The theme of Walter’s usefulness to Fringe Division, as well as his efforts to be normal (namely, by pretending he does not hear the voice or see flashes of Peter, and by leaving the lab) once again brings us to the concept of sanity, or lack thereof. What is being normal, and how can decide where the line between normal and abnormal is? Does it really matter, that Walter has not left his for three years? After all, he is an active contributor to society.
Why does he have to do so in socially acceptable ways and not have the right to be a little different? Perhaps it’s because normal is not as much a state of being as much as it is a matter of perception (ah, yes, perception again!). Individuals who are different from the majority are not abnormal, they are just unique. Most people do not smoke, and yet smokers are not considered abnormal. For that matter, most of the world’s population is female, and yet males are not considered abnormal (well…).
Which brings forth this mind bending thought: what if we were to consider different people not as insane, but as having the ability of seeing things in ways that the majority cannot (just like Milo in last season’s third episode “The Plateau”)? One real life example of this is the research being conducted by a University of Montreal professor who is currently looking into autism as a strength rather than a weakness, and his results are absolutely fascinating.
Relationships are at the heart of the show and were definitely at the heart of this episode. Particularly intriguing was the relationship between Nina and Walter, and Nina and Olivia. Walter and Nina clearly have no love one for the other, what with him calling her a viper, likening her voice to that of razors, and never thanking her. One cannot help but wonder how their relationship would have soured so much. If we assume that everything before the death of Peter 2.0 in this timeline, as described in the last episode, happened in the exact same way depicted in “Peter” (Season 2, Episode 16), we can posit that Walter blamed Nina for this death. After all, not only did Nina not help Walter to cross over, she tried to stop him, and in doing so, made Walter trip and fall, breaking the vial of the cure Walter had prepared.
Walter initially did not have the intention of bringing Peter 2.0 over to our side, but rather, wanted to administer the cure on the Other Side and return. It was the vial breaking that made him bring Peter 2.0 back, causing his death in the icy cold waters of Reiden Lake. And so, while the death of one son might have brought them together, the death of two might have been too much for the friendship to bear. On a related sidenote, Peter 2.0’s death is probably also related to Walter’s phobia of bacteria and virus’ that he cannot see, but that can cause so much harm.