I like "Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There" but honestly expected a little bit more out of it. The promo at the end of "An Origin Story" honestly made me expect a bit more, but I ultimately give the episode 8.5 acceptable losses. This episode is a bit lacking for me, and I, therefore, feel that a rating of 8.5 is a bit high, but there are reasons that I couldn't bring myself to drop it any lower than that. For example, season 1 leaves us with a major question that is unanswered, and that is the identity of the Child from "Inner Child" (1.15), and finally, we receive confirmation that he, indeed, is an Observer. This is something of which most of us were already sure, but it was still very rewarding to finally receive that confirmation, to know for sure. The actor playing the Child is not the same actor as the one who played him during "Inner Child" (1.15), but that does not bother me because that is completely understandable; they probably needed him to be the same age, and obviously, the first actor would be older by now. Did we learn everything about the Child? No; we still don't know why he was underground or how he had been there for so long without aging. We also see in this episode that the writers are not just going to dismiss Donald, that he is going to be important and that we are going to see more of him, and that is always good. Someone called into the Fringe Podcast and suggested that he is the same Donald that we see in "August" (2.08), no longer dead because he didn't die in this timeline, and that is a good theory. I am really happy that the writers aren't just throwing us curveballs, that they are going to reward us for standing by. I just really hope that we are going to learn of the significance of Rogue/Mosley because he certainly remains a major mystery.
I really love how at the very beginning of the episode, Walter sits down for a new tape, and on the tape, Walter says, "Hello, it's me, but you know that already." It sort of reminds me of when Walter, during a season 1 episode, says hello to Peter and says that it's him, his father. This tape is really quite funny, such as when there is a man behind Walter on the bus, a man who is staring at him, and Walter turns around and says, "May I help you?" Another funny part of the tape is when Walter completely stops what he's doing, sees a pastry shop, and says, "Is that raspberry filling?" There is an incredibly beautiful scene between Peter and Olivia near the beginning of the episode when Olivia says that it's fine that Peter goes to Etta's apartment but that she wants to go, too, wants to be included. "I want to understand what you're going through," she says, "and I want you to understand what I'm going through." This is a very beautiful scene, but at the same time, it drives me crazy that Peter is lying to her and continues to do so throughout the episode. We have seen a lot of secrets on Fringe. Firstly, Walter kept Peter's identity from him for so long, or place of origin, as would probably be more accurate, and when Olivia found it, she kept it from Peter as per Walter's request. Then, Peter killed Shapeshifters, and the reverse happened; Walter knew, but Peter told him not to tell Olivia. Now, of course, Peter has implanted Observer technology into himself, and he is keeping it from everyone. The reason that I bring all of this up is because I think that these secrets help illustrate moral differences between Peter and Olivia and possibly even who loves the other more. During the one time that Olivia had to keep a secret from Peter, doing so tore her apart; she hated it, but when we've seen Peter having to keep a secret from her, it doesn't seem to bother him too much.
When we see some sort of surveillance device scanning Walter, I was totally reminded of Person of Interest, and I can't remember whether or not the same thought occurred to anyone else. I was in the Fringe Podcast chatroom the night that this episode aired, but as always, I only check it during commercial breaks and then after the episode is over so that I can submit my Bunsen Burner rating, so if anyone said that that scene reminded him or her of Person of Interest, I didn't see it, and I can't remember if Darrell of the Fringe Podcast said so during the podcast episode (I don't mention Clint because I don't think that he has seen Person of Interest). The woman in the apartment reminded me of a Borg with her strange electronic eye device, and I know that I am not the only one who thought so because Darrell said the same, and I doubt that that was a coincidence because the Borg are directly referenced during the premiere episode when an Observer says that "resistance is futile," and Etta says that she is pretty sure that she has heard that before. Another entertainment link that my mind linked (which I did see others say, too, in the chatroom) is to Inception when Walter and Cecil walk upside down through the hallway in the pocket universe, and speaking of the pocket universe, I love the scene right before the opening theme when Walter does his crazy, unnecessary dance before entering the pocket universe and just disappears through some sort of wormhole when he does enter it; that is definitely such a cool, crazy way to open the episode, and I love that scene.
Cecil is one factor of the episode that brings it down for me. He is a throwaway character who serves no purpose other than to show us that time works differently in this pocket universe, since he has been there for twenty years or so even though it has only been five days for him. I immediately knew that he would be redshirted because (a) he immediately smells like an episodic character, and the team wouldn't leave him in the pocket universe, and (b) he wouldn't have had anywhere to which to return, and I couldn't see him following the team around. Walter says that he couldn't have survived five days without food or water, and initially, I wasn't sure if this were true because I have heard stories of people going weeks without food and surviving, but this actually is true, as Walter says food and water. I did a bit of research, and while it's true that humans can live for a few weeks without food, we can only live three to five days without water. It is a shame that Cecil, who only wanted to escape the pocket universe so that he can return to his family, learns that (a) about twenty years have actually passed, and (b) that means that his family is probably dead, but as I said, I saw it coming. Initially, I thought that Walter being so cruel, such as when he refers to Cecil as an acceptable loss, was only because he was extremely determined, and while he is determined, we learn that that is also because his old personality, the one that existed prior to pieces of his brain having been removed, is resurfacing, and he's becoming more like Walternate (I think that that is the "him" to which he refers at the end of the episode), and it's so sad that Peter, in an effort to console him after Walter heartbreakingly says, "I'm losing the man that you helped me become" (did anyone else find it odd that Walter called him Pete?), says that he won't let Walter lose himself and then calls him dad, something which has always been a prelude to tragedy in the past, so I am definitely scared.
As aforementioned, we finally learn that the Child from "Inner Child" (1.15) is, indeed, an Observer, and we learned this due to the fact that there was an oxygen deprivation tank in the room where Walter left the Child. We still don't know why he was underground when he was discovered in "Inner Child" but no matter because I strongly believe that we will; this episode ends making it clear, I think, that we haven't seen the last of him, that he will come back into play, especially since he is apparently such a crucial part of the plan to defeat the Observers. The underground discovery leads me to two possible conclusions (although what is actually true probably won't be either of these). The first is that that is where the Child went as a result of having been stowed in the pocket universe, but there are problems with this. (a) It still doesn't explain how he could have been there for decades without aging, and (b) Walter gives us the impression that that case did not happen in this timeline, so why would the Child have gone back to a different timeline than this one? The other possibility that comes to mind is that the Child is actually a young version of September, and the underground area that we see in "Inner Child" is where he was put as a result of having been locked out of the universe by the other Observers during season 4. This still doesn't explain why it was another timeline to which he was sent, but his agelessness could be due to technology that the Observers have; maybe, when an Observer is locked out of the universe, they cannot age, and maybe, the arrival of the Beacon during "The Arrival" (1.04) was September being sent to that underground area, but then again, that can't be because he had been there for decades (obviously, I am using this episode review as a thinking pad; forgive me). I don't know; those are just some thoughts.
I find it very odd how Peter is shocked by Walter not remembering the Child from "Inner Child" because there is an obvious explanation - Walter never experienced that case. That immediately suggested to me that at some point during the 2012-2015 span, the timeline was restored to its previous state, but then, Olivia says, "Maybe, Walter doesn't remember the same way we do." That is a vague statement, and purposefully so, most likely, but I can only assume that she is referring to the timeline reset. I also find it odd that Walter would have utilized the Child without Peter and Olivia having known, and we know that that's true because both seem surprised that Walter had, in fact, been utilizing him, and Peter references "Inner Child" to try to help jog Walter's memory, not a 2015 event. Why would Walter, who apparently hadn't even experienced that case, be consulting the Child without Olivia and Peter having known, the only two who apparently had met the Child in this timeline? Another poignant question: since the Child is, indeed, an Observer, does that mean that his memories did not change when the timeline was reset, that he still remembered Peter? It's all very mind-boggling, but I just hope that we find out why he was underground, in that timeline, and why he hadn't aged for decades. I would assume that Observers normally do age since (a) they are of human origin, and (b) they are of different ages; Observers such as December and Windmark, for example, are older. I think that we will get such answers, though; the writers giving us the Child this episode was, I think, intended to say that they haven't forgotten about him, and we realize that he is still a lingering mystery, but don't worry because that mystery will be solved this season, and I can't wait to stick around.
Another reason that this episode loses a couple of points is that once again, Astrid is left alone, and that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. This time, it's even more dangerous than before because it's not like she's hiding underground in a basement that isn't used anymore; she's basically out in the open, and if trouble were to arrive, she would have no way of notifying the team to tell them to get out of the pocket universe. I don't understand why she didn't go into the pocket universe with them; a stakeout just makes no sense, especially since she was left alone. If they had wanted to feel extra safe by having someone watch a window, then either Peter or Olivia should have stayed with her rather than left her alone, and repeatedly this season, we have seen Astrid foolishly left alone in an unsafe place. Astrid is, once again, being marginalized and is not getting the opportunity to do any work in the field, and it's extremely frustrating. Speaking of Observers arriving at the apartment building, though, here's an interesting question that I haven't seen or heard anyone else ask (besides my brother) - why do the Observers need vehicles? We know that they can pop in and out of space and time, so why would they need a vehicle to get from one to place to another? Windmark, after all, whooshed himself out of the building where Etta was killed. That is just very odd. Sure enough, though, Astrid is, indeed, attacked, and while I can only hope that that will teach the team a thing or two about leaving Astrid alone, I doubt that it will. I shrieked, by the way, when that happened, and I also shrieked when an Observer attacked Olivia; the writers, via killing Etta, have basically already said to us that killing characters to whom we are attached is fair game.
Something else that doesn't make any sense is the fact that time in the pocket universe and time in the Blueverse was apparently parallel while the team was in the pocket universe during this episode, even though that was not the case for Cecil. Walter, in fact, had known this ahead of time back in 2015 because he leaves the Child in the pocket universe and tells him that he will be back very soon. Mathematically (yes, I did actually do the math), if the team perceived the amount of time that they were in the pocket universe as being about an hour (which I would say is probably accurate) and if Cecil was in the pocket universe for about twenty years, then Astrid should have been watching through that window for about sixty-one days, and that is obviously assuming that the amount of time that passed in the pocket universe and the amount of time that passed in the Blueverse while Cecil was in the pocket universe is constant, but even so, it still looked to me like Astrid waited the same amount of time as the team was in the pocket universe. As usual, we see a very observant Olivia during this episode. She notices that the small radio, now present in the room where Walter left the Child, was not present in the room in the video, and I wonder how this radio will come into play. Maybe, either the Child or Donald will contact them via the radio? We also see Peter now with superpowers, which is pretty cool, especially when he snaps the Observer's neck after the Observer tells Peter that he doesn't know what he has done and that he has "made a grave mistake," another reason that the episode gets points, and it's also cool how, at the very end of the episode, we see how Observers see, as Peter now sees this way. I also love the fact that the doors in the pocket universe have the glyphs on them (even though I was hoping for a deeper insight into their significance), and I love the Alice in Wonderland references. This is definitely a decent and very trippy episode, but between Cecil being an obvious redshirt, the Child not being fully resolved (even though I know that he will be), and the pocket universe seeming to be an episodic setting (although, who knows - maybe, we will return to it), it's just not one of my favorites.