Fringe - "Grey Matters" (2.10)

Grey Matters” is a major step-up from the previous episode, “Snakehead,” and I give it eight and a half chicken wings. If nothing else, this episode certainly does give us a lot to think about during this lengthy holiday hiatus. Speaking of the hiatus, I have heard both good news and bad news from the Fringe Podcast. The bad news is that Fringe will not be returning January 7th like it was supposed to return. Instead, it will be returning one week later on January 14th (even though there will be a surprise on January 11th, which I will discuss later). As you probably already know, this season is scheduled to contain twenty-two episodes, and at this point, the schedule was set up perfectly in order to fit those twenty-two episodes. With this week-long delay, it will not be possible to fit all twenty-two episodes into the season. That sounds like bad news, but this is where the good news comes into play. The season finale will air on Thursday, May 13 and will be two hours long, and a two-hour finale is definitely good news to me. Anyway, as I always advise, do not read any further if you have never seen Fringe but would like to, since it will contain spoilers.

The opening scene of this episode is so great. Slater seems almost as if he is hypnotized, and despite the fact that the back of his head is completely open, he remains very calm, and this is really what makes the scene so disturbing. When the nurse comes to the door and sees him in the state in which he is, all he does is calmly say, “Help me.” I do kind of like Newton, since he kind of reminds me of Jones. Don't get me wrong, however; I still really miss Jones, and Newton will not be replacing him any time soon. Hopefully, this season doesn't do the same as the first season did and kill Newton off at the end. I am still hopeful for the day that Jones will return via alter-Jones, and hopefully that is something that will happen eventually, because Jones was such a cool villain, and it's disappointing that he was killed off so quickly with so many questions unanswered.

The scene in which Dr. West is explaining Slater's background to Olivia annoys me because a good deal of it is nothing more than exposition. She tells Olivia that Slater has been a patient for fourteen years and that he has been diagnosed with Acute Paranoid Schizophrenia. Olivia then says, “His file says that he suffered from delusions, false memories and severe emotional swings,” which West confirms. Those are basically the symptoms of Acute Paranoid Schizophrenia, and Olivia probably knows that. It seems like she should, anyway. However, it's quite obvious that the line was dropped into the script so that viewers would know exactly what it is, just in case there was anyone who didn't, which I'm sure there was. It was helpful but hokey, and I hated it.

Something odd that I would like to point out is Walter's apparent lack of nerves in the mental institution in this episode. In episode 2.05, “Dream Logic,” he is so bothered by being in the hospital in Seattle, which isn't even a mental institution. In this episode, though, he isn't anywhere near as disturbed as he is in “Dream Logic,” and this
is a mental institution. I'm not going to say that he is not shaken up at all because it is quite obvious that, as it reminds him of his time at St. Claire's, it does. This is especially obvious during the scene in which he insists on seeing Slater when he was insane, and they therefore review a videotape. You can tell from the look on his face that it crushes him as he wonders whether or not he was ever that bad or possibly knows of a time in which he was and is being reminded of it. Walter is definitely a character for which to feel a great deal of sympathy in this episode.

During the scene in which Peter and Olivia are talking to Deborah Crampton, I thought for sure that when she said that it was only one number with which she was obsessed, she was going to say “47.” I was actually very surprised when she said that the number with which she was obsessed is 28, because that would have been a perfect time to throw it in, but perhaps they felt as if that would have been
tooblunt. Anyway, I love how during the scene in which Walter is explaining how he had once tried to convert brain tissue from one organism to another but failed to do so, he just happens to have a brain lying around his lab. Of course, I really wouldn't put that past him. When he and Peter got his car in episode 1.02, “The Same Old Story,” they found a hand in a glass jar, so it's probably not that far-fetched when it's Walter who is the topic of discussion.

So, from the ending of the episode, we know that William Bell is Dr. Paris, but this just leads to more questions, which is so typical of J.J. Did he have anything to do with Walter being questioned in the comic book series? In the sixth and final comic book, Walter is repeatedly visited by someone while he is at St. Claire's. That someone is trying to extract information from him regarding the time at which Walter and Peter were saved by September. Most likely, he was trying to extract information from him regarding the night that Peter died and Walter therefore opened a door between universes and “kidnapped” alter-Peter, which is what Newton does in this episode, but did Bell have anything to do with Walter being questioned during his time at St. Claire's? Is Bell a good guy, a bad guy, or is it merely a matter of perspective? If he put Walter's brain tissue somewhere where only he would find it, as he told Walter, then how did Newton find it?

The scene between Walter and Peter when Walter is about to have an MRI done is very touching. The two of them are getting so close, and as I keep saying, as touching as that is, it also very heartbreaking because sooner rather than later, Peter is going to find out about his past, and I have no idea whatsoever how he is going to react to that. He is obviously going to be incredibly angry, and that will be his reaction, but what I mean to say is that I have no idea what action he will take. Will he simply be angry for a few weeks or possibly even months and then eventually learn to forgive Walter, knowing that he only did it because he couldn't stand his son not being with him and alive, or will he want to quit the team? I have read some talk that even goes as far as to suggest that he will in fact switch sides and start fighting for the bad guys, but I am not inclined to agree with this; I think that that's a bit ridiculous. His sense of right and wrong wouldn't logically change because of that. Anyway, Peter feels very guilty for never having visited him while he was at St. Claire's, and as I said, this is both touching and heartbreaking to see.

As for Walter's abduction, I knew that the tracking chip that he implanted at the end of the previous episode, “Snakehead,” would come into play in this episode, most especially when I saw the preview for this episode. It seemed like an easy way out, however, which is why I was not surprised when Peter and Olivia discover that the chip had been taken out. I feel so sorry for Walter, as I often do during this episode, when he is shown the photograph of the coffin and therefore begins crying, since he is reminded of Peter's death. I also have to wonder if the “girl in the red dress” being named Sydney is a shout-out to
Alias. I am absolutely certain that it is, but I am unsure of whether or not it was referring to the same Sydney. I cannot recall where Sydney was born or where she was raised. For a good part of her childhood, she was raised by Arvin and Emily Sloane, but I can't recall if that was in Cambridge or not. If so, then this is an obvious tie-in, but I think that it is a shout-out either way.

As for Walter's memory loss, Darrell from the
Fringe Podcast was, more or less, right. During the first season of the show, he proposed that perhaps Walter's obsessions with food are his mind's way of “trying to recreate a moment in time to help him remember,” as Peter puts it, and he was right about that. A good example comes right from this episode, when he wakes up from having been poisoned by the neurotoxin and says that he has a sudden craving for chicken wings. Speaking of this scene, Peter was definitely about to cry when he was pleading for him to wake up, saying, “Walter, can you hear me?” You know, it would definitely be a twist if by the time Peter finds out about what Walter did, he will have been too close to him to really hold too much against him. I mean, he really is at the point where he cares deeply for him. During the scene in which Olivia tells Newton to go to hell, I thought for sure that she was going to shoot him, but, obviously, since she doesn't, it didn't last long, but that definitely would have been disastrous. Once again a very cool villain would have been dismissed, and Walter would have been dead.

I have previously touched upon the ending of the episode rather briefly, but I have to wonder whether it is a flashback or a memory that we see. Is that information being given solely to us, or does Walter suddenly remember that? I have, of course, already discussed William Bell's intentions, which are immensely unclear, and sadly, they may never
be clear, because Nimoy signed for three episodes, and this was his third episode, so it's possible that we may never even see Bell again unless it is in a flashback with a younger actor portraying him, which I suppose could still be effective. Anyway, I have good news for my fellow fringies, very good news, in fact. Fringe will not be returning on January 14th but instead January 11th with the previously unaired episode “Unearthed.” The episode is an episode that was cut from the first season and is intended to give Fringe a boost in preparation for its upcoming spring hiatus. Most likely, it is this episode here,, since this is all footage that we have not seen, and most likely, it takes place between episodes 1.18 and 1.19, since we never heard anything more regarding Rachel's battle for custody of Ella. Also, the initial promo advertising the show's return from the spring hiatus said that the return would initiate the final seven episodes of the season, and we only had six. I am really looking forward to this, and then, three days later, on January 14th, the second season returns with episode 2.11, "Edina City Limits." Until then, stay on the fringe.

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