2.12 Johari Window
After the travesty of the previous out-of-order episode, Fringe jumped straight back to form a few days later with a contemporary tale called Johari Window. Actually, not long ago this story was called Edina City Limits, a title that made more sense to me.
The unnerving start has a highway cop picking up a young boy on a remote road who appears to have run away from home. Riding in the back of the patrol car the child suddenly transforms into a mutant, and the cop takes him to back to their police department. Before much can be learned about him, similarly deformed men assault the police department and kill all the cops with shotguns.
On the face of it, this is an easily X-Files transportable story which relies on remote communities and closed societies, but it was really enjoyable. What elevated it was the subtle and unexpected twist in proceedings when, instead of wanting to see the monsters exterminated, you actually started to root for them. Victims of a military experiment that went horribly wrong, their transformational abilities are more than skin deep, as they fight to be left alone.
But also this might have been classed as a filler story had they not wrapped the emotional difficulties that Walter is having after having been previously abducted into the mix. It’s as much the story of him emerging from that tunnel as it is about disfigured people who appear normal most of the time.
It also hints at him confronting the demons of experiments he performed on people, and their often dire consequences. He wants to put those things right, like someone did for the people of Edina City, and perhaps this is the start of a new resurgent Walter.
Overall, this was a deeper story than the first five minutes suggested, and although it didn’t contribute to the greater story arc, it wasn’t remotely as perfunctory as, say, the second episode of the season, Night Of Desirable Objects.
They even took the time to consider how Peter might feel after shooting someone for the first time, even if they didn’t dwell on it. Fringe can add richness to relatively simple narratives in this way, and I, for one, appreciate it.
I haven’t seen the viewing figures for this episode, but if they’re bad it’s entirely down to Fox’s viewer-may-care-but-not-us attitude in their previous offering. The signs are becoming stronger that Fox doesn’t want a third season of this show and that they’re going to make sure it doesn’t get the audience to justify it. That’s a shame, because when Fringe is good it can be great, and given the scheduling minefield Fox has sent it through, it’s pretty amazing that anyone watches it at all.
The gainers should the show be cancelled will almost certainly be other networks, as I can’t imagine that any of the main cast here will have problems getting work on other projects, they’re all strong actors.
In the meanwhile, I’m drawn to conclude, regarding the Fox TV budget for next year, the money they spent on Fringe has already been reallocated to buy hair products for Conan O’Brien and Sarah Palin, regrettably.
Read our review of episode 11 here.