Fringe Review: “Peter”

Despite the title, this episode focuses on various incarnations of Walter: mostly insane, mostly sane, and alternate-reality. The emphasis on John Noble makes this the best Fringe thus far, provided one can ignore the heaps of comic-book plot and scientific developments.

Title: Peter

Cast and Crew

Written by Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman & Josh Singer, J.H. Wyman, Akiva Goldsman.

Directed by David Straiton

John Noble as Dr. Walter Bishop
Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham
Magda Harout as Nana Staller
Quinn Lord as Peter Bishop
Orla Brady as Elizabeth Bishop
Jenny Blong as Dr. Warren
Michael Cerveris as Main Observer

Cast and crew information may be found at the imdb


Walter Bishop reveals aspects of his past to Agent Dunham. We learn how the alternate Peter ended up in our world, how Nina Staller injured her hand, and why the Observers sometimes don’t just observe.

We also see the pre-mad Walter: arrogant and selectively, sociopathically insensitive. He imperils all reality to save one life, tells his alternate-reality wife he knows the loss of a child feels like, and then deprives her for all time of her own son.

What a jerk.

High Point

John Noble has always been the show’s biggest asset and here, he gets to show his acting chops. Pre-crazy Walter lives up to our expectations.

The alternate reality raises more questions than it answers, but it features many amusing differences. So, did Eric Stoltz hawk Pepsi in the alternate universe 1980s?

Low Points

Comic books are a stylized medium. They get away with just about anything. With films, it’s trickier, which is why adaptations of superhero comics tend to tone things down quite a bit. This episode does well, but we’re asked to swallow an awful lot, even for an SF/Fantasy series.

The Scores

Originality: 4/6.

Effects: 5/6 What effects we have work well, though they aren’t really memorable.

Story: 4/6. This episode provides a good deal of the series’ backstory. I quibbled over this rating. It holds up on its own terms, but those terms require us, as I’ve written elsewhere, to swallow some pretty far-fetched developments. We also could have seen more tension over the making of Walter’s final decision, which has tremendous consequences.

Acting: 5/6 Noble is great; the quality of acting we see in his co-stars varies quite a bit.

Production: 6/6 In addition to high production and several Easter Eggs, this episode also features original background music more suited to its retro setting.

Emotional response: 4/6.

Overall: 5/6. This may be Fringe‘s best episode to date.

“Peter” receives thirty-three out of forty-two.

You Know You’re in a Comic-Book Reality When….

  • A scientist, working more or less alone, makes a major, history-changing breakthrough…
  • …Using components that look like they could be purchased at Radio Shack…
  • …And is kept entirely secret from the public, even years later…
  • …And which he tests on himself…
  • …Almost immediately after completion of the prototype.
  • The breakthrough involves an alternate universe….
  • …Which features significant, observable differences from ours…
  • …And yet somehow contains exactly the same people, living the same lives, at the same time.
  • Aliens are involved.

4 replies on “Fringe Review: “Peter””

  1. I agree, it was one of the best yet. I especially loved the retro opening and location titles.

    The only way I can sort of sympathize with Walter is that he was doing it to save that Peter’s life, he couldn’t have otherwise, and he did intend on returning him. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way. It was a choice between bad and worse, either way he had to disappoint some version of his wife.

  2. You Know You’re in a Comic-Book Reality When……

    The assistant research scientist looks like a model.

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