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TV Review: Fringe – “Black Blotter”

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Fellow Fringe fan and my dear friend Monica was right; reviewing this episode was quite the trippy experience, for lack of a better word. Most of this episode was enhanced by Walter taking LSD giving this exploration of his guilt and fears a very unique taste typical of this sort of ‘special’ episode Fringe is known to produce each season.

The episode is named after a type of acid Walter took in the hopes of remembering his plan to defeat the Observers. Time is running out, as Walter’s old self is piercing through, tempting him to reach out to the Observers, where his intellect will be respected. The biggest irony perhaps is that while Peter, Olivia and Astrid were doing exactly that, i.e. finding yet another of the missing pieces of the plan to defeat the Observers, Walter, who had hoped to aid this process, was instead stroking the fire of his old self, through the persona of Carla Warren, his lab assistant who died in a fire in his lab in the late 1980s.

I have been a little mean with Walter in my recent reviews, as his self-absorption has been driving me up the wall. I have been having a lot of trouble accepting that someone supposedly so intent on saving the world could be so self-centered. I was expecting, after reading the preview, that this episode would yet again stroke the fire of my annoyance. But in a rather brilliant literary coup, the Fringe writers managed not only to portray the clash in Walter’s mind but also the terrifying consequences of Walter’s old self winning the confrontation. So a big kudos to Walter for fighting himself off for so long.

On a side note, the last scene, in which Walter relives the events portrayed in Season 2’s “Peter”, is visually stunning. I also loved the part where Walter was watching the rest of the Fringe team through a television screen, although they were right behind him. A big kudos must be given to the writers, to the director, Tommy Gormley, and, of course, to John Noble.

That the “ghost” of Carla helped Walter find the very reason why she died in the first place, i.e. the journal she had come back to the lab to burn on the night she died, was very symbolic. It also made the battle between “Old Walter” and “New Walter” a lot more interesting. No doubt, following the conversation between her and Walter we witnessed in Season 2’s episode “Peter”, the imagery of Carla represents Walter’s guilt (hence the glyphs spelling out G-U-I-L-T, the same that probably contributed to sending him to Ste-Clair’s. No doubt also that the imagery of Carla also represents that of his ego, the same kind as the one that made Bell choose his work over Nina, the woman he loved.

This is perhaps why this “stand-out” episode was a lot darker than those of previous seasons. And perhaps this is also part of the reason why the “bad” voice, i.e. Carla’s, was wearing white, whereas the “good” voice, i.e. that of Nina, was wear black. Perhaps it was also a hint as to Nina’s position; that while she might not always seem to be on their side, she is, ultimately, on the right side of the battle.

Her promise to Walter to remove the pieces of his brain seems to be another sign that Nina is on the right side of the battle. Her promise to Walter to remove the pieces of his brain seems to be another sign that Nina is on the right side of the battle. That she is willing to lose such an important asset as Walter’s mind, and one of her last links to the man she loved, Bell, is quite telling.

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