I received the following lovely comment. My responses are below:
This was very enjoyable, thank you! My take, if summarized and not as well written, is like this:
1. Establishing the General Direction of Season 4 - C
Repetitive, confusing, slow, unexciting. They dragged out Peter's reappearance for no reason at all, and no, bringing him back sooner wouldn't have diminished Peter's sacrifice, because we all knew he'd come back, the real deal, what makes his sacrifice notable is not how many weeks he's been absent, but that after he came back, he's still existent for all they care. That should have been the source of conflict from the end of the second episode onward. Instead we had awful meandering allegories that ended up having no meaning. I don't know what the purpose of these seven episodes were, since they haven't established any significant differences and I don't know where the show is going.
I think that the writer's intention of having Peter absent from the first four episodes was so that we could see the changes in these characters as a result of Peter's absence from their lives. Consequently, we could better appreciate the obstacles that Peter has to overcome and come face to face with upon his return. The writers succeeded in doing this to some extent for Walter since we see how unhinged he is. For Olivia, we haven't seen many differences and the only difference that we saw came at the last second of the fall finale where we found out that Nina was dosing her with cortexiphan- it was too little too late. I think that it might have been better if, like you said, they showed all this in the first episode and then brought Peter back at the end of the first episode. But, then the viewers might complain that things were too rushed. I'm unsure about how other approaches might have succeeded, but it's clear that the current approach hasn't succeeded very much.
2. Character Development - C
Inconsistent characterization for Walter and Olivia.
Walter has displayed several behaviors depending on what was needed for the plot, which were inconsistent with what was presented in in the season premiere. He behaved like S1 Walter in episode 4.07, he behaved like S2 Walter in episode 4.03.
I agree with you to some extent regarding Walter, but I also feel like his characterization in each episode has been logical and consistent, given the situations that the character finds himself in each episode. He appears somewhat calm in episode 1, but as the hallucinations became more prominent, he becomes more unhinged and starts panicking about being sent back to St. Claire's (this was never an issue in the old timeline since he knew that Peter would never send him back). He is at his weakest in episode 3 when he interacts with Aaron who reminds him so much of his own son. The pain at seeing his son again as an adult is what explains his actions towards Peter in episodes 5-7. Although his response to Peter is unjustifiably child-like, irrational and down right mean, we have seen in the past that Walter can be that way sometimes. Nevertheless, I agree with you that his characterization is imperfect.
Olivia is supposed to be this emotionless, colder version of the original, but depending on the episode, she's been warmer, more caring (particularly with Lincoln) and she's much more open. See how quickly she has fallen in love with Lincoln.
I 100% agree with you on this point. They claim that there are differences, but I honestly don't see them. Even Joshua Jackson has expressed his opinion that the Olivia in this timeline "seems" (and he emphasized the "seems") to actually be better off compared to the Olivia that we used to know. I feel like the ending scene in episode 7 was the tip of the iceberg regarding what is going on with Olivia. I hope I'm right. And don't even get me started on her relationship with Lincoln... it took Peter 3 years to connect to Olivia and Lincoln does it in a matter of seven episodes??
Peter has only been in one episode and a half. The 5 minutes he was in Wallflower hardly count. His characterization is consistent with what the writers have always been doing, give him one episode and forget him as quickly as they can.
Peter has never really been fully developed and I feel like episodes 5 and 6 started to give us a sense of what was going on with him emotionally. He's such a tightly wounded up person that I expect it will take a lot to get him to the point were he FINALLY breaks. I still have faith that the writers will not disappoint us.
3. Cases of the Week - B-
Other than the professor in 4.02 and the married couple in 4.06, the rest have been mediocre. They are trying too hard to draw parallels, that not only lack subtlety, but that usually are meaningless. I could tell you examples, but it would make this post too long.
I agree that the parallels can sometimes be a bit too obvious, but I definitely stand by my opinion that they are always meaningful even if they are repetitive.
4. Exploring the Mythology of the Show - B-
The central subject of the mythology, Peter, has been tangentially explored in one episode. Very little and hardly satisfying. The other part of the mythology introduced this season, the shapeshifters 2.0, though repetitive, has been slightly better handled, but then they had 2 episodes to go from experimental phase to fully formed enemies.
I was seriously considering giving this section a C since I agree with you, not enough time has been spent on the central subject of the mythology- Peter. Unless the shapeshifters have something to do with Peter, I am actually not really interested in them.
5. Peter/Olivia Moments - B-
I don't really know what to say about them. The only significant moment was when they established that a) Peter thinks his Olivia is elsewhere waiting for him and b) Olivia's feelings for him are complete indifference and lack of curiosity, which makes the stuff about the hole in her life and the dreams completely meaningless, but whatever, the original Olivia wasn't that much into Peter anyway. It makes sense that she didn't feel anything for him in her dreams and that he had no impact whatsoever.
I stand by what I said in this section in my original post. I honestly think that Olivia is lying about her indifference towards Peter because if she's not, then you're right, the stuff about the hole in her life and the dreams will be completely meaningless, a waste of time and a missed opportunity for some truly wonderful character development. It is my personal opinion that the writers can sometimes identify a smart story line when they see one.
6. Peter/Walter Moments - C
The C goes for Walter. They tried to parallel the scene, where Peter rejected Walter in S2 and ran away, but here is my problem, that moment in S2 was earned. It came from an established relationship based on love and deception. Walter earned the "dad" moment and Peter had every right to feel hurt, when he learned the truth. I felt for him and for Walter. This time the writers tried to tell me this was the same situation reversed. Wrong! This Walter used "my son" to achieve major impact and hurt Peter, as much as he could. His "my son" wasn't based on a relationship, his rejection had its roots on selfishness and although his fear was understandable, what he did to Peter was cheap and vile.
The following episode Walter went as far as wanting Peter dead and in Wallflower he didn't even enter his mind.
You bring up some really good points. I feel that it was wrong of Walter to reject adult Peter so quickly without thinking about how Peter feels. His treatment of Peter, although understandble, is not justified. They have a long way to go before their relationship develops into what it used to be. But, thank goodness, we have Peter who tends to be more forgiving than he should be.
7. Introduction of Lincoln Lee - D
The reason he was brought on board, to represent the new viewer, was a huge mistake, as the ratings showed. That was a bad move, because clearly, any new viewers would have caught up with a well established show with a more or less complicated mythology, but let's say there were new viewers, who didn't know anything about the show... What was episode 4.01 about? Shapeshifters, Walter having visions and freaking out, characters talking nonsense, a truce between parallel universes, doppelgangers... too complicated for a new viewer. Instead, it only managed to frustrate loyal viewers, who expected more from the premiere and who had to conform with a lame excuse about it being an introductory episode for new viewers. The result is that Fringe didn't gain new viewers and it failed to satisfy the fans. Lincoln himself is an extremely bland character, whose only remarkable characteristic is his glasses. They put him front and center, they gave him far too much screentime, importance and character development, beyond what they've given veteran characters like Astrid, not to mention Peter. But then he is Peter's replacement after all. I find this beyond offensive.
I agree with the rest of your points, but my favorite moment is the first meeting between Peter and Walter.
I loved that moment too! :)
I also received another comment from someone else:
I'm sorry but do you even appreciate Josh's acting on this show? It's always John and Anna and I am sick of it.
Where do I even begin to start explaining my love for Joshua Jackson? I've loved him since Dawson's Creek and I think that he is an amazing actor! If you read my reviews, you will see that I focus quite heavily on Peter. This is because Peter is my favorite character which is due to the fact that Joshua Jackson plays him very well. I feel like he is under-utilized in Fringe and in the rare moments where he is given the opportunity to shine, he excels greatly! However, the fact that Josh tends to be under-appreciated in the media doesn't mean that we need to take our anger out on John and Anna. They are amazing actors and deserve the praise that they get. When Josh does get his moment in the spotlight, no one will sing his praises louder than me! :)
Thanks for all the comments! Keep reading and commenting! :)