"Back to Where You've Never Been" Review
First, there’s a lot going on in this episode. “Back to Where You’ve Never Been” is one of those episodes that absolutely cannot work for a casual viewer. These are often the strongest episodes of Fringe, and “Back to Where You’ve Never Been” does a lot of things right. My biggest complaint, however, is that this one seems a little too ambitious in nature and a bit jumpy and disjointed as a result. Nearly every cast member is used: twice, in fact, as both the Regular and Alternate versions.
There’s a lot of switching between universes here, as Peter and Lincoln cross to the other side (here, using the device recovered by Massive dynamic) in hopes of returning Peter to his own timeline. We learn that Lincoln has some other infiltration ideas in mind, and character motivations consistently shift throughout the episode.
In fact, that’s one of the strengths here. I especially liked the reveal that Walternate isn’t the cruel character we expect; he seeks Peter’s help in finding out the nature of the shapeshifters. Likewise, the scenes with Peter’s mother are quite effective. I thought those played out very nicely and added a sense of humanity to an otherwise plot-heavy episode. Her desire to help Peter was externalized well; Orla Brady did a fine job once again.
But let’s get to the main topic, here: the return of David Robert Jones, a wonderful villain from Season 1. It was a fun move to bring him back to the series, and the fact that he’s been out of the picture for so long makes his motivations all the more interesting. We also see that he’s in contact with Broyles, which adds a conspiracy to the mix. On a side note, I liked the foreshadowing with Peter playfully mentioning that he cut a man in half (Mr. Jones, of course) using the transporter.
The ending also demands attention, as Olivia is visited by the observer (September) and told that all outcomes lead to her death. I thought the scene was well-directed and surprisingly creepy, but I’m not sure we can really believe the message. Still, Olivia’s death has been hinted at before, notably in last year’s polarizing episode, “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide.”
Also, one wonders why the observer was shot and what that possibly means in the broader scheme of the series. Who shot him? And if he dies, what does that mean for the balance between universes? No doubt we’ll find out in the weeks ahead, and I’m greatly looking forward to it.
All-in-all, “Back to Where You've Never Been" isn’t the best episode of Fringe, but it’s certainly a strong one that adds more pieces to the already complicated Season 4. What did you think? As always, let me know in the comments.