This review contains spoilers.
5.6 Through The Looking Glass And What Walter Found There
The variable quality of episodes in the final season of Fringe is a little annoying, though it’s worth rejoicing that this is actually one of the better ones. The title suggests a Lewis Carroll angle, but what the Fringe team finds inside the ‘pocket universe’ that Walter constructed at a point where he could remember things isn’t much like a rabbit hole. It’s more of a nod to the artistic works of Maurits Cornelis Escher.
Though a reference to Alice is thrown in, when Walter explains that in the pocket left is right and up is down. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland it’s Humpty Dumpty who states “…up is down, down is up, whatever suits its agenda…” Navigating the pocket isn’t easy, especially when they’ve no real idea what they’re in there to find, or why. The parallels to Alice’s adventure abound.
Inside, they find a man who lived in the destroyed building in which the pocket resides, and are told he was pushed there by an explosion. That seems somewhat far-fetched since he’s uninjured, but his real narrative purpose is to remind Walter of the collateral damage in almost everything he does. Tn Trek parlance, he’s a ‘red shirt’ .
It’s all very curious and interesting, and moves at a pace that makes minutes fly by like seconds. So what let the whole thing down? The big temporal speed problem that the writers didn’t address.
We’re told that time in the pocket is progressing at a much slower rate. If five days pass inside and twenty years outside, then for each minute poor Astrid spends in there, waiting for them, she’ll be standing for 1460 minutes, or ten days. Based on that simple calculation, she’d be hanging around for six months or more.
The argument could be made that there is a time leakage at the entrance, so she experiences the same time. Except this is contradicted by her seeing the Observers arrive, because they’d seem to be moving at 1460 times normal speed, which they’re not. That’s a shame, because in all other respects this was an interesting, if somewhat incomplete, story. I suspect the young Observer is September, but I could easily be wrong on that.
Once they get out of the pocket, we also get to see what powers Peter has now that the Observer technology is in his neck. He’s told that he made a grave error in doing this, because being like an Observer comes with a price, one assumes. The final shot where he starts seeing differently hints that hair style might not be a long term choice for Peter, should the changes he’s experiencing continue.
My favourite part of the story was the great scene where Walter talks to Peter about how since his brain was reconstructed he’s becoming the person he didn’t much like again. That’s a subtle final reference to Lewis Carroll and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which contains is the line, “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
What’s kept this show going for five seasons, in this reviewer’s opinion, is the extraordinary work of John Noble, and in this small part he demonstrates why he’s such a fantastic actor. The looks that Joshua Jackson gives him in response could be interpreted as being in character, or as another actor watching in awe, wishing he could emote like that.
More Fringe is only days away, and perhaps then they’ll explain how the resistance can paint sixth floor-high images of Etta on the sides of building without anyone noticing them doing it.
Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, An Origin Story, here.
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