“Peter” is almost entirely set in 1985 and the show does an amazing job of keeping to the look and feel of the 1980s. At first, I found it funny - the 80s Fringe font, the 80s intro - it comes across gimmicky in the beginning. But the episode quickly becomes pretty dark and incredibly character oriented. This seals my ongoing debate of plot vs. character… Character has emerged the winner.
It’s interesting that an episode titled “Peter” doesn’t have him in it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I should say, it doesn’t have Joshua Jackson in it, which is a little weird. It barely has Olivia, now that I think about it. But “Peter” has proven how amazing John Noble is as Walter Bishop - I really hope he gets nominated for an Emmy. It’s his acting that helps to make “Peter” so memorable. It doesn’t need Olivia or the Peter we know to hold our attention. Walter’s facial expressions and determination to save his son are incredibly powerful.
I mentioned earlier how well the episode sticks to the 80s theme. The film style, the directing, the makeup - it really feels like it was shot in 1985. I’m impressed with how they make Walter Bishop and Nina Sharp look so much younger.
Ok, now let me talk about the actual plot. “Peter” is a beautiful story. It reminds me so much of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary (that is not a typo - that’s how “cemetery” is spelled in King’s book). Both stories are about a father’s desperation to have his child back. Both fathers loose their son to a tragic death and go against the very laws of nature to get them back… and doing so leads to very severe consequences. It’s the classic Frankenstein plot: don’t mess with the universe - or God, as Walter’s lab assistant suggests. On that note, is this supposed to be the same lab assistant that dies in a fire caused by Walter? I’m not sure, but I think she might be. (Feel free to comment if you know the answer!)
What “Peter” does best is make connections in the Fringe mythology. We learn how Peter got to this universe, how Nina Sharp lost her arm, we gain some insight into the observers, and we learn more about the strange relationship between Walter Bishop and William Bell. It doesn’t answer these questions by throwing in major twists or revelations, but by neatly interweaving them into Walter’s emotional story.
I really like how “Peter” ends, too. The scene with Olivia sitting on the couch across from Walter is uncomfortable because she doesn’t know how to react. I kept hoping she’d give him a hug or something, but she says nothing. She does nothing. It’s really effective and makes me wonder how she feels about the whole thing.
I also just need to throw out thanks to Michael Giacchino - good work, man. The music is amazing in this episode. It just goes to show how important music is to television, movies, and other forms of entertainment.
As I said in the first sentence of this review: this is my favorite episode of Fringe. I love it… “Peter” shows you can change the format of a show if you tell a good enough story. Anyone else agree?