With the ‘reset’ in the Fringe timeline, it almost feels like we are watching a new show, rather than one triumphantly entering its fourth season. Which is why this is the perfect time to ‘reset’ the way I review the show. As the executive producers of the show often say, Fringe is as much about the human story as it is about the science fiction. I would like to start recapping the themes of the show as the storyline advances, in the hopes of giving the human story the attention it deserves. So instead of the usual thorough episode recap, interspaced with theories and brief discussions on the various underlying themes, from now on you will read a more in-depth look into the themes touched upon in each episode. Thoughts on this new stage of Sahar’s Reviews are always appreciated in the comments thread.
Fringe’s Season 4 starts with a relatively calm earthquake. Peter, having served his purpose, had been wiped from existence at the close of Season 3, but the bridge he'd created so the two sides could start fixing the tears in the fabric between them is still very much there.
Season 4 thus begins with Olivia and Altivia exchanging documents from their respective divisions, as well as some stinging words. We immediately notice that Olivia is different; we see an aspect of her personality we haven’t seen in awhile; she is an angry, justice-seeking vigilante with a thick shell not many, if any, have been able to penetrate.
This first scene underlines one of the things the executive producers of the show, Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman, promised us: to take advantage of the two universes working together to contrast each version of one character with the other. Only Altivia telling Olivia that she has a trust issue would have that impact; how can it not, when the words are coming out of a mouth that looks exactly like hers?
It reminds me of the concept of self-reflection, i.e. when you take the time to ‘talk to yourself’ about something that is bothering you, be it verbally or in written form. Often, when it comes to dealing with a thorny subject, people shut out those who talks to them about it when they are not ready. But all it can take is a bit of tough self-love: writing it down in a diary, talking out loud to oneself, meditating about it. Whatever the technique, reflecting one’s own feelings and emotions can often help to clarify things in a relatively short period of time. Could this mean that both Olivia and Altivia, as well as all our other ‘dual’ characters, will be able to deal with thorny issues they haven’t be able to deal with before?