This review may contain spoilers.
1985 was a pretty big year; the Brat Pack was in full swing with the releases of “The Breakfast Club” and “St. Elmo’s Fire.” Ronald Reagan began his second term as President of the United States. “MacGyver” premiered. Some important people were probably born them.
A little time travel movie called “Back to the Future” also came out in 1985. Not so coincidentally, Christopher Lloyd, who played Doctor Emmett Brown in that movie trilogy, was in this week’s episode of ‘Fringe, which had quite a deal to do with time travel and the great scheme of things. Also, Lloyd’s character’s son in this episode died in 1985.
So in some ways, Walter (John Noble) is quite a bit like Doc Brown — crazy (but maybe not as crazy as everyone else thinks he is), eccentric, and a scientific genius. But more like Roscoe Joyce (Lloyd’s “Fringe” character and Walter’s idol, “right up there with Einstein and Tesla”), Walter knows what it’s like to have lost a child and to want to give anything just to have one moment more with them, no matter what the cost.
Plus, both Walter and Roscoe love their strawberry milkshakes.
Despite this being the first episode to air on the show’s new night, “Firefly” was a mostly slow-paced, mythology-based episode. The moments between Walter and Roscoe were heartbreaking and mostly quiet — Noble (as usual) was brilliant, and so was Lloyd.
Sure, there was the initial amusement over Walter’s adoration of the man, but once it go to the real stuff, no one was laughing. Also, unlike the “Fringe” episodes with a villain of the week, the Observers aren’t really “people” the Fringe Division can get into a real fight with, nor are they actually villains. Perhaps this was just a reminder that things are ultimately black and white in “Fringe” (or in the real world), but was it a good way to introduce those who wanted to try out “Fringe” on its new night?
Points of Interest
1. Those shadow pictures on the murals behind our favorite Observer, September, had to have meant something, right? Actually, the entire mural looked like it has to have some greater meaning.
2. Are we even going to get an explanation as to why Roscoe called Astrid (Jasika Nicole) “Kelly,” of all names, in his final scene? That’s not even in the “Astro,” “Asterisk,” “Ostrich” galaxy.
3. When September is helping “the girl” out with her inhaler after he stops the jewelry heist, you can see a star tattoo on his left wrist. Fauxlivia’s (Anna Torv) neck tattoo resembles a sun. Would it be right to assume that someone in our world has a moon tattoo?
4. One more question: will there be any lasting side effects of Peter (Joshua Jackson) drinking the “milk”?
The best part of the “time travel” part of the episode was that it didn’t actually dwell on the time travel like one would assume it would; focusing on the time travel tends to just lead to more questions than answers and general confusion for all. It’s pretty simple — the Observers can time travel (for whatever scientific reason), so they can also bring others with them. If the show had tried to go into that further, it would have been unnecessary and complicated a rather straightforward (for what it was) episode. The ripple effect of Peter’s very existence is a big aspect of the series, and so far, it works.
What Didn’t Work
Luckily, the acting between Noble and Lloyd was strong enough to almost make up for the on-the-nose parallels between their two characters as fathers. And the ultimate reveal that Walter was technically responsible for Roscoe’s son’s death saved it.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
“Firefly” was written by J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner, and was directed by Charles Beeson.
‘Fringe’ airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.