'Fringe': Walter smokes some 'Brown Betty' and gets musical

fringe-anna-torv-lance-reddick-320x180.jpgOn "Fringe," Walter smokes marijuana and starts seeing singing corpses in his mind. But is this a way for him to grieve over the loss of Peter, who bolted after learning the truth about his identity?

Let's investigate.

Still grappling with his son's disappearance from his life, Walter tries to mask his grief by smoking marijuana in the lab and whipping out the old labelmaker, making sure everyone knows which glass container the Red Vines are in. This marijuana he's smoking? The doc calls it Brown Betty. Cute. Astrid though, knows his true feelings, reassuring him that Peter will return; it is just a matter of when. Seconds later, Olivia and her adorable niece Ella (guest star Lily Pilblad) drop by the lab. Olivia wants to follow up on some leads, but Walter takes some offense to her need to move forward. In his mind, nothing's more important than finding his son!

While Olivia does some police work, Walter and Astrid babysit Ella (who, by the way, called Walter "uncle"!). Walter tells Ella a fairytale story set in the 1940s about a private detective who just couldn't crack one particular case. In this story, Rachel (guest star Ari Graynor) barges into Olivia's office pleading for her to take a missing persons case. Rachel's fiance, a Peter Bishop, has gone missing and Rachel believes it might have something to do with a gambling debt owed to a Big Eddie. Olivia's hesitant to take the case but after Rachel pours her soul out to her, saying it was love at first sight, Dunham reconsiders. Cut to present day, when Ella points out a factual error in Walter's "story," that her mother Rachel doesn't really love Peter. (Ella, you are one smart cookie.)

Back in Walter's fairytale, Peter is hiding across town with a stolen heart. It's a glass heart that's different from ones that people have seen. Olivia embarks on her investigation and meets Lieutenant Broyles at a restaurant where he's exercising his impressive singing chops. Olivia asks him if he's seen Peter, but Broyles says he's never laid eyes on him. Olivia shows him a drawing of a logo, and it looks vaguely like the Massive Dynamic one we all know and love. Next on Olivia's stops is Nina Sharp's office. Olivia questions her about Peter and Nina proceeds to warn Olivia about Peter's lack of moral standards ... and that it might be a good thing he stays missing. "I meant it when I said Peter Bishop is dangerous," Nina says again. After Olivia leaves, Nina makes a mysterious phone call.

Olivia phones Rachel post-Massive Dynamic (in Walter's head, there are cell phones back in the day) and is struck by Rachel's sudden cry for help. When she bursts into Rachel's apartment, Olivia finds her lifeless body on the ground. When the camera closes in on her chest, Rachel's heart is missing. What the heck happened! (Ella makes the poignant observation that if Rachel was in true love with Peter, she wouldn't be dead not even halfway into the story! Is this Walter's subconcious saying he's anti-Peter and Rachel?) While Broyles and Olivia study the crime scene, Broyles warns Olivia to stay far, far away from the case. He seems to think death follows her around and it's true (remember John Scott?). Olivia, of course, pays no attention to his warnings and proceeds to visit a Dr. Walter Bishop.

Olivia visits Walter in his (awesome) lab, and she finds out he was the one who really hired her to find Peter. Oh the tangled web they weave. Peter was Walter's lab assistant, with no relation, though as Walter explained to Olivia, he viewed Peter like a son. (Much like the current situation they find themselves in.) Walter shows her some of his work, one of which is singing corpses. Cue three "dead bodies" singing the "Candyman" tune. (Only in a drugged-up "Fringe" world could that be plausible.) The Walter in his head invented everything that was wonderful in the world (i.e. hugs). Unfortunately, the heart Peter stole was Walter's. The symbolism is so strong in this episode.

Esther (or Astrid) is desperate for a job, singing her sorrows even to a none-too-pleased witness. Olivia calls her old assistant up and asks her to come back and work for her, but in the middle of their conversation, the Watcher threatens Olivia to keep her heart out of other people's business and makes a deep incision across her chest. Ouch. While Esther cleans Olivia up at the detective office, she notices that the cut is starting to heal by itself. Interesting. Olivia finds out the instrument that the enigmatic man who cut her was made by Massive Dynamic.

Olivia barges into Nina's office and orders Nina to tell her the truth. The instrument is a surgical; a prototype was stolen recently from the offices. Nina seems to know more about what's going on than she's letting on. Olivia doesn't trust Nina one bit, so she finds out what she can from remnants in Nina's car. She follows Nina's car to a building and sees her talking to William Bell using the same "window" Walter and Bell invented (that was first seen in "Peter"). But Olivia is knocked out before she can listen more. When Olivia wakes up, she's on a boat with the Watcher and Nina. Olivia is stuffed into a box and thrown into the water. But ... she's saved by Peter!, who brings her to safety and wraps her in a blanket. (Bringing in "Dawson's Creek" to the conversation, is the boat called "True Love" by chance?)

With jazz music playing in the background, Peter in nice '40s garb and Olivia trade innocent jabs in the kitchen. At one point, Peter observes that they're opposites (true in this world and also true in the real world). Olivia wastes no time questioning him about stealing Walter's glass heart. Peter, however, seems to think whatever Walter shared with Olivia wasn't remotely the truth -- and he makes it known. Peter shows Olivia a map with 147 pins, each representing a child who was hurt by Walter. While Walter might've invented some great things, "he steals children's dreams and he replaces them with nightmares," Peter says. One of the mottos for the series might as well be "shattered innocence."

Peter makes the revelation that it was his glass heart he was willing to give to Walter, but after learning the truth of his mentor's ways, decided against it. The ground begins to shake and the Watchers burst into the house. Peter and Olivia put up a good fight, but while Olivia succeeds in offing all the Watchers, Peter's heart goes haywire. Dying and racing against time, Olivia plays real-life Operation on Peter's heart to save him from death. Olivia succeeds in getting all the wires back in place, but it's too late! Or is it? A heartbroken (not literally) Olivia begins to sing, in hopes that maybe her musicality will bring Peter back to life. She's finally found someone who needs her and who might be able to care for her, but life can be cruel sometimes.

It's a fairytale after all. Peter comes back to life! Olivia stops Walter from taking Peter's glass heart at the lab. Walter and Peter meet for the first time this episode, and Peter walks away with the heart, saying, "It's too late, Walter. There are some things you can't undo." (Cut to Ella's unhappiness at Walter's sad ending. In her mind, the story ends with Peter looking into Walter's eyes and realizing that there was still good in him. Peter split the magical heart in two and even then it still worked. And Peter and Olivia danced. If only reality was like that.)

Astrid drops Walter off at his house. We see the Observer across the street talking on a device, telling whoever's on the other end that the boy is not with him -- and that he's worried too. Hm ...

Quick Take: I've noticed viewers either love or hate this episode. Luckily, I enjoyed the hour for what it was: a departure from the gross-out monsters-of-the-week "Fringe" is known for. The stylized banter was well-executed and a lot of subtleties in the characters' relationships were strewn throughout. While I'm not a huge fan of gimmicks (like a gratuitous theme week), this "musical" episode was done well and certainly didn't feel superfluous to the arc the series is traveling on.

Quote of the Night:

  • "Walter isn't responsible for all the goodness in the world, but he is responsible for so much evil." -- Peter Bishop


Why does Walter demonize himself in his own story? What are your thoughts on "Brown Betty"? Did the "fairytale" add to the story? Discuss below!