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Throwback Thursday - Fringe – Peter



Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from the past.

Twelve years ago on April 1st, 2010 Fringe aired its fifteenth episode of its second season titled ‘Peter’. It was a key episode of the show that finally explained Peter Bishop’s backstory and redefined the status quo of the characters relationships with one another. The show had been building up to this episode for nearly two years. Which started with some (not always very subtle) hints early in the first season and culminated in the previous episode where Olivia confronts Walter that she knows Peter is from a parallel universe.

Most of the episode takes place in 1985 through flashbacks as Walter tells Olivia how his own son Peter became sick and suffered from a genetic disorder. Despite Walter’s brilliant efforts to find a cure, in a desperate race against time, Peter eventually dies. One of the methods Walter employs to find a cure is a device that can see into an alternative universe, there he sees another version of himself that he dubs ‘Walternate’ working on a cure for his son Peter as well. Walter sees through his device, that this Peter suffers from the same genetic disorder. As Walternate is running tests an Observer named September startles him and he doesn’t notice he was successful in finding a cure.

Walter heartbroken and determined by the loss of his own Peter uses a device to cross over to the alternate universe. He will not allow this Peter to die as well and is going to administer the cure himself. However the vial that contains the cure gets broken in a struggle with Nina Sharp who tries to stop Walter and Nina loses her arm in the process. In an act of desperation Walter takes Peter with him to his universe, but they fall through the ice and into the lake. September, the Observer, rescues Peter and Walter from the water and corrects his earlier mistake of ‘killing’ Peter when he caused Walternate to inadvertently miss the moment he created the cure. Back at Walter’s lab Walter cures Peter and as his wife Elizabeth arrives she is overjoyed to see Peter, even though it is not her Peter. Walter realizes he will never be able to return Peter to his universe, because the pain of losing Peter for the second time would be too great.

John Noble’s acting in this episode in particular is what made me choose it for Throwback Thursday, he’s just so damn good! That he never even got a nomination for an Emmy that he should have won is honestly one of the biggest snubs in the Emmy’s long and storied history.

This episode had the kind of storytelling I miss most in TV today: the longer seasons with mostly episodic storytelling and having a mythology that overarches it all, that culminates in pivotal episodes like this. I like both serialized and episodic shows, but there’s something about episodic shows that gets me to feel like I’m getting to know the characters a lot better.

From a production standpoint the eighties styled intro and the way it was filmed a bit grainy really added to the overall feel of the episode, it really transported me to that time.

And how heartbreaking was it that Walter’s actions caused the very war between universes?

Walter: “It was the first hole, Olivia. The first breach. The first crack in a pattern of cracks, spaces between the worlds. And it's my fault.”

September: “The boy is important. He has to live.”