Character: Peter Bishop
Pairings Included in Manifesto: Peter Bishop/Olivia Dunham
Warning: Spoilers up to last aired episode, "Subject 13"
Note - thanks so much to leigh57 for last minute beta reading and dealan311 for her awesome help in finding a way to explain Peter's role in the Fringe mythology *briefly* to an audience that might be unfamiliar with the show. Of that portion of the blurb, only the quotes and the last part about the Machine are mine - the rest was taken from her word for word. Video clips not mine either.
"His name is Peter Bishop. He's a high school dropout, IQ at 190, just 50 points north of genius. Misfit, nomad. Hasn't kept a job longer than two months. He's been a wildland fireman, cargo pilot, and briefly a college chemistry professor. He falsified a degree from MIT. He even managed to get a few papers published before he found out. Sounds like a massive pain in the ass."
"My resume is hardly traditional."
Peter Bishop is introduced as the estranged son of the brilliant but mentally unstable Dr. Walter Bishop. When we first meet him, he is hardly the stuff heroes are made of.
Peter is not a government agent. He is not an accomplished scientist like his father. He's an underachieving slacker, a lone wolf with no loyalties except to himself. He has a shady past, has been arrested multiple times, and owes money to a guy named "Big Eddie." Initially, he seems to be easily the least important of the three main characters in Fringe.
So what's so great about him, you ask?
Well, to start with, he's smart. Ridiculously smart. Duh, he's got a 190 IQ, right? Except where Walter is the type of guy who can figure out how to build a literal window into an alternate universe, and then completely forget where he put his keys 5 minutes ago, Peter's intelligence is highly pragmatic in nature, and is complemented by considerable street smarts. He doesn't so much excel in one particular field of knowledge as much as he is the consummate jack-of-all-trades. If you need someone who can speak Farsi, play some Bach on the piano, fix your car, and translate all the crazy advanced scientific stuff Walter is talking about into understandable English, Peter is your guy.
Peter and Sheriff Mathis
There's a wealth of examples of Peter showing off his brains on the show, so it's hard to narrow it down, but the episode "Northwest Passage" (2.20) is one of my favorites. Peter, separated from the rest of the Fringe team and taking a bit of "personal time" after finding out a huge secret, helps a small-town sheriff catch a serial killer and rescue her partner. When you watch, remember what adds to the awesome is that Peter isn't a medical doctor, a coroner, or a trained forensic specialist.
On the other hand there are times where brawn is more useful than brains, and just because he's smarter than you, don't think that precludes Peter from also being able to kick your ass. While officially his position in the Fringe Division is that of "civilian consultant," and, as he points out, Olivia is the one who carries the gun, he's for all intents and purposes her partner in the field. In the very first episode, Peter helps her chase down a fleeing suspect, and when the man refuses to cooperate with her during interrogation, Peter proceeds to go all medieval on the guy's ass by grabbing his hand, picking a coffee cup off the desk, and smashing the crap out of the man's knuckles, after which he quickly gives the composition of a deadly chemical.
Peter Bishop - badass..and Dark Lord of the Sith?
Peter demonstrates he can handle himself well in a fistfight, and while he rarely uses a gun, it's not for any lack of proficiency. Check out the "hostage" standoff scene in Episode 3.08, "Entrada," where AltLivia is trying to escape from Penn Station and Peter makes a perfect snap-headshot, nailing a shapeshifter right between the eyes. Peter's proficient at killing shapeshifters, as he uses a silenced Glock in 3.12 to take out several more. With his last victim Peter also hacks off the shapeshifter's fingers with a cleaver as he's reaching for a pistol. Another characteristic of Peter's is that in a crisis, he has the essential ability to keep a cool head and quick wits.
Being a combination of geek and badass is epic win, but it's not the summation of Peter's awesomeness.
Peter's role in the mythology:
Somebody dubbed it the "Bowflex of Doom"
Peter: "The parameters are human...a reflection of the human genome. The spectrum isn't random. In fact, the specificity of the configuration would seem to suggest that the object would only respond to a subset of people. And a narrow subset at that. A subset of one. Me."
-Episode 2.22, "Over There, Part 2"
The Observer: "The boy is important. He has to live."
-Episode 2.15, "Peter"
At the end of S1 we learn that Peter's role in the series is much more important than any of us realized, because as it turns out, Peter isn't Peter. Well, he's not our Peter anyway. As a child he was stolen by Walter from another universe after the Peter in our universe died.
Yeah, I know. Crazy, right?
The whys and wherefores are complicated to get into and to really understand it, you'll have to watch the series, but the important point is this: Walter cracked open the seal between universes because of Peter and in doing so upset the balance of nature. As a result, all the Fringe events on our side (and the universe collapsing over on the Other side) can be traced to that single event.
That makes Peter pretty damn important. And it only gets crazier from there.
How crazy, you ask? In the second season we find out that he has a unique connection to a machine of ancient technology and unimaginable power that can literally destroy - or create - entire universes. Peter's connection? That he is apparently the only person who can operate it. That, and there's a drawing of him of him hooked to the device and a sketch of his face, with his genetic code in the background, and flames are shooting out of his eyeballs.
Though a reluctant member of the team in the beginning, Peter gradually begins to become more essential not only to the mytharc, but to Fringe Division as well. He begins to repair the bond with Walter, and the saga of the Bishop men is one of the most compelling, original takes on a father/son relationship in all of television. And while it's too awesome to attempt to summarize here, it represents the true heart and soul of the show, IMHO. It's a profound, amazing, sometimes heartbreaking story, and is one more reason why you should give this show a try, if you aren't watching already.
Peter Bishop and Olivia Dunham:
Olivia: "I thought you were a card-carrying cynic."
Peter: "I am, but there's an argument to be made that behind every cynic is a frustrated romantic."
-Episode 1.18, "Midnight"
Olivia: "I don't know. Uh, I uh...I guess that I just always knew what it was I was meant to do."
Peter: "And what's that?"
Olivia: "To care for people."
Peter: "Then who cares for you?"
-Episode 2.19, "Brown Betty"
Peter: "...and I still think about her, because I spent so long imagining going down that path with you. Imagining what it would be like to wake up in a bed next to you. To sit around, just the two of us having a cup of coffee and reading the paper. And then finally I had it. I've seen what the two of us together looks like. And it's beautiful."
-Episode 3.14, "6B"
Peter took his hands out of his pockets this time...and there was much rejoicing
Peter and Olivia's first meeting has her dragging him from Iraq, using threats and blackmail, because she needs him to get access to his father, who Peter has no desire to have any contact with whatsoever. Peter responds by acting like a condescending asshole.
However, they eventually form an uneasy alliance and as it turns out the FBI agent and former con-man have more in common than either of them would suspect. For instance, it's fair to say that both of them have been handed a shit sandwich in the lottery of life.
Olivia shot her abusive stepfather when she was nine. She was subjected to illegal medical experiments as Walter and William Bell's lab rat when she was a small girl, all so she could be the foremost soldier in a future war between universes. It doesn't get much better for her as an adult, either. In the pilot Olivia goes to extraordinary lengths to save the life of her partner and lover John Scott, only to have him die anyway, but not before she finds out that he was lying to her. She doesn't remember much of her childhood, for good reason, but she eventually has to remember a lot of what she repressed, and needless to say it's a shitty experience for her.
Peter's background is no picnic either. There are gaping holes in his memories as well, but he probably didn't miss much considering he spent much of his early years with a deadly illness and as Elizabeth Bishop says in one episode, "He never went to a proper school. He didn't have any proper friends. He..he had no family but us. We kept him so well, we never let anyone else get to know him." Remember what I said earlier about Walter stealing him from another universe? In the most recent episode we're shown how Peter had suspicions that something was very wrong. In the opening scene he's tying a cinderblock to his waist and jumping into a frozen lake, Elizabeth chasing him and frantically diving in after him after she finds a note in his room saying "I am going home." Eventually he was persuaded to accept the lie that nothing was amiss, and he wouldn't find out the truth until the age of 32. Before Peter was old enough to vote, Walter had been charged with manslaughter and locked in a mental institution, and Elizabeth had committed suicide.
Slowly, as the show goes on, this pair of broken, terribly lonely individuals with massive trust issues form a bond with each other over the course of 2 years spent working together in bizarre, often life-threatening situations. In a recent episode Olivia is reading through some highly personal files on her alternate's confiscated laptop, and comes across a section on Peter where Alt-Livia speaks of "...a sincerity behind his eyes, a deep-seated goodness," and Olivia realizes her double, being in essence the same person, would see the same qualities in Peter that she did.
Olivia's ability to see the good in people is just the sort of influence Peter needs to change for the better, to, as he said in the clip, "be a better man than his father-" than both of his fathers. And while Olivia is the main hero of the show, Peter has proven himself more than willing to be there for her, to kick in doors, to summon one of his weird connections, and to find just the right tool for the job in that Swiss Army Knife brain of his. But he's also her friend, always willing to lend an ear when needed, to indulge in a mutual love of straight whiskey, and to tell her that Bach is way too stuffy and what she really needs is some jazz.
In S3 when Olivia's trapped in the wrong universe, implanted with the memories of her double, living a life that's not hers, she is able to regain her identity and get back home by her own efforts. But it's telling that when her real personality attempts to assert itself, it takes the form of a hallucination of Peter, who reminds Olivia "You can't forget who you are. You can't forget where you're from" and who warns her that she is in imminent danger.
Usually I'm not much of a "shipper" (must be the whole "being a guy" thing) but I make an exception for these two. I never thought they felt forced or contrived, I liked how the writers kept things between them in the first 2 seasons slow and subtle, but definitely there. Also, if there are two (fake) people who deserve a little happiness, I think Peter and Olivia would be at or near the top of my list. However, with TV writers being the evil creatures that they are, their developing relationship has been beset by all sorts of obstacles: long-buried secrets, parallel realities, Olivia being replaced by her alternate for the first third of S3 with Peter being none the wiser, and in more recent developments, said alternate being pregnant (I can hear you groaning and no, I don't like it either) However, I want to believe in them, because they are tough as hell and the kind of people who wouldn't give up on something they felt was worth fighting for.
I'm going to close the shipper-y section of this already-way-too-long manifesto with another clip from the show, this time of the well-known kiss scene in the Season 2 finale. Peter's at rock bottom here. His world is upside down and everyone he thought he could trust has in one way or another lied to or tried to manipulate him - and then Olivia shows up, having crossed universes to bring him back -and she's doing it because she loves him,not because she sees him as a figure of a prophecy or as some kind of pawn to be moved across the board.
(Paladin's "oh crap last-minute oh shit! edit"- I can't find a decent version of this that has embedding allowed, so I'll have to settle for posting a link)
While you're at it, get up, stretch your legs, grab something to eat/drink, because we're almost done! Really!
On that note, to wrap this up, or "Why paladin24 has spent waaaay too much time pimping the awesomeness of a fictional person:"
Peter: "Must be nice to know who you are. To know your place in the world."
-Ep 2.19, "Brown Betty"
AltLivia: "I've been thinking, Peter, Your father's concerned about building Walternate's device. What if it does mean the destruction of one universe...or the other?"
Peter: "We don't know that yet."
AltLivia: "That's not really my point. If you knew that only...one of our worlds could survive and if it was up to you, and you alone, to defend your side...You'd have no choice, right? I mean you would have to do what you had to do...no matter the cost to protect...our world."
Peter: "There are billions of innocent people over there...just like here...people with jobs, families lives. I got to believe there's another way. There's always hope, right?"
-Ep 3.06, 6955 KHz
It would be so easy for a badass supergenius with an epic destiny, dual-universe citizenship, and courtesy of the machine, apparently near-godlike powers, to set the Mary Sue warning sirens going full blast. Yet despite the larger-than-life aspects of Peter Bishop, somehow, there's something about him that I've found easy to relate to and sympathize with. There's a streak of humility in Peter, who is in his 30's and still lives with Dad, who drives around in a beater station wagon and lives in a modest house despite Walter being the sole shareholder of a company bigger than Microsoft. He's almost never without his trademark well-worn Navy-surplus Peacoat of Awesome, and as we've found out a few episodes ago, he sleeps in a small room with spartan furnishings and a tiny bed for a guy who's 6'2." He's a genius, but that doesn't mean he has all the answers, nor would he claim to. He might say he can read people, but as we saw when he failed to notice the woman he was sharing a bed with was not the real Olivia Dunham, he is not immune to being blinded by emotion, or to seeing what he wants to see.
Some in the fandom have been quite angry with him this season, and I can understand where they're coming from, but I've always felt like I had to stick up for Peter. Everyone screws up, but it's what you do after you've screwed up that defines you, I think, and I respected him for being straightforward with Olivia about the extent to which he was fooled, and just how far his betrayal of her had gone. He didn't sit there and try to deflect the blame or make excuses for himself.
His life since 2.18 has been more or less a giant mindfuck and successive series of kicks in the teeth - finding out about his origins, meeting his real father and discovering that he's a lying asshole, unknowingly betraying the woman he loved, and finding out that apparently the purpose in life that he was looking for involved being a one-man bringer of Armageddon - all that has to really suck. But you won't see Peter wallowing in self-pity, and all things considered I'd say he's functioning pretty damn well.
I think if you called Peter a hero he'd probably respond with one of his trademark sarcastic one-liners, basically telling you you're full of shit for even suggesting the idea. But despite his protests, I think the universe - both of the universes - could be in far worse hands.
Oh - and go watch the show, because it would suck if it got cancelled.
And now, here's some awesome fanfic:
Fic Rec #1: Extraction
Pairing: Peter Bishop/Olivia Dunham
Rating/Warnings: Rated T
Why This Must Be Read: Walter talked about Peter being "weaponized" this season. We know he has a dark side, and I always thought a person with his brain and skills, when sufficiently motivated, would be one scary dude that I would *not* want to have as an enemy. I imagine that Peter being very much like Arcsaber's. This story is an AU that takes place after the S2 finale and poses the question "What if Peter went Over There to get Olivia back?"
He had caught the glint in his son's eye when Dunham's name had been mentioned last year, as they sat in his office, and based solely on this he had very rapidly woven his plan to make the switch. He had thought Peter's feelings went no deeper than the casual. Now, though, he realized just how badly he had underestimated them – his utter lack of empathy, for the first time, had come back and bitten him: this girl had driven him to abandon everything, including self preservation, which the Secretary still held in abundance. That, he admitted grudgingly to himself, was why Peter would win this.
Fic Rec #2: Can't Get Next To You
Pairing: Peter Bishop/Olivia Dunham
Rating/warnings: Rated T
Why This Must Be Read: Another great post-S2 finale AU. There's been speculation in the fandom that there are more than just 2 universes (makes sense, right?) and this fic takes the idea and runs with it. Several different universes are presented as Peter tries to find his Olivia, going from one to the other, meeting different versions of the canon characters in each one. It's a real challenge to create multiple alternate universes and the Olivia's of each, but what's the most amazing is how each version, while much different, is still unmistakably Olivia Dunham.
"...There is only one singularity in the universes; that’s you. And there’s only one person who always is born. Who always grows to adulthood. Who always, inevitably, finds her power. Here, of course we’ve trained her, groomed her – made her so much more than she is anywhere else. But Olive always finds a way.”
Trained her. Groomed her. Peter remembers the old tapes of a drugged, frightened little Olivia, hugging her knees to her chest in terror. That’s how he knows what “training” and grooming” really mean.
Nina looks almost sentimental. “Olive is the one thing we all have in common. Bringing the two of you together creates some … intriguing possibilities.”
It’s the most frightening thing he’s heard yet.
Fic Rec #3: Dreaming the Impossible
Pairing: Peter Bishop/Olivia Dunham
Why This Must Be Read: This is a early S1 fic that has Peter wondering why the hell he sticks around, and features his take on Walter and Olivia. Chichuri is one of those authors who I think really nails Peter down, and this fic is a perfect example. His inner voice in her stuff just feels dead-on to me.
Olivia's no better. She's hooked deep and sinking fast, mired in conspiracies and atrocities, in ten impossible things before every meal and the responsibility for saving the world from them all. He knows better than to throw himself in the path of that grim determination. She needs a keeper as much as Walter, and Peter's no man for that job.
But he can make her laugh, shake out a few traces of who she might have been before the world decided her life needed to suck. He can use his knowledge and connections, his disregard for minor inconveniences like laws and due process, to increase the odds of those victories she so intensely needs. He can make sure she never has to walk out to face the darkness alone. He can, if just for a few minutes, ease her burdens that little bit.
He likes doing these things for her, being this person for her.
He is an idiot who needs his head examined.
Fic Rec #4: Counting
Pairing: Peter Bishop/Olivia Dunham.
Rating/warning: Rated K at FFN
Why This Must Be Read: Click here for some beautifully done post-3.09 Peter/Olivia angst. The title is a reference to Olivia's photographic memory, especially when it comes to numbers, which she incorporates into the narrative in a really cool way. And while she does a great Olivia, there's some real gems from Peter's POV to be had.
How many times did he betray her? Too many. But what to count and from when? The sixteen times he tumbled to her bed (and sofa and shower wall) are obvious but hardly the sole count of his transgression. Arguably greater are the multitude of missed signs – the fact She walked away after straight after chasing him down in another universe, the new found love of music but vagueness of Her film history, Her sudden forthrightness when it came to the physical, the quick smile, the times She struggled with numbers, with recollection. Hindsight and self hatred provide a vivid and large screen to replay the memories and as they keep coming as his loathing grows. He can't stop thinking, can't stop trying to come up with a value. Should he count the conversations on the pillows before sleep took them both, the times he thrilled with making Her giggle, the easy intimacy curled up in front of the television? Should he include the times he left Walter alone so he could be with Her? The favours asked of Astrid? With so many failings he is afraid he'll never be able to stop and worries that she will drive herself slowly mad trying to understand them all, to see and to total them all.
Fic Rec #5: Gone
Pairing: Peter Bishop/Olivia Dunham.
Author: 221b Baker Street
Rating/warning: Rated T
Why This Must Be Read: It's the "being a guy" thing again, but I enjoy a romance even more when there's action and a killer plot. A post "Jacksonville" AU that picks up at the end of the episode when they're headed out for drinks. This time, though, Peter doesn't take quite so long to find out Olivia and Walter's secret. This fic is one of those that plays out like a movie in my head when I read it, and if they made a Fringe movie, I hope that's what it would look like.
The soldier didn't believe him, but the few seconds of hesitation it caused was enough. He'd always been fast, and his hand shot out even as the unusual rifle fired, catching the narrow tip and yanking the weapon out of the man's grip. He spun with the momentum, his other hand following suit, swinging and striking the side of the soldier's face with considerable force. Black cloth mask notwithstanding, inertia carried the rest of the body up and over the railing and onto the stairwell directly below.
Momentum, Inertia and Gravity. Physics was a bitch.
Another shape just above, the sound of shouting down below, the flicker of a thin red beam targeting the wall beside him, the railing, his chest—
A weapon fired immediately behind him and as he ducked for cover, he thought he recognized the sound. It was a Glock, 9mm, most likely Dunham's. He knew that sound intimately. She'd almost killed him with it several times. The shape above slumped and Olivia charged past him, grabbing a handful of t-shirt and hauling him after her as she went.
Fic Rec #6: Ruby Slippers
Pairing: Peter Bishop/Olivia Dunham.
Rating/warning: Rated T
Why This Must Be Read: Another post S2 finale AU (you're sensing a pattern in my reading preferences, eh?) that blends a gorgeous writing style, spot-on characters, and Peter/Olivia angst. File under "if this had been canon, I'd have loved to see it on TV"
Absently, he fingered the lapel of what he'd often thought of as Olivia's suit of armour. He'd teased her more than once about having a different shade of black for each day of the week. The material was softer than he'd expected, pilling in places from years of wear. Reflexively, Peter buried his face in the collar, the subtle trace of her, still lingering after an unknown number of days, an exquisite torture. Pulling back, his gaze was drawn to a flash of light against the dark cloth. Closer inspection revealed it to be a single strand of long blonde hair, clinging to the back of the jacket.
Carefully, Peter grasped this tiny piece of Olivia between trembling fingers as the dam within him finally broke.
Fic Rec #7: Complexities in the Mundane
Pairing: Peter Bishop (gen)
Rating/warning: Rated K
Why This Must Be Read: This is a short but no less profound, poetically-written little snapshot into the early Peter Bishop and touches on his transient, pre-Fringe Division lifestyle.
It isn't until the tall woman, who doesn't need heels to tower over his scrambled scruples, pokes at his threadbare bag that Peter considers what the content says about him. The FBI provides a designer essentials pouch and official business mandates that he use it. Appearances and all that. But the secrets he stores in the sack she's currently running long fingers across aren't for public consumption. Or even his own.
His life is in there, or at least the one that lives in his quick memory, bottled up in small containers that too swiftly run out. Replacements are his security, refills his comfort and if one can surrender to a religion of recyclable relics, he's already on his knees. They represent a holy rite: he can always leave and the necessities will be readily at hand. They will not judge his reasons or timing, waiting silently for the call to duty.
Fic Rec #8: Lions in the Desert
Pairing: Peter Bishop/Olivia Dunham
Rating/warning: Rated General
Why This Must Be Read: This is a companion piece/missing scene to the episode "Fracture." Crazylittleelf gives us a look inside Peter's head and Olivia as he sees her.
Peter flicked his eyes towards her and considered his answer, looked for the balance between the truth and what he was willing to admit. He knew his past stalked him, and here on its home turf it waited to strike, to take him by the throat and pull him to ground. Before, this would have meant a lonely death, bleeding out at the feet of his enemies on the dun-colored dust that coated the street. Now, though, he wasn't alone. She might be disappointed to have her suspicions of him confirmed, but this lion of his was just as deadly as the ones that lurked, and just as willing to draw blood in his defense.
Fic Rec #9: Hanging In the Balance
Pairing: Peter Bishop/Olivia Dunham
Rating/warning: Rated PG
Why This Must Be Read: Another post-"Jacksonville" AU where Peter finds out about Walter's secret. He decides to GTFO , but Olivia manages to find him. The characterization and dialogue especially stand out, with Olivia confronting a bitter, angry Peter.
He steels himself against the bitterness in her voice and counters with plenty of his own. "You didn't think I might stick around for other reasons?"
There's no humor in her laugh. "Why would you?"
"Right." He smirks and shakes his head. "Why would I." He's tired suddenly, the weight of the years and the lies crashing down on him. His whole life is a lie, and he still hasn't figured out how to twist that one truth into something he can live with. "I've been working with you for over a year and a half, Olivia. Don't you think that maybe, somewhere in that time, I started sticking around for something other than my father and answers we'll never really get?"
Fic Rec #10: Outlast
Pairing: Peter Bishop/Olivia Dunham
Rating/warning: Rated M
Why This Must Be Read: A Peter/Olivia romance AU written in such a distinctive, amazing style that every time I read it, I think "it's stuff like this that scares the crap out of me when it comes to the idea of writing in this fandom." The following excerpt is probably the best summation of how I see Peter/Olivia that I've read anywhere:
He suited her: rough where she needed it, alive where she slowed down, resourceful when she had the ambition. The way he knew things, he drew the world from the air. She admired him, which is to say she'd appraised him highly, in her own feral way. He looked comfortable with a gun and on solid footing with his fists. He can protect me. And: he is worthy of my risks. In no small way, his presence encouraged her to walk into burning houses and deprivation tanks, positive that he would drag her out in time. She felt vital, daring and immortal.
She recognized, because she felt he demanded it, that he was separate from her - not a partner in the lawful sense. Instead they were moving together by accident, circling each other, watching. Nothing was owed, no debts were drawn, and the saving of life was mutually forgiven. Sometimes she was frustrated by the distance; at times it felt unnecessarily cold. Other times she felt proud that she held his attention though there was nothing to bind him.
But how long until we diverge? she asked herself. She did her best to keep that question in mind, but it did nothing to diminish the part of her that needed him, the part of her that grew every day