Nothing As It Seems
Season 4, Episode 16
Air date March 30, 2012
Written by Jeff Pinkner & Akiva Goldsman
Directed by Fred Toye
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Cast | Transcript

"Nothing As It Seems" is the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of Fringe.


The Fringe team faces a case that appears familiar to Peter. Strangely, it takes place in this world.


Olivia Dunham, having willingly accepted the replacement of her memories with those from Peter Bishop's original timeline, is put under psychiatric evaluation and determined to be unfit for fieldwork, and Lincoln Lee is put in charge of the Fringe team. Lincoln, who has been nursing a crush on Olivia, is upset that Peter has won her heart.

The Fringe team is alerted to a case involving a passenger on a plane that had transformed into a strange beast, due to a "designer drug" he had injected himself with. Peter immediately recognizes the man as Marshall Bowman, from a case in his original timeline ("The Transformation"). In this timeline, Bowman never fully transformed on the plane, allowing it to land safely. However, after the plane landed, Bowman was taken into custody by the TSA and was being questioned about his outburst on the plane. During this interrogation, Bowman transformed and attacked the agents before dying. Peter is able to use his recollection of the case to lead them to Bowman's accomplice, Daniel Hicks, who was to receive the designer drug before he too transformed. Olivia, with Peter's memories, join them at Hicks' house, where Hicks, now transformed, injures Lincoln before escaping.

Walter worries that Lincoln may be infected by the virus, and keeps him in the lab to study him. Meanwhile, Peter identifies a tattoo on Bowman's corpse; he enlists the help of Edward Markham to identify it as a cuneiform of a group that wants to create a new evolution of mankind. Tracking information from the group points to an old document created by Massive Dynamic, but Nina Sharp, on searching the company's records for other work in human transformation, finds the project files deleted by David Robert Jones.

Watching Lincoln's behavior, Walter ascertains that those infected with the drug use fat stored in their body as energy to fuel the transformation, while drugs carried by Bowman would be used to slow the transformation, allowing the user to survive it. Walter further speculates that the creatures are likely acquiring fat from plastic surgery clinics. Further recognizing that the Hicks creature is nocturnal and can fly, Lincoln leads the team to stop the creature along with a human female companion that was caring for it. The creature is killed, while the woman, brought in for questioning, is unable to supply answers about where the designer drug originated from.

Phillip Broyles assures Olivia that while she may be losing part of her memories, she is still considered an asset and allowed to continue working. Walter speculates that Jones may be using these transformed humans as part of a scheme to take control of the fate of humanity. The episode ends on a reveal of a small container ship that contains a number of other transformed humans and other creatures at sea that are kept locked in cages in pairs. The creatures shown were the focus of Fringe events from the original timeline, including the Beast from "Unleashed" and the squid-like creatures from "Snakehead."

Notable Quotes[]

Anderson: You have to admit, it's a little weird, what's happened to you.
Olivia: I work in Fringe Division. Weird is-is a matter of degrees.

Walter: This tattoo... is cuneiform. I'm not sure of the significance of the symbol, but I'm fairly certain that it's Sumerian. Not my favorite ancient language. I prefer Yiddish. Belly's father taught it to me. He was a charming man.

Olivia: It has to do with cuneiform.
Markham: Sumerian, Hittite, or Akkadian?
Olivia: Impressive.
Markham: I know. I'm a very, very impressive man.
Olivia: And I'm still taken.
Markham: Can't blame a guy for trying.
Lincoln: Do I really have to drink that?
Walter: Only if you want to live. A blend of wheatgrass, penicillin, some mild laxatives, and I put in some mint to kill the aftertaste.
Lincoln: (after taking a drink) It didn't work.
Walter: I know what you're thinking. Wouldn't it be easier to just eat people?


  • The Observer can be seen walking right to left behind Lincoln Lee and Peter Bishop as they get out of the car in front of the Daniel Hicks home.
  • The FBI shrink in our universe is the same as one in the alternative universe.
  • This episode parallels several of the events that took place in the original timeline, as seen in "The Transformation". However, the origins of the "designer" drug/virus are very different in both episodes. In The Transformation, the drug is actually a virus created by bio-terrorist Conrad Moreau and is used against a team of Black Ops NSA agents who were investigating him. In the new timeline, David Robert Jones creates the drug in order to start a new phase of evolution for mankind, and those who were victims in the original timeline now willingly accept the transformation.
  • In this episode, two other creatures, besides the fan named "Were-upines", seen on David Robert Jones' ark appeared in past episodes. These include the genetic chimeras first seen in "Unleashed" and the giant Ancylostoma Duodenale (Old World Hookworms) seen in "Snakehead". Their presence suggests that, in the original timeline, these two seemingly unrelated Pattern event-related creatures were actually part of Jones' larger plan, and that his premature death led to some of the events of those past episodes.
  • Walter mentions that William Bell's father taught him Yiddish and later speaks a sentence in Yiddish. In real life as well, Bell's actor Leonard Nimoy grew up in a Yiddish-speaking household.

Features Music[]

  • "I'm Into Something Good" by Peter Noone


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