'Fringe' recap: Walter, a 'White Tulip,' and Peter Weller

Fringe is becoming ever more adroit at blending its mythology with its paranormal cases. This week’s episode, called “White Tulip,” began with guest star Peter Weller entering a train car and then leaving it with its riders dead, “drained of energy.” Walter and Peter Bishop are called to the scene along with Olivia and Broyles. But Walter is distracted — he’s not making his typically quick analyses of the show’s usual, pre-credits, weird-fringe-science event. He’s rattled with guilt over still not having told Peter that this son of his is, as he’ll later phrase it, “a son that wasn’t mine.” (We saw him writing a letter to Peter explaining everything.)

Fringe risked sentimentality by having its non-mythology case become a romantic tragedy. Weller, as MIT scientist Alistair Peck, had lost his fiancee in a car accident some time ago. He thereafter used his scientific gifts to figure out how to move in time, with the hope of going back far enough to prevent the accident. The parallel with Walter was underscored heavily. He knows that when you mess with the universe, a world of pain can result.

The hour had two terrific elements. One was the way Fringe had us watch nearly-entire scenes repeated when Dr. Peck jumped back in time. (“I’m having deja vu,” said a clueless Olivia.) The other was the tense, intimate conversation Walter and Peck had, two men of science grappling with spiritual doubt and belief. Walter confessed things to Peck that he said he’d never confided to anyone. The part we heard most clearly was that Walter now believes God has been punishing him ever since he took the alt-Peter, and that he’s been “waiting for a sign of forgiveness.”

That would be the white tulip of the episode-title. And he received that sign in a way that was both predictable and still quite moving. And in a way that moves the mythology along, since now Walter, by the agreement he struck with God, is now forgiven and free to confess to Peter, right?

This was one of those episodes that consign Olivia to a primarily just-the-facts-sir, FBI-agent role, and such hours usually feel a little off. But this week, moving Olivia a bit over to the side made sense. Besides, it made room for a superbly understated performance by Peter Weller, whose gaunt eloquence was used to great effect.

Oh, and next week: the return of shape-shifters!

Did you watch Fringe this week? What did you think?

Comments (89 total) Add your comment
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  • Rachael

    I love how Fringe has really hit its stride. It’s become one of my favorite shows on right now. I’d love to see Walter (Noble) get some Emmy love for doing a great job with such a unique role.

    • Mari

      i know, right. me thinks emmy voters are too lazy to actually watch shows. they just hand them out to people who they think should win. hence the same shows/people win over and over.

      • Dicazi

        SF is so rarely nominated for any mainstream awards.

    • hugo

      Sadly, John Noble won’t win the emmy for either Supporting or Lead actor. Here’s why : On the supporting front, he’s easily bested by Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn. On the Lead actor side of things, Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Laurie and Michael C. Hall are guaranteed nominees. One of them will win. I watch Fringe too, and as much as I’d like it to win something at the Emmys, the competition is just too good.

  • Nose

    I love the little moments on Fringe. Walter calling Astrid “Astro”, his face as the SWAT team guys ran past him for the second time…it’s those moments that make the show special. I hope Fox sticks with it for a little while longer.

    • aurelie

      agreed on noble acting, he brings the emotions to another level.

  • aurelie

    Love Fringe, always has. the start of season was a bit off, because we knew about the parallell universe and we wanted to know more about it. but the season has built up a nice tension about that parallel universe and has devivered since the episode August, great tricks on the minds to make us wait… i cant wait for the season finale. it sounds really exciting.

  • TC

    Could someone please tell me what was written on the letter that Walter received? My TV went dead just as he was opening the letter! Aaarrrgh!!!

    • Andre

      There was nothing written; it was a hand-draw white tulip.

      • MB

        My DVR went down on me. Where did the white tulip come from?

      • blah

        peck left it for his friend at MIT to deliver to walter before he went back to see his fiancee

      • Becks

        That part was really quite poignant. Should have seen it coming but a nice surprise for me nonetheless.

      • Tim Lade

        It’s funny Ken that you thought the tulip was predictable. I never would of called it personally…and I thought it was a touching moment as well. We will see what Walter does from here…I think it will be part of the season finale though and it will be at a moment when we least expect it. Having said that, I am probably completely wrong.

    • Adam

      It was a white tulip.

  • Chrisword

    TC — No words were written on the letter to Walter — It was a drawing of a White Tulip.

  • marty

    People who are watching Fringe at this point in time are very lucky to be seeing a show hitting on all four cylinders. It reminds me of the 3rd season of Star Trek TNG. I’ll bet this show will be much more popular next year, but it’s probably hitting its dramatic peak right now.

    • tipsy

      I think that frindge has a lot of drama left in the tank. Walter facing Walternate, Peter-Walter-Walternate triangle promise some tense emotions next season.

      • Siri

        Awesome episode last night. And I want to see a lot more Belly!

    • ZackBauer

      Great analogy with TNG.

      • Susy

        Haahhaha. I’m not too bright today. Great post!

  • Angie

    I LOVED this episode. It gave me chills to see the white tulip at the end; Walter doesn’t remember the conversation he had with Alistair in the other timeline, so he thinks this is the sign from God! And Alistair ended up killing no one (except himself) — he came back into the field, and all the “victims” in the other timeline are all fine now. I loved his solution to the dilemma Walter posed — if he goes back and saves his fiancee, he will know he has done something wrong every time he looks at her. The solution: Go back in time, make up with her, tell her he loves her (they had just had a fight), and then die with her, thereby never having to look at her and know she should be dead. Amazing!!!!

    • Viv

      About the victims in the incidents — didn’t Walter say that they would remain dead?

      • Jeff

        No, only the people near the time traveler’s last jump would stay dead – and no one was killed then, because he planned it so he landed in an open field, and only killed the grass.

  • Brigid

    Just… every week this show totally blows me away. John Noble has been serving up Emmy worthy performances every week, and I am so emotionally wrapped up in this show, I’m beginning to fear just what Peter’s reaction will be once he finds out.

  • Andre Otherton

    I loved Peter Weller. I loved how they told the story of him. I loved Peter. They should have made this episode after “Peter”. I loved the cast and story. One of my favorite episodes.

  • Lorie

    ITA. I loved the ending! I might be the only viewer who was surprised by the white tulip in the envelope. I was expecting a short letter, maybe some words of wisdom from Alistair.

    • Nic.

      I was surprised, too :)

    • Viv

      It totally blew me away (I’m not the smartest viewer around lol). And brought me to tears too…

    • dgh

      I disagree with Tucker; I don’t think the white tulip was pedictable in any way. I too was totally surprised!

    • Elizabeth

      I was blown away too. I had expected a letter of some sort but not the tulip. So moving! The tulip WAS from God, he didn’t just think it was. As Alastair said, it was from God because God is science — science allowed Alastair to give Walter the message. Such a great episode.

    • Kaiulani

      I also got chills and my eyes misted up when Walter saw the white tulip. Last night’s episode was so moving….

    • AJ

      I was surprised too, and I imagine it helped that I didn’t know the show’s title was “White Tulip.” I burst into tears when I saw what was drawn on that paper!

    • charlotte

      I was also surprised. I didn’t think it was that predictable of an ending. What an amazing episode!!! It was incredibly moving and poignant. I didn’t expect Allistair to die along with his fiance after he tells her he loved her. It was nice to see the “villain” not be some crazy alt-obsessed terrorist for a change. The episode really felt like a breath of fresh air.

  • chuck

    Fringe is rapidly out-doing The X-Files. It keeps the continuing story advancing every week and often ties the one-time events to that arc.

  • Francisco

    This was an excellent episode! I was shocked to see Allistair and his fiance crushed by the oncoming truck. But I do have a question. What happened to the Allistair standing in the field at the time of the accident? Will this storyline be revisited in the future? Possibly season three?

    • mlb

      He ran from the field to find his wife, then got in the car with her, said he was sorry and died right alongside of her. Nothing to revisit – it was resolved.

    • Elizabeth

      If I understand what you are asking, there are not two Alastairs. In most time-travel shows there is always the problem that the person who goes back in time, they become a second version of themselves. When Alastair when back in time, though, he did not become a “second” Alastair in addition to the original. The episode, as far as I could tell, did not address how Alastair was able to replace himself rather than just join his original self.

    • binkybinky

      I agree with what Elizabeth said above in this episode whenever Alistair goes back in time, he does not become a “second” addition to the original. From the “de ja vous” scene we can gather that when Alistair jumps back in time, it seems like time resets – if that makes any sense at all – so there won’t be any “original” Alistair anymore. It has something to do, if I’m not mistaken with Einstein’s time-bending theory that Walter explained in the lab.

  • krikky

    This may have been my favorite episode of Fringe yet – I got chills when Walter & Peck were having that conversation about science vs. faith and the white tulip at the end!! So, so good. John Noble deserves at the very least an Emmy nod – he’s been breaking my heart for weeks now.

  • Chris

    Another terrific and moving episode. Fringe has really hit it’s stride of late. Next week’s episode looks terrific.

  • Ames

    Wow. I loved this episode. Peck and Walter’s talk was amazing. While the rest of the world seems to believe God and science are on opposite sides of the spectrum, Peck just out and says “God IS science”. Again…WOW. I was beginning to feel I was alone on that score.

    • Amazing writing!

      While I give all the props in the world to the very excellent John Noble, the writers deserve much love also for writing such a fierce and moving speech for Walter to speak.

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