FOX’s Fringe ends its fall run with “Wallflower.” A body turns up, nearly all pigmentation gone, and apparently, it’s just one of several like this. The Fringe team tracks the bad guy, who is slowly, and unintentionally, killing himself, trying to become visible by stealing pigment. He was the subject of lab experiments, and is now too badly damaged to trust anyone. In the midst of this case, Lincoln (Seth Gabel) struggles to sleep after seeing Fringe events, Olivia (Anna Torv) has strange migraines, and Peter (Joshua Jackson) looks for a way back to his timeline.
While perhaps not as action-packed as other Fringe episodes, especially mid-season finales, there are many important things going on in “Wallflower.” At the top of that list is Peter’s realization that he is an alternate timeline. Reality hasn’t just been altered by his disappearance, but he is now in a whole different world. This supports the changes that Peter did not cause, as well as the new orange theme song. If Peter gets home, Peter’s vision of being in the park with Olivia last week could possibly be a time jump, rather than a dream.
Of course, this world and Peter’s are much more similar than the alternate universe and ours. Both still exist in this both timelines. But there are also notable differences, and this may be best observed by the absence of strong attraction between Peter and Olivia.
In the regular Fringe timeline, there is something between Peter and Olivia almost immediately after they meet. Even if it takes three years to come to fruition, the flirt and interest is there. Not so in this version of Fringe, where Olivia prefers the geeky Lincoln Lee instead. And he likes her. Peter isn’t jealous, knowing that as similar as the two are, this is not his Olivia. Perhaps he finally learns his lesson after being fooled by Fauxlivia last year, and can now tell the subtle differences, since he is intimate with the “real” Olivia.
Olivia’s migraines are a very important clue to something going on in this world. Could they possibly be connected to the experiments Walter (John Noble) ran on her when she was a girl? Certainly Nina (Blair Brown) is involved. As to how long this has been going on, that’s anyone’s guess, but it could easily be Olivia’s whole life. With Nina raising Olivia, she has always had access to her. And viewers know that Nina currently leads a team to drug Olivia in her sleep. This is a really interesting, dark story, and I have no idea where it will go from here.
Olivia realizes in “Wallflower” that she is not as affected by the Fringe events as her teammates, especially Lincoln, and even Astrid (Jasika Nicole). This could also be linked back to childhood, given that Olivia grew up around strange events and people with unusual abilities. Olivia wonders if there is something wrong with her, but the real issue may just be that exposure breeds complacency. No one has more exposure to the weird than Olivia. Thus, not only this Olivia, but likely the “real” one, too, have a different outlook than most people. This makes her unique, and serves her well in her job.
At one point in “Wallflower,” Olivia expresses sympathy for what the killer goes through. She understands the adverse side effects of being a lab rat, and can understand his reticence to return to a lab, even if it is to help him this time. As such, she offers him assistance, rather than just trying to arrest him. Hopefully, this is just a ploy, since he has her gun. She may understand some of the emotions involved, but as someone who overcomes much, she cannot possibly justify murder, no matter what reason this guy gives for it.
All told, “Wallflower” is a finale that gets much better upon reflection. Fringe will return to FOX in January.