Fringe Rewatch: 2.19 Once Upon A Bong

Welcome to the rewatch for episode 19 of Fringe season 2 – “Brown Betty”. Join us as we scamper through the wild imagination of Walter Bishop with Peter’s glass heart in our hands and glee on our faces.

We have renamed this episode: Once Upon A Bong.

Newly Observed Perspectives

  • Seeing Ella call Walter “Uncle” always gives me the shivers. It’s interesting to compare Ella’s care-free childhood to Olivia tortured youth at around the same age. Although one could argue that Ella hasn’t exactly had it easy being raised by Olivia’s sister.
  • This episode is mostly useful for picturing the way in which Walter sees the members of his odd little family unit, and the likes of Bell, Nina, the Observers and even Olivia’s sister. My thoughts haven’t changed from the first time round so I wont go into repeat mode, but it’s interesting that his imagination attributes more than an air of danger and hostility to the Observers, and that he portrays them as being employees of Massive Dynamic. Perhaps this is an aspect of his story that doesn’t quite tally with the reality of the show, unless Nina is an even bigger liar than we thought? Or perhaps the Observers do work for Massive Dynamic, but a ‘future’ version of the company, so to speak? But to be honest, Walter was as high as a kite, so I’m not going to give it too much additional thought.
  • Why didn’t Walter include Ella in his fairytale? I mean, R@chel gets a spot but not the person you’re telling the story to, Walter?
  • The alternate endings are a nice touch, I guess (if a bit contrived). They do their thing but they also allude to the duality of the show’s alternate universes. The two endings are a useful way to look at perspective, and the way in which different outlooks can evoke different choices, outcomes..realities.
  • Not quite the least rewatchable episode that I’ve encountered on this journey, mostly because of the unintentional humor, but I’ll leave it at that.

Best retrospective performer: John Noble

Best retrospective moment: Stella.

Retrospective episode rating: 2/10

Useful Links

Next rewatch episode – 2.20 “Northwest Passage” – TBA.


  1. number six says

    Walters mind on drugs is the best place to visit if you’re bored. I love this episode, it’s fun, it’s heartbreaking and everyone looked extremely beautiful. I found it odd that Ella called Walter “uncle” and that Olivia showed no concern in leaving her with him, but this could mean that she trusts Astrid more than I thought or simply that she trusts Walter, in spite of everything.

    9/10 but no more episodes like this, please.

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  2. FinChase says

    Really? A 2/10? This is definitely a standalone, but it’s extremely well done, and I think it deserves better than that. I’d give it no less than a 7.5, and that’s probably ungenerous of me.

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  3. fedorafadares says

    I stand by my initial opinion that this episode alluded to more than we initially thought. Bell stuck on the other side, weird medical technology, Peter’s “heart” — both in terms of allegiance and that he’s the heart of a doomsday machine.

    I really liked this episode, though I’ll concede it was misplaced in those final exciting episodes of the season.

    I’d give it an 8/10 for style and substance.

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  4. Elaine says

    Oh, I loved this episode! I think I’ve re-watched it like ten times since it aired. I still think there was a lot more to gleam from the heart metaphors, and Walter’s suggestion that the Observers may not be as benign as we initially thought.

    The look Ella and Astrid gave Walter as he was singing and dancing to ‘Head Over Heels’ makes me giggle every time.

    Oh, and Anna Torv’s broken, whispery version of ‘Once In My Life’ was plain delightful. Rating: 9/10

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  5. Ann_Louise says

    C’mon Roco!”

    Even with the singing corpses? The creepiest version of “Candyman” I can recall? What’s not to love? I think just having this episode NOT be the disaster I thought it would be earns another star or two.

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  6. Alex says

    I LOVED this episode! I’ve always been a noir fan, and even though the musical stuff was pretty stupid, seeing all that 1920s crime fiction nostaligia was maaaaaaaad! Peter Bishop with gelled hair and suspenders (oh, so suave), Lance Reddick singing (he’s actually really good!), Olivia’s little film noir walks through smokey alleyways, being saved from the sinking coffin, the fights with the observers…need i continue?

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  7. mlj102 says

    This episode may not be the most action packed or the most central to the mythology, but I still find it to be one of my favorite episodes to rewatch. It’s lighthearted and makes me laugh, and it also contains a lot of great themes and allusions and emotion at the same time. Given that we’re in the middle of a Lowatus, I decided I needed to rewatch an episode, and this is the one I chose. After I finished, I realized I never got around to reading the rewatch article when it was first posted, so I decided to come check it out.

    As others have mentioned, I believe this episode is more significant than it appears on the surface. I imagine that Walter unintentionally revealed some important details as he told this story, and I hope that in the future we will look back at this episode and see those things and realize how much it actually revealed.

    One particular line that stood out to me this time around was when Olivia first approached Nina to ask if she knew Peter, and speaking of how Peter and Rachel were supposedly in love, Nina said, “But I can tell you one thing: if he’s pretending to love this woman, he must be using her somehow.” I found this particularly significant given all the speculation lately about whether or not Peter knows about alternate Olivia. Now, I’m not saying this line confirms that Peter must know about alternate Olivia and that he’s using her to get information from her, but I do think it’s adding support to the theory in that it is the kind of thing Peter would do. Of course, as the episode later showed, Nina’s description of Peter was less than accurate and he wasn’t the “dangerous” man that she claimed he was. But I do think this particular line is worth keeping in mind and that we shouldn’t underestimate Peter and what he is willing to do when he feels it’s necessary. He can be extremely convincing when he chooses to be, and he’s good at bluffing. That said, I’m still leaning more towards the opinion that Peter somehow still hasn’t figured out that our Olivia is missing.

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    • runthegamut says

      I agree that there is more to this episode than meets the eye, and I’d love to believe that you are right about Peter being on to Altliv. We’ll just have to wait and see, unfortunately.

      I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but I also think, based on this episode, that Olivia will be integral to Peter’s health. She put him back together, so to speak. I think whatever happens to him, whether with the machine or a recurrence of his illness, that she will be very important in whatever cure needs to happen, and that it will be based on her cortexiphan-enhanced abilities. If that’s the case, the Walter would have unknowingly concocted two cures for Peter. Wild speculation, I admit, but it’s fun to speculate.

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  8. Pierce says

    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    This episode is one of my favorites from S2 for similar reasons as everyone else. It was funny and difference, and while it didn’t appear to have much of a connection to the mythology of the show, I believe it contained quite a few hints and clues that may come back in to play later.

    The actress that plays Ella is adorable. Walter on drugs is always good for a laugh, plus we got to hear Lance Reddick’s wonderful voice. The episode as a whole is just an unexpected treat.

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