Don’t read this unless you already watched this week’s Fringe. What follows is full of all manner of spoilers. Beware.
Wait, Peter (Joshua Jackson) can predict the future now? Well that’s an unexpected side effect of plugging an unknown piece of Observer technology into his brain. In this week’s episode of Fringe, “Five-Twenty-Ten,” he makes the most of his fancy new skills and abilities. Between blowing the faces off a building full of Observers in one of the show’s grosser moments, and lying to everyone he cares about, he’s on one hell of a roll these days.
We all suspected that when Peter jacked in he was at risk of becoming exactly what he was trying to fight. And now we know how right we were. Not only is he gaining their abilities, plotting out timelines and being all sneaky, but he even sounds more and more like them with each passing second. He adopts their flat, emotionless tone, their overly logical outlook, and their cold demeanor. Hell, he even starts going bald, next thing you know he’ll be wearing a fedora and needing a suntan. A giant bald patch is going to be hard to hide, though since he revealed his implant to Olivia (Anna Torv), it probably doesn’t matter as much anymore.
Peter isn’t the only one currently going through a major personality shift. Hell, he isn’t even the only Bishop. Dear old dad, Walter (John Noble), the formerly removed portions of his brain now reinserted, is experiencing a drastic change in mood. In his case, however, he’s reverting to his previous state of mind. You have to sit through watching Walter, the sweetest, most adorable old man you’ve ever metaphorically met, do something you weren’t sure he was capable of, being cruel. When he tells Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) that William Bell never loved her, it’s like being slapped across the face.
At least Walter seems torn up about it, at least part of him does. Good old Walter hates what he is becoming, but new, crappy Walter is hard and cold and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about all that touchy feely nonsense. He’s really becoming two separate people; one that has a vicious mean streak, but one that also has the capacity for tenderness, love, and compassion.
As Walter’s internal conflict intensifies, the part that wants to stay who he is relies on Peter to anchor him, to keep him on the right path. Moving forward we’ll see if that strategy pays off, or if it will explode in his face. Consumed by secrets, rage, and the desire to avenge his dead daughter, Etta, it doesn’t appear that Peter has given a second thought to where he is headed. He doesn’t care what he has to do, as long as it means striking a blow at his enemies.
If anything is going to save Walter, I doubt it will be Peter. If he is to remain the same sweet old man in him, the one who pleads with Nina to remove chunks of his brain. He doesn’t believe in his own faculties, he doesn’t think that he is strong enough to make it through on his own—he also has Olivia and Astrid to lean on—but he is.
“Five-Twenty-Ten” is the second episode this season that ends with Walter, sitting alone, listening to music, Bowie this time. Cutting back and forth between father and son, the scene draws parallels between their dire situations. Walter flew high and burned bright and knew how it felt to be God. That’s precisely how Peter feels right now, strong, powerful, and omnipotent. The longer he’s allowed to progress like this, the more out of control he’s going to get. Walter is well aware of the pitfalls of this kind of life. We’ve seen the pain it’s caused him and others—it led to him having a piece of his freakin’ brain hacked out after all. Seeing that possibility lurking in Peter’s future is terrifying for fans that have come to love these characters.