Mark Re-Watches ‘Fringe’: Brown Betty

There won’t be a day in my life that I’ll hate the feelings Fringe gives me. So, many thanks are in order for my friend Elizabeth, who commissioned one of the most appropriate episodes in the whole series for me to re-watch post-finale. H E L P.

So, video first:

  • I don’t intend to compare many shows to Lost, even if Fringe was an initial J.J. Abrams project, but there is truly a beautiful continuity and poeticism to a lot of season two of Fringe that makes the finale so goddamn wonderful. And that’s a huge reason why I liked “An Enemy of Fate” so much. At the end of this show, the journey of Walter Bishop absolutely mattered. The whole arc in season two starting from “Jacksonville” and ending with “Over There” explicitly brings up what Walter has done in the past and how that affects both Peter and Olivia. 
  • I am so glad that this show decided to have one episode per season that was just fucking weird. What would our lives be without “Brown Betty” or “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” or “Letters of Transit” or “Black Blotter”? They would be poor excuses for living.
  • But that’s actually evidence of the true genius of Fringe. The show has flaws, certainly, but time and time again, the writers were willing to take risks that could have backfired horribly. I don’t know that any other show could have done what seasons three and four of Fringe did. Of course, it would be rude of me not to credit this incredible cast with being able to play multiple versions of their own characters in ways that made it easy to discern between them from the audience’s point of view.
  • Anyway, aside from dabbling in bizarre storytelling and musical theater, “Brown Betty” is a significant episode because its entire focus is on character development. The plot is not moved forward one inch by the end of the episode. Again, that’s a risky move. But this show really developed nearly every character who wasn’t Astrid Farnsworth. (Hey, this is a Fringe review. I can’t go through this without bringing up the one glaring, unforgivable flaw of the whole series!)
  • Brown Betty” gave us both Walter’s idealized version of himself and his place in the world, and then deconstructed the very notion to show us that Walter’s redemption would never be a simple thing to attain. It would take years upon years of work for him to reach that point, decades even, and he’d also have to earn forgiveness from those close to him on top of doing good for the world.
  • God, now I’m getting all teary-eyed thinking about Walter’s sacrifice. I don’t know that I’ll be able to watch the final two episodes without crying.
  • I wasn’t reviewing this show when this episode aired, so I never got to comment on the beauty of Lance Reddick’s voice. Does anyone know if he was also truly playing piano at the same time, too?
  • Another thing I commented on during the video itself was that I loved that there was no attempt to remove anachronisms from the story. Walter wouldn’t do that, so the episode didn’t either.
  • On that note, this episode’s story format featured a few great interactions between Astrid and Olivia, and it inspired really intense Olivia/Astrid feelings in me.

God, I love this show.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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