One of the great strengths of Fringe has been the way it personalizes questions about the abuse of science through the character of Walter Bishop. And if you're as obsessed with Walter as we are, you can't miss Thursday's episode.
We were lucky enough to catch a sneak peek of "Peter," the new episode which airs this Thursday, and it might be our favorite episode of Fringe. We won't give away any spoilers, except to say that it's all about Walter and Peter, and explains just how Peter came to our world from the alternate universe.
More importantly, it's a solid hour of just John Noble owning your screens, with the other series regulars either pushed to the margins or absent altogether. Noble has some amazing material in this episode, and he runs with it. We get to see a lot more of the man he used to be, before he made a crucial mistake. A lot of the episode revolves around explaining just how Walter came to make that mistake, but also showing just what he was going through when Peter was a small child.
This being Fringe, there's technobabble and lots of talk about alternate universes and weird physics - and there's one character who manages to square the science/religion dichotomy in a really fascinating way - but those things don't tell the story. This time around, the main story-telling instrument is John Noble's face, whose crags and lines manage to convey a million different emotions in rapid succession. He's constantly struggling with remorse and grief and arrogance and hope. Up until now, I'd always thought that Walter was just sort of a bastard before he went crazy, but it turns out to be much more complex than that.
With "Peter," John Noble makes a powerful case for being one of the best actors on television. And I'm not usually one of those people who complains about genre actors not receiving Emmy nominations, but this episode really does seem Emmy-worthy. Walter Bishop turns out to be a man who's lost even more than we had ever realized. His abuses of science are born of desperation and a bit of a self-destructive streak, and he's tormented by the choices he's making.
We can't wait to see how the revelations about Walter in this episode continue to play out, especially now that John Noble has revealed so many new sides to the character. And it sounds like, judging from the conference call we took part in last week, Noble isn't done showing us something new, by a long stretch.
Here are some clips from Thursday's episode, in case you didn't see them yet. Warning: Unlike the rest of this post, they are quite spoilery: