Is Fringe Becoming as Complicated as Lost?

This week's Fringe is the first since we heard of its renewal (yay!). Like the last Observer-heavy episode, "Reciprocity" side-stepped Season 3's dominant string of side-stories that reflect the story's mythology, and I'll be honest: I wasn't too jazzed on the episode until a second viewing. Maybe my initial dislike had to do with the show's change of Pacey (ha, I crack myself up) or my distraction resulting from an unfortunate bout of food poisoning (this is why I shouldn't cook), but a repeat viewing was just what I needed to wrap my head around what I'd just seen.

At first I wasn't a huge fan of the show's big reveal—that Peter was behind the Shapeshifter slaughter—because it seemed like too sudden of a change to throw into one episode. I think abrupt behavior changes are best spread out over a few episodes, but there are enough Peter-centric moments and great sideways glances by Joshua Jackson that it did work for me after a rewatch.

Still, the majority of "Reciprocity" was a "misdirection episode," meaning that all told, there was a lot of superfluous running around in circles. The hunt for a mole, Walter's goofy-yet-entertaining chimp-out, more silly code-breaking... . I guess Peter cracked the silly O-L-I-V-E code before Olive did (this show has too much code-breaking), which means that Peter must have extracted the info from Fauxlivia's hard drive before he turned in the computer, and then I guess he carelessly left his notes out for Walter to find? I don't know. All that really matters is what's going on with Peter, Olivia, and Walter, because they are the heart of Fringe.

So what is going on with Peter? Are we to believe that he's been "weaponised" by the machine, as Walter says? Or has all the grief that Peter has suffered finally sent him on the path toward being more hard-boiled, as Peter said? I'm inclined to lean toward the latter, though Walter's explanation works from a figurative standpoint. In the face of this looming, Universe-erasing gadget, Peter is feeling the crushing weight of responsibility. And with his heart still confused over falling for Olivialternate yet working with Boring-livia, what's a boy to do but try to save the world(s) on his own in order to make sense of his place in it all?

We always think of Walter as the genius, but we sometimes forget just how brilliant Peter is—and how much of Walter's thinking and curiosity he has in him. Yet Peter is also part Walternate, who has shown a drive and desire to accomplish his goals no matter the cost. It's nature vs. nurture here, and both sides are working in unison as Peter slowly ventures toward his true self: a union of both sides. At least, that's the explanation I came up with. I hope it works.

Just as the first half of this season focused mostly on Olivia and Fauxlivia, it appears Peter's going to be a centerpiece of the second half. How the writers handle this new Peter is going to be tricky, but if they do it right (and I assume they will, because they're really, really good) the payoff will be huge.

On the Olivia side of things, she's starting to come to terms with her alternate self. Hey, they talk the same, think the same, even like the same type of dude. Problem solved. Maybe she can start channeling Fauxlivia's excellent marksmanship and other super-agent skills. Oh, and one more thing Olivia, when you keep telling Peter "we're always one step behind," you really mean that you are one step behind. Peter seems to know a bit more.

Also, there's something to Broyles' near-car crash in the final stretch of the episode. Why did the writers include that? Is some external force trying to course-correct things in our universe, since alt-Broyles is dead? Obviously, with Charlie still alive over there, that's probably not the case, but that scene must have meant something. Who's got a theory?

Finally, are any of you Lost fans beginning to think that Fringe's universe is becoming just as complex? I couldn't help but think of the Jughead bomb each time the Doomsday device showed up on-screen, and Peter's transformation smacks of The Man in Black and Flocke/Locke Ness Monster. The Observers, The First Men, alternate universes... yikes. Yet the way all this has been delivered is strikingly different from Lost, which preferred to throw things at us quicker (as opposed to Fringe's gradual X-Files approach). And of course I'm wondering which series you guys think did it better...

So how do you like your complex mythology delivered? Right from the get-go, as with Lost, or more gradually, with crack in the information dam that turns into a tidal wave, as Fringe is doing?

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