Cast: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole
Writers: Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman, Akiva Goldsman
Director: Fred Toye
Network: Fox, airs Friday nights
Original Telecast: February 25, 2011
When the previews to last week’s FRINGE had us going back in time to when Walter (John Noble) was working with the Cortexiphan kids in Jacksonville, Florida, I was hoping we’d finally get to see it.
I wanted to see the point where evil Walter was upon us, the reason why he had William Bell remove parts of his brain and the reason why he was locked away in a mental institution. Plus, given we saw a rare glimpse of that cold, mean Walter in Season One when Walter returned to the mental institution, I figured it was bound to happen. So much has been talked about in the mythology of the show about how a scientist could experiment on children that at some point we would have to see him doing some dastardly deeds.
Yet, while we got a few brief moments of a man that would do literally anything to find the secret to crossing over to the other side, he really wasn’t all that mean or cold or evil. In fact, it was more of the same Walter we have seen since the inception of the show.
But I don’t think we saw someone capable of doing the things he did to children. Things that have caused so much pain in their lives that they do other bad things when they grow up – which has been part of the larger story of FRINGE since the first episode. Yeah, Walter sort of used little Olivia’s abusive step-father as part of the experiment on her, saying it was an ideal case of love and fear, but that’s really the only real bad thing here.
It was more about seeing that even at a very young age, little Olivia had the ability to visit the other side, and did it more than a few times. But does Olivia also have some sort of Firestarter-ish power as well? Certainly seemed to be the case as she set the room ablaze when Walter was trying to get her to unleash her powers.
Meanwhile, Walter-nate’s marriage is faltering as a result of Peter (Joshua Jackson) being taken from him. He drinks massively and can’t understand how someone that looked like him could take their son way. But whereas Walter stealing the alternate Peter drove a wedge between his wife and Walter in our universe and ultimately led Walter down a path of insanity, for Walter-nate, it gave him a sense of purpose. He had to learn what happened, to strive to get his son back no matter how long it took and use the resources he would attain in wealth and later in government to wage a war against the alternate universe he deemed deadly to his own.
Perhaps more importantly, we learned it was little Olivia that was the catalyst for this giving Walter-nate her drawings of the other universe in one her trips there under duress. I’m not sure what this means in the grand scheme of things or if it will have any meaning at all but it is an interesting tidbit for sure.
One thing that did bother me, however, was that Peter realized he was in a different place and that his parents weren’t his real parents, yet, at some point forgot about this whole deal as it was a complete shock for Peter to learn he came from over there (I guess the mother lying to him is maybe part of the reason and the beginning of her self-destructive behavior).
Also, Olivia obviously forgot all of what she was able to do a child as everything she has done since the beginning of the show has been a shock to her. So either something happened to make them forget, or it was a natural progression of time (however, given their ages and given how traumatic these events were, you’d think they would stay with them forever).
For that matter, Peter and Olivia not remember meeting each other or that they found some solace in each other seemed a bit odd. Again, you’d think that this would be something they would at least have some memory of, especially when they ultimately became very close.
However, I do enjoy these trips back (and I love the retro opening) as we always do learn a bit more about what happened to mold the events happening in the present in this show. I just keep hoping for that moment we will get to see where Walter becomes a not so nice fellow.
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