Fringe fans, settle into your favourite couch; it looks like, yet again, the writers are going to take their time developing the storyline, delving into each characters’ psyche and exploring the differences in them created by Peter’s absence. While some might not like the slower pace, this lends to resolving the main question at hand (i.e. where is the man). I love the care and attention given yet again to exploring the human side of the show.
The talent of the cast and crew continues to shine through. With the meeting of the two universes, the production crew is taking full advantage of showing both versions of the same character in the same shot. One scene that particularly impressed me in this episode was the shot of both Olivias and John McClennan in the street outside of Alternate-John’s house. Similarly, the plot provided Anna Torv with an opportunity to yet again demonstrate what an amazing actress she is, portraying, in the same shot, two different people while wearing the exact same thing. Despite the fact that the two characters are identical, viewers know exactly which one is which within nanoseconds, underlining Torv's talent.
The effect of Peter’s absence is felt in many ways. Some of them are obvious, such as said effect on Walter and Olivia. However, there are other changes in this timeline that are rather surprising. Most intriguing is the change in Astrid. She is still intelligent, professional and caring, but she is a lot less patient and a lot less of a pushover than she is in the other timeline. One only needs to think of the difference between this Astrid and the one with whom, in 2026, people feel comfortable enough to leave their trash on her desk (Season 3, Episode 22, “The Day We Died”).
Is there a way of explaining this change in her character through a past, unknown encounter with Peter? Or could the explanation be much simpler and yet, at the same time, more complex: that, just as the batting of a butterflies wings on side of the world can cause a storm on the other side (the Butterfly Effect), the presence of Peter in the previous timeline affected Astrid even if they had not met until three years ago. It makes you wonder how much of an effect you are having right now on people you might never even meet.