Fringe - "Johari Window" (2.11)

This episode is much better than Monday's episode, and that could be because it gets us back into the second season swing of things. I also really like the story, and the acting is good, too. That is not to say, of course, that the acting that we see in “Unearthed” (1.21) is not good, but I like the story of “Johari Window” much better. The science behind the episode is explained with a bit more precision, and although I am not sure how accurate it is, I think that it is a really neat idea. However, the point of this entry is not to compare the two episodes. I just figured that since there were two episodes that aired this past week, I would briefly discuss which episode I prefer over the other. As usual, I warn you that if you haven't seen this episode yet or have not even watched Fringe at all but would like to watch it at some point in the future, then please don't read any further, as this entry will contain spoilers that pertain both to this episode and to the series in general.
This episode tells the story of a small town in upstate New York called Edina (I actually did some research to find out whether or not this city is real, and not surprisingly, it is not), in which a small but entire population of disfigured people who appear “normal” has, for years, been taking extreme measures to keep its abnormality a secret, extreme measures that include murder. The team learns that the people of Edina appear “normal” even though they are disfigured because of an electromagnetic pulse that manipulates vision, causing people to see objects differently than they actually appear. For example, Walter sees a butterfly, which is actually a moth, because of the pulse. As I said, I am unsure of the validity behind this kind of “science,” but even if it is not possible, it is a really interesting idea, and perhaps, it is something that will be possible one day soon if it isn't already.
What I don't understand about the first scene of the episode is why the cop suddenly sees the boy in his real, disfigured appearance after just having seen him appearing “normal” moments before. I understand that the pulse causes people to see the people of Edina as “normal” people, but what exactly causes the change? What made the butterfly alternate between being a moth and being a beautiful butterfly? Is distance involved? Perhaps, once you travel a certain distance from the pulse, it stops having an effect, which is why the young boy seems to suddenly change in the cop's car. This would also explain why the moth once again becomes the butterfly; Walter and Astrid get close enough to Edina for the pulse to start taking effect. However, how exactly does the pulse work? How does it determine what people will see? For example, how does it determine that the moth will be seen as a butterfly?
I find it interesting how, during the first season, Peter was easily annoyed when it came to Walter. He would become frustrated, and he would spew off vehement sarcasm in response to Walter's wildly scientific explanations. Now, however, Peter is not annoyed but instead seems to think that he's funny. He also seems to be a lot more patient with Walter. For example, during the scene that takes place at the lab, Peter calmly explains to Walter that he understands that the moth and the people seem to be transforming but that “I just don't see how that's possible.” Last season, I think that he would have said something more along the lines of “You are out of your mind!” It's nice to see their relationship developing to such lengths, but as I have said before, it is also heartbreaking, because it's becoming more and more obvious that it's not going to be too much longer before Peter learns the truth about his past, and time will only tell how he is going to react. The final scene is especially heartbreaking; Peter tells Walter that he is proud of him for standing up for the people of Edina, and Walter says, “I'm glad you choose to see me the way you do, very glad.”
Numbers play a somewhat important role in this episode. Firstly, after paying close attention to Edina's Census records, Peter points out that since a particular year in the past (I don't recall the precise year, but I believe that it is during the early 90s, such as 1991 or such), seventeen people died, and forty-seven people were born, information that he later uses to conclude that the entire population of Edina is disfigured, since no one has moved into the town, and no one has moved out of the town, and of course, this is where the frequent use of the number forty-seven is placed. Additionally, Olivia remembers that the town's total population, according to the Edina sign that they see when entering the city, is 1,943. This reminded me of episode 1.10, “Safe,” when Olivia tells Peter that for as long as she can remember, she has been very good at remembering numbers, and as I am sure that I have pointed out before, I wonder if this is a result of her Cortexiphan trials. We do know that Olivia is incredibly observant and that that is most likely a result of her Cortexiphan trials, so it is not far-fetched to assume that her ability to remember numbers is, too, especially since such an ability is technically an example of an observation skill. She observes details to which most people probably wouldn't pay much attention, including, if not especially, numbers. I found this to be worth mentioning, anyway.
Before I discuss the title of the episode, I should disclaim any credit that would most likely otherwise be understood as my own, for I am not the one who initially did the research; the credit goes to David Wu of the Fringemunks, who first did the research and then shared what he discovered both on his Facebook profile and on the latest episode of The Fringe Podcast, which he co-hosted. He retrieved the information from Wikipedia, so I am merely going to quote the Wikipedia article. “A Johari window is a cognitive psychological tool created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 in the United States, used to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships.” Basically, the “window” helps people better understand themselves in regards to what they know about themselves, what they don't know about themselves, what other people know about them and what other people don't know about them. In an effort to help explain, pictured below is the “window” provided by Wikipedia.

The title of the episode fits well with the theme of the episode. For example, the people of Edina were the same people regardless of how others saw them (literally and figuratively), and this entire episode is based heavily on perception. Returning to the final scene of the episode, Walter tells Peter that he is glad that Peter chooses to see him in such light, and the key word here is “choose.” Bravery could very well be a blind spot for Walter, because Walter may not see himself as brave, which could be why he uses the word “choose.” Additionally, Peter does not know that he was abducted from the other side, but Walter does, and this therefore serves as a blind spot for Peter. It also serves as a fa├žade on Walter's part, because he knows that he abducted Peter from the other side, but no one else knows this. I find it interesting how one can make these connections based merely on the title of the episode. For those of you who are not aware, the episode was originally titled “Edina City Limits,” and not too long before it was aired, the episode title was changed to “Johari Window.” The original title would have worked, as well, since the people of Edina are confined to the limits of their city, but I think that this title is a lot more interesting.

I did not catch this when I watched the episode, but according to Fringepedia, the colors red and green are featured in the episode. Quoted directly from Fringepedia, “A red and a green tractor are outside the barn when Peter and Olivia are running from the Sheriff and his Deputy.” What I did catch, however, is that the
Wizard of Oz references that have been provided throughout this season has finally been completed. In “Night of Desirable Objects” (2.02), the scarecrow that stood on Andre Hughes' farmland serves as a motif throughout the episode, and in the following episode, “Fracture” (2.03), the project that causes people's bodies to crystallize is referred to as Project: Tinman. Now, in this episode, Walter refers to the Cowardly Lion when he expresses his fear of again being kidnapped by Newton. We have not yet seen or heard of a direct reference to Dorothy, but perhaps, Olivia having traveled to another world and then returning home was the intended reference to Dorothy. The question is whether or not these obviously intentional references are going to mean something in the end; I mean, there has to be a reason why they are being presented.

Anyway, I think that that is about all that I have for this episode. Overall, it was a decent episode. As David Wu stated in the latest episode of
The Fringe Podcast, this season, the “stand-alone” episodes have been “hit and miss,” and this one is definitely a hit (as opposed to “Night of Desirable Objects” and “Snakehead” which, in my opinion, are both misses). Overall, I give the episode seven and a half Operation games, which seems somewhat low, I know, but it's only because it's a “stand-alone” episodes. It's very rare, if ever, that I will give a “stand-alone” episode anything above a seven, so a seven is very good. Next on Fringe is “What Lies Below” (2.12). It would appear, based on the promo clip, as if an ancient virus surfaces and infects Peter, who is therefore quarantined, so it ought to be interesting. It's not always easy to determine whether or not an episode is going to be “stand-alone” or not, because sometimes, a seemingly “stand-alone” story later relates to the Fringe mythology somehow, as are the cases with “'Fracture” (2.03) and “Of Human Action” (2.07). Anyway, in the meantime, stay on the fringe.

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