On the latest episode of “Fringe,” the mystery of the week works hand-in-hand with Walter’s guilt in dealing with Peter’s truth.
While the story was simple, it was the complicated construct that made for an entertaining viewing with multiple go-arounds of what seemed to be the same story. “White Tulip” paves the way for an episode next week, that — based on the teaser — should be eye-opening at the very least.
“It is not our place to adjust the universe.” — Walter Bishop
Olivia and the team are called in to investigate a mysterious energy drainage aboard a commuter train that leaves its passengers completely devoid of life — and you guessed it, energy. All the while, Walter’s been avoiding Peter, who’s starting to suspect something is not of the ordinary (he makes a comment that Walter seems to be consumed in sadness), even asking Olivia about Walter’s state of being when they arrive at the scene. Of course, she pretends to know nothing. (What is striking is Walter’s handwritten letter to Peter that he keeps safely tucked in his sweater pocket. What if a gust of wind grabbed hold of it?)
Broyles tips Olivia off to an enigmatic 6′ man in a trenchcoat that a witness saw leave the train, which is confirmed by a surveillance photo. Peter and Walter continue to scour the scene for clues. During their investigation, Peter kneels down next to a female victim and studies a cell phone, standing up to grab Olivia’s attention. The camera lingers on the same spot and one of the investigators notices a thick white envelope under the woman’s seat. Walter escapes potential tragedy by grabbing the envelope, which is comparable to a brush with death. Also, his usual sleuthing ways aren’t up to par.
At the lab, Peter asks Walter if anything’s wrong but Walter unconvincingly tells his son that everything is perfectly OK. So they go back to the case at hand. Astrid and Walter have a “great minds think alike” moment; it’s subtle, but a great illustration of their growing tight-knit relationship, even if Walter can’t remember her name. According to Walter’s science, something reached inside the people’s bodies and stopped every cell in their being. Meanwhile, Olivia traces the man in the trenchcoat’s steps around Boston, which leads the team to search for clues in MIT astrophysicist Alistair Peck’s (guest star Peter Weller) apartment, but Alistair himself makes a surprise visit, uttering some heavy words about the “dead” victims on the train: “Those people aren’t dead, miss — not permanently. They soon won’t be, although others soon will be, I’m afraid.”
Alistair, filled with surgical stitches all across his body travels his way back into the “past.” Huh? At least it looks pretty damn cool. We’re brought back to the beginning (or are we?), with Peter’s phone call home, but there are minute details that are different the second go-around and produce a slightly different outcome from the first trip. Interestingly enough, in the second trip, Olivia is the only one who experiences deja vu. Peter defines it as “fate’s way of telling you you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.” “You are right in line with your own destiny,” Peter adds. He’s never felt deja vu before, which is telling and rather heartbreaking for Walter to hear.
Unlike the first go-around, Olivia and Peter question a fellow MIT professor about Alistair’s field of expertise: time travel. Figures. She gives them a few of Alistair’s books that he sent to be proofed several months ago. After going through the books, Walter tells the team that Alistair may have the ability to travel through time; essentially Alistair has been successfully manipulating the space-time continuum.
While Walter translates Alistair’s book, Olivia makes the connection between Alistair’s fiancee Arlette, who died in a car accident, and one of the chapters named after her. “Grief can drive people to extraordinary lengths,” Walter says sadly. The team believes Alistair’s trying to go back to the time she died in order to save her. (It’s becoming increasingly common for grief to be a major player in these “Fringe”-y mysteries.)
Walter has the bright idea to go up to Alistair’s lab at MIT to talk him out of going back in time, since it’d kill another dozen innocent people. (But before he gets up there, we see Alistair insert a piece of metal behind his nipple. That’s just not right …) Torn between the potential hurt he’d be causing for himself and everyone else, Alistair travels back to May 18, 2009 but stays there, dying in the car wreck with his fiancee.
Before Alistair goes back though, Walter confides in him about his dilemma with Peter. It was Walter’s belief that everything that happened to him after he took Peter from the alternate universe was God punishing him. Walter tells Alistair that he’s asked God to send him a sign — a white tulip — so that he knows all has been forgiven. When that time comes, the possibility of Peter forgiving him would be that much higher. Since when was Walter a religious man?
We’re brought back to the start of the episode, with Walter writing his letter to Peter, which implies that everything after that moment never ended up taking place. After struggling with what to do with this letter, Walter throws it into the crackling fire. Instead, he opens a letter from Alistair moments later. It’s a simple gesture but on the crisp white sheet of paper is a drawing of a white tulip.
Walter’s found his sign.
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