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Fringe: Brown Betty

“His ending wasn’t very good. It was sad. But I fixed it for him.”

I suppose you’ll call this a confession when you read it, Ms. Doux. When you assigned me to the Bishop case, I thought it was open-and-shut: find the missing plot, and whatever cold broad or broken-nosed mick had taken it, and steal it back. But I’ve gone soft—maybe it’s the booze or the broads or just the weight of the years, pressing down on my chest like an Acme safe of despair. I’ve gone soft, Ms. Doux, but I’ve not gone guilty. I’ll confess to what I’ve done, but I won’t say that I’ve done wrong.

It seemed so simple at first. Then again, it always does. We knew the plot was building, and we knew there were just four episodes left. Seems so long ago, that hope, doesn’t it? I hate hope now, hate it like kittens and babies and all the other goodies that men like Dr. Bishop manufacture using commie technology. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The assignment was simple: guard the plot, make sure it wrapped up safely before the season finale. What we didn’t count on was the emotion, the pure need-driven fear and love that Dr. Bishop had for his son.

Love is a stone-cold bitch, there’s no denying it. She wraps her icy fingers around your heart and she squeezes ‘til you can’t think or breathe or move. She wrapped up Dr. Bishop—wrapped him up good. His love for his son just took him over, forced him to create some fantasy of fedoras and gumshoes and Tears for Fears. When you see a man with that kind of need, that real Tears for Fears need, you know he’s head over heels and that he’s dragging us all down with him.

Dr. Bishop got us all to play along, that’s for sure. I’m not even sure we realized what we were playing at—or if we did, if we would even care. Because I lost sight of that plot the minute I laid eyes on the dame. With curves everywhere you want ‘em and nowhere you don’t, Miss Olivia Dunham done me in like she done to so many others. She was a tough cookie, that’s for sure: she spoke like she knew all the rules and how to break ‘em, but I could tell she was nothin’ but scared and alone underneath.

She had a case of her own: find Peter Bishop. She was put onto the case by a scheming broad, went by the name of Rachel before she went by the name of dead. Miss Dunham didn’t let that put her nose out of whack, though. She followed him ‘til she got him, and when he fell into that black night of death she pulled him back down to earth. His heart—or Dr. Bishop’s heart…well, I never quite wrapped my head around that, but I know it’s somethin’ special and I know he matters to her, so it matters to me.

Broyles will fill you in on the rest, I’m sure. Just make sure he knows that he still owes me five bills, but that I’m not collecting. He saw it all like he always does, and he knows I failed this case for us, and if I weren’t dying now I’d worry you’d sack me. The plot’s gone, for this week at least. But I found what really matters: a classy broad with a heart of gold, and her straight-up man with the broken heart that only she can fix.

My own heart? It’s lost somewhere in the land that Dr. Bishop’s commie devices come from. You always told me to never lose heart, Ms. Doux. What you left out was that sometimes we gotta choose to leave it, to let the icy fingers of Love just squeeze it until we ain’t got no breath left, and then sit and wait for the next episode to come. I said earlier that I hated hope. I lied. We didn’t get what we expected, but we got three more episodes left. If that ain’t hope, I don’t know what is.

The Good:

• Walter with the label-maker.

• Ella: “That’s not how it goes. That can’t be it.”
Walter: “Why not?”
Astrid: “Probably because it’s her mother.”

• That check was for the whopping sum of $200. A lot, for the 1940s. But the cell phones with the old-fashioned rings and the 1980s computers: what a fabulous re-imagining of reality.

• Walter: “And my latest project: singing corpses!”

• Walter: “But first, she’d need to re-hire her assistant: Ester Ficklesworth.”

• The Observer: “I’m a man who doesn’t let his feelings get him into trouble.”

• Astrid: “You’re always looking for something that doesn’t exist.”

• The patent guy was the Massive Dynamics lab guy.

• The Observers are the Watchers in this story-verse, and instead of being named after the months, they’re named after astrological signs. Oh, yeah: and they definitely are much scarier.

• The broken taillight is a Chinatown reference.

• Was there some Astrid/Olivia sparkage in the scene where Astrid fixed the laser wound?

• Did Walter invent elephants? Is that what Peter was implying?

• The Walter Bishop of our Walter’s fantasy is basically the Fisher King: injured in an impossible-to-repair way, missing the most important part of his body, but also the creator of all wonderful things (the Fisher King, of course, got access to all that awesome through the Grail). It’s also reminiscent of that other classic of world literature: Iron Man.

• Wow, this cast can sing. And they’re just beautiful people, aren’t they?

Four out of four magical hearts. Because it wasn’t real, but it was a good fairy tale.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. I haven't seen any of this season but I had to read this review because I was pulled into the gumshoe speak. This was a brilliantly written review, although I have a feeling it might have been better then the episode.

    Thanks for the five minutes of laughter :)

  2. Brilliant review. Much better than the actually episode. It wasn’t bad but just felt awkward. Like they were holding back, afraid to go for full musical madness. The cast (those that sang, anyway) all have good voices but only got to sing a few verses rather than any big numbers. The best was certainly Anna Torv, breaking our hearts with the aid of Mr Stevie Wonder.

    Yet I still kinda liked it. Might have something to do with the singing corpses belting out ‘Candy Man’. Inspired mad genius! Try as I might I can’t not like an episode with singing corpses.

  3. Even out of context, this is too funny, Josie. I've been resisting Fringe. I may have to give it another shot.

  4. Everybody sing!

    Even a fantasy had to have grossout, because it was a Fringe fantasy. But it was really wonderful. The level of detail in the set dressing and costumes (especially Walter's lab), the emotional details, the symbolic missing heart. And as Mark said, how can you not like an episode with singing corpses?

  5. Inspired review, Josie. I enjoyed this little diversion into fantasy! (Walter, unsurprisingly, tells wildly age-inappropriate children's stories.) The singing was shockingly good, it was fun to see the cast take on slightly different roles, and the mish-mash of the '40s aesthetic and modern tech was fascinating. I was particularly tickled by Walter's lab, especially the singing corpses.

  6. I have just discovered fringe, thanks to a free DVD set. I loved 'Peter', which got me hooked, but thid really made me fall in love with the show. Mad and wonderful! And it highlights onw of my favourite things about the show - that, much as I love Josh Jackson, Olivia is the lead. The woman isn't restricted to dame or femme fatale, she gets to be the pi and thatls just awesome.

  7. What a review! I loved this as much as I did the episode. Well done, Miss K. You're some kind of dame.


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