Fringe Episode 509
Written By: Kristin Cantrell
Directed By: Tommy Gormley
Original Airdate: 14 December 2012
In This Episode...
Walter has dropped acid, which makes this one trippy, non-linear episode.
Astrid wakes in the middle of the night to find the radio they retrieved from the pocket universe is receiving a transmission. It is a Morse code of sorts, but one that Astrid cannot decipher. Walter is far gone down the acid hole by this point, so Peter calls Anil and he helps them trace the source of the signal.
Olivia and Peter trace the source of the signal to a spot in the woods. They discover what must have been an early fight against the Observers. Three bodies on the ground, and a fourth behind the wheel of a trailer. All died in a gunfight, at least 10-15 years ago. Two were Observers; one was a loyalist. The one in the trailer was, according to his ID, Sam Weiss. The signal is not originating from this spot; there is a repeater high up in the trees. With the repeater out of the equation, they are able to get a more accurate read on where the signal is coming from: an island.
Astrid and Walter join Olivia and Peter at a small dock. They rent a little motorboat, but before they can board a boat full of loyalists pulls up. A firefight ensues, with Peter and Liv easily killing all the loyalists.
Our group (I’m still calling them Fringe Division) land on the island and venture inland. They end up at a small, well kept house. The signal originates from inside. A man, Richard, greets them on the porch with a shotgun. His wife, Caroline, and their “son,” Michael, join him. Michael is the child Observer. Olivia tries her best to calmly describe who they are and why they are there. Caroline is inclined to believe them; Richard is not. He says if they were the ones they were waiting for, they would know the password that was encoded in the signal. No one does, so they turn to Walter. His acid-riddled brain takes him on a Monty Python journey (literally) to the answer: Black Umbrella. Caroline invites them in and tells them their story. Just after the invaders arrived, Caroline and Richard joined the resistance (though it wasn’t called that at the time.) They were deeply involved and eventually came one of the most trusted allies in the fight. Donald came to them with Michael and the transmitter, promising that a scientist from Boston would come for the boy - that he was the key to destroying the invaders. This was 20 years ago. Michael has not aged a day. Though they have come to love Michael like their own, they see him off with the Fringe team.
Okay, straight forward plot out of the way; let’s dig into Walter’s insanity. So he is on acid for the entire episode, and his guide is a green absinthe fairy (I don’t know why.) He is having visions of Carla Warren, his old lab assistant who died in a fire. Astrid tries to pretend that she doesn’t notice Walter talking to Carla. She is both a siren and a combatant to Walter throughout the episode, on the one hand leading him to his most prized journal; on the other, “haunting” him for her death, which she perceives to be Walter’s fault. That journal, Walter’s life work, contains all of his wildest creations, including the device that opened up a wormhole between the universes. Carla fought him every step of the way on the wormhole, insisting that there must be a limit to what they can do. Walter, naturally, refused. She went to the lab to set it on fire but instead she went up in flames. She directs Walter to the journal beneath the floor, and entices him to read it. By the end of the episode, Walter has realized it has brought him nothing but pain, and he burns it himself. Only it doesn’t exist - Walter is burning nothing in a large glass bowl. Carla was merely there to help him unlock his memories of what projects the book contained. Walter desperately does not want Carla around. “You’ve been him longer than you’ve been you,” she taunts. I have to imagine that “him” is the Walter we know and adore, since the “you” would be the Walter that Carla worked with.
Dig It or Bury It?
Even when Fringe has a fun episode, it is still fucked up. Walter’s (further) descent into madness is tragic. I’m glad we have moved away from the “scavenger hunt” format that most of the season so far has had. That felt like a crutch to get us to the final few episodes. I feel like we are waiting for the other shoe to drop on Peter. He recovered awfully fast from the Observer tech in his neck. Other than the headaches and the regret, he seems like his old self.
Again, Walter was fucked up on acid all night, but easily the coolest part of tonight’s episode was the Monty Python-inspired animated segment. While on the island, Olivia asks Walter if he remembers what the password might have been. It is at that point that the giant Monty Python fingers pluck Walter from the real world and dump him into Terry Gilliam-land. It takes him to an animated factory, led by a frog, a puppy, a sea horse, and the green fairy. They leave the factory and encounter a knight sleeping against a tree. Walter takes a key from the knight (an “evil” version of Walter), uses it to unlock the tree, and takes a black umbrella from a group of infants. He is then dropped into a tube and delivered to the real world with the password: Black Umbrella.
Hell, just watch it:
Now the Fringe team has to figure out what secrets Michael holds that can help them defeat the Observers.