Fringe (2010) – Brown Betty, and Northwest Passage

Peter (Joshua Jackson) is in the wind somewhere, and Walter (John Noble) is attempting to deal with things in his own way, he smokes up on some Brown Betty and gets insanely high.

All of this wouldn’t be too bad if Olivia (Anna Torv) didn’t show up with her niece, Ella (Lily Pilblad) in the hopes that Astrid (Jasika Nicole) will look after her while she runs down some leads on Peter.

Walter keeps Ella occupied by telling her a 40s-era detective story (with the occasional musical interlude) casting the people he knows into the story’s roles, with Olivia as the cynical, hard-drinking detective at the story’s center.

Brown Betty was written by Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman, and Akiva Goldsman. It first aired on 29 April, 2010.

The episode is a lot of fun, and the lighting and the costumes (the cast must have loved this one) have a noir gloss to them never quite embracing the dark heart of noir, Walter is telling the story to a little girl after all. It features strange combinations of technology, Massive Dynamic is using classic telephones, but computers and cellphones exist.

Walter tells the story as a way to express his sorrow over the fact that Peter has left, and broken his heart. But Ella concocts a happier end to the story.

We learn by the episode’s end that Olivia’s leads led nowhere and that the Observer (Michael Ceveris) is keeping a very careful eye on events, specifically Walter, right now. So while not a mythology episode, it definitely plays into the character arcs for the series.

Northwest Passage channels its inner Twin Peaks to show us what Peter is up to. He’s on the run, but inadvertently runs into Newton (Sebastian Roche) and works with a local sheriff (Martha Plimpton) to track him down and stop whatever he’s up to.

Written by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Nora Zuckerman, and Lilla Zuckerman this episode first aired on 6 May, 2010, and is the penultimate episode before the two-part season finale.

Peter contacts Broyles (Lance Reddick) and asks for help while also asking that he keeps Walter and Olivia in the dark about where he is.

He and Mathis, the sheriff, investigate a series of mysterious leads that Peter recognizes as Newton’s work (including slices of brain being removed) but will they find him in time to stop whatever he’s up to.

We also get a glimpse to see how Walter is dealing with the loss of Peter, and he’s not having an easy time of it. He has a breakdown in a grocery store and Olivia and Astrid promise to figure out a way to help him and keep him out of an institution.

It’s a great character piece for Peter, and it’s also important to see that Walter is not in a good place. And Mathis is a good enough investigator that she’s able to make sure Peter heads back to where he’s needed. But he’s interrupted on the way by Newton and the reveal of who Newton is working for… Walter-nate!

Next time, we finish season two!

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