Review of FRINGE Episode 04.07 (Wallflower)- Part I
I want to begin by saying that the most recent episode of Fringe was a little disappointing, especially after “And Those We Left Behind,” which was a stellar episode. I think the thing that really frustrated me was the fact that there was so little Peter in it. I was really hoping that we would begin to see things from Peter’s perspective in order to learn a little bit more about him, but we learned very little about him in this episode. After “Subject 13” and after Peter returned, I assumed that the following episodes would be focused heavily on Peter and his journey to get back home (similar to how the first 8 episodes of Season 3 focused heavily on Olivia). However, in Novation, he was only featured in about half the episode and even in the parts that he was in, we didn’t get a very good perspective on his feelings about where he’s been and how he feels about being in this new timeline. Most of the episode was actually focused on the shapeshifters. We got an amazing episode after that (And Those We Left Behind) that really answered a lot of questions while raising a dozen more. And then all of the sudden, in “Wallflower,” Peter is completely dropped in favor of exploring Olivia and Lincoln’s relationship. I am not opposed to Olivia and Lincoln developing a relationship. In fact, in this timeline, they’re actually very suitable for each other in that they have a lot in common and they share many personality traits. However, I do not like how this was made a main plotline and the more important plotline with Peter was shoved aside. I don’t think that (at this point in the season) this is the time to shove the main plotline aside in favor of a minor one. With Peter’s return, viewers are expecting the momentum of the plot to increase with each episode and this episode did nothing to help with that and with the exception of the ending and the conversation between Peter and Lincoln, it really did nothing to advance the main plot.
This was probably the worst possible episode to place right before the winter hiatus. If I wasn’t such a die hard fan, I wouldn’t probably watch the rest of the season if all the episodes are going to be this poor. I really expected the writers to take this plotline with Peter to amazing heights, but so far, this season has been mediocre and it certainly didn’t help that Peter wasn’t in the first four episodes. “Wallflower” was so disappointing (to me) since after having not seen Peter for so long, I really wanted to see him more. With Season 1, 2 and 3 focusing heavily on Walter and Olivia, I feel like the character of Peter deserves to be in the spotlight a little bit more. Some comments:
- Anna Torv was wonderful as a sick Olivia and we got a really poignant image of Olivia’s displacement and misery when she looked in the mirror at the beginning of the episode. The migraines that she is having are apparently new to her and she is taking medication for them. She goes to the 24-hour pharmacy to get a refill and she sees Lincoln at the cafe on her way home. She joins him and they both discuss their disenchantment with the Fringe work that they’ve been doing. Olivia tells him that he’ll get used to it over time, although she gives the impression that she herself still hasn’t gotten used to it even after 3 years. She also brings this up with Astrid, remarking that it’s weird that she doesn’t talk to anyone about her experiences. This leads her to question whether she’s emotionally stunted since she questions whether her nonchalance towards her work is normal. Nina, of course reassures her, which I’ll discuss more later in this review. Olivia’s adjustment to her work in the Fringe division has been visited in past seasons, especially season 1 and season 2 and Peter was the one who helped her to achieve a sense of normalcy in her life even while working for the Fringe division. He was a constant source of comfort and always let her know that he was there if she ever needed to talk. I think that it definitely helped that they both joined the division at the same time and were adjusting to it in similar ways, often times having the same reaction to out-there cases.
- I really enjoyed Olivia and Lincoln’s interactions, but I just don’t feel the chemistry between the two actors. I am highly biased and therefore my opinion is not the law or anything. I just think that there is a great deal more chemistry between Olivia and Peter and I think that it has a great deal to do with the fact that they have so much history together and Peter’s sense of humor adds such a wonderful lightness to the relationship. For me, I think that for any pairing to work, both individuals need to be similar enough such that they can relate to each other, but different enough such that they can both learn new things from each other on their path towards being better people. I think that Olivia and Lincoln are too similar. Their interactions just come across as too awkward and I can’t shake the nagging feeling that the show is trying to replace Peter with Lincoln, despite the fact that it claims otherwise. As talented and as wonderful as Seth Gabel is in the role of Lincoln, I also resent a little the fact that he is getting more screentime than the actors that have been on the show since the beginning. But, again, this is all my opinion, and I most certainly would hate it if you felt that I was imposing my opinion on anyone in any way. :) The one thing that I really love about the Olivia/Lincoln pairing is the fact that it is present in every universe that doesn’t have Peter in it which makes the Peter/Olivia pairing very unique. Olivia has some fundamental draw towards Lincoln that she doesn’t have when Peter is present. Peter doesn’t exist is any other universe and some may argue that he isn’t suppose to exist period (I’m looking at you Observers!). Thus, the Peter/Olivia relationship is not suppose to exist either. It’s wonderful how the two of them overcome all odds to be together.
- The scene between Peter and Agent Tim at the convenience store wasn’t a really important scene, but I enjoyed seeing Agent Tim again who, if you recall, watched over Walter at the beginning of the season. I really love Peter’s sense of humor in this scene and is it touching regarding how readily he tries to help those around him, like the boy that was reaching for something on a higher shelf. Agent Tim, however, stops him, saying that they are exercising caution with regards to Peter and his interaction with civilians. Peter replies incredulously, saying “You honestly think that I would hurt a kid?” It must be annoying to have your every move watched and be only given $200 a week as an allowance. Another thing that frustrates me a bit about Peter this season is that we get very little emotion from him, very little confusion or worry regarding his current situation. In a sense, it is consistent with what we know about the character- he’s not a very emotional person. He is very skilled at hiding his emotions. Very often, you can look at his face and have absolutely no idea what he’s thinking. He doesn’t ask for help very often, preferring to do everything on his own (he didn’t initially tell anyone about his work on the machine near the end of Season 3). Peter is also optimistic to a fault, always believing that when there is a will, there’s a way. I also noticed that Peter is buying a lot of electronics - is this for the machine that he is going to rebuild?
- The case was very interesting and although the actor did an amazing job portraying Eugene, I wasn’t as attached to him as much as I was attached to the couple from the previous episode. Eugene had a genetic condition that was exacerbated by the experimentation that Massive Dynamic put him through. As a result, he lives much of his life being invisible and only by stealing a pigment from humans (which are killed in the process) can he hope to become visible. Obtaining a cure is not as important to him as being seen by a particular woman that he loves. In his conversation with Olivia near the end of the episode, he explains what he truly wants- he longs to see in someone’s eyes their happiness and joy at seeing him. The look that says that they love him and that they recognize him. To him, that’s what it means to exist. For someone like Gene, who is a Wallflower, having someone acknowledge your existence validates your life and proves that you matter to someone and that you have a purpose. This relates to Peter since his existence has been consistently undermined since he arrived, by complete strangers and by those that he loves. The only person who has validated his existence and who has demonstrated appreciation for his presence is Lincoln. When Lincoln visits Peter, Peter thanks him for treating him like a human being and responds in kind by buying him glasses in hopes of helping him with Olivia (I’ll talk more about this later). I thought that the scene where gene emerges from the pool at the beginning of the episode was very cool and it reminded me to when Peter returned in “Subject 9.” This was appropriate since Eugene and Peter both have genetic abnormalities and they have a fierce desire to be seen by others. I understand that they are using the cases to highlight aspects of Peter’s situation and how he is feeling, but I would appreciate it too if we could hear some feelings directly from Peter. It would be great if we could get a scene where Peter vocalizes some of the emotions that he’s been feeling since he’s arrived. But, knowing the character, this may not happen until he feels like he’s hit rock bottom. Going back to Eugene, although Olivia offered to help him, he didn’t feel like he deserved to be helped, not after everything that he’s done. Olivia warned him that if he were to poison himself one more time with pigment, he would probably run the risk of killing himself. Eugene, however, took that risk and was rewarded when the next day, the girl of his dreams acknowledged him. He ended up dying, on a most beautiful day, after his existence having been acknowledge. I thought that it was a nice touch that as he laid there dying, the elevator was ascending (like he was ascending to heaven).