Catching Up To Fringe’s “Walternate” Universe

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After a two-month hiatus, Fringe came back with what could be its strongest episode yet last week.

Just before the break, we learned that mad scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) had secretly crossed into the parallel universe to abduct the other version of his son Peter (Joshua Jackson), who had passed away as a child. Last night, we finally got to see the events that led up to Walter’s kidnapping of Other Peter, which he offered up to Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) as explanation for his dastardly deed.

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The episode, which featured an awesomely 80s retro-style opening, transported us back to 1985, around the time of Peter’s death. A young and strikingly confident Walter was in a desperate search for a cure for his Peter, who is dying from an unnamed genetic deficiency. However, science in the parallel universe is thirty years ahead, which means while Walter wasn’t able to find a cure for Peter’s illness before he died, his “Walternate” was.

Tonight’s episode Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver. will continue our plot line in full speed and just in case you just read all of this with a resounding, “HUH?” here are a few things you’ll need to know to catch up:

(Fringe airs tonight on FOX at 9 p.m.)

1. The Observers

These are men (creepy, hairless) who travel through time to observe significant moments in time. We’ve seen them before, as sometimes a rogue Observer will intervene to come to someone’s aid, usually someone whose time was supposed to be up. They are aware of both universes, and one helped Walter steal the other Peter from his parents in the other universe. We will see them again.

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2. William Bell

Dr. William Bell is Walter Bishop’s ex-partner in mad science. Most notoriously, the two performed experiments on children (one being Olivia Dunham) in order to create people who could see things from the alternate universe. In last night’s episode, Bell was too busy to attend Peter’s funeral and we witnessed what would be the beginning of the falling out between the two men.

3. Nina Sharp

She’s the CEO of Massive Dynamic, a (slightly) evil scientific research firm founded by Bell. She and Walter were close colleagues once upon a time, but Nina has had her fingers in some diabolical plots in the name of science. It’s difficult to tell what she’s behind and how much she knows, but we do know this: Don’t trust her.

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4. Olivia’s past

As a child, Olivia was a test dummy to Bell and Bishop, who developed the drug Cortexiphan, a drug that heightens the brain functions of children, allowing them to move objects telepathically and see into the other universe. As a result, she has always resented Walter for his role in the tests, though she still retains some of her abilities.

5. A budding romance

The inevitable relationship between Peter and Olivia has been building all season long. It finally took a turn in Jacksonville, around the same time that Olivia regained her ability to see objects from the other universe, just in time for her to realize that Peter is from the other side.