This week, our assignment was to watch the episode “Northwest Passage” from Season Two of Fringe. (You can read the Television Without Pity Recap here, while the AV Club has their recap of the episode here. The post dedicated to the Season Two season premiere episode is here and the subsequent bookclub posts are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

As always, here are the ground rules: nothing that we have seen so far is considered a spoiler, anything that we have not yet seen should be considered a spoiler. Crazy nutbar speculation is *NOT* a spoiler, but confirming or denying said confirmation would be.

Here’s my idea for spoilers: please rot13 them. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them. We good? We good! Everybody who has seen the episode, see you after the cut!

So, we get to find out what Peter was doing while Walter was singing… as it turns out, he was remembering Twin Peaks fondly. Who doesn’t? Actually, I never watched it. But I’ve been told that the first season was very, very good.

Let’s not talk about Twin Peaks, though.

This is an interesting Peter episode… mostly because, seriously, up until this point, Peter was interesting mostly because of what he represented rather than who he actually was. We were shown what Peter meant to Walter (he jumped universes to get him!) but, for most of everything else, what we know about Peter is what we were told. He’s a genius, he’s a con man, he has shady contacts (like that guy in the bookstore!)… but, mostly, it’s his job to be the guy who, if they’re stuck in a building that’s been quarantined because of a disease, he’s the guy who gets the disease. He’s like Daphne: the character whose job it is to get caught in the trap.


He demonstrates great skill when it comes to reading people, whether it be figuring out that Martha Plimpton and her partner had a thing or figuring out how much adrenaline would be in a murder victim’s system. While this could be mistaken for a freak-of-the-week on-the-road episode (well, excepting the whole storyline with Newton and WALTERNATE!!!!), it’s actually the first episode I remember that gave me a strong idea about what Peter is really like rather than merely running along with what people told me about him.

Stuff I liked:

The waitress making CDs for customers. I wanted to know the setlist she picked.

Seeing Newton in the crowd. He just radiates genteel menace.

Walter losing it in the grocery store was great… and sad. I know what it’s like to have people who keep you on an evener keel than you’d be otherwise and seeing Walter lose it and then, back at the house, explain that without Peter he fears he’d have to go back to the asylum? That was good. Poor Walter. Astrid almost bursting into tears was very good too. She’s my favorite.

The speech Walter gave about how he didn’t want to find Peter because, hey, what if Peter rejects Walter when he’s *NOT* all het up after being overwhelmed with new information? That was awesome too. Dang, Walter is good.

The final scene, the last minute, where Peter was lying down on his bed and listening to the cd… to wake up to see Newton looking at him? That was *GREAT*… and then to have Newton say “Mr. Secretary?” and have it be WALTERNATE???

Wow. This was a good episode all around.

So… what thinks did you thunk?


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. This is an okay episode, but not one of my favourite ones. I think we got a fair amount of character development for Peter in earlier episodes, so while we get a clearer view of his talents and brains here than in some of the other episodes, I don’t find the character development in it extremely important.

    It is funny that Peter kind of has the role of “damsel in distress” in Fringe, since it’s a nice switch from the role generally being female, and Fringe manages to do it in a way that doesn’t make Peter seem weaker as a character. It’s interesting to contrast the times he’s in danger with the times Olivia is – he usually needs to be rescued/saved (though typically contributes to the rescue in some way), whereas Olivia will probably have the threat dealt with by the time the rescue team shows up (I’m thinking especially of the guy with the cancer-touch).

    It also doesn’t seem quite credible that he can get the detective to trust him so quickly (even if she’s frequently skeptical). It’s an interesting twist that he turns out to be wrong about the whole thing being supernatural, but right about everything else; it = felt a little gimmicky, though. Really, would a serial killer cut out one specific part of every victim’s brain? And that part just happens to be the same one that was important in an earlier plotline? And yet it sort of makes it seem like Peter is looking for Fringe-y stuff even where it doesn’t exist – he’s running away from his former life, but at the same time he doesn’t want to leave it behind.

    The Walter stuff is heartbreaking, though. And the ending is perfect.

      • One of the taglines for MD is “Every Thread An Open Thread”.

        Then we had to amend it for the whole politics, philosophy, religion thing and it got unwieldy.

          • Had goat cheese mashers the other day with lamb and asparagus tips.

            The lamb, sadly, was nothing to write home about. The asparagus tips were asparagus tips. The goat cheese mashers? It was like that thing where you’re with that other person and they do that thing.

            Except for food.

          • I’ll have to scrounge up Kitty’s blue cheese puffs recipe.

      • Yes, I did. It may take me a bit of time to put my thoughts together into a good article, but I got the email.

    • And yet it sort of makes it seem like Peter is looking for Fringe-y stuff even where it doesn’t exist – he’s running away from his former life, but at the same time he doesn’t want to leave it behind.

      Once you start seeing The Pattern, you can’t unsee it.

  2. I liked the episode. I am glad we have a better look at Peter. You are right that he has often played the damsel in distress role, but the main role I lways thought of him having is being Walter’s translator. I agree that we have seen bits and pieces of the Peter we saw in this episode, but it was nice to see it all happen at once.

    I still feel like he is the damsel in distress in this episode and the ending helps. Yes, he is not in life threatenning danger, but his role in helping this universe and our Fringe team is. This is just not a one episode fix danger.

    • Peter as Walter’s translator works. We haven’t yet had opportunity to see what Walter *REALLY* gets like when Peter isn’t around… but, as they say, “keep watching”.

  3. I enjoyed the episode. I often like “Let’s follow one character as segregated from everyone else” episodes (or issues in comic books). To me, it’s one of the advantages to having an ensemble case. The ability to do this.

    I’ve been thinking about your comment about John Scott last week. It really does bring to light something I hadn’t fully thought of, which is that of course Olivia has trouble in relationships and probably a paucity of them in general. The fact that she fell for someone who lied to her regularly is not coincidental. Lack of experience leads to such mistakes.

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