‘Fringe’ recap: Walter broke up the band
It's been six weeks since our last episode of "Fringe." Technically, six weeks and one day. "Fringe" finally makes its move from Thursdays to the "X-Files" time slot. I refuse to call it the "Friday night death slot," partially because I don't want to jump on the bandwagon but mostly because I'm in deep denial. "Fringe" has survived airplane-crashing werecreatures, scary mole kids and shape-shifting super soldiers from another dimension. I think it can handle another schedule change.
"The Firefly" is the perfect episode to start off "Fringe" Fridays, but not because it's a sly reference to another Fox show that once filled the time slot. "The Firefly" is the "Fringe" version of the butterfly effect. How changing one minor detail can have a massive effect on the world. We'll have to wait to see if the tiny change of moving "Fringe" to another night will cause big changes in the show.
Twenty-five years ago, Walter traveled to the alternate world to save that world's version of Peter from dying, like his Peter did. That action created a chain reaction of events that were not supposed to happen in either universe. Just like how a butterfly flapping its wings can create a hurricane miles away. Which still might be an easier cause-and-effect to explain than the Observer’s plan Friday night. That kind of lost me.
Like all high drama, "The Firefly" begins with Walter bending over with his pants around his ankles. He’s experimenting on himself, trying to repair the piece of his brain William Bell removed to hide the knowledge of traveling between universes. He's trying to make himself a better adversary for the other universe's Walternate. Peter is concerned, but not because Walter is down to his boxers and jabbing needles into himself (I'm sure Peter is used to that by now). Peter worries that there might be a reason Walter and William Bell worked to pull those chucks out of Walter's noggin.
Meanwhile, our friend the Observer, who likes to hang out with the extras and just watch the action on "Fringe," starts intervening in reality. He brings a guy 25 years through time to run into his sleepwalking father. Then he goes all Matrix on guys robbing a jewelry store before stealing a truck with his finger.
Why is the Observer getting all touchy-feely with the course of events? Well, that answer is a little long. See, September, the Observer we know and love, hasn't been the best silent watchmen. We've seen several of his missteps. He was the one that caused Walternate to miss the chemical reaction that would have saved Peter, which is what prompted Walter to cross over. He also dove in to rescue Walter and Peter when they fell into the ice on their return. These actions have caused changes to what is supposed to happen.
So September sets out to correct his misdeeds. I think. That's where I get a little confused. September comes up with this detailed plan. I'm glad Walter said "we can’t understand how he thinks," because I don't. Apparently everything, from bringing a dead kid 25 years into the future to meet his dad to pocketing that poor girl's inhaler, was part of a test September was running on Walter. To see if he was willing to give up Peter.
Seemed like a lot of random activity in order to answer that question. I know, I know. "We can’t understand how he thinks." But there still has to be an easier way to test Walter than driving a pickup truck into the side of a police cruiser. Plus it only enforces my fear that anyone driving in a TV show or movie is going to get slammed into by another vehicle at any moment.
As complicated a reasoning as that is, it's still better than Walter's theory that it was all a set-up to keep him from drinking the drug to cure his cut-up brain. The Observer took the time to walk into Walter's lab and make his presence known. I'm sure it wouldn't have been all that difficult to open the refrigerator and pour out the milk. I'd be more willing to believe that everything else was just an excuse to smash up a pickup truck. Seems plausible.
While the "Fringe" team tried to figure out the Observer's motives, they did have the chance for some interesting character stories as well. Olivia starts the episode by receiving a present from Peter. His favorite book: "If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!" Though she quickly realizes that it was intended for Bolivia when she was living Olivia's life. Peter manages a nice save, saying that he bought the book because he wanted to share something of himself with her. Olivia. This whole "someone's been sleeping in my bed" is turning out to be an intriguing new rationale for the classic TV staple of forcing the romantic leads apart.
Walter gets his own emotional roller coaster as well. He gets to meet his musical idol, Roscoe Joyce, played by Christopher Lloyd, only to learn that he was the reason Roscoe's son died and the band eventually broke up. Then he toils with the possibility that the Observer has come to take his son away. So many emotions to play through in a single hour.
Even though I didn't follow the Observer’s master plan (and I much more enjoyed the insanely well- thought-out series of random events back when the guy was doing it with pencils back in "The Plateau"), I enjoyed having "Fringe" back. Whether it be Fridays or Thursdays, whenever "Fringe" is on is "Fringe" night for me.
Doctors Bishop and Brown -- It was hard to see Christopher Lloyd on "Fringe" and not want him to be a mad scientist. He's Mr. Mad Scientist. Though Lloyd did the burnt out ex-musician perfectly (maybe a little too perfectly). It did feel like the time-travel aspect was a little forced, but I did smile every time they talked about traveling in time to 1985. There were probably more Easter Eggs hidden in the episode. If you caught any, make sure to leave a comment and tell me.
Astrid Action -– Astrid played the generic lab assistant by running out to get ingredients for strawberry shakes, but she also got to be the close friend who consoled Walter when he realized that it was Roscoe's son who was killed as a result of Peter catching the infamous firefly. Though my favorite Astrid moment of the night had to be Roscoe calling her Kelly. Astrid seems to be a name that absent-minded geniuses forget.
Spot the Observer -– It was so nice of the "Fringe" writers to help ease me back into watching. Instead of playing "Where's Waldo" with the Observer the first week back, they made the whole episode about him. Of course, that didn't keep me for closely eyeing any exterior scene. Even when the Observer and Walter were walking through the park together, I caught myself scanning the crowd. I'm sure he’ll slip back into the background next week.
-- Andrew Hanson
Photo: Christoper Lloyd, left, guest-stars in "The Firefly" with John Noble, center, and Jasika Nicole). Credit: Fox