“Subject 13”

Can all Fringe episodes be set in the eighties?  Alas, I cannot make that request with full sincerity, because if every episode of Fringe was a flashback episode, then they probably would not all reach the storytelling heights that were reached last season with “Peter” and this season with “Subject 13.”  John Noble’s portrayals of the two Walter’s became more and more legendary in an episode that screamed multidimensionality.  As the main-universe Walter, he alternated between an overreaching manipulator and a surrogate father figure for a young Olivia abused by her stepfather (I get choked up just thinking about the moment when Walter warns her stepfather what he will do if he ever harms her again).  As Walternate, he was not yet the obsessed revenge-seeker that Fringe fans had come to know him as, but instead a man driven to despair, both because of the loss of his child and the failure and of his cognitive abilities, as he was unable to figure out the circumstances of his son’s kidnapping.  The most tantalizing scene was the test footage of Walter attempting to coax Olivia’s ability to cross over.  Another J.J. Abrams creation – Lost – was most consistently successful in terms of amping up a mysterious mood with its use of test footage, and Fringe has now shown itself to be just as capable with this simple, yet clever technique.  The scene in which Olivia crosses over and speaks to Walternate teased what was still to come, thankfully making it clear that the eighties storyline is not finished.

Next up: Community