Welcome to the FB review of Fringe season 2 episode 20 – “Northwest Passage“. 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.
- Continuation of the central arc. As surprisingly good as “Brown Betty“ was, it was great to get back to central narrative in a more ‘conventional’ fashion. A season ago this episode would have been “Midnight” – a good episode but with looser ties to the central mythology due to its flimsy stand alone nature. I’m always happy to see Newton and the addition of Walternate was an added bonus. This is an episode which left me wanting more and it did its job in setting up the season finale.
- I was glad for some alone time with Peter. I’m not saying that this was the most effective centric ever made, but it did give me some useful insights into who Peter is when he’s not with Walter, especially now that he knows he’s “not from here”. Again, I would have liked a deeper exploration, but on the same token it did set the ball rolling.
- Some nice direction. Good use was made of the natural scenery and there were some great camera choices. The only slight negative is that I would have liked to have seen more emotion from Peter conveyed through the direction, as well as the actor himself.
- The music, the score – fantastic. It was atmospheric and, at times, creepy. I didn’t particularly notice it as much the first time around, but upon rewatching the episode I found that it added another layer to the story that I wasn’t consciously aware of.
- I don’t often single out guest stars unless their name is Sebastian Roche or David Call, but I thought Martha Plimpton was really good in this episode. She gave Mathis this quiet yet authoritative quality that really spoke to me. She had to carry a lot of the narrative due to the amount of screen time she had and thought she handled it well. I’m not sure if there’s natural scope to see Mathis return one day (perhaps when Peter finds out that Walternate stole him from Walternatenate?) but I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing her again.
- The end scene – which is what this episode was about.
- So let me get this straight. Peter sees Newton in the crowd and just lets him get away? I get that he didn’t want to raise suspicious or endanger the public, but DUDE, you’ve been searching all season for this guy, who might have the answers you seek, and just give up the chase without a fight? That one didn’t land quite so well for me. So much for “we’re done reacting, blah blah blah”. You’re all talk, Peta. In truth, this is just one example of several character actions from Peter than didn’t seem quite right.
- Miss-firing Emotional Beats. I thought some of the emotional moments weren’t allowed to resonate as I felt they should. A classic example is Peter discovering that Krista had been killed. Once he figured out that Newton was responsible I thought he should have displayed more regret, guilt and reflection. After all, he must have blamed himself to some extent. It was a great opportunity to show how Peter deals with the kind of guilt that we’ve seen his father struggle with for the past 2 seasons. This isn’t the only example – I felt that the attempt to convey a strong emotional attachment between Mathis and Ferguson missed its mark. I felt as though I should care, but it was hard to invest in their relationship even though I could understand her state of mind. It felt as though the there was an absence of shading which made it feel hollow. Perhaps there needed to be more ‘story’ there to make it work? Though granted, I still think that Plimpton did a good job.
- I would have liked a deeper exploration into what it means to discover that your whole life has been a lie, and what it means to find out that your every thought, feeling and connection to this reality is nothing but a dream. We could have gone really introspective with this episode, it was a fantastic opportunity to make our hearts bleed for Peter, to connect with him on a level that raises questions on reality and what it really means. Instead that opportunity was passed up – at least for the time being. And I get that – Peter’s reaction will be explored over a series of episodes, if not seasons. I just felt that we could have gone a little deeper on Peter now – I mean how often do we get a Peter centric?
- Walter suddenly remembering that objects from the Other Side emit a glimmer, when it was this very glimmer that brought the secret about Peter to such a critical point. This seemed somewhat contrived. If this was something that the entire team shouldn’t necessarily know then I could buy it, but wouldn’t it even cross Olivia or Astrid’s mind (let alone Walter’s!), bearing in mind the whole “Jacksonville” thing? Instead, Astrid’s response is “So?”. Oh Astrid, now I get to roll my eyes at you. Even more contrived was Walter purposefully entering the wrong numbers in the ‘Glimmer detector’. I appreciate that they were trying to convey Walter’s hope conflicted with his fear over finding Peter, but I felt that it could have been done in a better way. Having him put in the wrong numbers was excessive, and well, pointless.
- Joshua Jackson and emotion. At times he taps into it, but on occasions in this episode I feel that he didn’t quite manage to find the right emotional connection to Peter and his mindset. I wouldn’t pin this all on the actor, but for whatever reason I thought he missed a few opportunities to really embellish Peter’s turmoil.
- With that in mind, I find it odd that in a Peter centric episode I didn’t really come out of it knowing Peter much better. This has been lurking in my mind for a long time now, so I’m not only reacting to this episode. Peter is still very much a shell – unlike Olivia or Walter, the creators and Jackson don’t seem to have quite found the right emotional connection for the character. But here’s my dilemma – this could, in part, be intentional, since Peter is from the Other Side and in search of that missing something. So I leave room open to that possibility, but the possibility is not strong enough for me to be completely happy with that as an explanation. I watch Olivia and Walter centrics and come out of them feeling like I know them even better. I came out of Northwest asking myself: Who’s Peter? Because really, who is he?
- Even more so than “Jacksonville“, this episode seemed too tightly focused on the end scene. This may not seem like such a bad thing because episodes need a level of planning. But for me, I thought that the ending gave me more in those 2 or 3 minutes than the previous 40 or so minutes did. In other words the episode felt too much like a ‘set up’ than an exploration. The problem is that Peter can’t yet carry an episode on his own. He’s improving but he’s not there yet. Then we have Newton – an excellent character but he’s still immensely underdeveloped. We see him, but we rarely see him. I know, he’ll hopefully be around for a while, but does that mean we can’t get more insight into his character now, especially when he’s doing all manner of crazy things in the background, including bringing over Walternate. I guess my problem – if you can call it that, with this episode is that the different segments didn’t always mesh together as well as they promised. There was an ‘airiness’ to what I feel should have been a dense portrayal of a man who’s world had just reared up from under him. Things definitely improved on my second watch, but I still feel that the episode was essentially a (very good) 3 minute segue into the finale.
- What was the purpose of the transmission signals sent to Peter?
- Was Peter hallucinating or were Newton & Co. really disappearing in front of his (and our) eyes? If so, why didn’t they use this technology before?
- Craig – what the heck was his part in all of this?
- Mr Secretary is Walternate.
- When you’ve just had your heart broken, what do you go and do to make things better? Why you go get yourself a piece of pecan pie, of course. And a ‘date’ with a hot waitress. Oh Peter, whatever would
“I might be able to get you on the list”
- She’s talking about her playlist, but I wonder if dropping the word “list” is a future clue? Could Peter be on some kind of list marking his importance?
- Don’t be too pleased with yourself Peter, she does it for all the boys. Burn CD’s I mean.
- Recently, Peter’s been taking over from Walter in referencing his origins. Here’s one of his latest:
“Technically, I’m from nowhere you’ve ever heard of”
- Pfft. Peter’s such a drama queen. Who hasn’t heard of alternate realities? Krista looks like she may have seen a few Star Trek episodes down the years.
- Krista goes on to reference one of the more subtle Fringe themes which I suspect also has significance to this episode:
“It’s a long road to I don’t know yet, I wanna make sure you stay AWAKE”
- It’s an interesting line, particularly since sleep is a strong theme in this episode. On several occasions were see people waking up from sleep, struggling to stay awake, and Peter’s state of mind is even put down to sleep deprivation. And then there’s that end scene. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – are things really as they appear, or is there an extra level of something involving dreams and consciousness bubbling under the surface of the show?
- What were Newton & Co. trying to achieve with the interference signals and phone calls? My immediate thought was that they were trying to send Peter a message through his unconscious, perhaps to put him in a specific state of mind. There’s also the possible connection to the interference signals from TMFTOS which came through when the shape-shifter embryos were sent to our side. Did the signals that Peter experienced in this episode, in a sense, open up a door inside his mind? Since Peter’s mind has been alluded (in a number of ways) to be connected to Walter’s mind, perhaps they were hijacking information by proxy? I can’t imagine that we wont come back to this at some point.
- I enjoyed seeing Peter trying to go off the beaten path with his GPS. It was only a small scene but it gave me a rare glimpse through the cracks of Peter’s mental state. The boy is just about coping, and he sees the irony of his search for meaning when Mars seems like a more fitting place to go than good old Portland. I loved Peter’s reaction when the GPS didn’t recognize Mars are a possible destination. Obviously Mrs. GPS is too closed-minded.
- When is someone going to get Peter a new badge? It bugs me that they’re still using the season 1 cast photo for his ID. Seriously, Broyles, can we get someone on that? After we get your REAL office back, of course.
- I like how Peter assumes that the only way that Newton knew where he was staying is because he extracted Krista’s memories. I mean, he couldn’t have just followed you back to the motel, could he, Peter? Of course, Peter’s right because the narrative came to that reveal, but there was a conventional way for Newton to know where he was staying and perhaps Peter should have mentioned that as well.
- Going back to Broyles and his office for a moment. I guess I’m just going to have to accept that the recession has hit everyone hard, including Fringe Division. Perhaps they rented his old office out and moved Broyles into a more conventional office space? Ah well, better than a park bench, huh Broylesy?
- I like the fact that Peter phoned Broyles to let him know where he was. Sure, he only did it because he kinda had to, but I still find it significant that he contacted Broyles before Olivia. No doubt she’s not exactly in his good books right now. I also find it weird that he didn’t even mention seeing Newton! “I stumbled into an investigation”. What? Really Peter, are you serious!? So you stumbled into an investigation – nothing major, just a small case you and the team once worked on – just like Walter stumbled you into our universe, right? Get real Peter, half truths – as you know, don’t help anybody.
- This phone conversation with Broyles really interested me. Peter then goes on to ask Broyles not to tell Walter that they’d spoken. Fine, I can understand that – Peter still wants Walter to suffer for what he did, it’s only natural. But Peter then goes on to tell Broyles:
“If you owe me anything, you owe me that”
- For a moment there I had to stop and think what he was referring to. What exactly does Broyles OWE you, Peter? It’s not exactly clear, other than dedication to the job by going AWOL on full pay. I guess he could be referring to the shape-shifter device he gave him back in “New Day”, which came to nothing. Or, perhaps he’s referring to saving his life back in “Of Human Action”? Yeah, I guess that’s it. To be fair, I’m glad that the writers remembered and referenced it in such an unshowy way. It took me a while to make the connection – possibly because it’s weird seeing these two convey emotion – but I’m glad they did it. It shows that they’re reaching a level where they don’t have to spell every darn thing out. As long as it makes sense then that’s good writing as far as I’m concerned.
- On Peter and Broyles sharing an emotional moment – Broyles telling him: “take care of yourself” also landed weirdly, but it was one of those landings that you want to do all over again once the plane has come to a halt. It’s nice to see Broyles looking out for all of his charges and backing up his “duuuude, these people are like family to me!” statement from earlier in the season. I’m feeling you Broyles, even when you’ve been stripped of that magnificent office you can still find it in yourself to reach out for your fellow man. I should also add that Peter seemed momentarily taken aback by Broyles’ well wishes, which was also great, ‘cause Peter needed a bit of Bromance at that point – he was feeling low and deserted and needed a strong male presence, and Broyles was on hand to show him that love.
- I find it odd that Peter was able to drill into the skull of the dead woman he was planning to do the sideways shuffle with a few hours earlier. Maybe it’s just me but it seemed like a violation. And Peter didn’t bat an eyelid. He’s becoming more like his father with each passing day. Question is, which father?
- Peter the cynic now the believer:
“Believe me, if you can imagine it, it’s possible”
“These are not your ordinary bad guys”
- Right you are. They might not even be “bad guys”. Sure, they’ve killed a few people, but this show is morally grey. Good and bad are not yet clearly defined. We’ve had Olivia labelled as a “good person”, which I still find interesting, and Walter called a “great man”, which makes me slightly sick. But this show has huge potential to really explore the nature of good and bad and what it really means within the context of the world of the show. I mean, is fighting for the survival of your world by any means possible a good thing? Is stealing a child from yourself a bad thing? One thing that does seem clear to me is that the science, the technology featured in the show rests smack bang in the middle of good and bad. It’s the human application of these tools which result in good or bad taking place, and I find that really interesting because I imagine that the more integrated humans become with technology, eventually, something will have to give. In fact, Newton and the shape-shifters would be an interesting case study. Hopefully we’ll get some exploration into their ‘humanity’ at some point. I still loved that victory hand shake and smile at the end of TMFTOS.
“In the darkness, there’s always a crack. That’s how the light gets in”
- I really love this line and I like the follow up that came at the end. It was one of the better emotional beats in the episode. Why? For me it’s because it had a story behind it. It was both a metaphor and a story with potential for a future callback, and I liked that.
- Can I also just say that I really liked Mathis. What an interesting and quirky character she is. I thought that Martha Plimpton did a very good job conveying her strength and vulnerability, while keeping the character completely human and relatable. I liked the fact she was open to the impossible, but also questioned Peter’s open-mindedness. This is Peter, the guy who was once the cynic, the disbeliever. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how far Peter has come, but the boy has come a long way, literally.
- Also, her “it’s an inside joke” – the same line was used in Lost recently and I enjoyed it’s use here. I’m wondering whether “find the crack” was also an inside joke in the writers room? In terms of its general use, to me, it conveys a sense of keeping faith – searching for the rays of light. It also could be a reference to the cracks that Walter put in the universe when stealing Peter. I imagine that Peter will find the crack – whatever its meaning – at some point in the future. I just can’t see them failing to bring that one back around.
- I found it strange how Peter was so confident and unfazed by the possibility of Newton harming him, and yet the moment he gets another prank call from said shape-shifters, he freaks out and acts like a scared little boy. Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why he was shaken, but it contrasted markedly with the earlier scene where he’s laughing and dismissing any possibility of a threat. Was that all bravado or were we seeing through the cracks of Peter’s armour? I think it was a bit of both, along with a smidgen of character contrivance.
- If it turns out that the transmission somehow put Peter in a vulnerable state (similar to what Olivia experienced in “Jacksonville”, perhaps), then I’ll give it a pass, otherwise Peter’s reaction the phone call was out of character. I’m not saying that Peter shouldn’t ever be scared, but it should take more than a couple of prank calls to set him off.
- I loved this exchange:
Ferguson: “Doesn’t mean he’s legit. You read your books about UFOs and Roswell and whacked out theories on government conspiracies, I think that you want to believe. What makes you trust him?”
Mathis: “I don’t know.. I’m a good judge of character. I’m the only one here who likes you.”
- Firstly, nice X-Files shout-out there. Secondly, lighten up, Ferguson! Thirdly, the way Mathis said her line was perfect. She even appears to look at her darling Ferguson’s heart as she says the words “I’m a good judge of character”. Aw, I know I ragged on some of the emotional beats in the episode, but that was a much better moment.
- I had to laugh at Peter finally getting his gun. It’s been an inside joke on FringeBloggers for the entire season, and even before that, so it was funny to see Peter become ‘The Man, The Weapon. The Bishop’. He’s constantly eyeing up Olivia’s piece so why not give him his own, right? Man, he wore that holster with such pride and spent an entire night counting the bullets. I think the boy was a bit too excited to tell you the truth, but it was good to see a dream realised. Makes you forget that he’s supposed to be weapons dealer. And thank goodness they didn’t have the Ammo guy be one of Peter’s old pals – that would have been a bit too much on the ‘Peter’s growing pool of underworld goons’ list.
- Mathis asks an obvious question:
“What is it that makes you special?”
- Dur, have you seen him kick down doors and pick locks? Come on Mathis, haven’t you been watching the show?
- Peter loses me here: He goes on about how Newton and his cronies have the answers and that’s why he needs to find them, yet he doesn’t want to call for back-up. I know that he doesn’t want to see or speak to Walter right now, but then why say that calling the FBI will result in them ‘descending on this place’, resulting in Newton disappearing. I hardly think the FBI would “descend”, Peter. I mean, they sent two guys to a bridge they knew was about to be harmonically fused with a bridge from the Other Side. Even Broyles only had two guys with him. I don’t think descend is in the FBI’s dictionary. Plus, it’s the recession, everyone has had to make cuts, right Broyles? Anyway, I get what Peter was saying, but he clearly hasn’t been watching the show.
- I’m glad that Peter asked Mathis why she’s even listening to his ‘crazy’ talk about shape-shifters and memory extractions. Mathis was a ‘believer’, but as Peter said, it was more than that – she was desperate. Why is it that in times of desperation or fear or love that we turn to the unimaginable – be it on the side of faith, science or something in between. What is it about fantasy that makes us all believers?
- I guess it boils down to hope – the need for there to be a possibility, even if it’s unrealistic. It’s something that I think is easy to identify with and it’s probably one of the reasons why I’m attracted to this show – it has the potential to go beyond your typical. I also wonder whether the ‘impossible’ serves as very important function in our role as humans. It’s because of the things on the fringes of possibility that connect us to hope – to the idea that the impossible can happen. So what happens as the gap between possible and impossible narrows. If everything is possible, do we lose something? Do we lose a sense of hope? Or does it mean that we have reached a level where hope is redundant because it is no longer needed? In such a circumstance, do we become less human? I don’t know, but these are the type of questions I hope Fringe explores through its characters and worlds.
- I should also add that I liked that Mathis wouldn’t believe that Fergie was dead until she saw his body. The phrase, Seeing Is Believing springs to mind.
“I am this close, and I am going to get my answers”
*Sigh* Peter, Peter, Peter. I know this is your episode and you’re heart is broken, but can we leave the emoting to Olivia?
“We pulled those phone records. Those calls never happened”
- Yeah, not in THIS universe. I do love how Peter says “these people can pull memories out of brain tissue, you think they can’t make a couple of calls disappear – I can do that!”. LOL. I only laugh because he’s right and because it says a lot about Peter’s character that he can make calls disappear.
- I didn’t expect to find this episode so humorous, but this exchange also made me chuckle:
“I understand, you don’t want me to be right, because if I am it means your partner is most likely dead”
“Hey…PETA..with the exception of who you are, I haven’t been able to verify anything you’ve said to me!”.
I just love the way she spat out the word “Peta”. But when did Peta become so cold?
- I really loved the feeling Plimpton put behind this line:
“What if he’s alive? What if he’s out there thinking I am doing everything in my power, including calling the F.B.I., to save him?”.
- Firstly, I like the way she sits there before bursting out with “what if he’s alive?”. That just hit me as a very human thing to do – to be caught between silent contemplation and an urgent eruption of emotion. I thought she conveyed that so well. I also appreciated how this relates to Walternate’s search for Peternate. Although we don’t know much about his search for his son, we have to assume that he’s been looking for Peternate ever since he was snatched from Over There. Mathis’ sentiments echo those I expect from Walternate.
- The supermarket scene with Walter losing his temper was a nice way to catch up on Walter’s state of mind following that bong. I liked how glasses were once again used as a metaphor for Walter seeing clearly, when in fact Walter seeing clearly represents the Walter of old – the man with less compassion, understanding and awareness of personal boundaries. His reaction upon seeing that he had terrified a little girl was like he was suddenly catapulted back into the real world, the world where he remembered that his actions have a direct consequence on the attitudes, outlooks and actions of other people. That little girl will grow up having nightmares of the terrifying man with glasses who ripped Scott a new one for working in a store that sold “strawberry flavoured death”. So once again we have actions vs consequences and perception being the driving force for the way in which we see the world, and the way others see us. The whole rant was Walter deflecting his own crippled conscience – denouncing something delicious yet deathly, in the way that his own desire to cure Peter was also good yet bad.
- I must say, I didn’t expect him to fall into a crumpled heap by the Cheerios though. At first I thought it was a bit much to have him do that, but then Peter is his life raft and he’s gone out to sail leaving Walter barely afloat in the abyss. The man is broken, he can’t even shop for himself for goodness sake. He cares that the little girl saw him act a fool yet he doesn’t care if people see a grown man crying by the cereal. This is a broken man caught between hope and hopelessness. Can somebody PLEASE call Astrid?
- I love the scene with Olivia and Astrid bringing Walter home to an absolute mess. It just goes to show how much Peter does for Walter. Even though almost two years have passed since he’s been out of St. Claire’s, Walter is still very much back at square 1 without Peter. Both literally and in a more emotional sense. I did wonder how Walter caused such a mess though? Did it accumulate during the period of time that Peter has been gone, or did Walter have a breakdown of sorts? I also found it odd that Astrid wasn’t keeping a closer eye on him. I didn’t expect her to sleep over (although if FOX are looking for another gimmick, The Walter and Astrid Sleepover Party might be something worth thinking about), but she clearly knows that Walter can’t fend for himself in the big bad world. Or perhaps she just didn’t realise how big a part Peter plays in his stability? I don’t know, but I found it weird.
- I guess Astrid’s next line explains some of that:
“Walter, why didn’t you tell me you needed help?”
- I really like how Jasika Nicole played that line – it came across very sincere.
“What am I going to do, call you every time I run out of Pudding Pops”
- I love how Olivia just interjects from the ether:
“Yes. If you need them”
- Again, perhaps I was in a funny mood while watching this episode, but that made me laugh. There’s something about Olivia’s response to things that never fails to tickle me. I had almost forgotten that she was even in the room and then her voice booms from out of nowhere and suddenly I feel reassured. Peter has the special touch, but Olivia has presence. It made me feel all warm and glow-y inside knowing that both Astro and The Dunhamnator have Walter’s back. They’re an odd family unit, but when one of them runs out of Pudding Pops, you better believe they’re gonna hit up Wal-Mart.
- I also continue to be amazed at how Olivia and Astrid can be in the same room on so many occasions but fail to say two words to one another. Perhaps there’s a back story to all of this. Did Astrid borrow Olivia’s favourite lip gloss without asking or something? Let it go, Liv.
- BTW, Astrid gets The Most Heart-breaking Expression While Leaning On A Fridge Award for 2010. While Olivia wants to reach out but there’s that little thing called Cortexiphan that prevents her from getting too close.
- It’s reassuring to know that Olivia wont let Sumner gets his claws on Walter again. Not sure how she planned on doing that, but I guess it’s just one of those things you say to a man who’s on his last string of sanity.
“I do. I do need Pudding Pops”.
- LOL. I’m going to find myself some of these ‘Pudding Pops’ to see if they’re really as good as Walter makes out.
- Poignant that so much focus should be given to the bridge where Krista’s body was dumped,given that Peter saw Walternate on a bridge a couple of episodes earlier.
- Peta’s big moment:
- Unlike Olivia, he uses one hand. Unlike Olivia he misses the target. Back to school for you, Peta. Perhaps one day you can get to be like Dunham and the big boys.
- I have to say, it was weird seeing Newton running through the forest like a little girl. That’s so not the Newton I want to see. That said, it was all put down to Peter seeing things. Personally, I don’t subscribe to Mathis’ theory. There were too many occasions when people just ‘disappeared’ for it to be an hallucination. The shape-shifters might well have some kind of perception altering gear, or maybe they have something that allows them to disappear and reappear at different locations. We’ll see where that one goes.
- For someone so good at “reading people”, Peter couldn’t tell that Mathis wasn’t a shape-shifter? To be honest, I was also sucked in by that idea once I saw the blood (yeah, I know, no mercury). It was played well, especially since Mathis appeared to access memories on the fly: “My pen? It was a gift from Ferguson? My partner!?”. I would guess that director Joe Chappelle told Plimpton to play it ambiguously. I don’t like the idea of the writers going back on the shape-shifters capabilities though. I had assumed – with good reason, that they acquire the memories as well as the identity of the person they shift into (perhaps not immediately, but over a period of time). Evil Charlie appeared to know a hell of a lot about Charlie and Olivia (and surely, Mrs. Francis). He had to in order to fool them for 6 days, or however long it was before Liv figured him out. I guess the writers might be going with the idea that Evil Charlie had prior Intel on Charlie and other people close to Olivia? That makes sense, I guess, but it still seems a little weird that he’d correctly guess his mannerisms and other quirks. I guess this could also be explored with the idea that in taking on another person’s identity, they also gain access to their innate qualities, including the soul. Actually, that sounds too good to waste, can we explore that next season please?
“..Astrid, you’re a federal agent. I doubt that during your years of training you had dreams of babysitting a helpless old man”
- Thank you, Walter! It’s about time someone noticed that Astrid is an FBI agent. I loved Astrid’s: “you’re not that helpless”. Those words are full of truth. Sure, Walter is a crumpled heap right now, but how much would it take to set him free from those chains? I suspect not much when you think about it. I guess it depends what lens Walter is looking through at the time. It really does come down to the “P” word again and I like how this show drives perception through the heart, because our emotions are largely driven on matters of the heart. I just think that Astrid’s one little line is a reminder at how transformable humans are and how the mind is often (mostly?) governed by the heart. Again, I find this interesting considering the episode deals with the removal of brain pieces, when in truth, it’s focus is on the removal of the heart. Well, that’s my interpretation.
- I touched on this above, but I do like the idea that while Walter wants to find Peter, he’s not sure whether it would change anything or lead to Peter’s forgiveness. I like that because it shows that he’s leaning from his past mistakes and realising that what he wants is not necessarily what Peternate wants. It’s all well and good that he technically saved Peternate, but the choice to bring him over to our side and to keep him, wasn’t necessary in order for Peter to survive. It was an act of selfishness by a man playing God.
- On the flip side of that, I also realised that Walter is still being selfish even in his current thinking – he’s purposefully not trying to find Peter because he’s worried that he wont forgive him – “what will I have then?”. Notice the word “I” in that quote. But again, I love the show for doing this – for the most part, they continue to give us very real characters with very human motivations, thoughts and reactions. Having Walter be reluctant to put hope to the test in case it leaves him disappointed and without any hope is such a human thing to do, and as a human I can totally relate to that flawed logic. Walter is not only afraid of losing any chance of his son forgiving him, but he’s also terrified of losing his confirmation of God’s forgiveness. Sometimes it’s easier to leave hope in reserve, to not give it your all, just in case it lets you down. But that’s faith for you and that’s the test that Walter is facing.
- And you have to love it – the very next moment a door opens, in comes Olivia, with news. They’ve found Peter. The universe can be infuriating, but that’s exactly how it works.
- Thank you, Olivia, for asking Walter if he’d like to come with you to find Peter. It’s almost as though she made a point of asking so as to remind him of the importance of choice. Again, it’s Olivia so anything is possible. Oh, and you found Peter didn’t you Olivia. It had nothing to do with Broyles, did it? Just checking.
- I found that Peter lacked a certain empathy and tact in this episode. It was probably intentional to convey the connection between how a broken heart changed Walter for the better, and how it could change Peter for the worse.
- It wasn’t clear to me what Craig’s role in the girls murder was? What did he mean he ‘couldn’t stop’? Go away Craig, you made little sense and seem like a contrivance.
- Mathis and Peter:
“I wish there was something I could do for you. Whatever your experiences are. Whatever you can’t or wont tell me about. I think you’re looking for meaning in things that have no meaning”
“I don’t know who I am anymore”
- I loved the ambiance of the scene. But I found Mathis’ line to be a little off, considering she had just had her eyes opened to the possibilities. How can she tell Peter that he’s trying to find meaning in things that have no meaning? Unless the plan from the writers was to convey the idea that Peter doesn’t need to look beyond what he knows to find his peace? Because otherwise, Peter’s search is very much a meaningful one. I did like Peter’s response, although my only problem with it reflects my main problem with the episode – it lacked weight. I just don’t think Peter would say those words to Mathis, and not in that situation. Maybe the intent was better than the execution on this occasion, and I’m happy to consider that as a possibility.
- That said, how you could not love words like this. Take it away Mathis:
“I was alone for a long time. But I’ve found my place..you will too”.
- Obviously this entire scene is set up to foreshadow Peter being reunited with his father, and while I think that reunion happened a bit too quickly, I have to appreciate the fact that clues and foreshadowing are not just there for the audience to find, but also for the characters.
- I really like how the episode effectively came full circle with Peter getting to play the soundtrack that whatsherfacepecanpielady burned for him. Now I adore this scene. It was powerful to me because it told me more about Peter than the previous 41 minutes did. As the camera descended down into his eyes, I connected with him. I ‘got’ him. I felt his sense of disconnection to his surroundings as he shut himself off to the world with his headphones, only to be rudely interrupted by Newton.
- And what can I say about the next part? To say I didn’t believe it possible would not be accurate, because it was always the most likely possibility. But I was surprised that Mr. Secretary turned out to be Walternate simply because I felt that a moment of this magnitude would be saved for season 3. To say the writers are ballsy is an understatement, but did it work, was it worth the risk (and I do feel that it is risk)? It’s too early to tell – the next episode should give me a better indication of that. But man, that last moment left me hanging on to the episode as if it were a cliff.
There was one point in this episode (the first 10 minutes) where I thought we could be about to witness one of the very best Fringe episodes to date. To be honest, it didn’t quite deliver what it threatened. In some respects it was a strange episode – slow paced, but the pacing didn’t overly detract. It was Peter centric, yet I don’t feel as though we really got underneath Peter’s skin in the same way that we have with Olivia and Walter in their introspective episodes. And yet, once the episode ended I felt compelled to watch it again. There’s something about this episode that allowed me to enjoy it more than perhaps I should. Maybe it was the fusion of different thematic approaches, the underlying quirkiness that had me intrigued, or the final scene that saved it, but whatever, I liked it for what it did.
For me, this was a coming to terms episode. For Peter, it was coming to terms with the fact that everything he thought was real, is only slightly real. For Walter, it was a coming to terms with life without Peter. For me, it was a coming to terms with the fact that there are only 2 episodes left this season. Northwest Passage literally came across like a passage, or stepping stone, into the world of the final chapter of this season. Some of the story elements and character development seemed sacrificed in order to set up a very specific set of circumstances. Peter has been reunited with his real father, but Walternate’s next move could be crucial in winning Peter’s heart. What does he do next – will he make the same mistakes that Walter made? Will he let his heart rule his head? How will he try to relate to his son? What can he say to make Peter choose him over Walter?
These are just some of the questions I’m interested in exploring.
Season finale – Over to you.
Best Moment: Peter meeting Walternate.
Best Performer: Martha Plimpton
If you enjoyed “Northwest Passage”, you’ll like: “Grey Matters”, “Jacksonville”, “Peter”, “The Man From The Other Side”
Episode Rating: 8/10