FRINGE: Episode 2.20, ‘Brown Betty’

Episode Title: “Brown Betty”

Written By: Jeff Pinkner & J.H. Wyman & Akiva Goldsman

Story: Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) goes missing after learning the truth about his secret origins. Walter Bishop (John Noble) embarks on a marijuana bender to distract himself from his sorrows. Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) tries to track Peter down while a stoned Walter spins a musically enhanced noir fairy tale for her niece Ella (Lily Piblad), a story that’s filled with several innuendos for the ongoing events of “Fringe.”

Curtains Up: Here we are, folks — the musical episode! If you were expecting flashy show stoppers filled with background dancers and bright lights, I’m sure you were disappointed with “Brown Betty.” As far as musical episodes go, this was a rather subdued affair. But in terms of sheer talent, each and every participating “Fringe” cast member exhibited great musical ability. Overall, it was a very solid effort on everyone’s part.

A Nose For Noir: Where the episode really excelled was the noir element. I could have done without the musical component, but thrusting “Fringe” into an old school detective world with some shades of new technology was rather cool. It was sort of like the ’80s era of “Peter” but with the added bonus of coming from the perspective of Walter’s drug-addled brain. Really, the noir element was a great treat.

Follow The Clues: Beyond being a fantastic one-off episode, “Brown Betty” potentially holds some significant clues for the future of the series. For one, Olivia’s sister Rachel (Ari Graynor) is the first murder victim of the episode. Just a convenient coincidence or a sign of things to come? Given the Observers’ previous warning that Olivia’s in for some hard times, I’m a little worried for Rachel. Speaking of the Observers, in Walter’s mind, they’re working for Nina Sharp (Blair Brown). Another coincidence, or a reflection of Walter’s secret knowledge? It’s hard to say. There are several other clues you could glean from “Brown Betty,” but whether or not any of them will pan out in future episodes is anybody’s guess.

Breaking Glass Hearts: Perhaps the single most important reason that “Brown Betty” worked is the episode’s reflection of the current status quo on “Fringe.” Walter is in shambles, deeply damaged by his own actions and his inability to explain himself to his alternate son. As such, he views himself as the greatest villain known to mankind. But the optimism of a young child indicates that Walter is capable of overcoming his current dilemma. With any luck, he’ll embrace Ella’s ending and do his best to rectify his troubles with Peter.

Walter’s Weekly Wisdom: “I’d hardly classify what I just smoked as marijuana.”

Next Case: A fully aware Peter Bishop has departed the Fringe division and is using his considerable knowledge to assist an unrelated investigation, but strangers from the alternate world have other plans for the reality-displaced Peter.

Tell us what you thought of “Brown Betty” in the comments section or on Twitter!