Lost time. Frozen time. Time jumps. Time slips. Time reversals. The clockwork of reality went cuckoo in last night ‘s episode of Fringe. A young girl blinked back into a baby for just a moment. A thundering train from four years ago jumped the rails of history and nearly collided with a car carrying party teens on their way to see a big time-bound band called Aluminum Rain. Anomalies abounded like jumping beans throughout the greater Boston area, chaotic consequences of an imperfect time machine, created by a heartbroken man desperate to regain the life he once had with the woman he loved. No, it wasn’t Peter Bishop, but the stranger in the strange timeline was at the unstable center of it all. So was Olivia Dunham, the new model edition of the woman Peter once loved but no longer was. “And Those We’ve Left Behind” was high grade Fringe, in my opinion, heartfelt and heady, a fraternal twin to the season 2 classic “White Tulip,” about the time-traveling scientist trying to save his wife, even at the expense of his own humanity and other lives.
The Powers That Be within Fringe Division believed their new houseguest/house-prisoner might be able to help them with this case, just as he had assisted them last week with their latest shape-shifter problem. Peter Bishop was claiming to be a refugee from another timeline. He probably knew a thing or two about perilous time paradoxes. Was he actually the cause? It was hard to know, especially since Walter Bishop refused to examine the terrifying idea-made-flesh that just three episodes ago was a figment of his imagination. But after an apartment building got scored from a flash-fire caused by yet another anomalous time slip flare, Broyles got tough and ordered Walter to get over it, already. Peter was a one-man Fringe event. He needed to be investigated. Walter had no choice in the matter… except, perhaps, to return to the mental institution. The scrambled egghead examined Peter, but he refused to be happy about it, and he refused to acknowledge Peter by name, or even as a human being. “The subject can lower his arms. The subject does not have an elevated radiation level nor does it have any trace of chemical signatures,” Walter said, clinical and petulant. He gave Peter a hard poke to the abdomen. “The subject appears to be slid and not phasing in and out of existence,” the pissy doctor told Olivia. “You can tell Agent Broyles I have competed the examination and I can prove this subject is not the cause of the time-related phenomenon.” (Or was he?!!)
In another moment, Walter emerged from the sanctum of his living quarters, walked up to Olivia and Peter, and asked only Olivia if she would like him to make her a bologna sandwich. He refused to help any further in the case until “my lab [was] available to me again” – i.e., purged of Peter’s demonic occupation. The younger Bishop was stung yet understanding – the same complicated set of feelings, perhaps, that the Walter of old felt when Peter would only call him “Walter” instead of “father” or “dad.” Peter was equally bothered by Walter’s plight, especially when he learned Walter lived in the lab, not in the house they shared together in the old timeline. “It’s the only place he feels safe,” Olivia explained. What did Peter feel as he let that sink in? Guilt, perhaps, that this version of his father had suffered so much by Peter’s subtraction from the timeline. And it wasn’t like Peter could make it up to him, either. It killed him that his presence was destabilizing his already unstable his father – that he was too much of a chaotic “variable” for an unbalanced human equation short on “constants,” to borrow some (Lost) language from this math-heavy episode. A recurring dream kept telling Peter that he didn’t belong. He was enjoying a “perfect day” in the park. Olivia at his side on the grass, warm and beaming, his father on a swing, exulting in “Newtonian mechanics.” Then Olivia went and made him feel like a crazy, crazy-making quark. “You can’t ignore the problem, Peter,” Olivia said. Peter asked her what was wrong. “You, Peter,” she said. “You’re the problem.”
NEXT: Listen: Peter Bishop has come unstuck in time.