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TV Review: Fringe – “Through The Looking Glass And What Walter Found There”

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The sixth episode of the fifth and last season of Fringe seems to mark a return to the show’s roots. We were treated to an episode that seemed to finish only mere minutes after it began, a distinct sign of a great hour of storytelling. In sharp contrast to the previous episodes, there was not much action in this one; however, the hand-to-hand combat scene between Peter and the Observer, while short, was very telling. Another return to Fringe’s roots was seen in the “weird factor” of the pocket universe created by Walter and the return of a character from Season 1 I was hoping to find out more about: the quiet, bald kid from Season 1’s episode “Inner Child”.

The title of this episode, of course, refers to the sequel to the book Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll published in 1871, “Wonderland” being the pocket episode that Walter created, in which up is down, and left is right. I do hope this is the only similarity between the book and Fringe, as the book ended with the realization that Alice’s adventures were all but a dream. Maybe it means that this Etta-less, Peter-Observer future will not come to be, quite the twist befitting a show by the creator of Lost.

After last episode’s shocking ending, the tech’s influence on Peter appeared in the emergence of Observer-like abilities, and we got the slow surfacing I was expecting. I felt like a voyeur at times, both horrified and fascinated, watching for signs of their appearance. At the beginning of the episode, there seemed to be nothing different in Peter, and I have to confess, I was both relieved and disappointed. And at every moment of the last quarter of the episode when an ability would pop up, I would, again, be both fascinated and horrified; it felt like I was watching a horrible but visually amazing crash and not being able to look away.

It has been confirmed that the Observer abilities are slowly coming to Peter. It not only made more sense than a sudden appearance, but also made for great storytelling. For example, the moment when he could see the doorway to the pocket universe although at first, he didn’t see it, was a great first step followed by a stride when Peter, at the end of the episode, was seeing everything as a blue matrix of sorts. Speaking of which, is this a Fringe homage to The Matrix movie? It feels like Olivia shooting the Observer through the doorway might have been, reminding me of Trinity’s crash through a window and down a flight of stairs, ending with her guns drawn and waiting for one of the agents to come crashing after her.

I can’t help but wonder yet again about the consequences of Peter’s decision. In the short term, however it pains me to admit it, the enhancement of his natural abilities with the tech will probably help the resistance. But what if they win, what happens next? In an Observer-less world, what price will Peter have paid to exact revenge on them for Etta’s death? His decision seems to be even more rash, if we are to believe the rather ominous statements by the Observer that “you have no idea what you have done to yourself”, as well as his reiteration that “you have made a grave mistake. You do not know what is happening to you”. This might be one of the few times I am grateful we have a set number of episodes left, at the end of which we will hopefully have answers.

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