Liane Hentscher/Fox

Olivia gets stalked by a magnetic mass of blue gas, then finds the man of her dreams in 'Subject 9'


S4 E4
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October 15, 2011 at 01:52 PM EDT

The second coming of Peter Bishop was a miraculous event, marked by strange portents and paranormal activity. There were no shepherds to bear witness – but there were fishers of men. There were no wisemen — but there was a germaphobe genius with stigmata. The road to rebirth began in Olivia Dunham’s apartment. The time: 6 AM. Sunshine flickered on Olivia’s face, a breeze pushed through the curtains like a spirit… and then metal objects began to stir and migrate toward a blue-hued ball of energy. Olivia jolted awake as the mysterious mass expanded and grazed her arm, searing her skin. A veritable Close Encounter of the Third Kind. But this was no alien visitation. Shocked by the electric feel, Olivia grabbed her gun and took aim at the electromagnetic home invader —but then it was gone. At that moment, we saw the clock – and it ticked to 6 AM all over again. Groundhog Day, Fringe style. There was no Sonny & Cher, but in retrospect, the sentiment was there. Peter to Olivia: I got you, babe. Now come and get me.

(An aside: I think I was tainted by Fox’s promos for the episode, which framed the story with the question: Has Peter Bishop returned? So I never considered other explanations for the aqua-hued anomaly. I was further locked into a Peter perspective by the alarm clock and the magnetic nature of the entity. I was reminded of the “soul magnet” concept from last season, which brought us the storyline that put William Bell’s consciousness inside  Olivia’s body with a literal ring of a bell. The only time I considered any other possibility was when we got that curious bit of business about nanotechnology; more on that in a few graphs. I’m curious to know if you watched the episode with a similar ‘Blue Plasma = Body-challenged Peter’ bias, and if so, if you felt the promos robbed the episode of some suspense.)

To Harvard, where were found Walter Bishop a little more nuts as usual – and by that, I mean throwing peanuts into the air and photographing their descent using a ring of 28 cameras. The madcap Muybridge was beta-testing his real ambition: Capturing on film “the ghostly apparition” – Flashing Peter – that only his eyes could see. (Speaking of which: Walter’s left orb looked healed from last week’s ill-considered attempt at old school lobotomy.) Walter said he was inspired by the bullet time fight scenes in The Matrix. “He watched it last night to take his mind off his fear,” Astrid told Olivia. And it worked, according to Walter. His phantom menace no longer filled him with dread. “Now I welcome his visitation,” the scientist said hungrily, madly snacking on some peanuts. (I wondered if The Matrix reference was suggesting another idea for this new version of reality and the Missing Peter mystery. Is the new timeline an incidental byproduct of Peter’s actions — or a product of intelligent design, created by a TBD villain? Was Peter inadvertently displaced —  or purposely subtracted from time, even abducted by my hypothetical time tamperers?)

Olivia showed Walter her burn and explained how she got it. She wondered, with some small worry, if maybe she had conjured the Fringe event in her apartment. Her reasoning revealed that in this new version of Fringe history, Olivia retained much of her “Subject 13” past. As in the original timeline, this Olivia had been a Cortexiphan guinea pig who scorched Walter’s lab when she briefly went FLAME ON! pyrokinetic. Walter vowed to figure it out.  Olivia took off her jacket and went to another part of the lab to give Astrid a DNA sample. Walter noticed an envelope from St. Claire’s Hospital in Olivia coat pocket. Gulp. He peeked. Olivia needed to make the call: Was Walter mentally fit to stay with Fringe Division or did he need to be re-institutionalized? Double-gulp. Walter was now in a race against time to solve the Flashing Peter problem that was threatening to unravel his already frayed mind.

The mystery of the blue blaze deepened while Olivia was collecting an atmospheric sample at her apartment with Astrid. The azure haze manifested anew, flashing Olivia in her bathroom. She ducked to avoid impalement by a rush of magnetized grooming accoutrements. Walter saw it coming before anyone. Literally. Watching the real-time feed from his lab, Walter saw the door slam and heard Olivia cry out before the event actually occurred in the Astrid/Olivia frame of reality. The phenomenon reminded Walter of another Cortexiphan kid who had briefly, temporarily developed the power of astral projection, an ability that came with a destructive side effect: Producing disruptions in the electromagnetic field. Walter theorized that the former patient, now all grown up, was trying to reach out to Olivia via a psychic link that connected all of the Cortexiphan kids. But why target Olivia? Walter had a theory for that, too. Most of the Cortexiphan kids developed destabilizing emotional problems as a result of Walter’s drug. But Olivia never did. And because she was so resilient and strong, the other kids were naturally drawn to her. Walter couldn’t recall the boy’s name – but he knew he was Subject 9.

NEXT: Nina and nanotechnology: Foreshadowing or red herring?

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Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble star in J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi drama
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