonstrating why Peter’s return is vital. The next bunch will deal with reintegrating Peter back in the timeline with minimal changes to the original one we know as the past 3 Seasons and keeping the Universe Bridge intact.
Peter (2026/2011?): ‘What would I need to do?’
Season 4 - will It ignore or Explore? Will it ignore or explore what has happened in the first 3 seasons and how it impacts events going forward? Even before the SanDiego ComicCon(SDCC) the answer seemed clear. Now after the SDCC it is a certainty.
The Question has been answered. Season 4 will explore.
Pass the Red Vines and color me excited.