The mid-season episode “Reciprocity” was spectacular. Fringe with its new home on Friday nights is a proven two week back to back success! WR_Systems (Kenn) is consulting with WormholeRiders News Agency Team leader RedOne68 (Sandra) on ratings analysis. He will be posting a special ratings analysis discussion about Fringe soon.
Topic? Specifically about why some fans have drawn (and continue to draw) the incorrect conclusions that Fringe needed to be “saved”. Nonsense! Fringe was never in any danger of being canceled.
This is definitely a Peter-centric episode. Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) shows a darker, creepier side. Although we are presented with the Doomsday device, it plays very little part in this episode being used to tease the audience for what is coming in the future. Certainly a cliffhanger leading to Fringe season four, of which we here at WHR have no doubt about.
Odd things begin happening right from the start of the episode. The team is introduced to a device with seemingly, no commonly accepted means of control, such as working parts or means to set it off. They also don’t seem to know where it came from. However, like many great sci-fi shows, it maintains an electro-magnetic field which becomes active, causing Peter’s nose to bleed.
The device becomes part of a puzzle; it is obviously beginning to affect Peter, or, is Peter affecting it and why has he turned out to be a a “bad guy” or was he always? Great turn-about by the creators of Fringe and superb acting job by Joshua Jackson To that point John Noble discusses Reciprocity and Peter below!
There is solid connection between the two. So, Peter is tested to determine the cause of his nosebleed, but nothing of significance is found. Walter Bishop (John Noble), concerned for his son, turns to Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) to boost his brain power. Although we are left to assume that the DNA Nina gives Walter had a high tech beginning, we are not privy to how it was created in this episode. Instead, the writers go with a decidedly low tech method to test it.
Walter inhales the DNA from a bottle. But the method that Walter uses to attempt to help his son, fits Walter’s character to a “T”. He’s reckless and impulsive; qualities we might consider to be child-like. But Walter also shows the feelings of a father. He cares very little about his own safety and focuses instead on science and the results of experiments he has a hand in.
Later, just as we learn that Peter’s heart rate is affected after all, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) discovers a dead shape shifter with two bullets in his head. Bodies start to turn up in a variety of places as the doctor who had scanned Peter’s brain is found with the same bullet wounds. Whoever the murderer is, he or she has gained access to the doctor by jimmying a window with a knife. Subtle clues about the individual who is eliminating the shape shifters begin to take form and lead us to an unexpected source. While Peter and Olivia have a chat about past wrongs, Walter and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) discover that Walter may have been exposed to chimpanzee DNA. How do we know?
He confirms that he was exposed due to his sudden love of bananas with ice and whipped cream in a banana split! Apparently, Walter disliked bananas before he sniffed a concoction of Chimpanzee DNA. Since chimps have also shown a fondness for insects, I suppose that Walter is fortunate that his only sudden attraction was to bananas. Was the addition of the DNA concept used to muddy the waters in the episode, or will it have great significance later on?
Then, as the episode progresses, we watch a shape shifter take the shape of a homeless person she has just murdered. What is she up to? We never find out, since she, in turn, is shot dead by a shadowed person. This is the big reveal. The person responsible for the murders of the shape shifters steps forward into the light. It turns out to be Peter Bishop. Or is he? Perhaps this is the Peter from the alternate universe. But he’s not done yet. He breaks into another home and shoots a man twice in the back of the head. He has killed another shape shifter.
Peter is interrupted by yet another shape shifter who threatens to cut off a finger or remove an eye. Suddenly, Walter enters, giving Peter the distraction required to save his body parts. But the shape shifter is not so lucky. Peter shoots him in the head. What is happening to Peter? He now justifies the mass killing of shape shifters. He feels no remorse. Concerned, Walter struggles to understand what is going on. Oddly, Nina seems more concerned when Walter inhales untested DNA, than Walter seems to be concerned that his son has been killing shape shifters.
Peter’s personality has taken a much darker direction in this episode than has been common in the past. Is this Peter’s alternate universe evil twin causing havoc in this universe? This is known as The Clean Up The Town plot device where the hero rids the community of the evil that has come to inhabit a once happy and pleasant community. But, unless the hero has authority to do so, there is a danger that he or she can take on the evil that he or she was attempting to get rid of as Walter finds out in “Reciprocity”..
So, how do we justify Peter’s behaviour? Walter comes up with an interesting premise. He believes that, somehow, Peter has been, “weaponized” by something he touched. Thus, the murders that Peter has committed, are not really his fault. Peter Bishop is not an evil twin, or resident of an alternate universe. Instead, he is under the influence of a device that has made him behave so uncharacteristically.
A few questions continue to plague us during this episode. We don’t know where the doomsday device came from. Was it created by the Observers? Are the Observers “The First Ones”? If so, why? We know that Peter and alternate Olivia were intimate. Will Peter’s relationship with the real Olivia progress to that point again? Will Walter continue to warp Astrid’s name (I hope so!)?
I really have to hand it to Anna Torv, who continues to portray Olivia putting on a brave face while utterly dying inside as she contemplates everything her alternate self stole from her. Peter had a much closer relationship with the other Olivia. For someone who has the massive intimacy issues that Olivia has, knowing about Peter and Fauxlivia must create great pain for her and Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) finds ways to make it show. To achieve any closeness with Peter, she would have to find a way to repeat what the other Olivia did. I can see her feeling jealous and even envious of – herself.
John Noble continues to show his great acting talent. He manages to demonstrate a child-like innocence and a father’s great love and devotion to his son within the same scene. And that seems to be what this show is all about. Take away the X-Files style of science fiction and the character development of the main characters, and the series often comes down to the relationship of a father and his son, and how important it is to look after family.
One of the questions we need to ask ourselves is how does Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) and Brandon (Ryan McDonald) fit into the family of Fringe in our reality? Can Nina be trusted, and will Brandon do the correct things after he was suspected as part of the conspiracy in Reciprocity? Fringe returns this Friday on FOX at 9 PM EST/PST in episode twelve “Concentrate and Ask Again”. Be sure to tune in live to support science fiction television and remember just say no to illegal downloading and piracy!
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