Review: 2.09 Snakehead


Review - 2.09 SNAKEHEAD

Welcome to the FB review of the Fringe season 2 episode 9 – Snakehead. In this review I present my honest opinions on both the good and bad aspects of the episode. I also take a look at the answers and unresolved mysteries, before sharing my thoughts on other aspects which may have been overlooked.

THE GOOD

Hey Waltron, have a taste of your own medicine ;)

Astrid. A shining beacon if light. It was great to see her getting out of the lab and involving herself in the main storyline. She received a healthy dose of character development which is what we’ve been wanting for months. Not only is Astrid brave but she’s very forgiving – and this time, I bought it. I thought Jasika Nicole did very well with every scene she had, particularly the lead up to her embrace with Walter.

Out and about. I really liked seeing Astrid and Walter in China Town. It was good to have a change of scenery and add a splash of color to a show that can look rather bleak at times.

Real world issues. I guess it was interesting to see Fringe deal with a real world issue as murky and topical as human trafficking. It’s not as important, in the world of the show, as the fabled gate opening, the Observers or that thing we call “The Pattern”, but I appreciate the effort.

Some cool special effects. I’m beginning to detect the budgetary constraints that Fringe is having to deal with, but credit to the SFX department for some nifty work with the squealing worms.

THE BAD

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Went too far in making Walter look pathetic over very little. I appreciate that Walter is still a deeply flawed character, and that setbacks are part of his journey, but I felt that this particular setback came from left-field. He was doing fine and then he went into meltdown far too easily. It wasn’t as though he was lost in China – he was in China Town, and he clearly knew which bus he needed to get back home. Why didn’t he save his money for the bus? Why did he waste it trying to phone Peter!? Why didn’t he seek help? How could he forget that Peter’s number was in his pocket? Sure, these are all things that could happen to a person like Walter, but it felt too contrived. It’s as if suddenly cutting to a scene where Walter is freaking out makes the situation believable. I understand they are making a point of Walter being lost without Peter, but having Walter crying on a bench because he can’t remember Peter’s number is not the same as his anxiety over Peter’s numerous kidnappings, seeing original Peter’s grave, returning to St. Claire’s, or any number of other situations he’s been in. It just felt a bit much for his actual predicament, which wasn’t that bad, considering.

To be fair to Walter, I will say this – maybe his despair wasn’t so much at being lost, but at the fact that he couldn’t cope on his own? Perhaps that realisation was more powerful than anything he’d been through in a while? To be so dependent on a child must be quite gutting for a man of his standing. But I maintain that the lost in China Town plot didn’t carry the weight that some of Walter’s previous break-downs have.

If this episode didn’t take place, it wouldn’t have mattered. And that’s something I’ve had to say far too often this season. It was all rather minuscule compared to the drama from the previous episode, or the overarching story that has me so captivated. As always, I appreciate the subtle hints to Peter and Olivia’s parent-issues, but the crumbs are not enough when the cake is so tasty. I mean, there’s a gate to the other universe being opened by shape-shifting soldiers who are responsible for the death of our beloved Charlie Francis, who, in this guise, tried to murder Olivia Dunham. I don’t think it’s unfair of me to want at least some tie in to the main stories, the one’s that actually matter?

Lack of genuine tension. Just like Broyles’ ‘near-death’ scene from Of Human Action, I was never in any doubt that Peter would be OK in his worm ordeal. How many times has Peter been kidnapped/held hostage now anyway? Seriously, he must be getting the hint!

I’m not asking for Peter to be killed or anything that drastic. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be a sense of real danger. One problem I see is that we rarely get into the psyche of the characters when they’re in tight situations, and the scenes are often far to short. Sometimes you just need to spend some time on a scene. One excellent comparison I’d like to make is this torture scene from LOST. Sawyer, a similar ‘wise-ass’ character to Peter, yet we’re allowed into his head-space. I fear that Fringe will always struggle with suspense in the “case of the week” episodes, there’s just not enough time to build up any sense of tension because the reset button will be hit by the 42nd minute.

Olivia. I think this the first time she’s featured in our “bad” section? I’ll have to check on that later. Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore Olivia, she’s one of my favourite characters, as such I expect quite a lot from her. In this episode she caught my eye not because of her fabulous nuances, her dare-devil attitude, her incredible depth, but because she was quite..unremarkable. In a bid to turn Fringe into the “Peter Show”, I think Olivia (and Walter) has suffered somewhat. There, I said it! Throughout this episode I had to ask myself, “who is the FBI agent here?”. This is nothing against Peter, I’m quite fascinated by him this season and I’m glad they’re giving him more scene time, but I do worry with how the show struggles to facilitate the main characters at the same time. I wouldn’t have thought it’d be too hard since there are only 3 main leads. Again, Olivia D is a fantastic character, but ever since her momentum was deferred..she ain’t quite been the same.

Contrivances. Every show has them but I do think Fringe takes a few liberties with its story mechanics. For instance, how did the Triads find Walter’s lab before Astrid had even arrived? Why doesn’t Walter have a mobile phone? Why doesn’t Fringe Division have tighter security measures (that razor blade trick must be the oldest in the book)? The problem with this episode is that it made me question the things that I shouldn’t have to notice. Perhaps the casual fans don’t care? Perhaps that’s the point?

The side characters. I didn’t care for them. Not one of them. In fact I forgot about the husband and daughter until Olivia made a very forceful point of reminding me that they mattered to her. I know that these characters aren’t that vital in the grand scheme of things, but I just feel that Fringe could make better use of the pieces it has in play. So far this season none of the side characters (aside from Tyler and the various shape-shifter incarnations) have made an impression on me. That’s a lot of characters who don’t matter squat. For comparison’s sake, contrast this with last season when we had the likes of Sumner, Kohl, Grayson, Dashiell, Esterbrook, and others – most of these characters were one episoders and yet I still remember them as contributing to their respective episodes. Can we say the same for any of the side characters in this episode, or indeed, season?

As an aside, I think the show also needs an antagonist to provide that on-going threat/intrigue. Last season we had Jones. Since Evil Charlie died we’ve had no-one.

A man without an office. I know the show has suffered budget cuts with the move to Vancouver, but seriously, Broyles really needs an office. We’ve gone from park benches to meeting under bridges now? The shape-shifters must be really worried, huh? On the flip side, I kinda like that our team are rolling ‘bare bones’ – it’s almost if our team are so strong they don’t care about trivial matters such as espionage! :) But I miss Broyles’ snazzy office that overlooked the FBI headquarters. Perhaps he can borrow Alter-Broyles’ office for a while, or maybe he can room-share with Olivia down at the Lab? (I detected envy in his eyes when he saw Olivia’s set-up). In all seriousness though it’s beginning to tell – a professional outfit like Fringe Division need to start acting like one, or they need to go rogue. Which is it?

ANSWERS

When they said Fringe would have wormholes, this isn't what I thought they meant!

  • People were used as vessels to transport and incubate parasitic worms from China to the USA. The worms were used for medicinal purposes and sold on the black market for insane amounts. The worms apparently needed human hosts to grow within the time it took to reach USA.
  • Peter can speak Cantonese. (and he wants Olivia to know better – why writers, why?)

UNRESOLVED MYSTERIES

  • How did Broyles’ arm heal so quickly after that gunshot wound he suffered couple of episodes back?
  • What happened to the kid who needed the worm-meds to treat his illness?
  • What’s the deal with Peter’s mom? Alive, dead, sick?

FRINGE THOUGHTS

Walter, it's Gene. She's...

  • This customary allusion to the alternate universe theme:

Walter: “It never ceases to amaze me the infinite variation that mother nature gives us. She truly has quite a disturbing sense of humour”. One would think that Walter, of all people, would be grateful for mother nature’s quirkiness – he got a replacement son out of the deal!

  • Astrid thinks mother nature is a “real bitch”. They do like applying the b-word  to nature don’t they. So that’s physics and now mother nature – check. By the way, I loved the evil-eyes Astrid gave the worm as it swam in the tank, it implied something – a rare sign of contempt from the lovable Astrid? Nice little moment.
  • I found Walter’s self actualizing interesting. He seems to understand that in order for him to reach his full potential he needs to satisfy some needs first. For me, his most pressing needs are regaining his independence and being close to his son. Two needs which often conflict with one another. Question is, if and when Walter obtains these needs will it be a good thing or a bad thing for society? This of course brings into focus the real reason for him being in St. Claire’s. (I think there’s more to it than the death of a Lab assistant).
  • Trust was an important plot point in this episode. In our episode review for “August”, I mentioned how without Peter’s trust, Walter has nothing. Walter seems to realise this, as it was Peter’s lack of trust in his father’s capability which pushed him too quickly into ‘doing things for himself’. Whilst this is a different kind of trust to the one which will no doubt blow-up when Peter discovers that he’s from an alternate universe, I did find it fascinating. Particularly how it ended with Walter basically conceding that he’s not ready for the big bad world, and relinquishing his freedom by installing a tracking device into his neck. (most random moment of the season for sure!). I kind of dug that though – this was Walter looking at the bigger picture, this was him looking beyond his immediate needs by realising that trust has to be earned. (Also, I hope the tracking device plays a role in future episodes – I see no point in Walter going all “GPS” on us if it doesn’t have a bearing in future).
  • When I heard the word “manifest”, I got excited. My unbridled joy at a possible ZFT tie-in was short-lived, however.
  • The cries that the worms made – absolutely terrifying. Thanks Fringe.
  • Astrid: “Walter, you’re not smoking this thing!”. LOL! Astrid is made of win.
  • Broyles and Peter’s relationship continues to improve. Ever since Peter gave him the shape-shifters transformation device Broyles has been far more open with the information he shares around Peter, and more accepting of Boy Wonder’s opinion. Interesting.
  • So characters on this show do check caller ID before answering their phone? Olivia really should take a leaf out of Peter’s book – it will save all those embarrassing slip-ups when it’s Broyles and not, say, Ella who’s calling her.
  • I love how dramatic Astrid is here: “he [Walter] lulled me into a false sense of security!”. Be fair now, he hardly lulled you, Astrid! I guess she’s not quite over the needle incident from last season after all. ;)
  • Walter’s lack of memory serves to remind us why he doesn’t remember everything about the past. (although personally, I get it already).
  • The episode served as an allegory for how much people will risk to live in a ‘better world’. Illegal immigration and people trafficking is a topic which could be given wider perspective if and when the shape-shifters ever get around to opening that gate. On a very basic level, I get the impression that there are those over here, who would risk it all to be on the other side – the typewriter salesman who’s “not waiting around forever”, is just one example.
  • It’s good to see that the Bishopmobile has been repaired.
  • Peter brings his lock-picking kit with him wherever he goes..you know, just in case.
  • Peter: “I was raised by my mother too. Scary. You realise that if you lose her, then you have no-one”. Coupled with Walter saying that Peter’s mother was “brave” a few episodes ago, does this further hint that she is, or was, sick?
  • Could Olivia and Peter have been less concerned about a battered Astrid? Maybe it’s just me but I thought those two could’ve expressed more concern (like call an ambulance). Instead they left her to pick the glass out of her hair and tidy up the Lab. Olivia showed more investment in finding the husband and child of that woman who she doesn’t even know. Poor Astrid! When Walter’s your best friend at work I guess you’re in trouble.
  • I really like it whenever a sleeping Peter is woken by Walter. They do those scenes well. It seems so symbolic of their journey, with Peter being oblivious to what Walter did to him, yet on many levels being more awake than his father. I just like the idea of what it truly means, in Fringe, to be awake. After all – “life is but a dream”, right.
  • I’d like to know how Walter whipped up that transponder, with visual display, so damn fast!?

FINAL THOUGHT

Son! I've found it, the key to opening the gate!

I’ve come up with a new approach when watching Fringe. From now on the show actually takes place in two worlds – Fringe and Fringe2. In one reality there’s the exciting, fun and thought-provoking serial that drives the main story (Fringe). And in the other reality we have the stand-alone freak-of-the-week cases that feature the odd hat-tip here and there to the main story (Fringe2). I consider “Snakehead” to be well and truly in the latter camp. I could have slept through this episode and not have missed a thing apart from some nice character development between Astrid and Walter. As I’ve said before, I don’t think the show can afford to ignore its strengths for too long. Yes, the stand-alone episodes are still better than most things on TV, but I don’t believe it’s asking too much to want the show to fulfill it’s potential? But like I said, this episode took place in Fringe2, so I’ll bear that in mind.

I guess it’s because I’m invested, because I’m able to view this show as a serial rather than a flick-chart, that I still found value in an episode which – to be fair – does improve after a second watch. It’s the relationships which impress me most – seeing these characters bounce off one another as they encounter problems and find solutions is often intriguing. With Peter and Walter I sometimes I feel that they take one step forward and two steps back. But their end scene was quite touching. I do wonder how much longer Walter can keep Peter in the dark though? In many ways Peter is the only light that Walter has, but eventually he’s going to have to risk it all and tell him the truth:

“I’ve been out of the institution for a year now, and I’ve just begun my journey back to being whole. But I fear there are still times when I will get lost.”

Such wonderfully brave words from Walter. To be so honest with himself, and to an extent, Peter, deserves a lot of credit.

I always like to take a moment to consider the episode title and how it relates to events. Snakehead is another easy one, referring to the Chinese ‘people trafficking’ gangs of the same name.

Best Performer: Jasika Nicole

Best Moment: Walter and Astrid’s embrace.

If You liked Snakehead, you’ll like: “Unleashed”, “Night of Desirable Objects”.

Episode Rating: 7/10

Comments

  1. YeeYang1 says

    Actually, Astrid said, “I don’t need an ambulance and she was fine”. Watch the scene again.

    @In a bid to turn Fringe into the “Peter Show”, I think Olivia (and Walter) has suffered somewhat.

    Wow, just wow. Last season was the Olivia and Walter show and Peter Bishop was doing abolsutely nothing, he had no story, no relationship, was left in the lab all season and nobody whined but yet now that peter is doing a lot more, Walter and Olivia suffered? Please.

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  2. Adi says

    I don’t see how this is becoming the “Peter show”. They always seem to have those episodes when one of the three lead characters is the focus of that episode. We’ve had episodes with Olivia being the focus this season, as well as Walter. But I don’t see how having Peter being the main focus of an episode (which to me this seemed more like a Walter episode) is an attempt to turn it into the “Peter show”.

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    • says

      I should probably qualify what I mean by the “Peter Show”: While we’ve had episodes where Olivia or Walter have been the main focus, it seems that season 2 has been more about Peter than any of the other main characters. Personally, I’m glad they’re giving Peter more involvement, but in doing so the other characters have suffered slightly, in my opinion. It was a similar situation last season when Olivia was the focus. I hope they find a way to faciliate multiple character arcs at the same time.

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      • Queenbee says

        I’m not sure why its a problem now that Peter is given the attention that he deserved last season while its OK that Olivia was the focus in every single episode since she is the lead. The only person in the “trio” who suffered was Peter. They could have made Peter much more likeable, they could have given him his own arc but no, it was all about Walter and Olivia. Peter gets the most criticism and now that he is actually doing something, he gets criticized yet again.

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  3. Xochitl says

    I liked the episode a lot! Here is what I think: if you have noticed this season we have had some episodes with the constant “what parents do for their children”, I think they are developing this and Peter/Walter relationship because it’s needed! How would you feel or see the show on the whole if you have no background to this relationship or examples, that would be a not logical evolution.

    The office thing: on season one we had how many moles? Loeb, Sanford Harris, c’mon, if you had that quantity of moles and you know that shapeshifters can infiltrate your office and you would not know maybe is safer to have your meetings outside the office, and the key players on this divison are at the lab, so, why do you need to go all they way to the federal building?

    I liked Walter’s reaction and meltdown, for me it was very logical, the writers are trying to make a point of how lost walter would/is going to be after Peter finds out, he is basically lost wihtout his son, so we can figure out the rest on that relationship after the big revelation; and older people do tend to act like this.

    In another part of the blog I have already mentioned that at the end everything it’s going to be connected, and I mean everything. sometimes the show feels like too slow, but I have seen Alias, not every episode was about rambaldi, they did have character development, I have never seen lost (please don’t kill me) so I don’t know how it worked there, and the show has the right to make mistakes, I just like it too much. ;), it is also a show with more than two people (x files) so they can focus on a character and, okay not forget about the rest, but yes put them aside for a while, and it’s really the first time Olivia is on the background due probably to the fact that she was doing other scenes.

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    • says

      Someone who thinks more like me! Yey! I was starting to get worried…

      I was thinking, although it´s NOT an excuse to never mention the shapeshifters and Charlie again, maybe the “reason” the writers are doing this is because we are not following Olivia home everyday like it was in season one. And because Olivia is no longer our Harry Potter, we don´t see the FBI so much either…

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      • says

        About the office thing… Fringe division was almost closed. They kept it alive because of the shape shifter device, but it doesn´t mean that they are loved now. I think Fringe Division got a little rogue, and they leave the “weird stuff” between themselves and use the FBI thing because they need to. Since season one I think that Broyles responds more to something other than the FBI since he got over supervisors and pretended not to hear people above him (and there´s that meeting when he introduced his new crew to a bunch of people which included Nina Sharp… Who are they?) I think the FBI is secondary now…

        And Olivia´s partner, now, is Peter, and although he is a consultant, he can´t be stuck in the FBI with her (and he looves to use the card, she is a fed, me, not really). I like the fact that the lab is the heart of the show.

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      • Xochitl says

        yeah, I agree, the thing is since I watched x files ( sorry to keep comparing them) I’m kinda use to them jumping that kind of repercussions, like showing our main character actually grieving over a friend or the repercussions of a desease, one of the things I like fringe is because they make and effort, like the cane after Olivia’s crash, the sling on Broyles arm, in fact I was very surprised to see in Night.. that Peter went to pick her up and that comment on the episode, I thought it would be Rachel’s job :( Glad we think alike.

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    • says

      Here is what I think: if you have noticed this season we have had some episodes with the constant “what parents do for their children”, I think they are developing this and Peter/Walter relationship because it’s needed! How would you feel or see the show on the whole if you have no background to this relationship or examples, that would be a not logical evolution.

      Hi Xochitl.

      I’m not asking for zero backstory or character development. I just think there are better ways to tell these stories. Giving us crumbs of the larger arc or ‘bookending’ episodes with ‘good bits’ isn’t the only way to supplement character development. In my opinion it’s harder to build character development in the stand-alone episodes than it is in the serialized episodes. I appreciate the stand-alone episodes for what they are, but in my view, there are far too many of them, which hinders the momentum of the story.

      The office thing: on season one we had how many moles? Loeb, Sanford Harris, c’mon, if you had that quantity of moles and you know that shapeshifters can infiltrate your office and you would not know maybe is safer to have your meetings outside the office, and the key players on this divison are at the lab, so, why do you need to go all they way to the federal building?

      While I accept that as a possibility, I honestly don’t think the writers have thought of this as their reason for a lack of office for Broyles. I mean, we’ve seen the FBI quarters and the interrogations rooms (as recently as this past episode), so why not Broyles’ office? If the writers were using the threat of infiltration as a reason for Broyles not having an office for 9 episodes, I think they would have thrown in something to let us know – a line from Broyles, or something that would inform us that this was the reason.

      I think that Broyles doesn’t have an office because they don’t have the set from last season. That said, I do like your idea and perhaps the writers should find a way to tie that into the show – at least then we’d have some semblance of an answer for the park bench picnics!

      I liked Walter’s reaction and meltdown, for me it was very logical, the writers are trying to make a point of how lost walter would/is going to be after Peter finds out, he is basically lost wihtout his son, so we can figure out the rest on that relationship after the big revelation; and older people do tend to act like this.

      I get that, but I don’t think it was particularly necessary or as on-point as some of Walter’s previous meltdowns. They basically cut to a scene of Walter freaking out without any build-up to it. I would have preferred for them to save this meltdown for a more meaningful episode – one where they had time/logistics to give it greater impact.

      Again, I agree that this kind of freak-out could happen, but it came across as being rather hollow to me. (although I think Noble did a good job).

      and it’s really the first time Olivia is on the background due probably to the fact that she was doing other scenes.

      Oh, I agree. (Although I’d say that Olivia has been subdued for quite a while now). My issue isn’t so much that Olivia isn’t the focus, rather that by giving one character more attention (i.e. Peter), the other characters suffer for it. I mentioned Olivia in this particular episode because I really noticed how much her role has changed in relation to the way the story is written/formatted. I have no doubt that she’ll shine again, my main concern is whether all 3 main characters can shine at the same time for more than one episode.

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      • Xochitl says

        Hi Roco!

        “In my opinion it’s harder to build character development in the stand-alone episodes than it is in the serialized episodes. ”

        OK, I agree with you on that. I had the opportunity to watch season 1 in a row when I bought it on DVD, and at some point on the show I thought ” Hell, everything has to do with these three people”, which was weird until i remember they were there for a reason, and yes they do need to move a little bit faster with the larger story, but I’m not so dissapointed now since I found out yesterday they are going to be 22 episodes, they kinda give them more time.

        “I think that Broyles doesn’t have an office because they don’t have the set from last season. That said, I do like your idea and perhaps the writers should find a way to tie that into the show – at least then we’d have some semblance of an answer for the park bench picnics!”

        You are completely righ on that one.

        ” I have no doubt that she’ll shine again, my main concern is whether all 3 main characters can shine at the same time for more than one episode.”

        To be hones, I do have noticed some changed on Olivia, like she is not her anymore (not a shapeshifter, I mean) like if I had missed something, a change, in her personality and she seems weird, I don know if this is due to the acting or what, but I do believe you will have your shine of the three characters at the chritical point of the season (af the big revelation), that’s why I say everything is connected, like if they are indeed developing the characters for that precise moment.

        I love your reviews and I usually seem to agree with you, but lately, and I say this with respect, like we are watching two different shows.

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  4. annon says

    Just chiming in to say, that this show has always been either the Walter show or the Olivia show. Peter comes in a very distant third. Yes, he has had his episodes this season, which have been long overdue. However, ultimately those episodes haven’t been about him, but him helping the others. The season opener was him looking after things, only because Olivia was out of action.

    Personally, I think this season has been the Olivia show from episode 1 through to 5 and now we are on the Walter show from 6 through to 10. I welcome Peter’s increased involvement this season, because to me this show is about the core three/four including Astrid and how they deal with what’s happening around them. However, we still no very little “about Peter” – his shady past, his relationship with his mother, why he is like he is. We need to see that, to be invested in his character. We see him helping those around him/caring about those around him, but it is never really about him. I just hope this stuff is coming sometime down the track, because it’s become really jarring now. Him not knowing his secret, also is hinging on being unsuspenseful. If they drag this out for too much longer, I don’t think viewers will care.

    This was another episode continuing the development of Walter. While I love Walter and enjoyed seeing his relationship with Astrid evolve, the writers seem to be only keen on developing him at the moment. The development of Olivia we had at the beginning seems to have stalled, with the arc of Walter starting. Hopefully next week will start that again for Olivia. However, it looks like Walter will be front and centre again as well.

    Totally agree on the way too many MOTW episodes this season, with hardly any tie back to the overall mythology. I think they overplayed “the pattern and ZFT” last season, because we got it every episode nearly, that now they think they can’t mention it again, because of the criticism.

    The relationships that are portrayed on the show, are the only thing saving it at the moment. The relationships are beautiful to watch, like in this episode. However, this season they’ve gone too far the other way from season 1 (where there was not much character development). They need to find the balance of both, if this show is to survive I think.

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    • says

      I think they overplayed “the pattern and ZFT” last season, because we got it every episode nearly, that now they think they can’t mention it again, because of the criticism.

      You could be right on that (though perhaps they had to in order to drive the Jones storyline?). I do think ZFT is still a major part of the show though – at the very least the doctrine should be, what with Bell, the coming storm and all that jazz.

      They need to find the balance of both, if this show is to survive I think.

      I agree, at the moment the show seems to lack balance..continuity.

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  5. Count Screwloose says

    I also enjoyed the reprise performance of “Van Amburghs Menagerie” from last season’s “Unleashed.” This is obviously Walter’s go-to tune to keep the fear away. Why do I get the feeling we will hear it again in even more dire circumstances?

    And with all those snazzy cell phones snapping open and shut for 42 minutes, you’d think they could afford to give one to Walter.

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  6. says

    Very good review, as always, but I disagree in some aspects.

    Contrivances: The triad didn´t get there before Astrid; they got right behind her. We see her coming into the lab, we see the worm´s tank, she goes to the back, when she gets back, they are there, getting the worm out of the tank, and preparing to give her a hard time.

    Walter being lost and the tracking device: I don´t think that Walter being lost and melting down was too much. That´s our Walter, he is still a mess and he´s trying to be whole again and that´s difficult. I think that he was more upset in not remembering Peter´s number then on being lost and that´s why he spent all his change with the phone. We have to remember that Walter is not whole, he is a little bit like a child and a grown man in one, and that´s difficult. I see old people having a hard time with that without having the i-was-druged-and-isolated-for-17-years thing.

    Now, the tracking device… Not random at all. First is one of that crazy yet brilliant ideas that Walter gets. A sign that he understand his process is long and that he needs to be independent and yet safe at the same time. And, to me, that tracking device will appear again and again. And the first time it does may be our next episode.

    The other things I disagree I already made my point in others comments. And I understand part of the frustration from the fans, but I think it is a little exagerated and that the show is still fantastic.

    I´m playing the role to defend the show in here, be another non frustrated voice in my favorite Fringe source of information…

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    • says

      Contrivances: The triad didn´t get there before Astrid; they got right behind her. We see her coming into the lab, we see the worm´s tank, she goes to the back, when she gets back, they are there, getting the worm out of the tank, and preparing to give her a hard time

      Hi Luana,

      Fair point, you’re probably right on that one! I had to call it as I saw it – the scene probably didn’t come across as succintly as they would’ve liked, but your answer makes sense.

      Walter being lost and the tracking device: I don´t think that Walter being lost and melting down was too much. That´s our Walter, he is still a mess and he´s trying to be whole again and that´s difficult. I think that he was more upset in not remembering Peter´s number then on being lost and that´s why he spent all his change with the phone. We have to remember that Walter is not whole, he is a little bit like a child and a grown man in one, and that´s difficult. I see old people having a hard time with that without having the i-was-druged-and-isolated-for-17-years thing.

      I agree that it must be difficult for Walter, but I don’t think that’s reason enough for the audience to necessarily buy any situation the creators give us. I have to stick to my guns on this one because I don’t think this scene was as good as some of the other Walter-freak-outs.

      I mean, we all get that Walter still struggles, we all get that he’s still finding his way – but this scene didn’t really give me anything that I didn’t already know and it seemed a bit of a waste. I thought that his meltdown in 2.07 came across better because Walter had no option but to fear for the well-being of his son, and the events in the episode drove that story. Whereas this episode seemed entirely constructed for the ‘Walter getting lost’ plot. And even then, he had options – he could have saved his money, hailed a cab, checked his pocket, phoned the police, phoned the operator and asked for Harvard’s phone number, walked to the Lab, asked the woman for a few dollars to get home, etc. I think that’s my main gripe – he had blatent options, but the writers ignored those options because it suited the story they wanted to tell. That’s part of writing, but I felt this scene was too transparent in the way it was constructed.

      I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one. :) Part of the beauty is that we all see things differently and that’s cool.

      Now, the tracking device… Not random at all. First is one of that crazy yet brilliant ideas that Walter gets. A sign that he understand his process is long and that he needs to be independent and yet safe at the same time. And, to me, that tracking device will appear again and again. And the first time it does may be our next episode.

      You didn’t find that slightly random? Wow, I thought it was waay random :) To just go and inject yourself in the neck with a home-made tracking device like that, and to wake Peter up to let him know rather than waiting until morning..

      BTW, I’m not saying that I disliked the idea – personally I thought it was fantastic, it made me laugh out loud. But I still thought it was unexpected.

      The other things I disagree I already made my point in others comments. And I understand part of the frustration from the fans, but I think it is a little exagerated and that the show is still fantastic.

      See, I think many fans show their frustration because they care about the show as much as the fans who choose not to air their frustration, or those who love every episode. I think that most of us here think that Fringe is fantastic, that’s a given.

      You’re right in that sometimes, as a fanbase, we are overly critical, but it also goes the other way. Personally speaking, I think that it’s important that the show is supported, but equally important that the show improves so that it can stay on the air longer. Sometimes I think it’s important to question a creative decision – even if it’s to eventually find a logical answer. (for example, my question on how the gang members found the Lab before Astrid arrived – now I have an answer that makes sense and I’m happy with that).

      Hopefully, through the fandom’s collective voice of support, loyalty, appreciation and constructive critcism the show can become stronger than ever.

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      • says

        Hi Rocco. Just one other comment about what you said:

        “You’re right in that sometimes, as a fanbase, we are overly critical, but it also goes the other way. Personally speaking, I think that it’s important that the show is supported, but equally important that the show improves so that it can stay on the air longer. Sometimes I think it’s important to question a creative decision – even if it’s to eventually find a logical answer. (for example, my question on how the gang members found the Lab before Astrid arrived – now I have an answer that makes sense and I’m happy with that).”

        I agree and I think is beautiful that people see Fringe in different ways. I really like your blog and I think that the people who comment here have interesting points of view. But, I am a bit concerned how the frustration due to some parts of the show seems to make some don´t appreciate the rest. I know that everyone here still loves the show (although Pedro is thinking of changing that), but I want to play the role of defending second season, because I´m liking it and to bring some balance to Force ;)

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        • says

          I think that’s a fair point Luana. It’s partly why I try to watch the episodes twice, where possible, so as to get a better sense of what the episode means and where it fits in the grand scheme of things. As I mentioned in the review, the episode felt stronger to me on the second viewing, and even though this was far from my favorite episode, I do appreciate it for what it is.

          Speaking personally, I expect so much from Bad Robot because I know what they’re capable of and I want them to take Fringe to the next level. I hope you keep airing your opinions though, because just like the show the fandom needs balance – which is why we have comments systems and forums for people to share their various views and perspectives. : -)

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  7. charliefan19 says

    Good review, Roco…I always enjoy reading your Fringe thoughts cuz it makes me think more while I’m watching the show. :)

    I like Peter/Walter the best, so I like all the extra Peter stuff this season, but I think I’m more than ready to have more of Olivia. She’s been way too “FBI” to me lately…I want to find out more about what kind of abilities she has.

    And how about Sam Weiss? I actually really liked him and kinda hoped he’d be in more episodes. Hmmm.

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    • says

      Glad you enjoy them charliefan!

      And how about Sam Weiss? I actually really liked him and kinda hoped he’d be in more episodes. Hmmm.

      Yeah, I’m about ready for some more Sam Weiss.

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  8. Julissa says

    Just had to say i really enjoyed this episode one reason is because i actually live like 10 mins walking distance form Chinatown haha and it was cool seeing streets ive become used to seeing everyday, but i do have to say the red door doesn’t exists in real life my brother and i passed by the next day and tried looking for it but all there was, was a glass door.

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  9. says

    for the first time in fringe history I have to disagree, I really think this episode was one of the best stand alone episodes of the whole serie, I really loved walter reactions he was so walter, being alone in an unknown emvironment and don’t know what to do, showing anxious behaviour is very logical behaviour for someone who is never been lost for around 20years I dont know what you expected but its completely made sense for me
    and about astrid scene they were gonna call ambulance and it was astrid who didn’t let them
    it was a stand alone episode like many other episodes in first and this season, it wasn’t anything extra ordinary in this one you can consider many episodes which if they didn’t take place it wouldn’t be matter
    the poll before your review showed most of people, something like 80% gave this episode a score more than 8, it means they just loved it because they get used to what fringe is
    and I guess you are so mad at stand alone episodes this season but in previous season they happened and you loved them
    I assume that night you were just not in the mood
    I have to add this point that I really love your reviews and observations since the very first episode of the show and I appreciate what you have done for this show so far I just have some disagreement with you in this single episode

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    • Reflection says

      I can’t speak for Roco, but for me personally, the reason Walter’s reaction didn’t make sense was that we never saw when Walter started to get agitated. I can understand his reaction to realizing he was lost. But we never saw him realize he was lost. Walter was perfectly happy and content when he was by himself and we first saw him in Chinatown. Then he purposely abandoned Astrid. I had expected to again see him happy and enjoying his time in Chinatown, and pleased with himself for managing to escape Astrid. But instead, the next we saw, he was frantically trying to call Peter and unable to remember his number. It felt abrupt and unexpected. What caused the sudden change in his attitude? It just felt like we missed something — like something should have happened to set him off, but we never saw that.

      I personally don’t mind the stand alone episodes, but for some reason I wasn’t too thrilled with this one. It’s not that I thought it was terrible, but I just thought it wasn’t as good as some of the other episodes this season.

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      • says

        thanks dear friend
        whether you like this episode or not its a matter of taste I don’t want to have discussion about this matter but about walter’s reaction at first he has a plan for what he’s going to do and he had prepared himself but when he saw astrid his plan ruined and he just came back to his regular walter who is fully depend on sb else and when you omit that sb else without any prepared plan walter just become that person we all saw, I justify his reactions by this logic

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      • Jodie says

        Walter didn’t purposely ditch Astrid. They were waiting for their drinks and he spotted some cricket boxes and rushed off to see. I saw it as he just got distracted. It was Astrid’s opinion that he did it on purpose, but he didn’t. This is why I think Walter became so upset and tried to call Peter: he’d lost Astrid. So by the time he’d used all his change, he realized that he overreacted and had his meltdown at the bus stop.

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        • Peanut says

          He got distracted, wandered off, & got lost–just as a child would do. I think that is when he realized that he wasn’t ready to be on his own & later implants the tracker device.

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      • says

        I can’t speak for Roco, but for me personally, the reason Walter’s reaction didn’t make sense was that we never saw when Walter started to get agitated. I can understand his reaction to realizing he was lost. But we never saw him realize he was lost. Walter was perfectly happy and content when he was by himself and we first saw him in Chinatown.

        Yep! I have no problem with John Noble’s acting in this scene, or the idea of Walter reacting badly to getting lost. But the scene had little build-up and padding. As you mentioned, I think that the scene would have come across better had actually shown that gradual realization. Maybe they cut it out for some reason?

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    • says

      Hi MiLaD, thanks for your comment.

      Fair point with Astrid telling Peter/Olivia not to call an ambulance, that one went right past me. I’ll still stand by my point though – I felt that they could’ve expressed a bit more concern at one of their colleagues being attacked in the Lab, of all places. I don’t think the episode depended on this one thing, but on a personal level I would have liked to have seen a bit more ‘togetherness’ from our team. Astrid is the youngest of the group and I’d like them to look out for her more – maybe that will change with Walter’s realisation?

      I should also add that I did have problems with many of the season 1 standalone episodes. I think I was easier on some of those episodes because the show was still finding its feet. I feel like the show now knows where it’s best footing is but chooses to ignore it for large periods.

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      • QueenBee says

        What did you expect Peter and Olivia to do? Give Astrid flowers and balloons? I don’t get it. How much concern were you expecting them to give Astrid? She was alive, she was only banged up a bit (nothing life-threatening) AND Peter asked Astrid before he left “Astrid, are you SURE you’re okay?” and even Olivia stayed behind to help Astrid.

        its not like Astrid was so beaten up to the point where she had to go to the hospital.

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  10. Techman9 says

    I have to disagree with your no bad-guy statement. What about the guy with the headphones symbol on his head? he seems pretty bad to me.

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    • says

      But as of “Snakehead” he’s had 10 seconds of screen-time and his existence has barely been mentioned by our ‘gate-keepers’. I agree that he has the potential to be an antagonist, but we really need to see more of him and his people.

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  11. Mercury says

    My question is of a simple nature. Why was Walter in a robe when Peter found him?
    Why did his clothes need to be washed? Did I miss something?

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    • says

      Perhaps there’s more to this than meets the eye..

      It was an odd moment though. I’m surprised she even invited him home, considering she couldn’t understand what he was saying (at least the show made it seem that way).

      I’m also wondering whether Peter tried the noodles, as recommended by Walter.

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  12. says

    Man, I dug this episode for what it was – but I still wanted more story-arc. I feel like Fringe is wasting its potential time and time again. As a writer myself, its so frustrating to watch what could be an amazing serial with the occasional weekly standalone be almost the opposite. Why, oh why? It’s especially frustrating since I love the show so much. I mean, this show could really be killer.

    I imagine the GPS tracker wasn’t “whipped up” but something Walter had. Most mad scientists tend to have that kind of thing – or he could have gotten it from the FBI under false pretenses. It’s the tracking thing a lot of TV FBI cars have. He just surgically implanted this one.

    I was also very put off by Astrid’s frailty and don’t think it would have detracted from the pathos to have her put up a fight. Walter wouldn’t have known this and he still could have been all worried. And there could have been a nice parallel with him when Astrid tells him she’s tougher than most people give her credit for – she can succeed on her own.

    Walter dressed himself. In black and greys. Are we to suppose he’s only been wearing the whites in the past episodes because Peter has been selecting his clothes?

    Despite my disappointment, I really hope the writers are setting things up for a big second half of the season – where things happen and we go “ooh, that’s from that scorpion boy episode and it was actually important!”

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    • says

      I imagine the GPS tracker wasn’t “whipped up” but something Walter had. Most mad scientists tend to have that kind of thing – or he could have gotten it from the FBI under false pretenses. It’s the tracking thing a lot of TV FBI cars have. He just surgically implanted this one.

      Good point, I could buy that. I still think it’s random to implant the tracker into his neck..but random in a good way. :)

      I was also very put off by Astrid’s frailty and don’t think it would have detracted from the pathos to have her put up a fight. Walter wouldn’t have known this and he still could have been all worried. And there could have been a nice parallel with him when Astrid tells him she’s tougher than most people give her credit for – she can succeed on her own.

      Interesting. Astrid putting up a fight may have been a bit hard to believe given what we’ve seen of her character so far. Had it been Olivia or Amy, I’d have definitely expected the Triad to have come out of there with a few teeth missing.

      That said, you’d think that an FBI agent would be able to handle herself to some degree. (and Astrid has been brave in other areas – handling various creatures, forgiving Walter, etc). Perhaps it’s time to give Astrid a gun..or maybe she can go ‘bowling’ (aka Jedi training) with Sam?

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      • says

        Good point, I could buy that. I still think it’s random to implant the tracker into his neck..but random in a good way.

        I hope I quoted correctly. I found it hilarious, personally – in the random, good way you describe. But still so “Walter.” I love Walter.

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      • charliefan19 says

        Jedi training with Sam – ooooh! Yes please.

        The first episode of Fringe that I watched was season 1 episode 3. For the longest time I thought Astrid was some braniac student from Harvard recruited to assist in the lab. Of course the idea is ridiculous, but I wasn’t really paying much attention to her unless Walter called her “Asteroid” or something like that. :D

        Anyhoo…she has always been an assistant more than anything to me. I have a hard time envisioning her with a gun – it was mind-boggling enough watching her drive a car in 2.7, lol. If she’s an agent, why was she crying after getting knocked on the head by the bad guys? Wouldn’t she have a bigger handle on that kind of thing emotionally? I don’t know. I just thought it was kind of weird.

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  13. Pedro says

    7 out of 10? Really? You could’ve plunked down any detective group into this story line in the place of astrid, peter, olivia and walter and not miss a beat.

    My main complaint with this episode (aside from not being part of the overall story) is that it felt “non-fringe” like.

    You could’ve put Cagne and Lacey in this episode and it would’ve just been a little off.

    Rocco, I’ve never had an issue with your review, but as some say I am too hard on the show. I think you went way soft this time around. 6 of 10 is a stretch, but do say 70%, bah-humbug.

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    • says

      After my first viewing I gave it a 6.5. :)

      I agree with its short-comings as this is probably my least favorite episode of the season (along with NODO and DL), but I think a 7/10 reflected my overall impression of the episode. As others have also mentioned, I think Astrid pretty much elevated this episode.

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      • Pedro says

        Okay, I just rewatched the episode. I’ll raise mine up from 4/10 to 5.5/10 because Astrid was really brilliant in this episode and she is an often untapped resource. It would be cool if she turns out to be a Cortexiphan kid too.

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  14. Frobozz says

    I’ll one-up you a bit on this…instead of the two shows called “Fringe” and “Fringe2″ I’d say it’s more like “Fringe” and “X-Files.” Seriously. The more I re-watch Season 1 of the X-Files the more these standalone episodes remind me of the X-Files. The pacing is much slower, for one. And sadly, the characters can just be popped out and replaced with Mulder and Scully. That’s what bugged me so much about “The No Brainer” back in S1, I kept thinking I’d already seen this episode before (or rather, the formula). And yet another almost-standalone episode like “Inner Child” worked and worked well..it was still tied to the Pattern but wasn’t dominated by it.

    There’s a fine line to walk here and the Fringe team haven’t figured it out yet. At least with the X-Files monster-of-the-week episodes, there was often a little crumb or thread related to the whole “mytharc” of aliens and invasions. The Fringe stand-alone episodes are TOO stand-alone. At the bare minimum at the end of the day Mulder or Scully would mumble something about the x-files, but we’re not even getting that with Fringe season two. We have the Pattern so why aren’t they talking about it? Mad Chinese Science or Mad Russian Science should somehow relate, you’d think. And there’s MORE than enough to talk about related to ZFT.

    I guess it boils down to context. With the monster-of-the-week episodes on the X-Files you still saw Mulder and Scully in context…Mulder aching about his sister, his obsessions with aliens and the X-Files…Scully with her skepticism and her religion. The characters were in context, even in the non-mytharc episodes. With Fringe season 2 we’re not getting that, not even token stuff like “broyles got shot last week, where the hell is his bandage.” We’re not even getting a casual nod to the shapeshifter captain that Olivia let escape who supposedly poses such a huge threat. The fringe stand-alones are way too stand-alone. You could hit “mix” on your DVD player and watch them in a random order and it wouldn’t matter.

    But let’s wait till thursday. Maybe Shapeshifter Boss will be the next David Robert Jones?

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    • says

      I guess it boils down to context. With the monster-of-the-week episodes on the X-Files you still saw Mulder and Scully in context…Mulder aching about his sister, his obsessions with aliens and the X-Files…Scully with her skepticism and her religion. The characters were in context, even in the non-mytharc episodes. With Fringe season 2 we’re not getting that, not even token stuff like “broyles got shot last week, where the hell is his bandage.” We’re not even getting a casual nod to the shapeshifter captain that Olivia let escape who supposedly poses such a huge threat. The fringe stand-alones are way too stand-alone. You could hit “mix” on your DVD player and watch them in a random order and it wouldn’t matter.

      I pretty much agree with that. The stand-alones are way too stand-alone (“Fracture” and “OHA” being the exceptions for me).

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  15. Gillian says

    (and he wants Olivia to know better – why writers, why?)

    Of course there is the obvious shippers reference with this line but I think the writers are hinting about he’s background. He thinks he knows himself but when the truth comes out surely he will ask himself the question “who exactly I’m I”

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