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Character Development: Peter Bishop, Fringe “Reciprocity” 

Photo Credit: Smallz and Raskind/FOX

“Reciprocity” was a pivotal episode for Peter Bishop, embodied oh so well by Joshua Jackson. Since Season One, Peter has been rather an enigma. At first, we only saw him as a former bad boy who unfortunately got saddled with babysitting his brilliant mentally ill and estranged father. It was towards the end of the first year we learned Peter originated from an alternate universe. Through Season Two, we began to realize Peter was also brilliant when it came to the sciences thanks to all the things Walter taught him while he was growing up. He became quite adept at assisting Olivia in figuring out the mysteries-of-the-week.

Recent Events in Peter’s life:

  • Peter and Olivia began a flirtation that culminated in their first kiss. It was temporarily derailed unbeknownst to Peter because Olivia figured out he was actually from “over there.”
  • He eventually discovered he was from the other universe. He found out his real father was on the other side and that Walter kidnapped him in order to save his life.
  • Peter struck out on his own and then Walternate kidnapped him and returned with him to his original world.
  • Walter, Olivia and company crossed over in order to bring him home. Peter returned to the present primarily for Olivia.
  • He discovered he was instrumental in the deployment of a doomsday device.
  • Once he returned, he began a real relationship with the person he believed was Olivia, but we knew it was Bolivia impersonating her. He did acknowledge the differences to himself but he discounted them and because of his existing feelings, he became deeply involved.
  • The truth was revealed to him via a phone call from a cleaning person working at the Statue of Liberty.
  • Our Olivia returned and was horrified to learn Bolivia successfully inhabited her life. She lashed out at Peter saying he should have known it wasn’t her.

Those were the circumstances in Peter’s life as we entered “Reciprocity.” What happened throughout the episode demonstrated quite clearly how Peter wasn’t dealing well with all of what’s happened to him. At one point, Nina Sharp quite astutely recognized the changes in Peter and recommended to Walter that Peter start talking with someone who can help him process everything he has been dealing with. Walter, unfortunately, made the mistake loved ones sometimes do in thinking they can help better than a professional. Walter’s heart was in a great place but Peter really needed to be able to talk about all of the recent events and its effects on him with a neutral person.

As a result of all these elements, Peter became the monster-of-the-week. At one point, he expressed he was tired of the other side always being one step ahead of them. I totally understand that since I have had similar feelings watching the show. He was almost the voice of the audience here.

He decided to take an aggressive stand on fighting the other side. Using information after he broke the password on Bolivia’s computer, Peter hunted down the remaining shapeshifters and killed them in hopes of retrieving the data needed to determine what the endgame will be. In one very telling scene, Peter quite coldly murdered a shapeshifter in front of Walter. However, in his mind, he didn’t consider what he was doing as murder. He has depersonalized them to the point, he was able to execute them cleanly. Walter seemed horrified at the state that Peter was in, yet he covered up what really happened. I’m wondering if he was doing his son any favors by not telling Olivia what was going on with his son.

My hope for Peter in his character development is that he experiences a point where he’s able to breakdown and express his true feelings. Olivia has had her moments of doing this, while Peter has seemingly been quite composed and rather placid about the events at hand. I believe that can be a recipe for disaster to maintain such self-composure in the face of some truly traumatic experiences.

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