FRINGE “Subject 9” Review

FRINGE "Subject 9" Review

FRINGE “Subject 9” Review Season 4 Episode 4 – Last week’s FRINGE ended on an insane cliffhanger when both Walter and Olivia found out that they were both seeing visions of the same person. In this episode the team investigates a mysterious energy cloud that seems to be stalking Olivia. Walter thinks it is somehow connected to the Cortexiphan trials, specifically the child Walter only remembers as “Subject 9”. When the two of them finally track down Subject 9 in New York, they find that he’s not the cause of the cloud, but could help destroy it. Walter sets a trap using Olivia as bait and when the cloud appears it takes the shape of the man she and Walter have had visions of the last few weeks. She tries to stop Subject 9 from dissipating the force but is too late. At the same time, a strange event occurs in the middle of Lake Reiden, Peter Bishop comes back.

So far this season Fringe has delivered some incredible episodes, and to be honest, this one was a little bit of a let down for most of the episode. It was still a great episode, but in a season where the show was scoring 10’s this was an 8. I think the real issue here was that there wasn’t a really strong central case this week. Instead the energy cloud seemed to be a good excuse to get Walter and Olivia on the road together and for some well done visual effects. I’m going to guess that the idea here was to not have a story that overshadowed Walter’s issues and his conversations with Olivia. If that’s the case I would say that I understand the goal but the execution left something to be desired. I think it would’ve worked a little better if they deemphasized the energy cloud story a little more, forcing the Walter-Olivia story to the forefront or maybe having Astrid and Lincoln chase down Subject 9 off screen while Olivia and Walter had it out could have been better.

I think the main reason I’m seeing things off balance is that the scenes with Walter and Olivia were so good and powerful. John Noble’s portrayal tonight of a Walter who is afraid of being out of the lab but knows he has to do so or risk going back to the asylum was very powerful. Whereas the Walter from before Season 4 seemed to be more and more put together with some quirks, Noble’s interpretation this season shows how much more tenuous Walter’s emotional state can be. Olivia calls it in the scene in the hotel room, Walter is not afraid of the melting body in the lab, but completely loses it because of germs on his hotel room comforter.

That sense of lack of control in Walter this season comes through thanks to Noble, but kudos to the Fringe writers for showing us what happens to Walter without Peter there to ground him. Instead Olivia acts as the rock for Walter to hold on to, as seen in Subject 9’s apartment where she helps Walter calm down to think how they can trap the cloud. Strong acting by Anna Torv in this episode, though I think the next few episode with the return of Peter will be her best ones.

As to how this episode fits in with the new Peter-less timeline (now with 100% more Peter), I thought the scene at Massive Dynamic gave us a little more insight into what happened in Walter, Nina, and Olivia’s past. It seemed clear that Nina and Walter had no love lost for each other, possibly because she blames him for William Bell’s disappearance? Or possibly another event in their past caused some friction? At the same time, Nina and Olivia seemed to be like old friends, with Nina even bringing up Olivia’s first time being asked on a date. Is it possible that Nina knew Olivia when she was younger? Olivia explained that she ran away from the Cortexiphan trials (remember in the original timeline Peter finds her and brings her back), maybe she ends up staying with Nina? As I said, this added a whole new layer of What if? to the story this season and I hope they continue to explore it in future episodes.

My Favorite Parts of Tonight’s Episode:

– Viewers noted that Nina was wearing two gloves in this episode instead of her usual one glove covering her prosthetic hand. Does that mean that in this timeline both hands are prosthetics? Or are her hands okay and she likes wearing gloves?
– Walter calling Astrid “Claire” and Astrid calling him on it because it didn’t even start with an A
– Walter’s method for drinking a root beer float which was both methodical and a little creepy with his enthusiasm to stab through the ice cream first.
– The revelation that Peter’s mom killed herself after Peter died, continues to drive home the point of how important Peter was to the original timeline.
– Walter: “…I suppose I’ve learned that crazy is a lot more complicated than people think.”

Did you like or dislike “Subject 9”? What did you think of Peter’s return? How do you think it will affect Walter and Olivia? What did you think of the Nina/Walter feud? I look forward to seeing your thoughts in the comments section below.

In two weeks, the Fringe team struggles with what to make of the sudden appearance of Peter Bishop while facing a potential threat from the shapeshifters. Tune in to Fox on Friday, October 28 at 9PM to see the next episode of Fringe, “Novation”.