Episode Title: "And Those We've Left Behind"
Writers: Robert Chiappetta & Glen Whitman
Director: Brad Anderson
Previously on "Fringe":
Somehow, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) returned from non-existence to find that the world he knew was gone. In the reconstructed timeline, Peter drowned when he was brought to our universe as a young boy by Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble). But now, Walter had no memory of his son as an adult and he refused to acknowledge Peter as his son because he feared being tempted to damage the universes again. Even Peter's partner and lover, FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) regarded him with suspicion as he was locked up by Fringe Division as a prisoner.
The only member of the team eager for Peter's help was Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel); who convinced Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) to let Peter assist them in finding the transparent shapeshifter, Nadine (Michelle Krusiec). But despite Peter's knowledge of shapeshifter memory disks and his discovery of how to track them down, Nadine managed to escape with the stolen formula created by Dr. Malcolm Truss (Arye Gross) before she alerted her superior that her mission was a success. Nadine was then ordered to prepare the way for additional shapeshifters, who can now hide themselves without fear of discovery.
Back at Fringe headquarters, Olivia also noticed a strange time blip when the same thing happened to her twice in a row, but she dismissed it as an odd sense of deja vu.
In a playground, Olivia and Peter enjoy each other's company as Walter plays on the swings. Peter and Olivia seem on the verge of picking up their relationship where they left off until Olivia tells Peter that she has a problem... Peter himself! Moments later, Peter awakens in his cell at Fringe Division before Olivia enters to get his thoughts on a new Fringe event possibly related to his return. In Boston, a mother named Anne (Victoria Bidewell) experiences a strange time jump that reduces her five year old daughter into an infant and damages her apartment with apparent fire burns. When Anne gets outside, her daughter reverts to normal; but the damage from the fire is still visible.
The Fringe team is called in to investigate the case, along with Peter. Lincoln notes that there was a fire at the same building four years earlier and that there have been many similar incidents in the past few days. Much to the annoyance of the Fringe team, Walter is refusing to even offer a theory about anything related to Peter. Fed up, Broyles orders Walter to examine Peter. Walter does so, very brusquely and he refers to Peter simply as "the subject" and won't speak to him directly. But Walter quickly determines that Peter isn't causing the time anomalies before retreating into his bedroom, leaving Peter to try to work out a theory of his own.
Peter explains to Olivia that his return to this world may have damaged time and space; which would not only make the damage his fault but may also lead to more deadly anomalies. Almost on cue, a car full of teenagers nearly slams into a train that appears in front of them, but doesn't seem to actually be there. Peter accompanies Lincoln and Olivia to the scene, but his perception of leaving and arriving are skipped in another time jump which no one else seems to experience. Peter goes back and forth a few times before learning that the train was decommissioned four years ago and the trace radiation means that someone is intentionally causing the time jumps.
Elsewhere, Kate Green (Romy Rosemont) writes down complex equations while her husband, Raymond Green (Stephen Root) watches with great interest. When Raymond's watch counts down to zero, Kate seemingly disappears and he finds her in another room, starring off into space. She apparently has early onset Alzheimer's disease and Kate doesn't even realize who he is. Back at Walter's lab, Walter comforts himself in music while Peter, Lincoln and Olivia struggle to come up with a pattern for the incidents. Walter finally jumps out of his seat with an answer: the incidents corespond with Fibonacci's Golden Spiral; which gives them the general location of the source in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Back in Brookline, Raymond comforts his wife before retreating to the basement and entering her equations into an elaborate device. When the machine activates, it throws time in the house back four years, but only for 47 minutes at a time. However, Raymond soon notices the FBI canvasing the area outside of his home and he disrupts Kate's routine to reveal the truth to her about the time bubble device he created from her notes. Outside, an FBI agent walks through the time bubble and into the past before he is obliterated in front of a horrified Olivia and her equally stunned colleagues.
Theorizing that they need a Faraday cage to get into the house safely, Peter relays the message to Walter via Astrid (Jasika Nicole). They hastily assemble a rig for Peter while Raymond tries to get his wife to finish her work on the equation so that the time bubble can be extended indefinitely. With the Faraday cage in place, Peter manages to enter the house before Raymond briefly knocks him out. Meanwhile, Lincoln and other FBI agents attempt to evacuate a traffic tunnel where another time rift is literally erasing the underwater tunnel in front of them.
Peter awakens and he threatens to smash the machine. However, Kate convinces him that the machine would destroy the neighborhood if it isn't shut down properly. She agrees to do it if Peter will keep Raymond from being prosecuted. While Peter makes the arrangements, Raymond tells his wife that he can't bear to lose her again and he gives her a book of her equations to finish so that he can eventually rebuild the machine and be with her. Peter gets the approval from Broyles and the machine is shut down, narrowly saving the people in the tunnel with Lincoln. But Peter also witnesses Kate fade away into the past.
As the FBI confiscates his computers and devices, Raymond comforts Kate in the present. But when he goes to check on her notebook with the equations, he finds that she crossed them all out and left a final message telling him that she loves him and wants him to live. Back at FBI headquarters, Broyles congratulates Peter on his performance; but Peter reveals that he believes that it was his return that allowed Raymond's machine to work. Peter also mentions that this isn't his world and he wants to get home. Sympathizing with him, Broyles allows Peter to move into Walter's old home at Harvard.
In the closing moments, Olivia confronts Peter about his relationship with the Olivia that he knew. He concedes that she was important to him and Olivia tells him that she hopes that he makes it back home to her.
Judging from the ratings, it's a shame that "Fringe" doesn't have a bigger audience. Because most of America is missing out on the best science fiction show on TV.
Even from a storytelling perspective, "Fringe" outclasses almost all other programs on television. For example, take the most recent episode of "Burn Notice." I have nothing against that series, but when "Burn Notice" tried to invent a dead childhood friend for its lead character in the last episode, it came off as flat and unbelievable. In "And Those We've Left Behind," the writers of "Fringe" attempted to make the audience care about two characters we've never seen before... and it's magnificent.
Why does it work so well on "Fringe"? For starters, "Fringe" struck gold when real life husband and wife, Stephen Root and Romy Rosemont were cast as Raymond and Kate Green. They didn't have to fake a history or chemistry with each other, it was already there. Obviously, it's not just the real marriage that made their connection special and compelling. All of that came through with their performances. In short, "Fringe" found the perfect actors for their respective parts, they just happened to be married.
The writing of the Greens was also remarkably well done. "Fringe" has gone to the well a couple of times with the misguided scientist bending the rules of nature in the name of love before, notably in the episode "White Lotus" and even in Walter's backstory with Peter. But "Fringe" earns a pass for reusing the formula so many times because they pull it off so well. Raymond was perfectly sympathetic and yet Kate's choice to destroy her research was completely understandable and even touching. It's also oddly hopeful if Raymond actually listens to her and reclaims the life he had before he gave into despair.
It also helps that "Fringe" has a very strong core cast as well, as the interplay between John Noble and Joshua Jackson remains a highlight of the show. Walter's curt dismissals of Peter leave a lot of pain on Jackson's face as Peter deals with the rejection. Walter is just trying to protect himself from losing his son all over again, but it's also clearly eating away at him as well. Noble straddles the line between epiphany and grudging interest when Walter acknowledges that Peter's Faraday cage was a good idea. The reconciliation between them isn't going to happen overnight, but it's the small touches like that keep both characters sympathetic and allow the audience to get behind them. Again, that's Good TV 101, but a surprising number of shows (*cough* "Grimm" *cough*) can't even pull that off.
I also love the way that Lincoln and Peter aren't being paired as rivals on the Fringe team and more like a pair of partners that immediately click. It's like they jumped over the usual TV tropes and just got down to business. Even the emotional distance between Olivia and Peter seems to work, with a tacit admission from Peter that he was more than just friends with his Olivia.
The premise behind this episode was particularly well realized through some strong direction by Brad Anderson as well as some sharp editing, particularly during Peter's time flashes. It managed to be disorienting for both Peter and the audience and yet critical to understand what was happening. There were even a few hilarious moments in the car in which Peter explained what was happening and that he didn't mention it earlier because he just got back from another time jump. That may have been the most clever exposition scene this season.
When a show can work on so many levels in the way that "And Those We've Left Behind" did, then it deserves to go on for years and years. Unfortunately, I don't think that "Fringe" is going to last beyond this season if people just aren't going to watch it.
But it's going to be an amazing ride until the end.
Crave Online Rating: 9.5 out of 10.