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Review: Fringe - Grey Matters

by Jane Boursaw, posted Dec 11th 2009 1:46PM
Fringe, Walter Bishop, Grey Matters
(S02E10) "I don't do Valium nearly enough. I'll have 50 milligrams please." - Walter

More Walterisms like the one above, as well as a few reveals and a nice cliff-hanger into the second part of this season, which picks up January 14. So far, every episode in this season of Fringe has psyched me up for what's to come, whether it's a seemingly stand-alone ep or something that carries us forward into the alternative universe. Things don't sound too good over there. In fact, it sounds a little apocalyptic. Now I'm curious to take a look myself.

Fun view of the inside of someone's brain, but I felt bad for Walter and the other folks with the scars. Imagine having someone remove or implant brain tissue into your head. So one of the reveals is that William Bell/Dr. Paris had taken the tissue of Walter's brain that stored the information about how to get to the other universe. But someone already knows that, right? Because Olivia was transported there (as far as we know) and others have apparently gone back and forth since then (or got fatally caught in the middle).

Once again, I loved the interactions between Walter and Peter, and Fringe is as much about the characters' relationships as it is about the sci-fi alternate universe stuff. Peter telling Walter he should have visited Walter at the mental hospital more often, Walter brushing it off, and Olivia telling Peter he was making up for it now. I agree -- Peter seems like a devoted son now, and the scene where it looked like he might lose Walter was heartbreaking. And nice tension with Olivia giving in to Newton's demand to give him the cell phone, but gaining crucial info on what order the three vials should be given in order to save Walter's life.

I was trying to remember where I'd seen Sebastian Roche, who plays Thomas Newton. He has a bunch of movie and TV credits, but I know him from playing Jerry Jacks on General Hospital. And of course, he was in Fringe's "Momentum Deferred" episode earlier this season, as well.

Trying to piece together the info on the other patients who housed Walter's brain tissue in their own brains (and went mad in the process). Like the woman who was obsessed with the number 28 and the guy who was obsessed with numbers in general. Apparently, this is all crucial info on opening the door to the other universe, but as always, I welcome your thoughts on this.

Heartbreaking to watch the pictures shown to Walter after he was hooked up to the head gear (and his other brain tissue); Peter as a boy, Peter in a casket ... it'd be great if there was some big, surprising reveal about all of that. I think most of us are expecting the current Peter to be the one from the other universe, but maybe that's not really the case.

And as mentioned at the beginning of this review, things don't sound too good in the other universe. A blight killed the plant life there. I'm looking forward to seeing for myself what's up with that. And everyone in this universe has something they probably wished they could get back, including Broyles (maybe he wants his wife and old life back), who told Olivia that she'd made the right decision in letting Newton go in order to save Walter, that it was a rational choice and not an emotional one. "There's only one Walter Bishop, and we'll be needing him before this is all over. And don't be so hard on yourself. we're going to be needing you, too."

The last scene, with the flashback of William Bell hovering over Walter ready to remove his brain tissue:

William: "I wish there was another way, but what you've accomplished ... it's just too dangerous."
Walter: "What if we have to go back?"
William: "Don't worry ... your memory ... I'll put it in a place where only I can find it ... you designed a door to the other side ... I want you to think about that door ..."

So it sounds like Walter was a willing participant in this venture. I look forward to your thoughts on this episode.

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Jeff

Guys,

Let's try to put the debate to rest about whether this is Alterna-Peter or not. Unless the writers are intentionally, overtly misleading us (which would be lame, in my opinion), it's pretty well established at this point that Walter stole his son from the other side after his "real" son passed away. We saw his headstone, for God's sake, in the season finale.

This sets up the obvious emotional conflict when Peter does finally find out the truth, not to mention the growing possibility that the other Walter, seething with anger over the abduction, just as smart and NOT "burdened" by our Walter's mental afflictions, will turn out to be our big bad.

December 14 2009 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
PORSCHE

I told my wife... If walter accessed his long term memory to tell someone something then the short term memory is going to remember that... then the short term memory is going to store the info where ever new long term memories go. i know he doesn't remember a lot or correctlly.. but he knew the numbers in peters phone number... just not the correct order.

Some good questions about if the bell who crossed over has relationship with himself or bishop over there.. but i wondered if it is so bad there.... why stay?

I don't think Bell knew how Walter made the doorway. I bet Walter hid he was trying to go steal an alternate Peter.

December 14 2009 at 8:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GerryofNorVA

For those of us wishing the series would focus on the alternate dimension plotline I would direct your attention to Broyles' statement to Olivia near the ep's end: "I suspect this is the way it's going to be, the more answers we get the more questions they lead to." I think this is the writers telling us they intend to dribble out clues instead of giving us "reveal" episodes, ugh.

December 13 2009 at 5:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

I can't believe that NO ONE has caught on that the end of the show that it was NOT "Belly" that Walter saw but instead it was Dr. Paris! Watch the ending again and watch for these clues:

The nurse tells Dr. Paris that the patient is ready now. The Dr. asks if he is drug free (remember the valium?) and she says yes and that the electrodes are in place (so they can monitor Walter's brain waves while he's being questioned). When "Belly" appears to Walter, he appeals to Walter's fears by reassuring him that it will be ok and then goes RIGHT into telling him to remember about the door and thinking about how he created the door. Walter then closes his eyes and starts thinking and the scene then ends. That is practically confirmation that he was being manipulated into revealing his memories to Paris IMHO! I watched the scene a second time and it looked even more to me that he was being deceived and duped into giving up the info to the enemy.

That would certainly explain William Bell's sudden appearance and the odd conversation that Walter remembers having with him (as well and all the speculations that everyone here has posted). Tell me what you guys think, is it just me that sees this???

December 12 2009 at 11:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michael's comment
bruce

Clearly Bell was using the alias "Dr. Paris." But it seemed to me that Walter submitted to the brain removal procedure voluntarily, per an agreement with his buddy Bellie - for the safety of all mankind. Walter seemed nervous about the procedure (who wouldn't be), but not like it was being done to him unwillingly.

As others have noted, at this point we know to a certainty that Peter is actually the Peter from the "other side"... taken by (this side's) Walter when the Peter from this side died as a boy. When Walter had his whole brain he got somewhat mean, we know he was not a great guy prior to the mental institution. I think the Walter Bishop on the "other side" is the ultimate bad guy, infuriated at our Walter for stealing his son and intent on taking him back and either destroying, or taking over, our world for revenge.

December 13 2009 at 7:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Caro

I'm thinking maybe the Peter on "our" side is still the original one. We learned that he was very sick as a child, maybe Walter saved him by sacrificing the alternative earth Peter, organ transplantats or something. And a.e. Walter being the evil genius behind everything makes sense for me, in a Fringe kind of way.
I hope they go for a 3rd season, otherwise they might have to rush quite a bit to answer all the questions and tie the lose ends up.
All that stuff with Olivia and Peter/dead Peter? and the Watcher guys and the overall danger from the other side and I'm hoping for some character development on Broyles and Astrid too. Seems quite a lot for just a half season left.

December 12 2009 at 3:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

Maybe this side's Walter is the evil Walter. He did steal another's man son. Perhaps Bell/Paris lobotomized him (so to speak) to arrest his evil?

How does Bell exist on the other side? Isn't there a Bell there too? What's his relation there with other Walter?

December 11 2009 at 7:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
st3v3n

This is what i got from the whole "door" thing:

As it stands, the only way to get to the other side, and back, is through a portal. such is the one we saw in the first season, and how olivia got thrown to the other side and back. however, they are dangerous, and temporary. usually only one person going through. lots of side effects afterwards, as we've seen.

what i think is different about what walter created is that it is a door, something stable. that you can use at will, with little to no possible side effects. this would come in handy when transferring universes a lot, or for transferring an army.


pretty much speculation, but it seems to be where they're heading.

December 11 2009 at 6:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to st3v3n's comment
LC

It's pretty good speculation as we saw last season when the main baddie used Walters data and old equipment to open a door to the other side. The door that Peter closed when he was halfway through.

The door is definitely the key as they are using a crude way to come across now. One in which they need to have high levels of mercury in their system just to remain stable.

December 11 2009 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Gunter

Two things:

If Peter is the Peter from the other side then he was spared what is beginning to look like a really terrible situation there full of plagues and the like,which is also a somewhat obvious reason to invade our side.

When Walter had his whole brain he became rather sinister acting.Could it be that the full brained Walter on the other side is a really bad guy?

December 11 2009 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to David Gunter's comment
sid

So why did William Bell get to keep the information about the doorway, but Walter didn't?

December 11 2009 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sid's comment
Chris

I think thats one of the reasons why he stays on the other side.

December 11 2009 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bruce

This show is great and starting to get even better. Unfortunately, pursuant to Fox's long-term, perennial business plan, this means they will cancel it any time now. This last episode was fantastic, which basically guarantees there will be no season 3 of Fringe.

On another note, I forget her name, but whatever happened to that young female FBI agent who appeared in the first episode of this season (she helped Peter when Fringe Division was closed down). The last we saw of her, she was reading a bible. I was under the impression that she'd be a recurring character but we have not seen or heard of her since. Or did she get killed and I somehow missed it?

December 11 2009 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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