Saturday, November 10, 2012

'Fringe' recap: 'Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There'

Walter's trippy world. Courtesy Fox.

Say hello to the longest episode title in Fringe's history!

Peter is still struggling to deal with Etta's loss. He has apparently gone straight from upgrading his brain last episode to sitting in Etta's apartment watching a piece of random video mail she had left on her machine. He is interrupted by Olivia's arrival; she's been looking for him. Initially, Peter seems a little put out with her, but they snuggle up on the couch and watch the image of their little girl together. During the tender moment, Olivia notices the bandage Peter has placed over the incision on the back of his neck. He lies to her; saying that he was injured collapsing the Observer's wormhole.

Walter is up late chewing on Vines and lasering out a tape from the Amber. His past self on this tape is taping leads a journey involving a bus ride to an apartment complex. For some reason Walter decides to venture off on his own, following the tape. Unfortunately, he is spotted on a camera outside the apartment complex. The Observers will soon be on their way. In this time, the complex has a large hole in the side of the building, condemning the third and fourth floors. But Walter soldiers on, and makes it to apartment 413. Once inside the dusty room, he removes his hat and coat, consults his notebook, and begins an odd little dance on the dusty floor. On the last step, he turns, takes a step and disappears.

By the time Peter and Olivia return to the lab, Astrid is busy looking for Walter. They correctly deduce that he has left following the clues in the tape. Watching the tape themselves, they find that the past Walter found a way to create a "pocket universe" to hide things from the Observers. After a brief pause for some pastry, past Walter continues on his way. Ahh, it's nice to see the old Walter again. In the apartment, Walter and the mysterious and unseen Donald demonstrate how to enter the pocket. As they step into the pocket, the tape abruptly ends. While The Fringe Team don't understand why their Walter has gone off on this chase alone, they wisely decide to follow him.

Inside the pocket, 2036 Walter wanders around the Escher-like halls, finally stumbling upon Cecil. Cecil was trapped inside the pocket, when the Observers bombed the neighborhood in 2016. Only, for Cecil, it has only been 5 days. Poor Cecil wasn't even in the Resistance, he was just stealing. Apparently, neither time nor quaint little things like gravity work the same inside the pocket. Cecil agrees not to cut Walter's throat in exchange for escaping the pocket. The two wander off down the odd, sometimes upside down hallways. Very Alice in Wonderland. Walter is oddly forceful with Cecil, very reminiscent of Walternate. This could be good or it could be very very bad.

Unbeknownst to Walter, the rest of the team has finally arrived. Peter and Olivia enter the pocket. Leaving Astrid to stand guard. Luckily, they brought the tape and an old vhs video camera with them. They find that the tape continues playing inside the pocket. Now they can see the footage that wouldn't play in the normal world. The tape now directs them down a hallway to a particular door, but they discover that Walter and Donald are not alone. In 2036, they finally stumble upon Walter and Cecil.

When Peter chastises Walter for going off on his own, Walter becomes very irritable. I miss the fun quirky Walter. What has happened to him? On the tape, Walter continues to talk to someone else, who we finally see is the empathic Observer-like boy from Season 1. Past Walter was hiding the boy in the pocket to keep the Observers from finding him. All the doors are marked with the Fringe symbols we have come to know and love. The boy is placed in the room with a bisected apple on the door. We briefly see Donald in the background, but he carefully keeps his face averted from the camera. Outside the door, Walter morosely tells his audience to refer to tape 8 for the boys purpose. When the group finds the correct door and enter the room, it's empty.

The boy is gone.

No evidence of him is left except what appears to be a small atmosphere degradation unit, supposedly for the boy, and a transistor radio on the night table. Walter becomes very agitated that this destroys the plan. He rants for a bit and then leaves the room. Peter follows Walter into the hall, where Walter is crouched against the wall. They talk about the mysterious Donald possibly moving the boy and decide they need to leave the pocket to see what the radio can tell them.

Outside the pocket, Captain Windmark and the Observers have arrived and commence a door to door search for Walter. Suddenly, one appears behind Astrid knocking her unconscious. He and his bald friend then step into the pocket. It doesn't take them long to find the team, killing Cecil in the process. Peter quickly takes command and begins leading them through the maze to the exit. Olivia is trailing behind, looking a little suspicious.

As they gather up Astrid and make a run for it, Peter stays behind to slow the Observers down. He then proceeds to put some Matrix style smackdown on one of the Baldies. Peter's expression during this fight is downright frightening. The Observer wipes blood from his mouth and peers at Peter. "I know what you have done. You have made a grave mistake. You do not realize what is happening to you" he says. As the last syllable leaves his lips, Peter teleports behind him and breaks his neck. He then calmly teleports away, not noticing Capt. Windmark looking on from across the way. As the camera pans upward, we see he is standing under an enormous Resistance portrait of Etta on the wall of the office tower behind him.

Peter barely makes it to the others as the monorail train pulls away. Peter pretends he doesn't know how he navigated the maze in the pocket universe, when Olivia asks. As the train pulls out they take their seats and Walter becomes despondent over who he has become. He feels that he used Cecil to suit himself. He is afraid that ever since they put the pieces of his brain back together, that he is becoming the person he used to be. That man of hubris. The man who experimented on children, the man who broke the universe. "I'm losing myself, Peter. I'm losing the man you helped me become." Oh, John Noble, you're breaking my heart! Peter tells him that he won't allow it. He tells Walter that he is the only hope they have to defeat the Observers. "I'm going to be here with you every step of the way" Peter assures him. Walter begs him not to let him go. "I won't, Dad. I promise." Tears! Peter called him “Dad”! But as Peter looks up, he suddenly begins to see the train in the same blue tinged way the Observers do. Oh, Peter. How can you save Walter from losing himself, when you don't even know what you are becoming?

So, any thought on who or what the boy is? Want to bet he grows up to be September? What do you think?

The next episode of Fringe, "Five-Twenty-Ten" airs Friday, Nov. 16 at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.