For Peter Bishop, sleep offers little rest, only dreams full of painful yearning. And breakfast. Like “And Those We’ve Left Behind” (maybe the season’s best episode so far), “Back To Where You’ve Never Been” – the first episode of Fringe since “Wallflower” on November 18 – began with a dream of bliss, this time set to the psychedelic pop of “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James and the Shondells. There was Walter wearing only a green apron and bear claw slippers cooking up some chocolate chip and banana pancakes. Olivia – dressed in crystal blue PJs – bounced into the kitchen, buoyant as spring. She greeted Peter with a kiss. She gave one to Walter, too. Peter beamed with happiness – and looked surprised he could feel such joy.
The sun is a’rising/Most definitely
A new day is coming/People are changing
Ain’t it beautiful…
Olivia asked about the waffles. Pancakes were fine, but Peter had wanted waffles. He had been looking forward to waffles so much. Wither the waffles? Had he waffled on the question of waffles? Peter explained what Walter had explained to him, that the waffle iron was busted. But that was okay: He could not only live with the pancakes Walter had made – the replacement for what he had wanted, but could not have – but he could enjoy them, relish them, take delight in them, too. And anyway, the food was so beside the point. “It’s okay,” Peter said. “This is fine. Being back with the two of you – this is very, very fine.”
Ah. So not the dream of a stranger in a strange land, finding contentment amid new circumstances. It was the dream of a prodigal, glad to be home. No matter. Only a dream. Walter showed him the broken waffle maker. Walter promised to fix it. Fear crowded into Peter’s eyes. Walter’s grip loosened. The waffle iron fell to the ground. And then Peter woke up.
From there, it was all downhill tumbling into another frozen pond of chilly disappointment for The Bishop Boy From Another Timeline. Peter awoke from his taunting dream with a light bulb over his head: He would ask Walter to re-engineer
The Doomsday Machine The Salvation Machine the magical electromagnetic waffle iron so that it could help him get back to where he once belonged. After all, his Walter, in the future, had made the damn thing. Surely this Walter, even now, was smart enough to crack its secrets and reconfigure its matrix. Walter – busy conducting experiments with tinfoil and peacock-colored pinwheels – turned him down, despite a bribe of pastries. He didn’t give Peter the usual “You’re a quantum anomaly that’s bad for my shaky mental health and I want nothing to do with you” reason. No, Walter said no because he was done fooling around with somebody else’s Peter. So to speak. John Noble tenderly rocked Walter’s mournful, guilt-wracked recollection of his wife’s suicide – obsessed with saving alterna-Peter, Walter all but abandoned Elizabeth to suffer her inconsolable grief alone – but I still didn’t buy it. I wanted to make like Cher in Moonstruck and yell “Snap out of it!” with a slap across Walter’s craggy mug. (Note: This is the only time in my life I have ever wanted to make like Cher.)
More seriously: Walter’s reticence to help Peter turn back time was pure contrivance, a necessary condition for the story that Fringe wanted to tell. Later, in the “Over There” world, Peter would appeal to Walter’s allegedly dastardly doppelgänger by saying: “If you want to get rid of me, just help me.” Why didn’t Peter think to use that same line on Walter? I think the addled Bishop would have been compelled by the argument. Or am I missing something here?
NEXT: What “Back To Where You’ve Never Been” shoulda/coulda been.