“Why are those mice shooting at us?”
The Theme of the Season is a question: how far will you go to save the world? And the answer has been: not too far. Last week, Peter chose to remain a member of humankind, sacrificing his time-reading abilities to stay a son, father, and husband. This week, a trip through Walter’s brain revealed that he, too, wants to maintain the best part of himself. He’s afraid that he has gone too far, now as then.
I was wrong a few weeks ago: I had thought Walter already had the pieces of his brain removed. Actually, he just made a deal for Nina to remove them once the revolution happens. As he becomes increasingly Walternative, the Walterish parts of him remind him of his sins: death, destruction, becoming a destroyer of worlds (a quote that haunts this show every season—and was apparently first voiced by lab assistant Carla).
Walter’s guilt stems from the part his portal-creation played in the formation of this terrible new world order, and the individual people who have lost their lives because of his actions. Keeping the parts of his brain that make him the “Water that was” is a tool and a punishment for what he’s done. The acid trip allowed him (to paraphrase W.C. Williams) “explain himself to himself.” And he does not like the explanation.
I hope he did like parts of the acid trip, because I sure did—especially the Monty-Pythonesque animation, and the way entire events were lost in his forgetful tripping. I also enjoyed the continuity with past season: not just Walter’s guilt over Carla’s death and the scenes from some 1980s flashbacks, but also the returns of Sam Weiss (now played by a cadaver) and the Little Observer.
Michael, as his adoptive parents called him, hasn’t aged since he was taken out of the pocket universe. He also hasn’t said a word. He experiences time differently, which means he remembers Olivia from the alternate timeline. And, hopefully, he will give the Fringe team a chance to actually win this fight in an upcoming episode.
Do they want to win this fight, though? On the face of it, the answer is: yes, you idiot, of course they do—what show are you watching, Josie? But, really, how much do they want to? Peter chose not to fall victim to the “on a journey of revenge, dig two graves” fate of dehumanizing himself to avenge Etta. And Etta’s death is the dominant motivation: our team has very few connections to this new world. It is not their own. Walter wants to make up for the destruction he has caused, but he doesn’t want to lose himself to do so.
Maybe I feel like the team isn’t fully invested in the possibility of success because they so rarely mention it. They find a tape or get a mysterious radio signal, they follow the clues, they lather, rinse, and repeat. But what do they plan to do after the revolution? If I were attempting to overthrow a totalitarian alien invasion, I’d have a list of fun post-revolution activities I’d want to engage in, like eating only the corners of a sheet cake (think frosting) or dying my hair purple. Our team seems to have nothing to look forward to.
• I was out of town this weekend, so I didn’t get a chance to watch this episode until Sunday night, which didn’t give me much time to think through everything that happened. Add your own interpretations in the comments!
• The can opener invention sounds 100% worth the effort.
• Did anyone else think of Indiana Jones in the “papers, please” request and subsequent fight at the dock?
• Not surprising that Walter sees the Emerald City, given his obsession with obliterating the man behind the curtain who lives inside his head.
Three and a half out of four seahorses. (Because I’m an impatient brat and want resolution!)