Episode 506 “Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There”
THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!
[Photos: Liane Hentscher/FOX]
With the sixth episode of Fringe now under our belts, that puts us almost halfway through the final season, and I’m reacting strangely. Between Etta’s death, Peter’s distance from Olivia, the general sense that things cannot end well, and some preemptive grief over the inevitable parting of ways with these characters, I find my mind occupied and my heart aching for hours after an episode. It probably doesn’t help that The Walking Dead has also served up some healthy heapings of tragedy recently. I’ll probably be ok, just keep sharp objects away from me.
This week’s episode certainly was interesting visually and stylistically, but does it seem like the set creators and writers watched a Matrix marathon a few months ago? The show evoked the movie series, not just because the buildings are dirty, but also because it all seems so blue and dark. Then you throw in Peter’s evolving capabilities…Of course, the big difference is Joshua Jackson can act, so the comparison will never be fully realized, but these are trifles. Despite the interesting though derivative style this week, the plot itself was light, and the story moved forward very little, in my view.
Walter recovers the seventh tape from his ambered lab and heads solo to the indicated address. Donald from “The Recordist” episode is on the tape; Walter talks to him, we see his figure, but his face is never revealed. Who is this man? The show doesn’t answer (yet).
Facial recognition detects Walter wandering the streets; that doesn’t bode well. Inside the building, Walter performs a few Arthur Murrays and steps into what he calls a “pocket universe.” Wandering the corridors, Walter sees a man a down the hall, while another man sneaks up to Walter and puts a knife to his throat. Sneaky knife man identifies himself as Cecil, and explains that he was blown into the area by Observer’s light bombs five days previously. Walter explains that it’s been twenty years, not five days, and that time and space loop in the pocket. That’s all well and good, but who the heck was the other man? The show never answers that question, either.
As Walter stirs up trouble, Peter hides out at Etta’s old apartment. Liv shows up and requests, “When you feel like this [i.e., missing Etta], just tell me. I want to understand what you’re going through.” As she caresses the back of his neck, she asks about the bandaged wound there. What’s Peter going to say here? “Oh, honey, I decided that the smartest way to see my revenge plot through is to become an Observer. How do you feel about that?” Nope, Peter lies, not the first, certainly not his last.
This dynamic is particularly difficult for me to watch, as I’ve mentioned previously. Always before, it was Peter reaching out to a damaged Olivia, encouraging her trust in him. Now, his loss has hardened him, and although he’s going through the motions of supporting Liv in her grief, he’s really focused only on his own feelings of anger. All the while, he’s allowing himself to slip away from Olivia, sacrificing their relationship in his quest for revenge. I get that everyone grieves differently, but this selfishness angers me. Peter is supposed to be better than that, and I feel personally betrayed.
Back at the lab, the team realizes where Walter has gone and heads after him. Peter and Olivia follow the taped directions and enter the pocket. Additional portions of the VCR tape become viewable once inside. They show Walter not only talking to Donald, but also to a young bald boy, an empath from a previous Fringe case. Given the ubiquity of the Observers, one wonders if this boy is actually a young Observer. And indeed, Peter’s discovery of a portable air degradation unit confirms the suspicion. The tape further reveals that the boy is a part of the plan and is being kept comfortable in a room with an apple on the door (Apple really is everywhere!). However, when the team enters the room, the boy is nowhere to be found.
Walter flips out, “If we don’t have every part of the plan, the plan is useless!” It’s an over-reaction, even with Walter’s emotional lability. Peter talks him down off the ledge, reasoning that if Observers had found the pocket, they’d have shut it down. They need Donald for more information. Liv discovers a radio on the nightstand in the boy’s room, and though it doesn’t work in the pocket, it might work on the other side. Just add it to the list of other useless objects they’ve accumulated since the start of the season.
Of course, Observers arrive. A yawner of a chase-and-shoot scene ensues, resulting in Ensign Cecil’s death. Peter ushers Walter and Liv back to the entry quite easily, eliciting suspicion from Olivia. Peter lags behind to fight a trailing Observer, who says, “I know what you’ve done. You have made a grave mistake. You don’t know what’s happening to you.” Ah, but we do, don’t we? Grr, I hate being right all the time. Neo-like chicanery occurs, and to our chagrin, Windmark witnesses it all. Nope, this cannot be good.
On the monorail back to the lab, Walter grieves that he’s been slowly losing his humanity ever since his excised brain pieces were reinserted. All this fuss just because he viewed Cecil as collateral damage? Peter assures him that their only real hope is to beat the Observers, and that he’ll be there every step of the way. This scene underscores just how little Peter is not freaking out over what he’s turning into. The image of the Observer right over Peter’s shoulder during this discussion furthers symbolizes Peter’s transformation.
We can’t forget that the Fringe team is dealing with massive trauma and loss, not just recently, but over the course of years. They are also single-handedly responsible for the survival of the human race. In the immortal words of Dumbledore, “Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” I’m not sure just how much more heartsickness and anticipation I can take as we wait for these characters to make the choice between right and easy, but I also know I can’t tear my eyes away from the weekly train wreck. Until next week’s torture session!