Walter Bishop has always been one of the central characters to Fringe. This is hardly a revelatory statement. But as the series has progressed it becomes more and more apparent that he may be the central figure of the series — the one on which the mythology of the series hinges. This episode, in which the team investigates three mental patients' sudden rehabilitation, only underlines that fact as it shows how important Walter is to the enemy as well as the good guys.
"Grey Matters" opened with a few familiar faces — namely Thomas Jerome Newton, whose head had just been reacquainted with his shoulders last we saw him. Newton and his cohorts perform a gruesome little operation on one Mr. Slater, removing something from his brain before rushing off. We soon came to learn that whatever this operation was, it cured Mr. Slater of his severe schizophrenia that he had suffered from for 14 years. The team traces Mr. Slater's history and finds that he was admitted by a Dr. Paris, who has completely disappeared. When they investigate two of Paris' other patients, they find that they too had very recently been "cured" of their severe mental disorders. Walter posits that the three patients had brain tissue stored in their brains to keep it viable, but whose brain tissue could it be? Well, even more digging into Paris reveals that he visited Walter six times while he was at St. Claire's (something not even Peter managed to do in 14 years) and, of course, it was Walter's brain tissue being stored in these other patients.
Peter and Olivia quickly realize that these pieces of Walter's brain are where his memories of opening the door to Earth-2 reside, and that Newton is trying to get back. Unfortunately they don't act quickly enough, and Walter is taken by Newton before they can stop him. Newton and company try to extract Walter's memory but soon realize they need to do so in a familiar place to him. So, they take him back to the house where he originally hatched the plan to open the door to the other dimension. They achieve their goal, but not before Peter and Olivia can catch up with them. Of course, Newton has prepared for such a situation and leaves Olivia with a choice: save Walter from the poison he injected him with or arrest Newton and leave Walter to die.
I was surprised that I actually wondered what Olivia would do. I mean, I knew Walter wouldn't die, but Olivia has always had a troubled relationship with him. She's never had quite the emotional connection Peter and Astrid have and Walter did try an experimental drug on her as a child. So, you know, there's some resentment there. But she made the emotional choice and saved Walter, letting Newton escape, a decision she beat herself up over later. But the stone-faced Broyles put it best, "There's only one Walter Bishop... and we'll be needing him before this over."
We were left with Walter getting another MRI, but this time it triggered a memory of when his brain was operated on by Dr. Paris 14 years prior. Only Dr. Paris isn't some mustache-twirling villain, it's William Bell. He thinks it's too dangerous for Walter to have the knowledge about inter-dimensional travel, so they removed it for safe-keeping. Unfortunately, it wasn't safe enough.
What did you think, readers? Was this episode satisfying enough to tide you over till January? Or did it just leave you with more questions? Like I said before, it really deepened just how important Walter is to both sides. He figured out inter-dimensional travel in a way even William Bell couldn't. Who knows what else he has stored in his brain that could be helpful? Post your thoughts below.
- Olivia was definitely more present this week, but she didn't seem to have an emotional through-line for the episode. The writers really need to get into the experiments done on her and why she is special soon, before I stop caring about her character at all.
- Also, they hinted yet again at Peter's death when he was a child. Seriously, writers, get to this storyline. It desperately needs to be addressed.
- Peter and Walter provided for much of the emotional heft this week. It's nice to see that Walter has pretty much ceased being a nuisance to Peter and has become so very important to him.
- Olivia had some particularly woeful B-Movie lines this week: "I know what I have to do, I have to stop him" and "How can I fight what I can't understand?" Good thing they have a superb actress delivering those lines.
- I don't know about you guys but Walter always either eats something or has a craving for something that I then develop a craving for. This week was chicken wings.
Walter Bishop has always been one of the central characters to Fringe. This is hardly a revelatory statement. But as the series has progressed it becomes more and more apparent that he may be the central figure of the series — the one on which the mythology of the series hinges. This episode, in which the team investigates three mental patients' sudden rehabilitation, only underlines that fact as it shows how important Walter is to the enemy as well as the good guys...