Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fringe 5.06: "Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There"

“Bit by bit, I'm losing myself, Peter. I'm losing the man that you helped me become.”

While I wouldn’t say this was a bad episode of “Fringe” by any means, it certainly wasn’t as epic as its “Lost” partial namesake. This one was written by David Fury, who really came up in his career working for Joss Whedon on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel.” He’s probably best known to Whedon fans as the happy dry cleaning customer singing about how “They got the mustard out!” in the “Buffy” musical episode, “Once More, With Feeling.” And Fury is no stranger to the Bad Robot Family, either, having worked on the first season of “Lost,” including writing the iconic episode “Walkabout.” So, yeah, this episode wasn’t going to be bad. But it would be very difficult for a middle-of-the-season semi-filler episode like this one to ever reach the near-perfection heights of “Through the Looking Glass.” It was quite trippy, though, which made it fun to watch in the way that old-school monster-of-the-week “Fringe” episodes used to be. I liked that Walter really got to take the lead in this one. He frees another tape from the amber and follows the clues all on his own, with the rest of the team only joining him when he’s already half way to solving the puzzle. And with that, on with the recap.

It turns out that after turning himself into sort-of an Observer, Peter didn’t go home to Olivia. Instead, he went to Etta’s house, where he’s watching a holographic message she left on her futuristic answering machine over and over again. Peter hears a noise and gets ready for an attack, but it’s just Olivia. Because he didn’t come home, she decided to try and find him, and it didn’t take her long to figure out where to look. She curls up on the couch with Peter, and they watch the message again together. Olivia makes it clear that she has no problem with Peter mourning Etta in this way, she just wants him to let her know about it and include her. I guess it’s her way of taking Walter’s advice from the last episode to heart. While they’re cuddling, Olivia notices the scar on the back of Peter’s neck, but he lies about where it came from. He says one of the Observers nicked him in their last big fight.

Meanwhile, back at the lab, Walter fetches another tape out of the amber. This one is in better shape than most, and it points Walter to a specific building where he hid something away long ago. On his way to the building, it appears that something very much like the Machine from “Person of Interest” spots Walter. We see a box focus in on him with his name and his status as a fugitive beside it. Considering both shows are in the Bad Robot family, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was actually the Machine, coopted by the Observers. Anyway, when he gets to the building in question, Walter goes up to the fourth floor. Once he’s there, he starts doing some complicated steps. It almost looks like he’s dancing. All of a sudden, though, he disappears through what looks like a portal to another universe.

Soon enough, Astrid, Peter, and Olivia realize that Walter is missing, and they find the tape that Walter left behind. The tape reveals that where Walter disappeared to is actually a “pocket universe.” There was one of those on one of my favorite recent episodes of “Doctor Who,” “The Doctor’s Wife.” This episode was kind of Doctor Who-like in its trippyness, so I appreciated that. The tape also shows the elaborate steps you have to take to get into the pocket universe, which explains the strange dance steps Walter was doing. The gang is going to go try and rescue Walter, of course, and it looks like they had better get there soon. The laws of physics don’t apply in the pocket universe, so Walter’s a bit disoriented. And then a guy pulls a knife on him. That can’t possibly end well.

The man with the knife is called Cecil, and it turns out that he, as Walter would later put it, was collateral damage. He was squatting in an apartment near the entrance to the pocket universe, and when the Observers dropped light bombs in the area, he was thrown right into the pocket universe. It only feels like he’s been there for about five days, but Walter tells him it has been twenty years. Cecil stops trying to stab Walter, and Walter asks Cecil how he’s managed to survive all this time without food and water. Cecil mentions that he did indeed find water, and, acting more like Walternate, Walter demands to be taken to the water.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Fringe team arrives at the building with the pocket universe. Peter and Olivia have Walter’s video, and they’re watching it in an old camcorder. They follow the strange steps, and they soon enter the pocket universe as well. Elsewhere in Manhattan, a random Observer tells Windmark (sort of the boss Observer) that Walter has been sighted. Clearly this mission isn’t going to be as easy as everyone thought. In the pocket universe, it doesn’t take Peter and Olivia too long to find Walter and Cecil. Together, they all continue the search for the next piece of the puzzle. Walter didn’t realize that there was a part of the tape that could only be seen in the pocket universe, but there is, and it gives the team some good guidance. It turns out that what Walter hid in the pocket universe was the boy from an old Fringe case who had been found living underground. The team speculates about whether this boy was actually an Observer. The team walks down a hallway, and the doors to all the rooms have symbols like the symbols that flash on the screen at each act break. In the video, Walter puts the kid in a room with an apple on the door. When the present-day team finds that room, though, the kid is gone.

When it’s clear that this isn’t going to be a simple retrieval, Walter pitches quite a fit. It really is interesting to see him become more Walternate-like. Outside the pocket universe, Astrid sees Observers closing in. She doesn’t have time to do anything about it, though. Those suckers move too fast. Back in the pocket universe, Olivia finds a radio in the kid’s room. It doesn’t work, so she thinks it must only work outside the pocket universe. The team is starting to make their way back out to our universe when the Observers find the pocket universe and attack. The team manages to fight their way out of the pocket universe and the building, but Peter is left behind to fight the Observers while the rest of the team runs to safety. Peter does some crazy tech-juiced hand to hand combat and teleporting while fighting one particular Observer. Peter then makes one final teleport and snaps the Observer’s neck. He meets the rest of the team at the monorail just as the monorail is about to leave the station. As they sit on the train, Olivia looks at the radio, and Peter and Walter chat nearby. Walter is very upset because he thinks that having the formerly missing pieces of his brain back inside his head is starting to make him care less about others. He thinks he’s becoming Walternate. Peter promises that he won’t let that happen, but then he goes all Observer-y himself, just kind of staring at the train car.

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