FRINGE Recap: ‘Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There’
November 9, 2012 by Marisa Roffman
So, I’m really torn about “Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There.”
Much like “The Recordist,” I feel like the reaction to this episode has been split. Some delighted in the smaller moments, the callbacks to the things probably only the most hardcore fans would get, etc. Others seem to be frustrated with the slower pace of storytelling and very little of Peter’s newfound Observerdom being addressed. And once again, I find myself stuck in the middle of these two views.
On one hand, I’m so tickled the show is revisiting the wee Observer from “Inner Child.” Whether they really planned to utilize him like this all along or merely mined their history (hat tip to Joshua Jackson) for that twist, fun little tidbits like that are what make being a FRINGE fan fun…you never really know when a random person from the past will suddenly be vital. As a bonus, I loved that the doors in the pocket universe had the Fringe glyphs (six-fingered hand, apple with the double fetuses at the core, etc.) as their markers.
We now have seven episodes left of the entire series. We’re 93% done with the show. For as lovely as some aspects of this episode was — the direction by Jon Cassar in the pocket universe particularly stood out to me — it was a bit jarring to go from the “OMG, PETER BISHOP PLEASE EXAMINE YOUR LIFE CHOICES BECAUSE INSERTING OBSERVER TECH INTO YOUR NECK IS NOT SMART” ending to this much slower-paced episode. The show shouldn’t be focused solely on Peter’s transformation, but it felt like an unusual time to take Walter off on his own journey. Perhaps this was the only time this story really fit, but right now, I’m just left with a feeling of being unsettled.
Much like “The Recordist,” I’d much rather focus in on a few particular storylines/scenes in “Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There” and go from there, so let’s discuss…
The Observer tech is turning Peter.
For as insistent as Peter was that he could be “ten times what [the Observers] are if I had that tech in my head,” I think we got some pretty clear signs that won’t be the case. Sure, he has nifty, AWESOME powers — teleporting yourself would be massively useful if you’re a fugitive or you need an advantage in a fight, and he did manage to steer the group out of the pocket universe — but part of what separates our guys from the Observers is their humanity. Like it or not, but Peter is losing his. Does anyone think for one second that Peter from two episodes would have just jumped out of the pocket universe with Olivia on the other side of the room? He knows how fast those Observers can sneak up, and instead he was so razor-focused on getting them out of there, he failed to make sure his wife was going to be safe…and then she got caught by an Observer. (Olivia, of course, once again proved how bad-ass she can be by taking the fight with the Observer back to their universe and kicking his butt.)
Peter has kept secrets from Olivia and Walter in the past (notably when he killed shape-shifters in season 3), but the show doesn’t have that kind of time to have this suspicion linger. Olivia noticed he had something wrong with his neck when they watched a hologram of Etta (an absolutely lovely moment of shared grief I’ll touch on further in a minute), and she certainly was suspicious about how easily he was able to get them back home. She is not a stupid woman. She may be grieving, there may be other distractions going on around her, and really, jumping to, “Hey, maybe my husband stole Observer tech from the prisoner he was interrogating and stuck it in his neck” shouldn’t be anyone’s natural thought progression, but they need to realize something is wrong with Peter before he’s the past of no return.
And for as bad off as Peter is, he has not reached the point where all hope is lost. He may be viewing things like an Observer (that end shot was chilling, particularly Joshua Jackson’s “Oh [insert your expletive of choice here]” look), but his heart is still there. For now.
Peter’s not the only Bishop man who is losing himself.
When Walter ventured into the pocket universe he built (per the instructions on the latest tape), he found a man there who claimed he had been stuck there for five days. Walter realized the man had actually been living there for 20 years (since a bomb had rocked the apartment building) and time was working differently in this quasi-universe. The man tagged along as Walter explored the pocket universe (and kept up with the group when Peter and Olivia joined in on the fun), but when the Observers tracked them down, the man was a casualty.
As the group rode the monorail home, Walter lamented his coldness towards the fallen man to Peter:
Walter: Is that who I am Peter? Is that something you can see coming from my mind? From my heart? Am I the person that would leave in the middle of the night on his own?
Walter: Those are the actions of a man of hubris, arrogance. That’s not me, Peter. That’s him.
Walter: Don’t you see? I’m not safe. It’s my mind. Ever since the pieces of my brain were reimplanted, it’s been changing me back into the man I was before. Bit by bit. I’m losing myself, Peter. I’m losing the man you helped me become.
Peter: Listen to me: I’m not going to let that happen. We need you. You are our only hope to defeat the Observers. And I’m going to be here with you every step of the way.
Walter: Please, son, whatever happens, don’t let me go.
Peter: I won’t, Dad. I promise.
First of all, “Dad”? Peter Bishop, you sure know how to use that word when it’s appropriate. It’s also so important that those pieces of Walter’s brain were changing him. As I was watching Walter navigate the pocket universe with such certainty/coldness, I was reminded of Walternate, so I’m glad Walter was at least self-aware enough to realize the man he was wasn’t the man he wanted to be; the Walter we love.
That entire exchange between him and Peter was heartbreaking, because while it was the right thing to say, we as an audience know that Peter isn’t able to keep that promise. If Peter is too busy fighting to retain himself, who knows where that will leave Walter? Maybe I was reading too much into it, but I watched that scene with a heavy heart, wondering which of these two men would ultimately be undone by their choices for this ultimate fight.
The ghost of Etta.
As much as the death of Etta is still massively impacting the series — since Peter now has the Observer tech in him as a result of his grief/anger, I can’t see it not being an issue for a while — how do you guys feel about how the show is handling the emotional fallout from the loss?
I mentioned above that I loved Peter and Olivia taking comfort in each other as they watched a hologram of Etta, and I’m so glad they had that, especially in light of Olivia’s call to Peter at the end of “An Origin Story” where she emphasized she didn’t want to lose him.
But where is Walter in this? I get that he had his pocket universe to contend with, but if anyone knows what Peter’s going through, it’s his father. This Walter watched two versions of his son die — and broke the universe a bit in his attempt to save one of the boys — so he knows this agony. He imparted wisdom on Olivia last week, but I wish we had a solid scene of Peter and Walter just acknowledging this new and terrible parallel in their lives.
- I can admit I rewound my recording multiple times to see if I could identify Donald’s voice. But does the fact that Walter called him Donald mean we haven’t met this guy? If so, there goes my theory it’s either Lincoln or Sam Weiss. (Though, I suppose, given Walter’s inability to remember Astrid’s name, that might not mean MUCH.)
- If Donald took the wee Observer out of the pocket universe at some point in the past 20 years, does that mean he’s now a full-grown Observer somewhere out in the sea of enemies? (It might certainly explain John Noble’s reaction to my question.)
- We have “Five-Twenty-Ten” next week. Considering that was a William Bell number, we better freaking get a Nina Sharp appearance. We’re halfway through the final season…she’d be helpful to at least touch base with, Fringe team!
- Windmark, you are a cold bastard. That slight smile on his face after he saw what Peter could do has me incredibly concerned.
- I’m glad that it was brought up we really don’t know what Walter knows about the cases that were first investigated in seasons 1-3. Yes, in theory, we know things happened the way they happened just sans Peter, but man, there still seems like a lot of variables. The mere fact that William Bell is still alive(ish) proves how little we really know about what happened in this new timeline since the Fringe team was assembled. It does make some of the theorizing a little pointless, though, because we’re not totally playing with a full deck.
- What will it take for the radio they found in the pocket universe to transmit something?
But enough from me…what did you think of “Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There”?
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Filed under Fringe Recap