Fringe Review: Welcome to Westfield ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Review: Welcome to Westfield

      Email Post       2/12/2012 04:42:00 PM      

“You folks lost?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”

This is an episode that could have gone either way: horribly disappointing or deeply satisfying. Standalones and trapped-in-a-town narratives can provide a welcome relief from an overarching mythology, or a frustrating sense that the writers are dragging their feet. Somehow, “Welcome to Westfield” didn’t have either of those results at all: the standalone elements were so evocative of so many other episodes, and the final surprise was so darn exciting that the relief I felt wasn’t at the break from the mythos, but at the sense that we are finally, finally getting somewhere.

We can think of Westfield itself as something of a metaphor for Season Four. We thought we were going somewhere, leaving behind old stories to pick up new ones, at the end of Season Three, just like Peter and Olivia thought they were leaving town. But we wound up looping back around on ourselves, meeting new iterations of Olivia, Walter, Astrid, etc., and in some ways re-living old cases with new twists.

But the Westfield situation resolved itself, albeit with a few smooshed people as casualties. And now it looks like the erased timelines/reversed timelines/new timelines confusion is starting to resolve. Olivia has her memories back, or is merging with the version of Olivia we knew in seasons 1-3, or something else. I think she’s merging with seasons 1-3 Olivia, with the caveat that seasons 1-3 Olivia (Originalivia?) hasn’t existed, properly speaking, since the end of Season Three. Cliff said that the people in the high school needed hope above all. And now we, the viewers, have hope, too.

That’s awesome. Thank you, Mr. Jones! That is, if I’m right. And if whatever’s happening to Olivia doesn’t somehow cause, y’know, the end of the world, which it just might. Do you think Jones created the Westfield situation to force Olivia’s merger? Was the plane crash just to get their attention? Questions. Happy, happy questions.

And: how tragic would it be if the Machine’s new purpose is just to re-set the world yet again, creating a constant loop in which Peter must, again and again, return to a foreign world and re-assert himself, coming closer and closer to a solution but never quite reaching it? (And if that reminds you of a certain book series, you’ve guessed correctly what I am currently re-reading.) That’s a sad, sad question.

Hopefully the events in Westfield indicate that a more stable solution is forthcoming. Some people in the town did survive, and Cliff emphasized just what makes their survival possible: family and the love that binds people together. The intersection of the deeply personal and the scientifically impossible is one of the hallmarks of the Fringe universe, and it looks like we’re finally approaching a smooshed solution to the questions that have been plaguing us for weeks: just what’s going on, and what does it mean for our beloved characters?

The Magnificent Rooster:

• Walter: “Needs more butter.”

• Broyles: “Welcome to Vermont.” For some reason, I thought this was hilarious.

• Two quibbles: Cliff needed a blood transfusion, but then got magically better. And schizophrenia isn’t the same thing as multiple personality disorder.

• Walter on the high school PA. I’d do exactly that if given the opportunity.

• Walter was already acting like Originalter by leaving the lab. Maybe Olivia isn’t the only one who is changing.

• Cliff got loaded with a lot of exposition, but the actor really made it work.

• Two rows of teeth! Ewww! (I have tooth issues.)

• No Lincoln Lee. Sigh.

• I could list all the episodes of Fringe and other shows that “Welcome to Westfield” reminded me of, but the list is too long, so I’ll let all of you put your own in the comments.

This is a hard episode to rate. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. And it looks like it’s heading us towards a much longed-for solution. But there are many, many unanswered questions. Maybe I’ll revise my opinion after next week’s episode, but for now, I’m going to offer this rating, free of charge:

Three and a half out of four rhubarb pies.

(Josie Kafka reviews episodes of Fringe, Vampire Diaries, and Game of Thrones for


Anonymous said...

1) The airplane crash wasn't Jones drawing/forcing interest from Fringe. And certainly not to lure Olivia(s) to a merger. New timeline Olivia had old timeline Olivia's romantic dream 18 hours before she arrived in Westfield. The plane crashed because, like the vehicles, it was influenced by the extreme magnetic side-effects the amphilicite devices were causing.

2) Reset the world. Yes! Maybe. (i dont know). Jones has a bunch of Amphilicite left to use. Maybe his goal isn't city bashing but rather planet bashing. Maybe he levels both Earth's to the point that it seems (carbon dating-wise) like the flattened planets are 200 million years or more younger. That would explain the machine surviving and those (First People) that were protected by the machine when Jones flattened everything. They dismantle and bury the device, and then mark it using modern coordinate systems. Of course this is a repeating cycle over billions of years.

Zepp said...

I particularly liked this episode. Fringe In my view, has a few - who also enjoyed - episodes in the line of stand-alone serving, I think, as a "bridge passage" for the story line that is being told. Among others, I remember one that went something like this, whose name was "Northwest Passage", near the end of the second season, where, in my view, has little to do with a plot Fringe, in which Peter , solve the kidnapping of a policeman and arrest a murderer, and after that it will, along with Walternate to the universe red. And from this episode "middle separately," the story line changed, went to other courses. With this episode "Welcome to Westfield," I think it should happen the same thing, ie, a change in the line of the story of Fringe. I say this, reminding me of the final scene, where Peter, astonished, finds itself face to face again with "their" Olivia. So, I think, that, one way or another, it changes again, the storyline, or the "arc of the story" of Fringe, which, I am a big expectation.

Chris F said...

I think this was my favourite episode of the season - and I think it's the kind of episode Fringe needed to be doing for the last year or so to keep the show off the bubble. Monster-of-the-week style of all the successful procedural TV shows (e.g. NCIS), yet lightly tied in to the mythos as to why this storm was happening. It moved the main 3 characters forward enough to be satisfying as well.

I loved season 1 of this show. I became addicted in season 2. Season 3, however, was losing me as it went along...I think they painted themselves into a plotline corner in late season 3 with taking the love triangle to an absurd level (baby and the Walternate plot for it's DNA). Season 4 had started disappointingly slow but over the last few episodes seems to be catching their groove. Too bad the show will be canceled, but I'll really enjoy the last 10 episodes if they keep this quality up.

Christoph said...

i burst out laughing as well with the Vermont partner thought i was weird

Mark said...

I've read every review here but never commented before. The Dark Tower reference blew my mind. I really hope it doesn't go that way!

Zepp said...

Two thoughts, more.

1 - @Cris F - I do not know if I understand well. Perhaps that is my difficulty with the language, which is why I apologize, but when you said: "... Too bad the show will be canceled, but I'll really enjoy the last 10 episodes if they keep this quality up..." It was an affirmative or a prediction, yours? I do not know, but I think the opposite. I do not think Fringe can be canceled at the end of this 4th season, and I have reason to believe this. Audience figures keeps firm in three million viewers live, also keeping and with a slight rise, the rates of DVR, advertisers in the episodes are being kept in number and quality, and all this in a Friday night! If Warner to accept the proposal from FOX (or vice versa), the show will continue, so I hope;

2 - The Observer September said: "Olivia, you must die!" Yes, and I think "this" Olivia, we were watching the course of this 4th season truly died in this last episode. Olivia we know well, and that Peter loves, back in the last scene of the episode "Welcome to Westfield," I see. In this line of reasoning, I venture to say that Peter wanted to go home, but I think it's the home that is slowly coming back to Peter.

But these are just thoughts, I want to share.

Chris F said...

@Zepp - the President of Fox said ”We lose a lot of money on the show. At that rating, on [Friday] night, its impossible to make money. We’re not in the business of losing money… [But] I’m not doing the soft cancel here. That’s another decision we will have to make."

TV By The Numbers says it is a toss up:

I hope the show stays on the air but right now it does not look good. So I am trying to enjoy each episode while I can....

Briar said...

”We lose a lot of money on the show. At that rating, on [Friday] night, its impossible to make money."

Which leaves unanswered the question of why they put Fringe on a Friday night, and why they don't promote it far more energetically. It crept back onto UK screens last week without any fanfare (well, may there was one, but I only watch Sky for Fringe so wouldn't have seen it, and the reminder I set on their home page wasn't activated and the Radio Times had nothing about it apart from a small picture of Peter with the usual episode teaser), shows once on Wednesday night and then disappears deep into insomniac time for the repeats. Much of the audience here has to be watching it time shifted. All of this suggests a show they are burying, not promoting, so if it doesn't make money, Sky has only itself to blame, not the fantastic makers of this great show.

Unknown said...

I think the plane crash was a throwback to the first episode of the series, in which olivia and peter first met. Essentially it happens here again in this episode.

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