'Fringe' recap: 'Northwest Passage,' Violet Sedan Chair, and Walternate revealed

Well, you were right. So many of you Commenters correctly identified who “The Secretary” would prove to be: congrats to all. Waiting until the final moments of the episode to make that reveal didn’t even feel like a tease, because there was so much going on in “Northwest Passage,” a twisty, witty, multi-fake-out but not faked episode of Fringe.

Following the events of “The Man From The Other Side” two weeks ago, Fringe took us to Washington state, where Peter had gone to be moody and where shape-shifter leader Thomas Jerome Newton had gone to bedevil Peter. After a diner waitress with whom Peter had been flirting turned up murdered, the local sheriff (Martha Plimpton, who between this and her guest stint on The Good Wife is having a TV career resurgence these days) began investigating. Peter quickly convinced her that he wasn’t a suspect but, instead, a useful co-investigator into what would eventually become two homicides.

Well, sort of useful. One terrific thing about this week’s Fringe was the way we processed all the crime clues from Peter’s point of view, more or less. Like Peter, we assumed that, upon spotting Newton in a knot of people at a crime scene, Newton was the source of the violence. Peter convinced us as much as he did Sheriff Mathis that this was a shape-shifting plot.

The hour was not so much Twin Peaks-y (the misty Northwest setting; the slice of pie in the diner) as very X-File-y: the way Peter and Mathis made their flashlights cut through the dark woods in the time-honored manner of Mulder and Scully, and most obviously, the way Mathis’ lawman colleague (and lover) told her, “You want to believe.”

That was a line that cut a few ways. Mathis, a self-proclaimed believer in UFOs and conspiracy theories, was willing to go along with Peter’s shape-shifter scenario. But Peter also wanted to believe — that he could get “answers,” as he said, to the things that hound him in his escape from Walter and Olivia: How Newton fits in with Peter’s recent discovery that he’s the alt-Peter, for instance.

Speaking of Walter: Back in Boston, Walter was having a very tough time coping without a Peter of any kind. We knew he was close to a breakdown when, shopping in a supermarket, this former devotee of sugary cereals started reading the ingredients on a box of toaster pastries and went into a rage that the chemical preservatives amounted to “delicious strawberry-flavored death!” That’s not the junk-food-junkie Walter we know. Soon enough, he was sobbing and needed Olivia and Astrid to keep him safe in his lab and in pudding pops.

I thought it was terrific to make the murder culprit a violent perv and not Newton after all, while still maintaining Newton’s presence in the episode.

As for the final seconds: The Secretary = The Walternate. Wonderful: A worldly (alt-worldly) version of our Walter. Setting us up for next week’s part one of the season finale, where, from the coming attractions it also seems clear we’ll meet the alt-Olivia. (The Altivia?) Can not wait.

A couple other points:

• The music heard throughout the episode was composed by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.

• “You can’t get there from here” was the punchline to a Bazooka Joe bubblegum comic strip Peter finds on the ground; may I suggest next season the writers use as a prop the Firesign Theatre album How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All?

• Line of the night goes to Peter: “Technically, I’m from no place you ever heard of.”

What did you think of this week’s Fringe?

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Comments (113 total) Add your comment
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  • Molly

    This week’s Fringe was really gripping. And I can’t wait until next week’s episode.

    • darclyte

      Fantastic episode. Josh Jackson has come a LOOOONG way as an actor.

      • JaySin420

        Yea I never liked him before but he is just fantastic on this show.

        Him, Torv and Noble have the best chemistry on all of tv.

      • nat

        Great ep…saw the Secretary as Walternate long ago, but still enjoyed the reveal. The episode had a nice spooky mood to it, helped by the misty wet setting. The final 2 episodes should be great!

      • GirlfriendinaComa

        You read my mind, daclyte. When it was over, I said out loud, to no one, “Work it, Pacey.”

  • Yaha

    Loved the ep as usual BUT I did feel that it was a stretch that it ended up being a random murderer with the same M.O. as Newton & Co. (as in, piece of brain cut out). Are we sure it was just a coincidence?

    • Deebo

      This confused me as well…Did he kill the women and then Newton and them cut out their brain? Excellent episode…Alt- Olivia looked kind of ridiculous in that wig

      • Dave

        I thought alt-Olivia looked HOTT as a redhead!

    • ken

      it does seem odd that the pervy murderer would specifically remove the temporal lobe, i thought there had to be some connection, right?
      but i also wonder how they tracked down where peter was staying (2nd time) if they never looked at the cops temporal lobe? (not surprised he was still alive but why?)

    • tipsy

      The killer killed. he didn`t remove the part of the brain. Newton did after the kill so that he can find Peter. Basically, he was looking for the girl, found her dead and had no choice but to remove brain parts to get the information of Peter`s whereabouts. It wasn`t quite clear in the episode and we may get some clarification next week, but it`s established the killer was killing on his own.

      • Mully

        Seems the Altworlders knew (followed) where Peter was and just exploited the serial killers victims to get more info. Since it seems that Olivia and Walter are traveling to Washington to get Peter, there will be a connection and present itself in the finale.

      • CW

        Really? I can’t agree. The medical “facility” where Newton would have removed the brain was in the killer’s dairy farm basement (or whatever it was). Newton and the killer would need to be linked somehow for that to make sense.

      • MG

        yeah, i dont know if the killer was on his own. if he kills the girls, and THEN Newton takes thier brain why do they show the 1st girl alive when the brain is being taken out?

      • randi

        Actually it was shown that a portion of Krista’s brain was being removed when she was still alive. But it never showed who was doing it.

      • randi

        From Fox’s website/FRINGE:

        “Peter and Mathis track down a farmhouse in the area and find Ferguson strapped to a surgical chair. It’s not the work of shapeshifters but a local psychopath using human pineal gland for virility.”

      • Kim

        Yeah, but it couldn’t have been “after the kill” because at the beginning, they showed the waitress in the chair with the drill going and someone removing the lobe while she was still alive.

    • darclyte

      Yeah, a few odd loose ends. Also, Olivia flashed into the Alt-Fringe Universe where she was an FBI agent working for Alt-Broyles…so how does this redheadded Olivia figure in? There was a fleeting comment about them “doing what they were made for” so perhaps she’s a clone of Alt-Olivia? I’m looking forward to finding out!

      • mck

        Theory, alts realized Olivia crossed over and alt-Olivia dyed her hair so they would be able to tell the difference moving forward? Or maybe the Secretary simply had them all change something about themselves so there was no confusion?

    • connor daly

      Walternate must of been using the farmboy to catch the victims. It is way to big of a stretch to think a random kid killed exactly the people needed to find peters whereabouts.

  • Yaha

    Also, Martha Plimpton was excellent in that role! I’m happy to see her have a comeback.

    • K8

      She should guest on everything!

    • Rio

      She was phenomenal – I’m ready for a new series with her as the lead as this small town sheriff in the NW.

    • Yoga_Girl

      Hope they bring her back as a guest next season… or the following they could make it work. She was superb!

  • Kaiulani

    I admit…I was very shocked at who The Secretary turned out to be. This show keeps getting better. Can not wait till next week!

    • Lime

      Me too! I shrieked out loud – I couldn’t believe it. Maybe I should have guessed but I liked being surprised. I don’t want Peter to leave our Walter though…they are such a cute pairing! Can’t wait until Thursday!

  • Gill

    Was Walter from the other side “the secretary”? haven’t watched yet

    • Jeff

      Yes, so now there’s two Walters, or Walter and Alter, the Secretary.

      • RCB

        When I saw the episode where it was shown how Walter took Peter from the alternate universe, I immediately thought that it was an alternate Walter who was responsible for The Pattern. I just thought that a man as smart as alternate Walter will not give up his son without a fight.

  • Lostforever

    Loved to see Peter get his own episode and turn into a bad ass with a gun. He usually has to take a back seat to Olivia and let her do all the take downs.

  • Kelisha888

    Thanks for the shout-out to the greatest comedy group of all time, Firesign Theatre.

  • Velma Dinkley

    GOOSEBUMPS! When Walternate came through the door and said, “Hello, Son” I gave the tv a big OMG! I love the fact that in the alternate universe Olivia has red hair but I find troubling that Walter states that his son is the one who is going to be the reason for the two worlds colliding. Looking forward to next week’s episode!

    • tipsy

      Walternate tone of voice is slightly different from Walter`s. Emmy, here we come!

  • Strepsi

    If we really get to see Walter vs. Walter and Olivia vs. Olivia, there is no way this should not be Best Actor Emmys for the both of them.

    John Noble is the best actor on TV right now.

    And Martha Plimpton was the best guest star I’ve seen in a while, really well done.

  • Random

    Notice how walter is the secretary and not the leader? hmmm..what larger forces are out there?

    • Mully & Sculder


  • step

    I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but there is definitely a bald Charlie in the preview for next week with Seth Gabel and alt-Olivia. YES YES, FINALLY, YES.

  • sparkle the gym bag

    need to keep Martha Plimpton’s character tied to the show for regular repeat intanglements..love to see her alt-reality self..a ho..a psy-chic..other..

    • tipsy

      I thought so too. I really like the character. Best since Robocop in White Tulip.

      I also hope they bring back child Observer from season one. I just don`t accept that the boy Observer will be raised among humans like a regular kid. So wrong!

      • Dicazi

        He was Buckaroo Banzai before Robocop.

  • Ames

    I liked how thematically last week and this week showed how similar Walter and Peter are. Last week we found out that despite Walter’s contrition, he egomaniacally said Peter broke his heart. Then this week Peter feels everything that happens around him is all because of him. Two peas in a ego driven pod.

  • gerritv

    Good to see Joe Chapelle directing this week’s episode. His touch makes all the difference in the mise en scene.

  • Anitamargarita

    I loved Walter’s grocery store rant – “They’re trying to kill us!” but mostly, I want to know where he gets pudding pops! I thought they stopped making those a long time ago, and they really should bring them back when they’re bringing back every other damn thing from the ’80s.

    • Yaha

      Hmmm … maybe pudding pops are a clue that the world we see on tv every week is an alt world and not our own! (I mean, realistically speaking of course it is, but …)

    • jayemeff

      I don’t know if Walter was supposed to be eating a pudding pop in the scene with Astrid washing the dishes, but it looked like a Fudgesicle to me.

    • angeler

      Ha! My friend watching with me last night said the same thing- “he’s eating a fudgsicle!” I do wish they would bring back pudding pops too. :)
      and the “strawbery-flavored death” line had me rolling. John Noble can deliver any line perfectly!

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