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After an abundance of Peter in the previous two episodes, “Wallflower” took a little break and focused more on Olivia in the first story to truly explore the latest iteration of the character in the new timeline. She was led to question her emotional balance and her ability to find her place in life while the team investigated an invisible man whose ultimate life’s purpose was simply to be seen, to be acknowledged as being alive, no matter the cost.
In spite of the spectacular attack (and murder) very early into the episode, the intriguing case developed rather slowly. The Fringe division team followed the trail of a “ghost” stealing its victims’ pigmentation and turning them into albinos in their death. As often with Fringe, the team was quickly onto the murderer, because what really mattered was his story and not his identity, which incidentally he didn’t quite have. As a baby, he was known as baby boy Bryan in the hospital and as U. Gen (from Unknown Genetic Disorder) when picked up by Syprox, a subsidiary of Massive Dynamic, which experimented on him, turning the dying baby into a “healthy” invisible being. Because of her own past experience with the cortexiphan trials and her newfound worries of emotional detachment, Olivia could empathize with the tragedy of U. Gen’s life in a way that the viewers could not, considering his murder spree.
It was striking how U. Gen linked basic manifestations of our existence to the simple fact of being visible. It helped the story in his final scene in the elevator with the woman he was attracted to, though it was a bit odd that she chose to ignore how creepy he was with her, especially given that she very well knew she had a stalker.
From a character’s perspective, the story showed its colors from the very beginning with Olivia battling a migraine in the middle of the night. Then, to make the most of a trip to the pharmacy at 3 am, the writers gave us our first clear sign of the fact that Lincoln might become more than just her partner. It was amusing to see how the episode took prestigious care to grant Lincoln the permission to move ahead with Olivia. The previous episodes had already shown through smiles and trailing gazes that she liked him, but here it felt as if Peter’s permission and the gift of the pair of glasses was more geared toward the viewers than Lincoln, as if the writers wanted to soften the blow of robbing some of the unreasonable — but still expected — cross-universe romance. Besides, this choice seems to confirm the show’s intention to treat this timeline as a different one instead of just a new one, which to me slightly contradicts the notion of “rewrite.” The “re” in rewrite should imply going over something that was already written, while here we are getting all the signs of parallel timelines, but of course the story is just beginning.
I would have liked to see more of Peter. There is something about the character, and maybe, about how Joshua Jackson is portraying him this season that makes him more interesting in this timeline. It is a welcome change, as the ever beguiling Olivia Dunham is no longer the only lead driving the plot. Peter’s remarks about being a “fringe event” and his whole shopping scene were funny and very well put together. The show will hopefully waste no time in moving ahead with his work on the Machine.
“Wallflower” started and ended in Olivia’s apartment. After exploring the character’s doubts and insecurities, it revealed something about her adoptive mother (Nina Sharp) with significant consequences for the overall story. Beyond the nifty cliffhanger, what the closing scene revealed is very likely one of the last big pieces of the ensemble that will drive the story on This Side from a character’s perspective. Peter is looking for a way home, Walter (while struggling to stay away from St Clair) will have to decide whether to help his son from another universe, and finally, Olivia has to free herself from whatever Nina Sharp is up to. This makes “Wallflower” an important episode, even though it lacked the pizzazz that accompanies breathtaking episodes of Fringe.