‘Through The Looking Glass And What Walter Found There’ is another strong episode of Fringe. It doesn’t really maintain the momentum from the last two instalments but it does find an interesting and weird way to hit pause and refocus after recent dramatic events. It’s hard not to feel that everything is building to the moment where we see Peter’s new Observer powers for the first time, although there’s a lot preceding that moment that is very interesting and enjoyable.
Thematically, the show is exploring how both Walter and Peter have changed and how they are reacting to those changes. Here, we see Walter acting arrogantly and recklessly, much like a past version of himself. However, Walter makes it clear that he doesn’t want to become that person again. Peter, on the other hand, is now becoming secretive and closed off in the aftermath of Etta’s death. Olivia asks him to simply talk to her about how he’s dealing with things and he responds by lying to her. It’s still not clear just how much of an effect the Observer technology will have on Peter, but by the end of the episode he’s beginning to see the world rather differently.
In this episode, Walter follows the instructions on a tape that leads him to a “pocket universe” where he had hidden something important. This turns out to be the child empath from the Season 1 episode ‘Inner Child’, but the boy is no longer where Walter expected to find him. The team are left with a radio that may provide an indication of where he’s been moved to and very little time to escape from Observers who have learned their location. It is in the ensuing sequence that Peter gets a chance to deflect some Observer punches and use teleportation to trick the enemy.
The pocket universe is a really strange and interesting place that infuses the episode with uncertainty and makes it compelling. A man named Cecil is discovered to be living there after being thrown into the universe during an explosion (Cecil not making it out alive is what prompts Walter to ponder how he could’ve protected the man’s life if he’d thought to) and the place itself feels like a maze. The episode gets its humour from Walter’s instructions on the tape and it’s particularly amusing to watch Walter from the past suddenly become distracted by a pastry shop.
It’s concerning that Fringe doesn’t really know what to do with Astrid at the moment. She’s always on the sidelines when she used to be more involved. Aside from a couple of minor quibbles, though, this episode is demonstrative of how engaging Season 5 has been so far. It can’t be long before Peter’s new abilities are revealed to the rest of the team and seeing Walter and Olivia react should be fascinating. The pieces of Walter’s plan are also steadily beginning to come together, and the importance of the child and a mysterious man named Donald should keep things intriguing as the season continues.
Aired at 10pm on Wednesday 28 November 2012 on Sky1.
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