Last season of "Fringe" was undeniably about the roles of destiny and choice, and while the predestined is a looming inevitability still in the form of the Observer's ominous warning to Olivia, there's still a great deal about the power of choice. If last season was about the choices that people make leading them to different destinies, this season is about why we make those choices. Lincoln breaking all the rules in 4.01 to avenge his partner. John McClennan in 4.02 risking his life to change the fate of his doppelganger. Raymond Green in 4.06 risking the continuity of the world to be back with the one he loves. The role their fathers played both the Astrids in 4.11.
Peter, Walter, and Olivia are tabled very early on in the episode. Nothing important is happening, and the main team have places to be with the people they love. This brings us around to Lincoln, who lost his partner, found a new one in Olivia, only to have his space finally be taken up by Peter again. He has no role in the world, and Robert Danzig's post-mortem elegy about Lincoln floating off into space seems like such a heartbreaking possibility. He wants a time to escape the isolation he feels, and so he travels to the other side for a customary debrief of the situation with David Robert Jones. But like any circumstance, this problem is intruding on an issue that already exists.
Lincoln is swept up in the case of a man killing criminals and leaving their bodies... loose. Okay, they're slowly melting away. Of course, Lincoln aint no dummy, and it doesn't take long for him to deduce that it's perhaps a shapeshifter that's doing this, be it not quite the advanced versions we've been dealing with. And they inevitably take it to the one person capable of stopping that thread in its tracks, who we're constantly reminded is also a shapeshifter: Colonel Broyles. At this point I have to wonder whether Broyles was killed and replaced, or if this is still Broyles, but he was changed into a shapeshifter by Jones. I expect we'll get answers to that question next week.
But Lincoln is constantly put in a position to head back "home", which he doesn't want to leave this potentially important case to go back filing documents. And this all puts him in close proximity to the other Lincoln, and as it turns out their histories aren't so different. They've lived a lot of the same lives, and even made a lot of the same choices. Somehow one of them went to be the top of the Fringe Division chain, and the other went to work cases in Hartford, Connecticut. What defining moment caused their lives to take different paths. This matters so much to Lincoln, because of this unconscious wish that things could have been different. We all have that impossible wish.
Apparently, so does the shapeshifter, whose name turns out to be Canaan (hope I'm spelling that right). He's not one of the important people in the world, who matter to others and are dealt with as heroes. He's invisible, and went to Jones' offer out of desperation, and now he's left as this dispensable mistake. Lincoln sympathizes, and gets him to turn on Jones and lead them to Nina Sharp's hangout. The bitch is caught all too easily. It all seems too safe, and then it turns out that it isn't. We get the feeling that something is about to happen, but we're not sure what. And it turns out it already happened. Captain Lee is dead.
It seems so impossible, after the guy's been burnt to a crisp and come back from that, how can a bullet kill him so simply. It comes like a bolt from the blue, and we're not even graced with a proper goodbye. We've been through so much with him, and perhaps that's enough. But that leads us back to why Alt-Lincoln became so different. How did this happen. He claims free will, and that seems to be tracking in a lot of reviews. To me, it's right under your eyes, and they don't even have to say it. It's Bolivia. It's not a set of circumstances that leads him to who he becomes. It's her, and what he chooses to do for her. It's not choices, but people.
-Part of me was absolutely petrified when Astrid went into Broyles' office, because I was certain she knew something about him being a shapeshifter. She would be the one to pick up on it. But in hindsight of what she was really there for, it's still petrifying, because we never for a second believed that bullet would kill Alt-Lincoln.
-Plenty of fun moments between the two Lincolns. Batman vs. Mantis? Tyrone? It was a veritable funfest of hilarious geek moments.
-Alt-Lincoln's farewell was made most effective as they didn't over-emotionalize it. That would have given the game away. He had emotional themes to deal with last season, and though this is a revised timeline, that backstory still stands. This episode backed up his strength in comparison to our Lincoln.-On next week, something seems to be troubling the fabric of the universes that Walter is investigating. Lincoln continues his alliance with Alt-livia as she investigates Nina Sharp's deceitful role in Jones' master plan. Speaking of which, it looks like Broyles is on the edge of being discovered, and is bent on taking part of the machine down with him. And what is Peter so sad about? Lots of questions, but they've never felt so delicious as they are this season. Last season was a clear cut war that wasn't as much about mysteries and questions.