I haven’t seen Fringe in ages. I hate this American tradition of breaking all my favourite series’ into two halves separated by a months-long gulf of time. I’ve fallen out of the habit with so many shows. And I lament missing Fringe the most – it’s possibly one of the most absorbing sci-fi shows in the genre right now.
From what I’ve seen of the second season of Fringe, this year has been mostly about Walter Bishop and the secret he’s been keeping from his son, Peter. John Noble is fascinating as this genius scientist who frequently overlooked the ethical boundaries that should surround scientific investigation and paid the price in madness. Imagine losing your son, then stealing an alternate version of him from a parallel universe. Stealing a child from an alternative version of yourself. Imagine the weight of that decision.
So, episode eighteen gives Walter the chance to forewarn another genius of the repercussions of messing with reality. We meet Alistair Peck, at first a mysterious stranger who masterialises on a train, instantly killing the surrounding passengers. He turns out to be a brilliant scientist who specialises in time travel. He has butchered his body to turn himself into a time machine, in order to go back in time and save his fiancee from the car accident that killed her.
Peck’s time travelling comes at a cost – whereever he arrives, life is drained to compensate for the energy used in his time jump. The Fringe team get caught up in a Groundhog Day-style series of moments while they investigate the deaths that Peck’s time jumps cause. After a little investigation into Peck and his girlfriend, Walter asks for some time alone with the scientist and tells him about his own altering of reality, warning Peck of the unforeseen consequences of what he’s planning to do.
It’s a touching episode of Fringe, as we realise the weight of Walter’s own decision to steal a child to replace the one he lost. But we were all surprised at Peck’s decision at the end – rather than save his lover, he chose to simply go back and hold her hand as a truck rammed the car, killing them both. Fringe managed to give us our regular fix of science fiction, but with a healthy does of humanity on the side.