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Fringe’s April 1 episode is no joke

By Fred Topel

HollywoodNews.com: Fringe returns on April 1 after a hiatus of two months. They sure pay off your patient wait with an episode filled with answers, both confirming things and putting a surprise twist on backstory we took for granted.

“Peter” is set in 1985, and it takes an ‘80s TV perspective. Most notably, the opening credits are in the style of an ‘80s TV show, adapted as if Fringe were produced in the ‘80s. That alone is worth seeing.

Recalling the events that led Walter (John Noble) to kidnap his son Peter from an alternate universe, Walter relates the story to Olivia (Anna Torv). 1985 is when Peter succumbed to his childhood illness. Joshua Jackson isn’t even in this episode, because Peter is only a child when these events took place. Walter and William Bell (not on screen in this episode so no Leonard Nimoy), have developed a window to observe the alternate universe (the one where the twin towers are still standing in 2009.) Even though Walter’s Peter dies, he observes his “Walternate” (cute name for the Walter in the alternate universe) discovering a cure.

Only problem is that Walternate didn’t realize he’d done it, so he moves on. The cure would be lost unless our world’s Walter intervenes, breaking some serious moral, ethical and metaphysical rules. Here’s where the episode plays with things we know.

We know The Observer saved Walter and Peter from falling through the ice. This episode shows exactly how that occurred, and it’s not quite what we imagined. We also know that Walter ends up keeping Walternate’s Peter, but you’ll actually sympathize with the circumstances that lead to essentially a kidnapping. It turns out this incident is also how Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) lost her arm. Maybe you theorized that already but it’s a good payoff.

As his 1985 self, Walter is more physically vital, and speaks much more clearly than the disheveled eccentric we know today. That means there aren’t many Walter-isms this week, but the drastic difference in his persona is equally powerful. Those scenes of watching his parallel universe son are heartbreaking.

There’s not much Anna Torv, since Olivia is only listening to the story in bookend segments. The episode is really the flashback. Again, there’s no Joshua Jackson. There’s only preteen Peter. It’s a Walter episode, and a doozy.

There is an awesome Back to the Future joke for anyone who knows the behind the scenes history of that movie. It’s not even hidden. You’ll notice it on the marquee in the alternate universe, but you’ll have to really know the movie to get it. Otherwise you might just think it’s random.

Since this is a real character arc episode, there’s not so much of a case of the week. You might consider the window the science of the week, but it’s just a macguffin. The point of the episode is to really explain some of the mysteries of Walter’s experiments and his kidnapping of Peter from another universe. It delivers on that. Wonder what

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