Now that we are back to the “real” next episode in season 2, our team finds themselves in the midst of a 30 year old secret. (Episode 2×11 Unearthed was a leftover episode from Season 1, though no one knows how it fits in.) After picking up a young boy with deformities, three state troopers are killed by other deformed men, raising the attention of the team. It turns out that after a failed project, the entire population of Edina is stricken with horrible genetic deformities that’s lasted for generations. The nearby military base provides a special beacon that hides the people’s deformities, making them appear normal.
This episode of Fringe was heavily episodic, and there was nothing to advance the other universe storyline. This episode was mostly geared around character growth and development. We find that the past year of Fringe division is starting to take it’s toll on Olivia and Peter, both starting to realize that their normal life is so far outside of normal that they are having trouble relating to the regular world anymore. Meanwhile, we have Walter still recovering from his recent kidnapping and trying to assert his independence.
In the end, we see Walter grow a bit by standing up to Boyle to protect the townspeople from exploitation. It shows a lot of strength for Walter to stand up for those he might have directly, or indirectly affected in his tenure.
In order to truly understand the episode, you have to look at the title, Johari Window. The Johari Window is a cognitive psychological tool used to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships. (Wikipedia) It’s fitting as the episode mostly deals with perception. What people see themselves as (Walter as the Cowardly Lion), what others see them as (Olivia’s old friend who thought she was a freak), what people see of themselves and hide from others (the towns people hiding their deformities), and the unknown part that no one sees at all (The goodness of Rose and her courage to expose her secret to save Olivia and Peter).
This episode wasn’t the usual suspense filled show we have come to enjoy sometimes, and at times the pace feels slow. There isn’t even any information about the upcoming war with the other side. While the episode has heavy symbolic significance and strong character development, I felt like it was out of place and this episode could have been better served later inside the story arc, hidden between some more serialized episodes.
- Walter references the Wizard of Oz two times in this episode. Is that a bit of foreshadowing?
- “Just because noone has documented flying monkeys or talking lions yet doesn’t mean they don’t exist.” – Walter
- Hard artichokes, rarely keep, Norwegian elephants Singapore sleep.” – Walter’s nemonic. It was a bit of a stretch to make that fit the song
- “Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – Walter quoting his “friend” Arthur C. Clarke. It’s fitting that Walter knew the famous science fiction writer, known for pushing the boundaries of known science with imagination.