Walter drops some acid, sees Tinker Bell, and then goes all Monty Python. It might not be as off the wall as previous seasons but "Black Blotter" acts as Fringe's special one-off episode fans always look forward to each season.
If you are a fan of Fringe at all, and you'll followed since the beginning, in every season on the 19th episode the producers typically put conventional season arcs aside and have a little fun. Past years there has been a 1940's noir mystery episode ("Brown Betty"), the fully cartoon animated episode ("Lysergic Acid Diethylamide"), and the distant future flash-forward episode ("Letters of Transit"). Each of those episodes only happened once a season and are always unique in relation to the season they are in. Because of the shortened last season (only 13 episodes) this episode acted as the final 19th style episode for the series.
"Black Blotter" is the title of the episode but it is also one of Walter's customized flavours of LSD, and of course he takes some over the course of the show. Walter's reasoning for taking the LSD is to help him remember the parts of the plan to stop the Observers. While Walter begins to start his trip the radio the team recovered from the pocket universe back in episode 5.06 ("Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There") begins to transmit a signal. Olivia and an on the mend Peter seek out the origin of the signal since Walter is too high to make sense of the code within the signal. As the Fringe team traces down the signal and its meaning, the LSD amplifies Walter's memories making him face some hidden demons of his past.
Compared to previous episode 19s Fringe has had "Black Blotter" is probably the most tame out of them all. This episode was certainly out there, and in a good way, but with the shorter season and there only being 5 episode in total left (including this one) I can understand them sacrificing style for story. We have seen Walter, and even other characters (Broyles), trip on acid before but there was some great new visuals that helped make this episode its own. There was some version of a Tinker Bell fairy guiding Walter in certain parts, time and space confusion as Walter thinks he is in New York when he is in Boston, but my favourite hallucination is a short animated scene as he is remembering something that is made up to be just like a Monty Python bit. These hallucination moments are off and on like they would be for someone tripping out on LSD yet there is a constant hallucination that stays with Walter throughout; his old lab assistant, Carla.
Carla acts a kind of ghost of Christmas past if you will. She helps Walter remember the terrible experiments he performed all those years ago and haunts him with warnings that he is becoming that version of himself again. Carla is a character that was only really mentioned in the early few seasons on Fringe but she played a very important role in where Walter ended up. For those of you that don't fully remember Carla was the lab assistant Walter had during the time Peter got sick and died as a boy. During Walter's acid flash-back trip we revisit that night where he constructs the device to crossover into the alternate universe and him debating the ethics of it with Carla and a young Nina. As much as I enjoyed revisiting those flash-back episodes with new scenes of a version of Carla here I'm still not fully convinced of the path Fringe is taking Walter on. Considering the Observers are the ultimate treat to the entire world a reverting Walter a hard sell for me to buy into as being even close to a problem.
The other non LSD trip stuff in "Black Blotter" was both very cool and very productive. We get to see Peter is in rough shape yet recovered enough that they don't have to waste an entire episode for him to be back to normal. There is a brief scene in the woods where Olivia and Peter are tracing the radio signal's origin where they have a genuine moment together and are able to put Peter's almost becoming an Observer indiscretion behind them. After that they discover they are at a relay station rather than the signal's origin and there they find a couple of dead Observers and a deceased Sam Weiss; all skeletons after being dead for over 15 years.
The biggest reveal/advancement in a while this season happened when the team did find the origin of the signal. They didn't find the mysterious Donald character we have kept hearing about but one better as they reintroduce the little kid Observer from season one and this year's "Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There" episode. The kid Observer had been given to a married couple living in the woods that have been part of the resistances almost since the invasion. They named him Michael.
So far all audiences know is that this time is that Michael, along with a couple of other strange parts, is part of the plan to help defeat the Observers. I've bounced a couple of theories around, but again they are just theories. Ideas like Michael somehow acts as a piece of a machine, much like Peter did with the 'doomsday' machine that bridged the universe, having to willingly be part of it. Michael maybe actually being a very young September, explaining why he has watched over the Fringe team all these years. And a bunch of other ludicrous theories that only make a little being of sense. Only 4 episodes left Fringe fans, the window for those theories is closing quickly.
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Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.