FRINGE 2.20: Brown Betty – what are you smoking?

Olivia Dunham, P.I.

FRINGE took some chances this week by using one of those oddball “tell me a story” plotlines. In this case, Olivia’s niece Emma begged for a tale from Walter, who had just indulged in a custom-blended pot smoking binge. That combined with his grief over Peter’s disappearance to produce a strange noir that was equal parts Dashiell Hammett, Broadway, The Princess Bride and a pinch of The Wizard of Oz.

Olivia was cast as a hard-boiled private eye, hired by a woman named Rachel to find her missing fiancé, Peter Bishop, who has absconded with an artificial heart. The fun came from seeing the twisted versions of familiar faces. The period dress and hairstyles were great. Even stuffy Broyles (Lance Reddick) got in on the fun. I loved the mixture of old cars with cell phones. Walter cast himself as a crippled scientist who invented all the wonderful things in the world (chocolate bars and teddy bears), as well as singing corpses (“Why not bring a little life to the dead?”) – and an artificial, glass heart. Kudos to John Noble and Anna Torv for bravely warbling a couple of tunes – especially after Jasika Nicole (Astrid) showed off her trained pipes.

Walter said that in all great stories, not everything is as it seems. And, even though it was his own story, Walter turned out to be the baddie, and the ostensibly sinister Peter (Joshua Jackson) the hero. Peter revealed that Walter does not come by the inspiration for his inventions honestly: “He steals children’s dreams and replaces them with nightmares.” Creepy. But, remember, with the way Walter is feeling, of course he was going to beat himself up and canonize his son.

Walter tried to leave it with a FRINGE-type down ending, but Emma would not stand for it. She insisted on retelling it with a happy ending – one that was exactly like a child would think up: Peter had compassion for the villain, who still had good in him, and the hero and heroine danced. (This kid should be writing soap operas…)

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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