Review: 2.10 Grey Matters


2.10 Grey Matters - Review

Welcome to the FB review of the Fringe season 2 episode 10 – Grey Matters. 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

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  • Serial and overarching mythology were brought back with aplomb. Every scene carried more weight because it tied into the central arc of the show. The motivations, actions and reactions of characters made a lot more sense as a result. I enjoyed getting to know the shape-shifters more and seeing how their mission intertwined with our central characters. I don’t expect serialized episodes every week but I do believe that more episodes of this ilk are needed in a season.
  • Character involvement. All 3 main characters had a major part to play in this episode, addressing some of our concerns over the show’s inability to drive more than one character-story in any given episode. On first inspection Grey Matters may seem like a Walter centric episode, but in reality Peter’s role was just as pivotal, with Olivia playing a vital part in bringing it all together.
  • John Noble gave us another rendition of the tragically broken Walter Bishop. This has to be one of his finest performances on Fringe to date. One moment in particular, when he seamlessly transformed from the lovable, tortured Walter to the sharp and aggressive Walter of old, was nothing short of sensational.
  • The Walter Position. The episode repositioned Walter back to the center of the mythology and it felt more natural than last season’s attempts to make him the fulcrum of events. This is largely due to the foundations, stories and the mythology that the show has built up over time. The idea that Walter is responsible for the impending war (whether that is actually the case or not)  is now much more believable to me than it was this time last season. This episode is not solely responsible for the show arriving at this destination, but it went a long way in threading the story-elements together.
  • References. One of my complaints this season has been the lack of integration and continuity between episodes. So I was very pleased to hear Olivia say that she’s been researching Laston Hennings Cryonics and the shape-shifters for the past 2 months. It doesn’t make up for the such an important story being put on the back-burner for the past 6(!) episodes but it’s something, and I bought the idea of Olivia doing research in her own time. I’m also glad that she mentioned Charlie, because their relationship deserves that.
  • Central Antagonist. Finally we have a main antagonist who looks set to last longer than one episode! We’ve really missed that since the wonderful David Jones left us at the doorway to heaven. Sure, we have Bell and Nina, but I’m not sure where to place them just yet. They both seem to have one foot in each camp, so a clear rival – at least from our characters perspective, is good for the show. I liked what Newton brought to the game, he is pleasant but clearly driven and resourceful. I like my villains to be smart and I also found myself sympathizing with him. He definitely conveyed the sense that this isn’t a battle of hatred, but rather survival.
  • I loved the way this episode was filmed. The camera angles, transitions and parallels between scenes. For me it’s all about the details and the creativity, and this was the best it’s been since Momentum Deferred.

THE BAD

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  • I thought the sequence of events were a bit predictable, but I still enjoyed seeing the reveals play out.
  • A few contrivances. At times the characters were a bit slow to realise what was going on, but I understand that the creators wanted to guide viewers through the mythology, and it wasn’t so major that it detracted from the episode. I’m less forgiving over the sudden disappearance of Peter’s injuries from “Snakehead”.
  • Lack of discussion. I find it strange that Olivia hadn’t filled Broyles in on what she knew about “The Door” before this episode. Seriously? It would have played better had Broyles known what she was talking about, or if he asked her why she’s only now telling him that information. It just took me out of the episode a bit.

ANSWERS

Does this face ring a bell?

  • The events in “Grey Matters” took place a week after “Snakehead” and 2 months after “Momentum Deferred”.
  • The delusions of the three ‘mental’ patients were actually memories taken from Walter 14 years ago by Dr. Simon Paris AKA William Bell. Bell extracted pieces of Walter’s brain where long-term memory is stored because what he “accomplished (in creating a doorway between worlds) was too dangerous” should the information get into the wrong hands. Consequently, this explains Walter’s on-going memory problems.
  • The episode confirmed our suspicions that Walter’s wild food cravings are borne out of a desire to trigger old memories.
  • We have a name for the shape-shifters leader – Thomas Jerome Newton.
  • The other side is apparently suffering from something called “The Blight”, which has made the grass and the trees die. Presumably, the Blight is an environmental problem caused by Walter opening the doorway from “over here” to “over there”.

UNRESOLVED MYSTERIES

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  • Who froze Newton’s head?
  • Who, specifically, are Newton and the shape-shifters working for – who is their leader?
  • How did the shape-shifters find out about Walter’s tracking device?
  • Why do the shape-shifters have to open “the door” from our side? Wouldn’t it be easier to open it from their side? Fair enough they needed Walter’s knowledge to create the door, but now that they seemingly have that information, why not open the door from their side? Does the door have to be opened from where it was first opened?
  • How do the shape-shifters know about Walter’s memories and Bell’s ‘hiding places’ in the first place? Bell said that he was going to put it in a place that only he could find.
  • Did Walter tell Newton how to open the door off-camera? I’d say yes, although there’s also a chance that Newton retrieved the information he needed once Walter’s pathway’s reconnected.
  • Why did Newton allow Walter to live? Does he know that Walter will be needed later on? Also, what would have happened if Olivia didn’t catch him – would he have phoned her to tell them about the antidote? Or was saving Walter a decision he made on principle once he had made a deal with Olivia? And most important of all, what will Newton do with all of Olivia’s phone numbers?

FRINGE THOUGHTS

Eye don't believe you

  • I’ve said this many times, but Fringe really does build on its themes. This episode was a great example of that with Walter’s hidden memories mirroring the way he split up the pieces of his Diz-rey (teleportation device) in safety deposit boxes to prevent people from using it (“Safe”).
  • I wonder why Newton is so cordial? Is it part of his programming, or has he just got a very cool head?
  • Perhaps I need to go back to episode 2.04, but how is Smither. able to maintain his shape for so long, when ‘Evil Charlie‘ was dying because he had ‘spent too long’ in Charlie’s body, despite topping up with mercury? I’m fearing that this is an error. I’m hoping that I’ve overlooked something, or that this will be explained at a later date. Fingers and toes crossed.
  • Walter says the strangest things, including this subtle remark to Astrid:

“..only the luckiest of people find their way back to the world you live in”

Walter is clearly aware that his perception has changed his ability to function in the world. It also alludes to the idea of different levels of reality. I guess seeing the other side would result in some kind of ascension.

  • This episode had me wondering whether we can use the memory-splice theme for the overarching ‘reality’ concept? Have aspects of reality been stolen, changed or hidden within alternate realies? If the show ever gets that crazy I think that would be kinda neat.
  • I really liked this exchange between Peter and Olivia:

Peter: “The dead don’t get out from the grave and perform brain surgery!”

Olivia: “I know they don’t..but this one did”

It’s as if the writers are encouraging the audience to re-evaluate the ‘impossible’, and that’s what this show is about – things that are unlikely yet conceivable.

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  • Another note-worthy Olivia and Peter discussion:

Olivia: “How can I fight what I can’t understand?”

At first I wasn’t sure about this line, it seemed a bit off. But in retrospect it was important as it reminded us that Olivia is driven by emotions. It also helped set-up the later scene where Olivia caves in and lets Newton go in exchange for Walter’s life. Peter’s response was pretty poignant:

Peter: “This isn’t just your fight”.

Firstly, I love the fact that he left it at that. He didn’t specifically include himself in the fight, even though he clearly meant to. On a writing level I think leaving that response open-ended is a good idea because of what we know that Peter doesn’t. ;) It’s also typical of Olivia’s character that she hasn’t told Peter that Bell said she’d need him by her side.

Furthermore, we could insinuate that the fight is also “ours” – the audience. I feel that the creators want us to take sides so that we become invested. Will they cause our loyalties to switch later on in the series? I think so, especially if Peter joins the other side or begins to doubt his connection to our world. Then there’s the possibility that they could make the other side even more sympathetic, what with The Blight and kidnapped children.

  • Considering her closeness with Walter, I found it interesting that Astrid broke the news about Paris (Bell) visiting him while he was in St. Claire’s to Peter. Is this another indication that Walter will never be treated like an independent adult?
  • Walter was heart-breaking when he told Peter: “I’m not worried about claustrophobia, Peter. What do you think that man did to me?”. Thing is, Walter must now understand how Olivia feels after finding out what Walter and Bell did to her as a child. I felt sorry for Walter, but I couldn’t help but notice the cruel irony.
  • My favorite Peter line of the episode:

“What do you think that’s like for him? Wishing he could turn back the clock to before he went crazy? He’s just sane enough to realise how much he’s lost.”

Olivia’s response killed it:

“From what I know of your father, going crazy made him a better person. It certainly made him a better father”.

I found this interesting on three levels:

1. Olivia has contempt for the old Walter (watch 1.19 where she tears him a new one in the cafe). Even though she can’t remember what he and Bell did to her, she is a product of their experiments and you better believe there’s resentment there. She had no say in whether or not she wanted to become a fire-starting “gate-keeper”. So I can see why Olivia thinks that crazy-Walter is better Walter.

2. Peter and Walter are probably closer than they’ve been for many a time since they reunited. Despite the personal cost to both men, perhaps the gains outweigh all that they’ve lost? Hopefully Peter can take some encouragement from that fact – at least in terms of their relationship. We’re yet to find out where the ‘mother’ fits into all of this.

3. I feel that this plays into the theme of characters acting outside of parameter again. The show is all about people literally going to the fringe of their being and discovering who they really are. We’ve seen it with Olivia, more recently with August, and Peter is a time-bomb just waiting to happen. This episode did a good job of illustrating Walter’s journey to the outskirts of his being. In truth, I feel that he’s always operated on the outer sphere, but it’s interesting that a crazy-Walter seems to represent the better part of his potential.

  • Astrid’s reliability has come into question of late. In the last episode she ‘lost’ Walter and now she leaves him sitting like a duck. I totally agree with Peter though, it wasn’t her fault. However, I do have to take issue with Olivia. She gave Astrid the stink eye when the young agent looked to her for support. Yikes! Adding to my suspicion that Olivia doesn’t think highly of Astrid. (does she have any female friends who aren’t called Ella?). And I haven’t forgotten her half-arsed concern when Astrid got battered in the previous episode. Just sayin’.
  • Evil Walter taunting Newton by asking “How are things on your side?”. That gave me some extra insight into the man Walter once was. It doesn’t quite marry with the friendly Walter we heard on the Olive/fire-starter footage at the end of 1.19. It does however fit the shady Walter who visited..um..Walter in the asylum and the Walter who snatched young Peter from his bed (“Dream Logic”).
  • Screw the lock-picks, Peter sure did bust down a lot of doors in this episode. I can’t help think this was somehow symbolic.
  • Walter delivered one of the best lines ever when he asked Newton: “Are you trying to fix me?”. Wow, just wow.

Walter, your hair smells like lemon drops

  • I thought it was very significant that Peter briefly experienced what it’s like to lose his father (and I don’t mean lose in the sense of “Snakehead”). Later on this may become crucial for him in understanding why Walter brought him over from the alternate universe.
  • Just a personal thing, but I loved Walter’s second “hello son” as he keeled over from the neurotoxin. I just love the way Noble played that. It made absolutely no sense for Walter to repeat the line but it worked for me because in reality he was actually saying “goodbye son”. Fantastic little moment.
  • The electricity theme was back again, this time involving brains.
  • I had to laugh at Olivia’s faux tear upon saving Walter. Like I said, she’s still not over the Cortexiphan thing.

Step into my office, I mean, the park..

  • Broyles says that Olivia made a rational choice in choosing Walter over capturing Newton. I think he’s right. Predominantly this was a decision based on sound reason, despite Newton taunting her for being “weak”. (don’t men in this show ever learn, you just don’t taunt Olivia D!). At first I questioned whether she actually made the right choice. I mean, the stakes were clear – “global destruction of biblical proportions”, versus the life of an insane man who violated her right to choose. But this is a long game, the war hasn’t even started yet, and that gate? It may take a while. Plus we’re going to need Walter Bishop. We’re also going to be needing you Dunham. Love it! By the way, I felt like pulling Broyles’ up for his mistake when he said “there’s only one Walter Bishop”. Oh Broyles, you have so much to learn. ;)
  • I also felt like Broyles was talking to the audience when he said that the more answers we get, the more questions we’ll get. Was this the writers testing the water, warning the viewers that with mythology and serialization comes a heap of questions? I’ll take that thank you. And can someone PLEASE get that man an office!?
  • Did Walter have a smirk on his face as he went back into the MRI scan? I think so. I suspect a trace of old Walter will remain.
  • Walter asking Bell “What if we ever have to go back?”. I’m so glad he said that, it gives us insight into Walter’s guilt over the various consequences of his actions. It’s a natural concern, you always want to leave yourself room for error. Also, Bell seemed genuinely sincere towards Walter. I have no doubt that they were friends, but I do wonder if there was some jealousy of Bell’s part? And vice-versa.
  • No Molebabies were harmed in the making of this episode.

FINAL THOUGHT

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I thought this episode was fantastic. Filled with unforgettable moments which leave me excited for the future of Fringe. It was as if someone finally gave us permission to delve into the meat of the show, the stuff that makes it tick. This episode should be proof that serial and mythology is the way to go. I realise it’s a juggling act and there are quotas to fill but there must be a way to produce more of these type of episodes than the stand-alone variety.

As for the episode title, Grey Matters, is a fairly clear cut choice. The Grey Matter is the major component of the central nervous system. It’s where Bell extracted the pieces of Walter’s memory containing knowledge of “The Door”.

However, Grey Matters also speaks to me on other levels. If I may be so bold I’d like to add a comma to the title so it reads: “Grey, Matters”. Because Grey does matter. Grey is the no-man’s land, the point of no return, the border between uncertainties, the area which is almost impossible to define. Grey is the color of our show – it’s where the impossible meets the possible. It’s the color of the Cortexiphan kids and the Observers. Grey matters alright. So did this episode.

Best Moment: The momentary emergence of old Walter during the brain mapping scene.

Best Performer: John Noble.

If You Enjoyed this episode, you’ll like: The Equation, There’s More Than One of Everything, Momentum Deferred.

Episode Rating: 9.5/10

Comments

  1. streat says

    1. You seem to disagree with Olivia’s assessment of the crazy Walter as being the better-Walter. Though I agree that to some degree, it’s because she probably hasn’t gotten over what Walter did to her, I think that her assessment is logical even without evaluating the emotions behind such a judgment.
    2. I agree, Astrid’s reliability really is getting questionable. Somehow, before she even agreed to leave Walter by himself, I already thought that she was going to agree once Walter suggested it. Maybe it’s because of the last episode, the show has already made me lose faith in Astrid. Personally, I’m not sure I can NOT look down on her, so I believe Olivia’s contempt is justified.
    3. I thought Olivia was just trying to wipe the sweat off her face from the tense moment just before…not tears.

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    • says

      Hi streat,

      1. I agree with Olivia’s assessment that “crazy Walter” (as in our modern day Walter) is the better Walter. Her emotions are indeed logical, since our Walter is pretty symapthetic. However I think that where Olivia’s concerned, she needs to be able to qualify her viewpoint as she can’t remember pre-St. Claire’s Walter. But she can see what he (and Bell) did to her. So I do think that her assessment is emotionally, and perhaps, personally driven. Semantics aside, I agree with you.

      2. I can see where Olivia’s coming from, but I’m thinking that if Peter can forgive Astrid for losing his father, then surely Olivia can spare the poor girl a gesture of support? Did she have to be so frosty? Again, I can see her point of view, but..well..poor Astrid! :(

      3. Yeah, maybe. I just found it funny that she tried a bit too hard to look relieved. ;)

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      • Reflection says

        Adding on to the first point being discussed:

        I’ve seen a lot of people mention how Olivia made that comment about Walter based on her own feelings about what Walter did to her. In my opinion, another factor that I think influenced her comment was her increasing awareness of what Peter’s childhood was like with Walter as a father. She’s known since day 1 that Peter hated his father, and the more she’s gotten to know Peter, the more she’s learned why that was the case. She’s figured out that Walter was a rather neglectful, inconsiderate father. I just think that Olivia’s reservations surrounding Walter are fueled not only by her own experiences of him, but also by what she’s been able to learn from what Peter has implied his childhood was like.

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        • says

          That’s a fair point. Olivia is always watching those two intently, observing their interactions. The people around us do help shape us and our views to some extent, so I agree that Peter has played a part in fueling Olivia’s opinion of Walter. Although, ultimately, I’d like to believe that Olivia is primarily driven by her own world-view. Even if it’s constantly changing.

          On the flip side, should Peter lose faith in Walter for what he did to him, he may need Olivia’s feelings towards Walter to help bring him back to that ‘happy place’ he’s currently at with his father.

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  2. charliefan19 says

    Loved your review, as always…here are a few thoughts from me…

    I know a lot of people wanted Astrid out of the lab – myself included – but please! She looked like she didn’t even know how to use the gun. No offense to Jasika, I love her…but c’mon.

    Yeah um…how did the shapeshifter from “Momentum Deferred” last this long without his eyelids sagging and without buying every thermometer in sight? I appreciated the Charlie mention, though, a lot. :(

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    • says

      Hi charliefan,

      Yeah, it’s interesting how they’re painting Astrid. I’ve never really thought about it before this season, but she does seem to be a bit ‘helpless’ in that sense. I wonder if it have been too difficult to make Astrid tough whilst maintaining her likeability? Personally I don’t mind so much as I think she brings other qualities to the table, and I get the sense that she’s going to develop in that area over time, what with the “war” and all.

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  3. caelum says

    You are overlooking something important about Olivia concerning her decision to let Newton go. She is emotional, this is her character.

    While the result of her action may or may not have been the best result, we must realize that the action was clearly not made on a rational basis. While she may have been thinking about the long-run need for Walter, I didn’t get that impression at all from the scene. I got the impression she was struggling between the rational decision to kill him and the emotional decision to save Walter, I don’t believe her calculation was about two rational decisions. If she made that decisions based on her belief that Walter was needed in the long-run the “weak” comment would not have disturbed her at all. It only bothered her because she knew it was an emotional decision. Olivia often makes intuitive and emotional decisions with little rational basis (given her information, which is limited). This is not necessarily a flaw since her intuition and emotion often serve her well, but I believe many times Olivia’s decisions are based in non-rational thought.

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    • says

      Interesting points caelum.

      I should add that I agree – Olivia is an emotional character.

      Newton’s comment about her being “weak” no doubt hit a nerve, but I think those words would have disturbed pretty much anyone in that situation. Emotions or not, she just let the enemy go, and it was her personal mission to stop him.

      To have let Newton go purely on emotional ties to Walter would have meant that she was willing to sacrifice the lives of 6 billion people just so that one man could live. I’m not saying Olivia wouldn’t make that choice in the heat of the moment, but this is a woman who, at point-blank range, killed her best friend (albeit taken over by a shape-shifter at the time). Olivia runs on emotions, but killing ‘Charlie’ suggests she’s also about more than that, imo. I also have to think that on some level she reckoned that this wouldn’t be the last chance she would get to stop the First Wave, and that the only way of doing so would involve keeping Walter alive – as Broyles suggested.

      I think Page 48 also makes a very good point about Peter’s part in her decision.

      Perhaps it’s a case of a bit of both – emotions and rational thought.

      I just think it was an excellent moment for the show.

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  4. Fringefan1991 says

    In regards to the shape-shifter remaining in the same body for a long time two thoughts come to mind. First, I believe in episode 2.04 that his changing device was different from evil Charlie’s. Smither’s looked to be silver while evil Charlie had a black one. Also, keep in mind that the first wave may be composed of several types of soldiers. It seems logical that the first wave would use assassians (evil charlie able who has to change frequently in order to hide) and inflitrators who purpose is to stay in an area for a while and gather information before shifting and moving on (smithers). Also, I do not believe that Newton that will shift his appearance any during the season because it makes the enemy identifiable. If Newton Changed then Olivia would have to examine every person’s head she came across.

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    • says

      Good suggestion! At least the writers have got that an an out. Although I’d have to wonder why the SS creators would hinder some of their models by restricting their ability to change. Unless it helps them to perform on some psychological level knowing that they can or can’t stay in one body for too long. Or, perhaps, Smith was simply a newer model than Evil Charlie? (not sure how their ageing process works). Hopefully they’ll do more to illustrate the differences between the shape-shifters in time.

      I agree, I don’t think Newton will be changing shape any time soon.

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      • Eileen says

        I always suspected that Evil Charlie was having all the problems because his device was damaged and lost to the Fringe team. Smithers has his device, I suspect the device is used regularly to help the shape shifter keep the current shape.

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  5. Page 48 says

    This is the kind of episode that should roll out every week, IMO. To avoid tackling the main issues each week (or most weeks) does the show a great disservice.

    “Grey Matters” demonstrated that action, danger, suspense, and a few WTF moments makes for a very entertaining hour of “Fringe”. And, yes, no one is more grateful than I am that no molebabies were harmed in the making of this episode.

    I think Astrid was a victim of some cruel writing this week. To lose Walter in back to back weeks damages her credibility as a genius-sitter, if not as an FBI agent.

    Peter has absolutely no patience for closed doors. He doesn’t even try them to see if they’re unlocked. Anyone else would break a shoulder doing what he does each week.

    My impression was that Olivia’s decision to save Walter was as much about Peter as it was Walter. Peter’s take charge approach gave way to begging for help when Walter hit the deck. I think that held a lot of sway with Olivia.

    In an episode this big, I’m surprised there was no room for Nina Sharp. And how’s Agent Jessup’s research going, what with that stolen password and all?

    Roger Cross gets gunned down in the street again. Last time, it was Jack Bauer doing the honours, this time Olivia Dunham. He’s gotta learn to expect the unexpected. I notice that Olivia has learned that headshots are the way to take down a shapeshifter. Everything else just slows them down.

    Bad Robot’s favourite number, “47″ showed up on the timestamp on the surveillance video when Newton’s gang were making their dash for Mr. Slater’s room. They also squeezed in a reference to Sydney (in the guise of Sydney Greenstreet, but we all know it was a nod to Miss Bristow). And, Greenstreet (or Green Street) itself has ties to “Alias”. The “filming location” listed on the IMDB page for “Alias” 1.01, “Truth Be Told”, is the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, located at 300 E Green Street.

    I voted “Grey Matters” as the best “Fringe” episode to date. Whether it truly is or whether it’s just been too long since “Fringe” showed me anything of substance, I’m prepared to stick with my vote.

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    • says

      And how’s Agent Jessup’s research going, what with that stolen password and all?

      I have to say, I expected her to have a bit more involvement by this stage. I guess she’ll come back into it during the second half of the season, unless she’s doing time for stealing FBI data..

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  6. FringeFan2009 says

    I love reading your reviews…
    Just a couple of thoughts on Olivia’s relationship with Walter. I can only imagine, that if I had to work day in and day out with someone that did unethical experiments on me as a child, and whose ideas could potentially be the cause of the future destruction of my world, I would find it pretty difficult to not want to kill the guy. Especially, after seeing what the effects of the experiments done to other people. Olivia was the only one that made it out okay, at least so far. I think that her decision to save Walter is a very important step, indicating that she is in the process of forgiving Walter. I believe however, the trigger for the decision was a reaction to Peter’s plea.

    I really think that this was the best episode this season. Although I liked “Momentum Deferred”, I feel like “Grey Matters” has a lot more substance. Also, I’m really excited about having a new bad guy. :)

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  7. hal says

    Peter kicked down ANOTHER freaking door.. which made me and my friend both burst into laffs whilst watching..we both know.. he’s a door kicking bastard. i hope they incorporate this door kicking gag into every episode

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  8. Thoughts on the Observers says

    Is it possible that the observers are being used to keeps tabs on Walter and Peter and thats why they had pictures of Walter in the briefcase? Did any one spot one in this episode?

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  9. Raphael says

    I think Broyles know why there is only one Walter, he probably “do, or knew someting” about Walter from another world or the Walter from home world…
    is just a opinion, but in the rest I agree with u!!

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    • says

      I would definitely say that Broyles has a few surprises up his sleeve. But I have to think that Alter-Walter is still out there, just because the story seems to demand it at the moment, what with the Peter time-bomb thing. But, you never know!

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  10. Kallikanzarid says

    That was a great episode, apart from a few nitpicks:
    1) The pacing is a little bit too slow. I’d like to see old Walter reemerge, heads to fly, roles to change, but all the changes were halted. This may be a good thing (since Fringe is a mystery show, after all), and I understand that it would be much harder to pull off in a show that’s not entirely preplanned, but I’d still prefer the pacing to be closer to the one in Code Geass, for example.

    2) I couldn’t help but scratch my head when Olivia started to talk about not understanding the villain. It just didn’t seem right.

    3) The characters REALLY should have thought about Walter’s head the second they heard about him being visited by the mysterious doctor.

    Now, these nitpicks aside, a great episode. It’s funny it reminded me of Doctor Who a little, with all these mannerisms, “unhuman” topics etc. :)

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    • Reflection says

      Regarding your third point: unless I’m mistaken, the characters DID think about Walter’s head the instant they found out about Dr. Paris visiting him in St. Clair’s. Astrid received the phone call, told Peter, Peter told Walter, then asked to look at his head. When he looked at his head, he saw a faint scar, and they took Walter in for an MRI. I don’t see any problem with how the sequence of events unfolded there, but perhaps I misunderstood your statement.

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  11. Dinosauriae says

    A very refreshing episode, definitely one of the best this season. Gave us a lot of what we were asking for – reaffirmed my faith in the show. And can’t wait until Jan 7 when it comes back. Thanks for the reviews, always have great points that I never think about. I always look forward to reading what you have to say about the episodes.

    I found it interesting that the leader shape-shifter shares the same name as David Bowie’s character, Thomas Jerome Newton, in The Man Who Fell to Earth. The premise of the movie also seems to kind of parallel what Fringe Newton is trying to accomplish. But how did these shape-shifters arrive on the other side in the first place, and how is opening a portal going to fix things on their side?

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    • says

      Thanks Dinosauriae!

      Nice catch with the name!

      From what I understand, the shape-shifters are hybrids, created by the other side. They are able to cross over because of their design.

      The portal is interesting. Perhaps they want to open it so that they can send The Last Wave across to destroy our world and some how save theirs (assuming that the existance of both worlds is causing the Blight)? It might tie in with Nina’s Pauli Exclusion Principle theory.

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      • Fringefan1991 says

        I believe the portal is a different method from the one currently used. Olivia was pulled violently from this world and as a result would have suffered side effects had it not been for cortexifan. Its also why the first wave hybrids were made in the first place. I believe Walter’s Door provides a method of crossing that does not leave any side effects. After all if Newton’s world is dying the population can’t all be converted into shape shifters in order to survive. The Door may allow the first wave to be augmented with reinforcements possibly regular soldiers from the other side. This would allow us to see how slightly different they are from us. Again, more importantly it will allow the human race on their world to survive.

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        • says

          “I believe the portal is a different method from the one currently used. Olivia was pulled violently from this world and as a result would have suffered side effects had it not been for cortexifan. Its also why the first wave hybrids were made in the first place. I believe Walter’s Door provides a method of crossing that does not leave any side effects.”

          Exactly. I agree. The Door, in theory, will allow much safer passage for non-First Wavers than their current method, or the method briefly employed by Jones.

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  12. Brannan Mason says

    Great review!

    Perhaps I am reaching to far here but, in my opinion, the shape of MRI machine in the hospital and the symbol used to identify the shape shifters head are strikingly similar.

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    • says

      Cheers Brannan!

      I think that’s coincidence but there’s no harm in putting it out there. I think we notice these similarities, in part, due to good directing/filming.

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  13. says

    Great review Rocco! More goods then bads :D and great Fringe thoughts.

    I loved this episode, for me, is one of the top 10 Fringe episodes. I think it was that kind of episode that makes we see what we knew in a different way and ask ourself even more. Just some thoughts I´d like to share:

    1)Now we know why the other side is attempting this war after all. It always seemed a bit off to me, why would they want to destroy our side by opening this interdimensional war, and I think that´s one of the purpose of Olivia´s statement that she doesn´t understand these people she have to fight against, she doesn´t know what moves them. We never knew either, just guessed, and now we know they have something like an environmental problem called the Blight (wich was the clue given by the codes in August). This and our new villain makes us understand better the other side.

    2) Sane Walter was just wonderful and creepy. Noble astonishes me with his acting week after week. Made me think of who Walter really was (before he went crazy) and who is the bad guy in here. I think our characters will always be “in the fringe” (like you said), never totally the good guys or the bad guys. Just battling for their lifes.

    3) Smithers bothered me the whole episode, the fact that I saw no mercury when Olivia shot him, bothered me even more.

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    • says

      Thanks Luana!

      I agree, this was a great episode – it’s in my top 3 at the moment.

      2. That’s a fantastic question. Who IS the “bad guy” in all of this? The ZFT manifest said that this isn’t a war of aggression. I guess Bell and Walter would like to think that they weren’t aggressors. I do like the idea of this being a battle for survival though – so far I buy that premise, but as they boil it down, the morality of the situation may begin to blur, and the subsequent actions could define the battle.

      3.) It was a very quick shot but he did bleed mercury:
      http://www.fringebloggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/21000139.jpg
      :)

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  14. Lauren says

    “We’ve really missed that since the wonderful David Jones left us at the doorway to heaven.”

    This made me laugh really hard, mid-yawn (which, for the record, is quite painful). Great writing.

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  15. j boe says

    I’m I wrong or did ‘The Observer’ show up twice this episode?
    1. as the SWAT t team made it’s in to the bathroom – down by the car in the background.
    2. when Broyles and Dunam are in the park – when they first stop to talk – right in between them and only for a short peroid ???? Check it out

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  16. Paige says

    I really love reading these blogs.. thanks Roco for another great review!

    Brilliant episode.. leaves me having more confusing thoughts about Bell. Either someone else.. over there.. has had access to his brain, to get the info about Walters brain, or it was one of the lab scientists involved in the op. (a mole!)

    Also.. if Walter alone designed the doorway and they removed the memories.. then how did our Bell get over there? He may have been able to access the memories from the brain pieces (after all he is a genius scientist aswell) and if so, would someone have been present. I doubt he operated on the brain, or travelled to the other side without any help.

    Or he is orchestrating this whole thing.. he is the bad guy, lying, to possibly use Olivia so she can lead him to what he needs over here. Nina makes out in her computer message that she doesn’t know if he gets her messages.. (2.07) yet she arranges a meeting with him Olivia so they must be able to communicate???
    We know Bell is ill.. could that be from passing between worlds, he gave that impression..

    If he cant return to this side…..
    ..He is going to want to save the side he has to live in, surely?

    I wonder if alter Walter had the brain pieces removed?

    Which then leads me to ask, at what point, did the decision that someone made, (that made the alternate world,) take place – (for the world Bell is in..) and who’s decision is it based on.. human beings make hundereds of choices each day.. each could change the future.. thats a hell of a lot of universes.. at what point did the one Bell’s in, differ from ours? (if that makes sense!) because the alter Bell/Walter would surley be as clever as ours are and possibly know thoughts that they have, depending on the point the universe split.

    SOOO many questions!!!!!

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    • says

      Hi Paige,

      I like the idea of there being a mole, or someone close to Bell/Walter working for the other side. Didn’t Walter once say that he was paranoid of his wife? Although that was before the op.

      How Bell got over to the other side is a good question. Perhaps he used a “crude” method – one which is causing him to slowly die? I get the impression that “The Door” Walter devised is a relatively safe and stable method of transfer.

      I agree that Bell himself could be behind it all, although the writers would need to explain why he bothered to alert Olivia about The First Wave/Last Storm if he wanted the shape-shifters to open the door. Good point re: Nina arranging the meeting, although I guess there were a few months between the events in 1.20 and 2.07, so perhaps their communication break-down is a more recent thing?

      As for Bell’s ultimate allegiance, my mind goes back to what he said about ‘having a unique perspective from having lived in two worlds’. On the face of it he’s batting for our side, but I would like to know why, exactly, he believes our side deserves to be saved over the other? Is it because of all the work he’s put in preparing Olivia and the C-tex kids? Perhaps it’s a matter of siding with the world he feels the greatest affiliation? I guess he is in a similar position to Peter in that sense.

      Re: the when the differences between our worlds occured. One possibility is that their world may have differed from ours from conception. I think the idea is that there are limitless possibilities, hence realities based on perception. Our choices are actions that we could make, and probably have made in one of these other realities. So in relation to the parallel world, perhaps it has always been different from ours – although that might suggest that their reality is older than ours, since they’re slightly ahead. Alternatively, the opening of the door to the parallel world could well have been the act which seperated the glue between the two worlds and caused differences to occur more markedly. I guess it may also depend on whether or not the writers want to explore the idea of predetermination versus freewill.

      I agree, so many questions!

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  17. Joao Victor de Carvalho says

    Awesome episode!
    but you missed one question:
    -why Walter cried when the coffin appeared in the slide? is that because the original Peter died in the experiment of the dimensional door and the actual Peter is from the other side?

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    • says

      Hi Joao.

      At this stage, I don’t think that original Peter died in relation to “the door”. Rather, Peter’s death was the reason Walter constructed the door so that he could cross over to the other side and replace his son with the Peter we now see. I think he cried when he saw the slide because it reminded him that his real son is dead, and all of the guilt, baggage and confusion that must come with such a harsh reminder.

      Although, there could well be more to this than meets the eye. For instance, that time-travel comment Walter made back in season 1 in relation to young Peter’s sickness – unless the writers have changed course slightly, that surely has to come into play.

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  18. TomC says

    Another great episode and another great review.
    Especially loved the scene when we saw ‘Normal’ Walter, very different to the walter were used to and great to have a brief glimpse of what he was like pre-insanity (SCARY). I would love to see him like that again, but i cant see that happening unless we see ‘alter-walter’ again.
    I also liked the fact that in this episode we saw even more of how much peter now cares for walter. Its been building up for a while (he got lost last week but peter still didnt seem too bothered-ish), but this week i felt you could see how much he cared for him, bursting through the door and the ‘I should have come to see you at St.Claires’ quote was touching.

    The only thought i have is about Newton. Maybe he was the scientist/surgeon who took the parts of walters brain out in the original surgery, and maybe now because he has been joined onto a shapeshifter body he’s switched sides?? Could be waaaaay off but just a idea.
    Now the break until new year, NNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

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    • says

      I also liked the fact that in this episode we saw even more of how much peter now cares for walter.

      Hi Tom,

      Yeah, it was much more powerful in this episode, I felt. I get the sense that this was a moment of clarity for Peter. If before he was finding his way back to his father, now he’s right there with him, and it’s personal – or it should be.

      I can’t help but notice the ticking sound whenever I see them get closer though..

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  19. TomC says

    One other thought. Is Bell in the same alter-universe that the shapeshifters come from?? The only reason why i think this is because the SShifters seem to have dropped hints that their world is terrible. BUT, the universe that Bell was in didn’t seem that bad, from what we saw anyway.

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    • says

      While they could always spring a surprise on us, I think the idea is that the SS are indeed from Bell’s current universe – he also said that they were, from what I remember.

      I think the Fringe creators were careful to contain all previous glimpses of over there; from Olivia’s visit to the other side in 1.19, to her transportation to Bell’s office in the season 1 finale. Even though we saw the outside of the WTC, I think they can just about get away with the idea that things over there are very bad on an environmental level – it looked very warm for one thing, with the orangey hue, which now gains new perspective. We also saw Bell puffing on oxygen, or something. That could be a result of his having crossed over, or the environment over there. The writers next move in showing us over there is crucial, I think.

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  20. Bitoy says

    This made me smile. Walter said Gondor, instead of Gordon when he was enumerating the names of the 3 patients. Gondor as in Lord of the Rings, he was the Steward of Gondor, Lord Denethor. :-)

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  21. Reflection says

    Question: Did anyone else consider that the nurse at the end who was helping William Bell might have been intended to be a younger version of Nina Sharp? I ask simply because that was the first thought I had — she kind of looked like her, and we know Nina has been Bell’s right hand woman for many years, so it makes sense, but I haven’t seen anyone else mention that yet, so I’m just a bit curious to know what everyone else thinks.

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  22. atmex says

    Just a thought: this ep is called Grey Matters, and besides the statements at the end of this article, I really think that Grey’s Anatomy not showing this week is good for Fringe, so GREY Matters….

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  23. Pedro says

    I give this episode 10 of 10. Not only the best episode of Fringe ever. I would put this episode in the top 5 of my TV watching experience this calendar year. I really loved this episode.

    My only problem is this reminded me so much of what this show should be, that it made me a bit mad after I watched the episode a second time.

    For those of you who are on here often you know I have been very outspoken against stand alone episodes. I think that an episode like this makes very clear why the ratio should be more like 1 stand alone to every 2 or 3 serialized.

    I hope that in the second half of the season we see more of this. I stand by what I posted before though and this episode made it glaring. You could literally just watch the the mythology episodes and you wouldn’t really miss a beat.

    -My Good – pretty much everything it was as perfect of an episode is I could ask for.

    -My Bad –
    1. The fringe team always seems just a bit late. It would be nice for them to get there before the bad guy leaves. The bad guy could still escape, but maybe Olivia and Peter show up first.

    2. They could’ve done a bit more with walter’s memories that were in the other people’s brains.

    This will definitely sustain me over the break.

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  24. Peanut says

    This incident with Walter is something of a reversal of the situation with Olivia’s stepfather. At the age of nine, Olivia shoots her abusive stepfather, her childhood father figure. She is still regretting that she didn’t kill him then—although I think that she made the correct decision not to finish him off. If she had deliberately killed him, that might have made her inhumanly cold-blooded, in my opinion.

    Walter is Olivia’s present father figure (although sometimes he’s more her child!). Her feelings toward him are ambivalent—& possibly she also had mixed feelings about her stepfather when she was a child. Olivia is sincerely attached to Walter although she is aware of his failings, & her resentment about the Cortexiphan experiments, justifiably, surfaces occasionally. In Walter’s case, she has to weigh the choices of killing The Newt or saving Walter. As Roco said, it was not necessarily the wrong decision. Despite Broyles’ reassurance, however, Olivia still questions her own judgment.

    The Newt’s comment about her weakness in choosing to save Walter takes her back to the time that she spared her stepfather, that other father figure. She believes that she was weak then & now has possibly made another decision based on weakness. This is an ongoing internal dialog for her in these situations. I am glad that she has the capacity for self-doubt although she can carry it to extremes, in my opinion, particularly in her expectations for her nine-year-old self.

    In Greek mythology, hubris was often the undoing of gods & heroes. Now Olivia is destined to become a gatekeeper, the “god” of the gate, in essence. Probably the best direct parallel is with Walter, the “god” of the lab, a victim of excessive pride. I think that Over Here is better off with a gatekeeper who possesses healthy self-doubt rather than Walter’s hubris, which has brought on disastrous consequences. Typical Fringe—a perceived strength may turn out to be a weakness while a perceived weakness may actually be an advantage.

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