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The One Magnificent Scene From Last Night's Fringe: Walter Bishop Meets His Equal

Illustration for article titled The One Magnificent Scene From Last Nights Fringe: Walter Bishop Meets His Equal

We forgot everything about last night's Fringe episode as soon as we were done watching it — almost as if Peter Weller had traveled back in time to before it aired. Except for this one wonderful scene. Spoilers ahead...

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This was one of the most forgettable "weirdo of the week" Fringe episodes, for the most part, despite Weller's reliably fantastic performance. The concept of a time traveler who kills people just by arriving was neat, but the execution was a bit lackluster, and the Groundhog Hour thing was a bit wasted because the "deja vu" thing didn't go anywhere.

But when Walter Bishop meets his equal, and a parallel character who's also a mad scientist driven by grief, the episode suddenly comes to life:


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So Walter, the most vocal atheist and occasional taunter of Catholic priests, secretly harbors a belief in God due to his guilt over his meddling? That's pretty fascinating. And I love his description of his own journey through madness.

The episode's ending was also pretty brilliant, both in the fact that the "bad guy" won — but he didn't win in the way you expected — and in the letter he sent Walter. It was a really neat twist, and really nicely done. Honestly, this seemed like a great story idea, that someone forced into the mold of a Fringe episode — the whole story would have been more interesting if it was only told from Weller's character's point of view.

I suspect we're all ready to be done with the "First Olivia and then Walter can't decide whether to tell Peter the truth" storyline, but at least that one scene of Walter working it out with his fellow madman was worthwhile. And the arrival of the white tulip was a genuinely beautiful moment. If the rest of the episode had been as great as that, this would have been one of the greats.

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DISCUSSION

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John Hazard

I thought Peter Weller alone made it a great episode- BUT- I am so tired of the men-messing-with-time-because-of-their-dead-wife motivation.

We saw it in that crappy Star Trek movie, in the "Year of Hell" episodes on Voyager, the remake of The Time Machine, Richard Alpert on LOST (sort of)...

First, it's a stupid, lazy motivation- the writers probably worked out Weller's entire back story before their order at Starbuck's was up. It's endemic of how lazy minded TV sci fi writers and audiences have become.

It's also built around childish premises- one, that a person could or should be brought back when they die (instead of accepting the death as a natural part of life, and eventually moving on) and the idea that apparently is stinking up LOST's mythology- that of the soul mate, the star-crossed, destined lover, who can never be replaced. I'm sorry- no matter how much Richard loved his late wife, he would have moved on and started dating after a few years- decades- centuries?!?

When I started griping about this to my girlfriend, she of course said, "If I died wouldn't you go back and save me?" and I said "No, I'd go back and stop 911, or Reaganomics, or save JFK, or something that would benefit all mankind, not just us." Then we didn't have sex.

If you want to see how an adult time travel/love story would go, look at the Classic Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever"- Unlike Neo saving Trinity, or Walter stealing alt Peter, or Worf ditching a mission to save a wounded Dax, Kirk didn't hesitate to let the woman he loved die in front of him to save history as we know it. He did what he did for higher ideals, not just emotional reactions and an attitude that the entire fabric of reality should be bent to give you as an individual what you selfishly want.

People are stupid. I'll be in my cave.