For fans sitting in front of their television sets last Friday night, there was a universal feeling of shock as the shape-shifter killer was revealed. It was not some peripheral guest-star unmasked in this killing spree. Rather it was one of our own. From day-one, the show has been about a mad scientist, his son and the FBI agent assigned to work with them. Yet as the mask slipped, we all discovered a harsh truth we never expected to see: Peter Bishop was the killer.
As our emotions sent us reeling in after-shock, our brains struggled to comprehend what had just happened. In the four years the show has been on, has there ever been a doubt that Peter was the good guy? He may have started off as a bit of a shyster and he was reluctant to aid his father, Walter Bishop, in his release from the mental institution and to be the babysitter that Walter needed so that he could work with the FBI. But as time went by, we all succumbed to the ultimate con: Peter was never the good guy, he was the villain.
Perhaps Peter himself did not know to what depths he would venture to accomplish his goals. Yet in “Reciprocity,” the world shifted. Not because there is an alternate dimension, or because Peter was stolen from that dimension; but because Peter may be a willing participant in the destruction of our universe as we know it. Did he always know? Did he always plan to be the one to bring down our universe? Or was he merely a sleeper-agent that was activated once Peter was brought into the presence of the doomsday device? Walter certainly wishes to believe that Peter was “weaponized” by the device. But there is so much we now look back on and wonder about. Was Peter blind to Faux-Olivia’s charade or was he merely playing along in a double-con of his own?
With one shift of the kaleidoscope and all our perceptions about the man we thought we knew are gone.
It is a rare day when a television show can pull off such a magnificent illusion. It was as if we had sat through the entire film “The Illusionist” and still did not understand that the entire story had been intended to fool the audience as much as the players in the story. It is conceivable that the writers will attempt to mitigate the uncertainty and pretend as if Peter had only changed recently — and perhaps only due to some latent programming or instinctive response to the doomsday device.
But for some of us, we will now always wonder if we were the intended victims. Were we, the audience, intended to be fooled along with everyone else? Was the ultimate game merely an illusion so that Peter would gain everyone’s trust until he was in position to unleash an explosion that would eliminate the very fabric of our universe?
It is enough to make one’s brain explode as we try to comprehend what is happening and how far back the treachery goes.
When Faux-Olivia arrived in our universe, we were privy to the switch. We knew perfectly well that she was not our Olivia. Olivia had been replaced and captured on the Other Side. Our sympathy and outrage traveled wherever she was — we were there with her. We rooted for and supported her struggles to retain her identity; and we prayed for her safe return.
Yet in this latest masterful stroke, we sit back in both shock and awe. Imagine such a trick as to fool the audience for 4 years. Is it possible? Is Peter truly the villain that he now appears to be? It is wondrous to behold if it is true. It is equally horrifying if it is true.
How dare the writers take our beloved hero and turn him into a villain?! Yet, even in our outrage, it smacks of sheer genius.
The outcome is not certain or determined. But one thing is: fans everywhere will be glued to their television sets to find out. Will the series that has built up our expectations dare to defy the fans and allow Peter to be the villain he has proven to be?
Suddenly so much makes sense, if they do. In the episode “The Firefly,” the Observers were testing Walter to find out if, this time, he would allow his son to die. The test proved successful as Walter wrestled with his love for Peter and yet still chose to let Peter go towards a fate that meant certain death. The Observers knew what Walter had not yet realized: Peter should not be saved. Peter will bring about the destruction of everything we know and love — he is the weapon that will destroy our universe. And, after this last episode, Walter finally sees his son as the deceiver that he is.
Peter is but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He has fooled us all. It sent shivers down our spines as we slowly realized the depth of the deception. But what will haunt us more: Peter being the villain, or if he succeeds in destroying our universe?
As intriguing as the possibility is that our universe would be destroyed and our remaining heroes (Walter, Olivia, Broyles and Astrid) stranded in the alternate-verse to continue their adventures and survive, it is still hair-raising. “Fringe” may exist in a sci-fi realm, but it still feels like home for most of us. It would be devastating to lose our home and be thrust to into making a new beginning in a new universe.
But would it be any stranger than learning that Peter is not the hero we believed him to be — and that he was the villain all along?
Whatever the future holds in store, it will be heart-breaking yet enthralling simultaneously. Never before has the future been so highly anticipated. We had always hoped that “Fringe” would deliver upon its promise of something mind-boggling — and now that it has, we are captivated.
“FRINGE: A Tale of Three Broken Lives”
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