The Fringe, Episode 20: Brown Betty = Fail

I’ve been into the Fringe again and it’s picked up some good momentum this season. I’ve enjoyed the emotional struggle (or maybe the moral obligation) Walter has been having with determining whether he should tell Peter his (Peter’s) true origins (spoiler: Peter is not Walter’s actual son, but an alternate Walter’s son from an alternate universe). The struggle and weight on Walter, as well as the strain on Walter’s relationships with Peter and Olivia, have been a nice, but subdued, subplot. However, with this last episode, Brown Betty, I’m afraid the show has derailed and this subplot has taken over as the new theme.

Episode 18: White Tulip seemed to hit a high water mark in terms of story telling for this season and I was looking forward to more episodes like that. I think what disappointed me most about Brown Betty was the fact that this episode was so cheap and non-creative. (I enjoy the Fringe partly for its creativity.)  Anna Torv recently had a bit-part in the HBO series The Pacific (Peleliu Landing) wherein she played the movie star Virginia Grey around period 1944. Did the Fringe crew simply not want to change her hair style and decided to make a 1940s film-noir type detective story based on her hair? And then did the Fringe crew say to themselves, “Hey let’s do something really wacky and make this a musical episode like Joss Whedon’s done on Buffy, Angel, and that really funny Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog!” Whedon’s perfected musical episodes but the Fringe crew failed to deliver. (Coincidentally, yesterday NPR ran a year old broadcast of This American Life in which Whedon performed a song from the DVD commentary of Dr. Horrible spoofing the idea of DVD commentaries. Fringe crew: Please note that Whedon’s DVD commentary is done as a musical, further indicating that doing musical episodes is not original.) As a side note, I must admit that having Walter sing, Head Over Heels by Tears for Fears was pretty, pretty good.

I guess the last thing I found disappointing about this episode was that I could not connect emotionally with it. It was just too silly. The glass heart? Breaking it in two to share? Comparisons to the game Operation? Bzzzzt. I’d previously been emotionally moved by the struggle Walter’s been having in earlier episodes. In the final scene of White Tulip I sensed that he’d reached some peace and there was some emotional catharsis on his part associated with the sign he’d received (and had been seeking). But Brown Betty just didn’t do it and sadly derailed the momentum the show has been building. And from the previews of next week’s episode, I’m not so sure the series is getting back on track before the end of the season. Sad (pathetically not emotionally).


3 Responses to “The Fringe, Episode 20: Brown Betty = Fail”

  1. 1 Becky May 3, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Oh exactly. Weird, and not in a good way. Every time someone started singing it was jarring.

  2. 2 Playe May 3, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    No offense but how can you know that the series will not get back on track (or do you know mean, the show isn’t going your way?) based on a 30 second preview? I mean really? Why don’t you watch the last 3 episodes before making accusations like that.

    • 3 danamellerio May 3, 2010 at 11:41 pm

      Fair enough. . . and it’s not like we all haven’t been led astray be previews before. I’ll certainly be watching the next three episodes (but I still have that little sinking feeling).

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