'Fringe' recap: Walter, who's your daddy?

This week’s Fringe was one of the series’ most satisfying stand-alone episodes. It had a good threat — an airborne toxin (smells like cinnamon: yum) that causes people to die “suffocated from the inside-out,” in Walter Bishop’s phrase. And it gave us a chunk of the Bishop family backstory in a manner that complemented — enhanced — the main plot.

From the moment near the start, when Olivia notices that one of the dead in a wedding party was a Holocaust survivor, the story began a subtle sub-text. The Nazi sympathizer villain (steel-rimmed round glasses, a slight accent, and grim-smiling demeanor that should have warned that barista not to serve him his requested “very hot” cup of tea) had developed something that could pinpoint specific victims based on their DNA. All it needed was, said Walter, investigating the case with Peter and Olivia while driving a car like a drunken madman, “a heat-source dispersed into the air.”

Where did the bad guy’s research come from? Much of it, it turned out, was from experiments conducted by Walter’s father. So now we have learned that Peter’s grandfather was Dr. Robert Bishoff (he changed his name when he moved to America), who worked in Germany in the World War II era and was a spy for the U.S. Walter groaned with guilt: “My father’s work is killing people.”

The hour peaked with the tensions that arose between Walter and Peter. Walter looked for his father’s research books, but Peter told him he’d sold them 10 years ago — during the time Walter was committed to St. Claire’s. Peter’s excuse was that he needed money, but it was acknowledged that there was a psychological reason behind the sale. At this point in Fringe history, it’s easy to forget that at the start of the series, Peter really resented Walter for his scattershot upbringing and Walter’s abandonment of him; selling those books was a way of getting back at Dad in a roundabout way. (I also think, based on nothing but a hunch, that at that time, Peter was probably in trouble with the law and maybe using drugs to blot up his pain, and those may have been the reasons for his money needs.)

Ultimately, it was Walter who saved the day, killing the villain in a very public place. This was a great night for John Noble, whose portrayal of Walter encompasses everything from endearing daffiness to ferocious concentration and commitment. When Walter told Olivia near the end, “Family is very important to me; there’s nothing I wouldn’t do,” that remark was heavy.

We know his words’ implications, and how they have and will continue to bear down upon the story Fringe is slowly telling of Peter and the alternate worlds Walter explored with William Bell.

Speaking of whom, it looks as though we’re going to get a rip-roaring mythology episode next week.

Can’t wait. Did you watch Fringe this week?

Follow me on Twitter @kentucker

Comments (66 total) Add your comment
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  • Brigid

    I loved this episode. I was a bit upset that they didn’t address how the Nazi sympathizer (who is revealed at the very end to have been Dr. Bishoff’s assistant) didn’t age… and that Peter didn’t question why he didn’t start choking in the basement when Walter’s DNA was being targeted.
    Nevertheless, this is one of my favorite shows on television.

    • Nic.

      I too, wished they would have explained the anti-aging villin. (But I’m very happy with the way Walter dispatched him.) Also, I think because this is “other universe” Peter his DNA is probably different from “this universe” Peter and therefore the toxin would not affect him.

      SO GLAD to have the Fringe recaps back!

      • Stewie

        I thought the the bad guy created the toxin to specifically target Walter’s DNA. That’s why he stole Walter’s sweater, and how Walter figured out that he could do the same thing to the bad guy.

      • Brigid

        No I understood why Peter didn’t choke, I was wondering why PETER didn’t pick up on it!

      • tjj50

        I think it’s simply that the villian targeted Walter’s specific DNA, not Bishop Family DNA. If he can target a specific group of people, he can get REALLY specific and target just one person.

    • Emilee

      They did say in the beginning of the episode that the Nazi’s experimented with “eternal youth.”

      • Justin

        Thanks, Emilee. I didn’t pick up on that.

  • ihatescreennames

    I inferred from the pic near the end of Bishoff and bad-blond-boy that the Nazis had actually conquered the aging process (as someone outlined earlier in the epi when they were explaining the Nazi experiments). I, too, wondered if anyone was going to pick up on the fact that the toxin did NOT affect Peter.

    Ken, where’s the Better Off Ted recap???????

    • Elizabeth

      Maybe it didn’t affect Peter because ‘this Peter’ isn’t ‘the real Peter’… remember, he died when he was a boy and Walter replaced him. The Peter we see working with Olivia, Walter & Astrid is the Peter from ‘the other side’?
      God that was confusing to try and type :)

      • Erin

        Like Stewie said, the villan targeted Walter’s DNA specifically, not Bishop family DNA generally. Doesn’t matter which Peter Peter is (this side’s or the other’s)…his DNA is still different from his father’s.

  • dgh

    Great episode left some unanswered questions but leaves me wanting more and the preview for next week looks mind-bending!!! Plus I didn’t see the observer anywhere did anyone else see him and I just missed him?

    • cjscott

      Hubby and I thought we saw him in the background when Peter & Walter were walking into the wedding. Unfortunately, we were watching on a small TV so can’t be sure. Anyone else see him?

    • tjj50

      Someone on another forum said they saw the observer walking by the coffee shop window when the Nazi dude was talking to the mother.

  • Scott

    Fringe is really good lately, it is coming into its own.

    But yes, I wonder why no one questioned why Peter was not affected by the toxin targeted at Walter’s DNA.

    I also am really starting to notice how Peter seems to be a know-it-all — he seems like a human wikipedia who can pull up all sorts of random facts/languages/history.

  • Jan

    This episode exceeded my expectations. I really really hope this series will last quite awhile and allow the story and mythology to unfold in a satisfying manner.

  • Francisco

    Truly a great episode. I wonder how Walter’s comment on what he would do for family will play out. We all pretty much know about Peter’s origin, unless there is a huge twist in that subplot.
    On a different note, I enjoyed seeing Walter play match maker between Peter and Olivia.

    • Zoey

      It’s always hilarious when Walter not-so-subtletly tries to push Olivia and Peter together. Olivia never fails to have, that “Okaaayy, Walter” look on her face.

      • Erika

        i’m surprised this reviewer didn’t mention that part!

  • Rose

    The guy had Walter’s sweather he made the toxin just to effect Walter.
    Peter has DNA from his mother he is not just Walter’s DNA.

    • ihatescreennames

      D’oh! You’re correct about the sweater–I had forgotten that! But like with the wedding party (wouldn’t those folks also have mom & dad dna?) wouldn’t Peter have been affected because he DOES have (or is supposed to have) Walter’s dna? Sometimes I have to be beaten on the head before I understand something.

      Still wanting that “Ted” recap! :)

      • Rose

        Yes but if the guy used just Walters DNA code for code it would not work on Peter because Peter has his mothers DNA. It would of worked on Peter if the man had left the code open to anyone that has that group of DNA codes as you would find in a family.
        Walter did the same thing he made up his to the DNA of the killer his code and his code only.

  • Kate

    I think you could justify Peter not being affected by the fact that, were he this universe’s Peter, he’d still only have half of Walter’s DNA. That’s a lot of code.

  • Amy

    Walter: Do you think she will call me Dad?
    Peter: Who?
    Walter: Agent Dunham.

    LOVE matchmaking Walter!

    • tjj50

      I know, right. “You’re looking lovely today, Agent Dunham” LOL!

    • Justin

      Yeah, that was very funny!

  • bnfanmab

    i was a little surprised that Walter killed this guy. Much like when Michael Westen killed Strickler. It seemed the right thing to do but WOW! It was just right out there, no gray area, not self defense exactly! a little shocking. love both fringe and burn notice, making my thursdays very busy!

  • mom_of_2_kidz

    When they showed that picture why didn’t they notice that the guy in it was the same one that was releasing the toxins and Walter killed??? I noticed it immediately!

    • tjj50

      That was the only thing I found kind of off about this episode. A few episodes back in the one titled “August”, Peter noticed that other observer way in the background of that photo of that little girl and her parents on the pier, but he doesn’t see the Nazi guy in this photo? I don’t think so.

    • mlb

      The picture that Walter showed Peter was different than the one we saw at the end of the episode. Otherwise Peter would have def recognized him. The one with the Nazi guy was behind the other pics.

  • Izzie

    The wedding poison was made up to affect people with a similar genetic trait. This would have been passed on by that one woman to her relatives, the poison used for Walter was just targeting his specific genetic makeup, not a trait. Peter wasn’t affected because they don’t share identical DNA. At least that’s my take.

    • ihatescreennames

      Ok–I think I finally understand! Thanks to all of you for helping me get it!

  • cjscott

    Also loved matchmaking Walter! And it was interesting to see “hardcore” Walter. I’m sure that was more like what the real Walter was like before he went all goofy. But I love how John Noble can play both sides to Walter while still being true to the character. And I am really digging the interaction between Broyles and Walter. They seem to have this great respect for each other and the scenes they have together are usually fantastic.

  • rebecca

    For people wondering why the toxin didn’t affect Peter: it could be targeted to a specific person using several genetic traits in combination. Peter is Walter’s son, not his clone, and wouldn’t share every single genetic trait with him. Note that at the coffee shop the little girl survived while the mother was killed.

    I loved Walter matchmaking for Olivia and Peter… and I also got the feeling that, connected to that, he would include Olivia in his statement about doing anything for family.

    • Brigid

      The little girl survived because at the coffee shop they were targeted brown eyed people. All those people in the coffee shop wouldn’t have been related to each other!

  • AA

    Thanks for the Fringe recap — much appreciated! The preview suggested that next week’s ep is a “Winter Finale”… does anyone know when Fringe is coming back??

    • Shay

      After next week’s episode it’s off until April 1st (no joke). It will be a long couple of months.

      • mlb

        And I don’t understand why??? Last year they did the same thing, but it was because the show was on Tues nights and it was off the air while Idol was on. I don’t understand what the networks are thinking with these shows. Why can’t they just show a few reruns and stop having months of NOTHING!

      • jen

        the winter olympics schedule is playing havoc with tvshows for feb/mar and many shows, especially bubbles are taking a break.

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