Friday, December 4, 2009

Fringe 2.9: Walter's Journey

I prefer when Fringe moves its central double universe story along, but tonight's episode 2.9 offered an excellent standalone story anyway, with excellent, emotionally powerful development of Walter in the bargain.

Chinese smuggling of drugs on ships with human carriers is a frequent source of crime in our TV police and FBI shows. Fringe 2.9 gave it a new twist: Chinese smuggling of alien-like creatures, that begin as worms, that provide strong boosts to people with weak or damaged immune systems. The human carriers are no less victimized than if they were carrying drugs. But the medicinal payoff offers a nice ethical ambiguity, and the possibility of symbiotic organisms giving immune benefits is a good science fictional gambit, rooted, as is the case with all good science fiction, in actual science. After all, the bacteria we consume in yogurt help with our digestion, and there are likely other symbionts in our bodies that help our lives. (One of my novels, The Consciousness Plague, is about organisms that help us think, so I'm especially partial to symbiont stories.)

Meanwhile, Walter wants to start living more independently, like an adult - an individual who can go to and fro as he pleases, without Peter's or Astrid's watchful eyes. It's a touching and effective story, and John Noble's fine acting makes it one-hundred percent believable. Jasika Nicole puts in her best performance so far as Astrid, too. But can Walter, so seriously damaged, ever become self-sufficient and totally adult? The answer, so far, is yes and no. But the ending of this episode shows Walter is making genuine progress - he implants a tracking device in his neck, and gives Peter the finder. In that way, Peter can always find Walter in the future (that is, in future episodes of Fringe).

Speaking of which, next week's Fringe looks to be a good one, with more on the two universes...

7-min podcast review of Fringe

See also Top Notch Return of Fringe Second Season ... Fringe 2.2 and The Mole People ... Fringe 2.3 and the Human Body as Bomb ... Fringe 2.4 Unfolds and Takes Wing ... Fringe 2.5: Peter in Alternate Reality and Wi-Fi for the Mind ... A Different Stripe of Fringe in 2.6 ... The Kid Who Changed Minds in Fringe 2.7 ... Fringe 2.8: The Eternal Bald Observers

See also reviews of Season One Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ... 17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect ... 18. Heroes and Villains across Fringe ... Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek in Penultimate Fringe ... Fringe Alternate Reality Finale: Science Fiction At Its Best

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