I've wondered, up until tonight, how Walter could have been so selfish and cruel as to take Peter from the alternate universe, and leave his alternate self and wife bereft of their beloved son. Turns out that was never Walter's plan. Rather, he goes into the alternate world to give alternate Peter the cure that alternate Walter ("Waltnerate," our Walter cleverly calls him) almost discovers, but doesn't when he's distracted by the presence of the eternal bald observer. Our Walter, who has invented a window into the alternate world, sees this, and figures out how to perfect the cure in our universe.
It's worth mentioning here that although the alternate reality is in some ways more advanced than ours - it has small cellphones in the mid-1980s - our Walter is apparently a little smarter than his alternate (or, at very least, he and our William Bell are), because our Walter has invented both the window into the other reality, and a way of walking into it.
Nina and Walter's assistant Clara try to stop Walter from breaching the barrier between the worlds. Nina loses her hand in a tussle with Walter at the gate (that's why she has a prosthetic hand in our world), and the cure that Walter has brought with him is lost when its bottle is broken. This gives Walter no other choice but to bring alternate Peter back with him to our reality, where he can make more of the cure and give to Peter.
Walter does just that, once he returns with Peter, with the assistance of the eternal bald observer, who rescues them from freezing water in the lake (the portal to the alternate reality cracks the ice). Walter intends on returning Peter, but he can't bring himself to do it, once he looks at his wife's face, and the impact on her of the miracle of Peter coming back from the dead.
And so the story is told. Not without some big remaining questions - such as what happened to Walternate and his wife. But told with savvy and heart and style, including the great little detail in the alternate reality of Back to the Future starring Eric Stoltz not Michael J. Fox.
With this episode, Fringe has walked into the room occupied by the Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and other classic science fiction of the highest order. I'm looking forward to more.
5-min podcast review of Fringe
See also Top Notch Return of Fringe Second Season ... Fringe 2.2 and The Mole People ... Fringe 2.3 and the Human Body as Bomb ... Fringe 2.4 Unfolds and Takes Wing ... Fringe 2.5: Peter in Alternate Reality and Wi-Fi for the Mind ... A Different Stripe of Fringe in 2.6 ... The Kid Who Changed Minds in Fringe 2.7 ... Fringe 2.8: The Eternal Bald Observers ... Fringe 2.9: Walter's Journey ... Fringe 2.10: Walter's Brain, Harry Potter, and Flowers for Algernon ... New Fringe on Monday Night: In Alternate Universe? ... Fringe 2.12: Classic Science Fiction Chiante ... Fringe 2.13: "I Can't Let Peter Die Again" ... Fringe 2.14: Walter's Health, Books, and Father ... Fringe 2.15: I'll Take 'Manhatan'
See also reviews of Season One Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ... 17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect ... 18. Heroes and Villains across Fringe ... Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek in Penultimate Fringe ... Fringe Alternate Reality Finale: Science Fiction At Its Best