Last Thursday's Fringe was the second of two "filler" episodes between Peter running away and the other shoe dropping. It wasn't our favorite episode, but there were five things about it that we really loved. Spoilers ahead...
Joshua Jackson has such great chemistry with his co-stars on Fringe that I wasn't sure how an entire episode of just him solving a mystery by himself was going to work out. And... it was okay. I was kind of shocked by what an egocentric prick he is, but I think that might be sort of the point of the episode. I got the sense that if he'd just let the nice sheriff phone the FBI the first time she wanted to, the case would have been wrapped up by the 15-minute mark. Mostly, I missed the rest of the gang, and started to get seriously annoyed with Peter after about 20 minutes.
And what kind of sadistic weirdo makes a guy a mix CD to help him stay awake while driving — and then makes the first song on the CD one where an indie rocker croons "I could sleep, I could sleeeeeeeeeeep, I could sleeeeeeeeeeeeep" over and over again? Really. She pretty much deserved to lose her temporal lobe, is all I'm saying.
But there were five things we really loved in this episode:
1) Martha Plimpton as Sheriff Mathis. She was rugged, tough, vulnerable, a little kooky, and the perfect foil for Peter. If she'd been too self-assured, she never would have gotten sucked into believing his nonsense for as long she did. For a guest-star-of-the-week, she felt like she had a really fleshed-out backstory, and she really benefited from all the screen time Olivia, Walter, Astrid and Broyles didn't get this time around.
2) Peter getting to be Walter for once. He even got to do a weird experiment of his own. Most of his "detective" work in the episode was sort of wack, but then he pulled out that great "tracking the spikes in adrenaline" thing — which seemed even sillier than the show's usual pseudoscience but was still awesome — I was all excited to see that Peter really was a chip off the old block.
3) Walter Vs. Poptarts. Don't try to poison Walter Bishop with your potassium bromate!! There's a reason this scene has already become a Youtube classic. (The best clip of it on Youtube isn't embeddable, but here's a pretty good copy.) Generally the scenes of Walter falling apart were classic, and it was hard not to feel like "thank the stars" when John Noble finally appeared on our screens after being AWOL for a big chunk of episode.
4) The crazy moments of paranoia. I did like the occasional moments of trippiness and spookiness where you wonder if Peter is going bonkers, especially the "chasing phantoms in the woods" scene.
5) The final minute of the episode. Honestly, this was the part that thrilled me. The brief glimpse of "Walternate," who's apparently in a position of authority on the other side, was pretty outstanding. And the hints that we're about to see Peter and his real dad finally hash things out. Not to mention all the stuff in the super-brief teaser for next week's episode, with the brunette Olivia and the oppressive alternate world — if there's any justice in the multiverse, it should be epic.
So yeah, a bit of a treading-water episode, except for what it sets up for this week. But what did you think?