Fringe 5.06 "Through The Looking Glass And What Walter Found There" TV REVIEW
IF YOU'RE YET TO SEE THE EPISODE, STOP READING NOW! SPOILERS LIE AHEAD
Writer: David Fury
Director: Jon Cassar
THE ONE WHERE Walter goes out on his own to recover the next part of the world-saving plan from a pocket that's been created between the two universes – a bubble where the laws of physics are a little topsy-turvy. Meanwhile, Peter starts to enjoy the benefits of being implanted with Observer technology.
VERDICT Season five takes a turn for the odd, with a trip into one of the freakiest bits of sci-fi in Fringe 's history – and that's saying something. We'd been wondering if another universe might come into play in the Observer-led future, but we'd been expecting the return of Fauxlivia and Walternate, not an all-new bubble universe that exists in the membrane between the two dimensions. Trust Walter to find such an ingenious place to hide the latest clue on his Betamax odyssey – a world where up is down, time is wibbly and wobbly, and (most annoyingly) electronic equipment doesn't work properly. It's like a cross between Wonderland, Labyrinth (this borrows a couple of visual tricks, such as walls that aren't really walls) and Doctor Who episode "The God Complex", and it revels in its weirdness. Even the lighting is slightly off kilter.
Indeed, if the episode doesn't quite live up to the rest of the season, it's more to do with its lack of urgency than a shortage of ideas. The first 20 minutes are almost pedestrian, as Walter goes out by himself to find the latest clue, performs a bizarre dance to find his portal, and meets a man (Cecil) who's been trapped in the pocket universe for 20-odd years. (Luckily for him, it's only felt like five days – that's time bbubbles for you.)
The pace picks up somewhat when Olivia and Peter follow Walter through the looking glass, and the Observers pick up their trail. We see a new side to Walter as he puts the plan ahead of the unfortunate Cecil's wellbeing, but then gets riddled with guilt that the bits of his brain reinstated in "Letters Of Transit" might be changing him into a less sympathetic human being. It's yet another new character beat for Dr Bishop, and neatly paralleled by Peter's own rapidly altering cerebellum. It's exciting to see Bishop Jr doing a Matrix and showing off some neat teleportation powers thanks to his new Observer powers. But what price will he have to pay come season's end?
ETTA LIVES ON Last time it was posters, now it's the side of a building. You've got to admire the tenacity of the resistance – not least for getting the image on a rather inaccessible bit of wall.
DID YOU SPOT? The signs on the room doors in the bubble universe are the glyphs from the Fringe credits .
OBSERVING THE (LITTLE) OBSERVER Well, we're assuming the bald boy is a junior Observer – the resemblance is rather striking. The kid first appeared in season one episode "Inner Child" (1.15), discovered alone under a derelict building. He later forms an empathic bond with Olivia. Presumably Walter doesn't remember him because of some timeline issues caused by Peter's hopping in and out of existence. (Or maybe it's just a case of Walter being Walter.)
SPECULATION Who is Donald? How much does he know about the plan? Was it him who took "Observer kid" away and left the radio? Could Donald be the as-yet-unseen-in-season-five September?
TRIVIA DIrector Jon Cassar was a regular on 24, and helmed the first two episodes of Continuum .
TRIVIA 2 The title is based on the works of Lewis Carroll. The full title of his follow-up to Alice's Adventures In Wonderland is Through The Looking Glass, And What Alice Found There – not, as many believe, Alice Through The Looking Glass.
NITPICK Why was an Observer able to use his gun in the bubble universe to kill Cecil, while Olivia's weapon was only operational Over Here?
PETER'S SKILLS So, it seems having Observer tech in the back of your neck has its perks, as Peter's learned how to fight like Neo in The Matrix , how to teleport, how to see portals to other dimensions and how to see the world in a blue hue. Actually, we're not sure that last one is much of an advantage – maybe the lack of colour the Observers see in the world explains why they're so miserable? That said, was that a hint of a smile on Windmark's face when he realises Peter's implanted himself with the Observer device? Whatever Windmark's thinking, we get the feeling that some of the side-effects of Peter's new toy won't be entirely positive. Could extensive hair loss be next? (See Best Line)
Observer [to Peter]: "I know what you have done. You have made a grave mistake. You do not realise what is happening to you."
Fringe airs on Sky1 in the UK on Wednesday nights at 10pm, and on Fox in the US on Friday nights.