FRINGE 2.18: Gotta get back in time

Walter

FRINGE always does strange and off-the-wall pretty well, but this week’s episode excelled at creating a sense of melancholy that hung over the story like low cloud cover.

Genre demigod Peter WellerRoboCop himself, who will always be known as the eponymous hero of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension – guested as Alistair Peck, a scientist who discovered a way to travel back in time. While his mission was selfless – he wanted a chance to stop his fiancée from being killed in a car crash 10 months ago – his methods were selfish: His technology consumed huge quantities of energy; energy that was sucked out of electrical devices and human beings alike, killing them. Mad scientists like Peck are usually played with eye-rolling mania or loopy enthusiasm, but Weller played Peck with quiet determination. He was undermining his own humanity by replacing his own body with mechanical parts, so matter if were to lose something as ephemeral as a soul? Peck said it himself, that science itself is God; technology is the only higher power he needs. (And no, the irony was not lost on me that Weller was playing yet another tragic character that was more machine than man – and this time it was his own doing.)

Aside from Weller’s remarkably deep performance, what made the story special was how Peck’s mission paralleled Walter’s own foray into the other dimension to snatch Peter away from his home. Walter recognized that Peck was trying to play God, tried to stop him from making the same mistake. John Noble, who had been moping around as the guilt-wracked Walter, put a lot of soul into Walter’s low-key appeal for Peck to abandon his mad scheme. The pain of hard-won experience was in Walter’s eyes as he explained that he felt regret every time he looked at Peter. Walter was driven mad by his guilt, and now wished to spare Peck that same terrible fate. I was more than a little surprised to hear Walter confess to believing in God, but I suppose it is understandably in a man so tormented by his own past.

I am certain that no one familiar with time-travel stories expected Peck to save his sweetie, so it was inevitable that she would still die in some sort of a crash, just as she was always “meant” to, but did Peck also perish? I, for one, hope he will be back.

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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