TV REVIEW A town called panic(opens in new tab)
"Welcome To Westfield"
Writers: JR Orci, Graham Roland
Director: David Straiton
THE ONE WHERE Olivia, Peter and Walter investigate a small town where the laws of physics have been turned upside down – so much so that it’s impossible to even leave.
UNIVERSE Over here – orange credits.
VERDICT Integral to the show’s arc plot while still being a strong standalone story of the week, “Welcome To Westfield” is proof of a show at the top of its game. It also puts its lead characters in genuine peril, as they’re trapped in a town that’s being forced to overlap with its counterpart in the other universe. (Maybe this was the wrong day for Walter to reverse his policy of not leaving the office…)
While the split personalities and gruesome body horror of merged bodies (the sort of stuff Fringe traditionally adores) make sure regular viewers aren’t kept guessing about what’s going on for long, this is more about the human impact of the overlapping universes than solving any mystery. Indeed, could the perpetrator be anyone other then David Robert Jones? The episode is also packed with visceral imagery, from a guy with two faces to a town being trashed by the storm from hell, and evolves into a wonderfully tense “survivors against the apocalypse” scenario.
The parallels between the merging brains of the townsfolk and Olivia (unrelatedly) gaining the memories of her counterpart in Peter’s timeline are also brilliantly and subtly played – and give Walter a chance to wheel out his ever-sensitive bedside manner (see Best Line).
SPECULATION What on Earth is David Robert Jones trying to achieve by destroying Westfield? Presumably, with his massive stash of amphilicite (no, it’s not a real substance) he’s trying to either bring the two universes together or – more likely – destroy one of them.
REFERENCES 1 Walter compares Westfield to Brigadoon, the magical Scottish village from the musical of the same name – it was saved from destruction in exchange for the residents never being allowed to leave. It’s a theme repeated throughout fantasy, though – notably in the inferior fairytale shenanigans of Once Upon A Time .
REFERENCES 2 Olivia refers to the case in Edina, where the disfigurements of an entire town were masked by an electromagnetic pulse. This took place in season two episode “Johari Window" – seemingly in both timelines.
TRIVIA Scriptwriter JR Orci is the brother of Fringe co-creator and Star Trek co-screenwriter Roberto.
OBSERVING THE OBSERVER He’s visible at the beginning of the episode, a spectator (next to the oil tanker) as the plane crashes on the outskirts of Westfield.
Walter: “No, Olivia’s blood was fine. Did I fail to mention that?”
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