My friend made me watch this and has basically ruined my life.
I'm going to get my one nitpick off my chest right off the bat: the timeline drives me bonkers.
The first time we flash back to Jacksonville, Olivia is 3 years old, at Walter and Belly's "daycare", undergoing the Cortexiphan trials. Olivia claims to have no recollection of her time at this daycare, which - OK, if she was 3, sure. Flash forward to the episode "Subject 13", where Olivia is clearly much older. I think she's actually only supposed to be about 5 - really (it's 1985, Olivia is one year younger than Peter and he was born in 1979 - so 5, yeah?), but Karley Collins is 12. So it makes it a little difficult to swallow. And even so, Olivia remembers living in Jacksonville, she remembers the house with the red door, she remembers her scary stepfather - and when Peter finds her in that house in "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" she is much younger than 5. So why doesn't she remember the daycare, Walter, or Peter? The scene she has with Peter in the tulip field seems like something you'd remember, even if you were only a little kid. So it all sort of bothers me.
ANYWAY. What I was actually going to bring up here is that I think the fact that little Olivia was reading "Winter's Tale" is a clue, or at least some foreshadowing, because I don't care how brilliant Olivia is, there's no way a child is getting through that book. Let's examine:
-The book takes place mostly in New York City, but it's not our New York City.
-The main character is Peter Lake, and he essentially falls through a wormhole and comes out a century later.
There's also no way that Peter 'never existed'. Even though, I suppose, Walter and Belly would have still discovered the Redverse, the catalyst for his actually crossing over never would have existed. The two universes would never have started deteriorating. But even if, by some other path, Walter broke the universe by taking something between them - Peter never having existed sort of erases the entire show. It's like those 70s shows where entire seasons turned out to be dreams. Even if Olivia still ended up working with Walter - Peter was instrumental to solving so many mysteries. His friend in the used bookstore. His time overseas. All of these were crucial.
And even if everything major still worked out - the core of the show is Peter and his relationships with both Olivia and Walter. The driving force behind everything Walter does is keeping Peter safe, and dealing with his all-consuming guilt over not returning him to the Redverse when he was a child. Olivia never would have gone to the Redverse to save him, the Olivias never would have switched, Fauxlivia wouldn't have had Henry - AND BASICALLY EVERY SINGLE GODDAMN EMOTIONALLY RESONANT SCENE NEVER HAPPENED. Which I refuse to believe. Obviously Peter 'exists', Joshua Jackson is still on the show, but The Observers don't tend to be wrong.
Also, because time travel and all its infinite paradoxes make my brain hurt, can someone explain to me about the Machine? Walter sent it back in time? So where the fuck did he find it? The same Walter who found it is the one who sent it back? And what does he mean, he did it, so he can't change it, but Peter can make a different choice? This isn't a nitpick at all, I just don't understand.
Ultimately, though, I'm optimistic, because despite a couple of minor dropped sideplots (what the hell happened to that FBI agent who was super interested in Fringe stuff and was linking Fringe events to Bible verses?) everything holds together remarkably well for such a complicated show. I'm excited to see where Peter ends up being, and I am absolutely ecstatic that Seth Gabel is a regular for season 4 because I am 100% in fictional love with Lincoln Lee. Both Lincolns are fine, but Redverse Lincoln? Marry me. His scene with Liv in "Bloodline"? I WEPT. I think I almost ship Lincoln/Liv more than Peter/Olivia, which has got to be some sort of Fringe blasphemy or something.
Anyway. I like that this show makes me think. Where is Peter Bishop?