There are times when watching Fringe that I think, geez, I should drop some acid!
"Black Blotter" featured a few of those moments as Walter witnessed fairies dancing and remembered secret, long lost important code words - but in the end reality was still there, and it somehow seemed stronger than ever. I think Walter can keep his acid trips, as living in the present comes with a strong enough undercurrent for me, thank you very much.
We were back to normal this week, as normal as things get on Fringe; the radio they picked up in the pocket universe in "Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There" suddenly started giving off a signal. Instead of searching for betamax tapes, they were off on a hunt of a different nature, and it was good to change up the pace a bit.
Olivia and Peter had a chance to talk and Peter apologized for what a colossal ass he had been for plunging forward with the Observer tech and leaving Olivia again, the one thing he promised he'd never do again. It felt like they were finally a couple, certainly stressed and not set free of their past, but moving forward and working together again. It was something we needed in Fringe Season 5, and was done in such a way that didn't put too much emphasis on it, but enough to show how much they cared for one another.
While they didn't immediately find the signal, they did find a signal reflector, which at one time was being protected by Sam Weiss, who was very dead when they came across him. I so enjoyed him in his standout episode, "The Last Sam Weiss" in Fringe Season 3 and while I knew he wouldn't make another appearance, knowing he went down fighting was a bittersweet ending for such a mythical character.
The whole time Peter and Olivia were out in search of the signal, Walter was tripping on acid. Astrid had her hands full as he struggled to forget the horrible man he believed was taking over his more lovable side. Doing battle in his mind were Dr. Carla Warren, his old lab assistant who died in the fire and the reason he ended up in the mental institution and a young Nina Sharpe. Carla was the naysayer, reminding him he had been the bad man far longer than he had the good and to give up any hope he had to keep hold of the man he had become in the years since her death.
Nina represented the man he was after his brain pieces had been removed, but also who he was with them back in, as she believed he could work beyond the brain and continue fighting for good. Her character had a much smaller role in his trip than Carla, if you were wondering which side was winning out. I really thought he had found the book Carla had set the fire to burn, containing Walter's life's work; the work that enabled him to consider himself a god. But finding the book was all a part of the trip.
By taking the acid, Walter was hoping to lose more of the man he thought was becoming again, but instead he remembered more of the man he once was, reliving formulas and equations once long forgotten. He looked at the book as he burned it only to find an empty bowl. Burning it would do no good, as what he activated with the trip was alive once more.
We never did find out for sure if Nina promised to help him remove his brain chunks again, but we had confirmation from Walter that she had - unless that was another part of his trip. That's the weird thing about acid. As viewers, we have no idea now what was true and what wasn't. Generally, I'd say the bad parts were dominating, completely nullifying my "geez, I should try acid" thought in the opening paragraph. It would appear nothing good can come of it.
Olivia, Peter, Walter and Astrid all descended upon the island where the signal was coming from and that's where they discovered the Observer child, Michael. The one that was left, we thought, in the pocket universe. Donald had left him with a nice couple who cared for him for 20 years, a child who never grew. Perhaps never spoke? We've pondered in the comments and Fringe Round Table discussions a fitting end for the Observers and emotion plays a large part of that chatter. Michael wiped the tears from his "mother's" cheek. He seems devoid of emotion, but clearly he is not.
It was also incredibly cool that he and Olivia and Peter could all remember each other from a time frame that nobody else can remember. That had to make it easier for him to leave all he has known for the past two decades and leave with what would otherwise have been total strangers. It's like they share their own secret bond that nobody else will ever understand.
Michael seems more like September in his actions and reactions to those around him. When Olivia gave him hot cocoa and he took a sip, an expression overtook his face. Just a hint, but enough to know there was more to him than a blank canvas of logical thought. Perhaps that is why he is such an integral part of Walter's plan to put an end to the Observers occupation. Whatever it is that makes Michael special will be the key to their downfall. I'm also incredibly curious why he never aged in 20 years. There is still so much we don't know about the Observers and life in 2036 and we have four hours of Fringe left.
Four hours. Can you believe it? I can't. I'm worried for Walter. With his support system back in place, if they can keep his hands out of the acid jar, perhaps they can protect him from himself. He is so frightened of who he might become again that he's forgetting the person he already is, and is allowing his malevolent nature to creep in. As long as he is aware that it's there, he can keep it at bay. With the love of his family, the odds only go up.
What did you think of this week's episode? How will Michael fit into the plan to arrest the Observers and stop them from further damaging the world? Is Fringe on the right track for a spectacular series finale?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.