Nothing As It Seems (Fringe)

Last updated
"Nothing As It Seems"
Fringe episode
Episode no.Season 4
Episode 16
Directed by Frederick E. O. Toye
Written by Jeff Pinkner
Akiva Goldsman
Production code3X7016
Original air dateMarch 30, 2012
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
"A Short Story About Love"
"Everything in Its Right Place"
Fringe (season 4)
List of Fringe episodes

"Nothing As It Seems" is the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of the Fox science-fiction drama television series Fringe , and the series' 81st episode overall. The case of the episode is a parallel observation to the events of the first season's "The Transformation".

<i>Fringe</i> (season 4) season of television series

The fourth season of the American science fiction television series Fringe premiered on Fox on September 23, 2011, and concluded on May 11, 2012, consisting of 22 episodes. The series is produced by Bad Robot Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. The show was officially renewed for a fourth season on March 24, 2011.

Fox Broadcasting Company American television network

The Fox Broadcasting Company is an American free-to-air television network that is a flagship property of the Fox Corporation. The network is headquartered at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, with additional offices at the Fox Broadcasting Center and at the Fox Television Center in Los Angeles.

Drama Artwork intended for performance, formal type of literature

Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance: a play, opera, mime, ballet, etc, performed in a theatre, or on radio or television. Considered as a genre of poetry in general, the dramatic mode has been contrasted with the epic and the lyrical modes ever since Aristotle's Poetics —the earliest work of dramatic theory.


It was co-written by Jeff Pinkner and Akiva Goldsman, while Frederick E. O. Toye directed.

Jeff Pinkner American television writer and producer

Jeff Pinkner is an American television and movie writer and producer.

Akiva Goldsman American film producer

Akiva J. Goldsman is an American film and television writer, director, and producer known for his work on blockbuster motion pictures and adaptations of popular novels.


The Fringe team is alerted to a case involving a passenger, Marshall Bowman (Neal Huff), on a plane that had transformed into a strange beast, due to a "designer virus" with which he had been injected. Peter immediately recognizes this as a case from his original timeline ("The Transformation") but in this timeline, Bowman never fully transformed on the plane, allowing it to land safely. However, while under investigation by the TSA, Bowman transformed and attacked the agents before dying.

Neal Huff is an American actor from New York City. In April 2018, he performed as Willie Oban in the Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh. In December 2018, Huff began performing in To Kill a Mockingbird, adapted for stage by Aaron Sorkin on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre as Link Deas.

The Transformation 13th episode of the first season of Fringe

"The Transformation" is the thirteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe. Its storyline centers on the circumstances surrounding a deceased scientist, who was doped with a "designer virus" and transformed into a dangerous monster, causing his plane to crash. Fringe agent Olivia Dunham and FBI consultants Peter and Walter Bishop connect the event to an impending arms deal. Olivia must explore her mind for remaining memories of her former partner and lover, John Scott, in order to prevent the sale of the virus.

Meanwhile, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), having accepted the replacement of her memories with those from Peter Bishop's (Joshua Jackson) original timeline, is determined to be unfit for field work because she can't remember her "real" past, forgetting even family details. Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) is put in charge of the Fringe team, though he is upset that Peter has won Olivia's heart over himself.

Olivia Dunham fictional character in the television series Fringe

Olivia Dunham is a fictional character and the main protagonist from the science fiction television series Fringe, which aired on the Fox Broadcasting Company in the United States from 2008 to 2013. The character was created by series' co-creator J. J. Abrams, and is portrayed by actress Anna Torv. Olivia is the series' protagonist, and was introduced as an FBI Special Agent, working for a multi-agency task force of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security called the Fringe Division, dealing with supernatural events that are linked to experimental occurrences. Having grown up with an abusive stepfather, Olivia struggles with the unexpected changes in her life, following her encounter with mentally unstable scientist Walter Bishop, and his son and an eventual love interest for her, Peter Bishop.

Anna Torv Australian actress

Anna Torv is an Australian actress known for her roles as FBI agent Olivia Dunham on television series Fringe (2008–2013) for which she was nominated for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series in 2011 and as Doctor Wendy Carr in Netflix's Mindhunter (2017–present).

Peter Bishop

Peter Bishop is a fictional character of the Fox television series Fringe. He is portrayed by Joshua Jackson.

Peter is able to use his recollection of the Bowman case to lead them to Daniel Hicks, who was to receive the designer virus before he too transformed. Olivia joins them at Hicks' house, where Hicks, now transformed, escapes, injuring Lincoln.

However, Astrid discovers that Conrad Moreau, the bio-terrorist Peter says was responsible for Bowman and Hicks' transformations in the original timeline, died five years previously. This and the fact that Bowman didn't make the plane crash, as Peter remembers, suggest that events are playing out differently.

Walter Bishop (John Noble) worries that Lincoln may be infected by the virus, and keeps him in the lab to study him. Peter and Olivia identify a tattoo on Bowman's corpse with the help of Edward Markham (Clark Middleton), who in this timeline does not know Peter or Olivia. He is able to identify it as a cuneiform symbol of a cult that wants to create a new evolution of mankind, or "mutation by design". (And indeed the transformed Hicks is welcomed by a woman (Gina Holden) who gives him an injection and dreams of joining him in his "special" state.) Walter is able to link the group to Massive Dynamic, but Nina Sharp (Blair Brown), on searching the company's records for work in human transformation, finds the project files deleted by David Robert Jones, as he had overseen the project during his tenure with the company.

Walter Bishop (<i>Fringe</i>) fictional character on the Fox television series Fringe

Walter Harold Bishop, Ph.D. is a fictional character on the Fox television series Fringe. He is portrayed by John Noble. Noble also plays Walter's counterpart in the show's parallel universe, who is referred to in the show as Walternate.

John Noble Australian actor and director

John Noble is an Australian actor and theatre director of more than 80 plays. He is best known for his roles as Dr. Walter Bishop in the US Fox science fiction television series Fringe, and Henry Parrish in the Fox action-horror series Sleepy Hollow. His most high-profile film role was as Denethor in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He also provided the voice of the DC Comics supervillain Scarecrow in the 2015 video game Batman: Arkham Knight, where his character served as the main antagonist. In 2015, he joined the main cast of the television series Elementary as Sherlock Holmes's father. He was also cast as a doctor in the Australian TV series All Saints. In 2012, Noble was diagnosed with osteoporosis. His charity, Noble Bones, helps to raise awareness for the disease.

Clark Middleton is an American actor. He is best known for his supporting roles in Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Sin City, Fringe, Snowpiercer and The Blacklist.

Watching Lincoln's behavior, Walter identifies 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 identifies that the creatures are likely acquiring fat from the residue of plastic surgery clinics. Further recognizing that the Hicks creature is nocturnal and can fly, Lincoln leads the team to stop the creature along with the woman who was caring for it. The creature is killed, while the woman is unable to supply answers about where the designer virus originated from.

Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick) admits to Olivia that while she may be losing part of her memories, she is still considered an asset and is allowed back to active duty. Walter speculates that Jones may be using these transformed humans as part of a scheme to take control of the fate of humanity. Marshall Bowman's sister, who had earlier claimed ignorance, is shown trying to motivate another man to inject the transformation formula. The episode ends on a reveal of a container ship that contains a number of other transformed humans and other creatures at sea that are kept locked in cages in pairs.

Lance Reddick American actor

Lance Reddick is an American actor and musician. He is best known for playing Cedric Daniels in The Wire and Phillip Broyles in Fringe. He is also known for portraying Detective Johnny Basil on Oz, Matthew Abaddon in Lost and Charon from the John Wick franchise. He has provided the voice and likeness for video game characters Martin Hatch in Quantum Break, Sylens in Horizon Zero Dawn and Commander Zavala in the Destiny franchise. He currently plays Chief Irvin Irving on Amazon Prime's Bosch.


"Nothing As It Seems" was co-written by consulting producer Akiva Goldsman and co-showrunner Jeff Pinkner. Former Fringe producer, Frederick E. O. Toye, returned to direct the installment.

Cultural references

The opening sequence and main case of the episode were allusions to the first-season episode "The Transformation". [1] [2]

Peter breaks the ice with bookdealer Edward Markham by asking if he has Gene Wolfe's Lake of the Long Sun .

The song playing in Olivia's apartment while she talks to Peter is "Time Spent in Los Angeles" by Dawes.

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.



"Nothing As It Seems" received a rating of 3.1 million viewers with a 1.2 rating in the 18-49 demographic, an improvement upon the previous episode "A Short Story About Love" by 33.3%. [3]


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  1. Jensen, Jeff (2012-03-31). "'Fringe' recap: In The World To Come, We Will All Be Monsters". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  2. Murray, Noel (2012-03-30). "Fringe: "Nothing As It Seems"". The A.V. Club . Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  3. Hibberd, James (2012-03-31). "'Fringe' ratings rise, match 'Grimm'". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2012-03-31.