Fringe Recap: Black Blotter

And then there were four. Fringe episodes left, that is! But also four Fringe team members, if we are thinking that way, and there are also four lights (holla at my Trek homies). Friday’s outing, “Black Blotter,” was pretty much one giant acid trip courtesy of Walter.  Who else would think to drop acid at a time like this? 

We start out with Astrid getting woken up by the radio making all kinds of beepy static noises.  She pops out of bed and finds both the radio and Walter in the lab.  Of course, this calls for a midnight summit, as she wakes Olivia and Peter (who can’t sleep and must be comforted by Olivia awwww) and they discuss what to do. Walter reveals he has dropped acid to help him remember the plan, and is seeing green sparkle fairies and dead lab assistants and is of no use, but Olivia smartly suggests triangulating the signal. This leads the team to my current state of residence, Connecticut, and a forest that suspiciously still looks like Canada, but I forgive. In the jungle, they discover some skeltons wearing priest garb and another in the Dharma van with a Roger Workman jumpsuit the forest, they discover some Observer skeltons and the body of Sam Weiss (aww! Sam! He is the last Sam Weiss for reals now…) in a van, where he appears to have died on his wounds in a shootout.  Ahem, I just had a Lostie-Dharma flashback. We are momentarily sad for Sam, but then Peter figures out the signal is merely coming from a relay that boosts the signal and Sam died defending it. Hopefully it will lead them to Donald and the Child Observer.

Walter is still having all sorts of delusions, from finding secret notebooks containing his life’s work under the floorboards in the lab to taking a cab to NYC to assist the Observers! What what! It’s ok, he has just dropped more acid and is really with the team, ready to board a boat to Donald’s house. Some loyalists pop up, but are quickly dispatched by Peter and Olivia’s badassery. They approach a house set out on an island (Walter sees the Emerald City or somesuch instead), and are greeted at shotgun-point.  The stranger, a bearded older dude, is guarding his wife and…Child Observer! Who hasn’t aged! The dude demands a password so that he knows they are legit and here to save the world. After an elaborate Monty-Python-style animation in Walter’s tripping mind, the password reveals itself – black umbrella. After a brief chat about how they have cared for the little Observer, nearly lost hope but kept the signal going all these years, the couple releases Child Observer (they had named him Michael) into the custody of the Fringe team. Donald, by the way, is not there. He left Michael with the couple many years ago. Where is Donald? Dead? No one knows.

Back in the lab, Michael sips Olivia’s hot cocoa and she asks him if he knows her, even though they met in another timeline. He nods yes. Curiouser and curiouser! They suppose he also experiences time differently, like Observers do. 

Walter is still wrestling with his inner demons, and decides that night to burn the notebook with his life’s work in it. Only there is no notebook, and his mind has tricked him yet again.  He still frets he is turning into evil Walter, and we leave him and close out the episode with him staring into the mirror. An allegory for so many things! 

My thoughts: meh. We furthered the plan a tiny bit, and got a sweet little scene with Peter and Olivia in the woods, but I felt like this episode was filler. With only four hours to go, Walter-brain animations are not high on my list of priorities. There was a tiny bit of badassery and we found out what happened to Sam Weiss, which was a nice touch. I think I would have liked it better if he’d left the team something to help in their quest, although he did guard the signal. Last week’s outing was so much tighter, and this one felt a bit hasty and not-thought-through. I am still having a really hard time getting behind Walter’s fretting over becoming his old self/Walternate. There seem to be other, more important things at hand. I love John Noble and I love Walter’s amusing penchant for recreational substances, but enough is enough. Young Nina looked cool, though. I’ve missed her this season; I also miss Broyles. Where he at?

Also, this episode felt a bit derivative of Lost. My comments above about the skeletons in the forest and in the van, plus keeping the signal going (aka pushing the button), the child who is different and special (Walt, whose father was Michael), even the halluncinations (harkens back to Charlie, Locke, and Eko) were all a bit too close to Lost, when the plot of Lost is actually nothing like the plot of Fringe. I know we’re all friends in the Abrahms-verse, but it felt like lazy writing.

Burning questions: Is Child Observer/Michael going to grow up to be September? That would be a nice touch. 

Glyphs: GUILT. Walter feels guilty, Peter feels guilty, we get it. 

Episode rating: 5 out of 10 Red Vines

Next week’s episode, bizarrely titled “Anomaly XB-6783746,” is focused on the newly-acquired Michael, and it seems like Windmark gets wind of him awfully fast. Do the Obsevers generally keep the women and children sequestered on their home planet? We’ve never seen any women or kids! Hopefully, we’ll get an answer to that. 

Since we’ve got so little time left with our team, I thought I would lay out what I’d like to see happen before we end for good. Generally, I am predisposed to have very little in the way of expectations for the finales of my favorite shows.  I think this comes from being entrenched in the X-Files during my formative years and seeing it kind of keel over from the weight of itself by the end. For the record, I liked the finale of Lost just fine – the concepts of the characters’ interconnectedness through the Island and through love extending beyond life and death are big and bold, and I liked that the Island was the battleground for good and evil (spoiler alert: good wins!). So much TV has gone out with a whimper in recent years or is still on the air limping toward the finish line that I felt grateful to even get a final season with Fringe while it was still fresh and interesting. That said, here is my wishlist:

1.) That no one dies a useless death; or if one of them goes, they all go

2.) I’d like to see Over There one last time and maybe get some help from our alt-universe friends or the Fringe Division of the future

3.) William Bell needs to show up and either sacrifice himself for the greater good or significantly help the team (I am big on redemption)

4.) I want to find out what happened to September

5.) More Broyles and Nina

6.) That Peter and Olivia end up happy and together (with or without Etta). The only way I see this happening is a complete reset, which could cheapen all they have been through this season. 

What do YOU want for these last four hours? Sound off on OTF’s Facebook page or in the comments! 

Written by: Amy Imhoff

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