Spoiler Heavy Reviews: Fringe: “Welcome to Westfield”

by Kevin on February 11, 2012

Universes colliding, realities merging, bizarre events that defy the natural world: Mulder and Scully sure have a lot on their hands this week. There was a vintage X-Files feel to Fringe this week, which makes sense, because the supernatural adventures of Mulder and Scully have always been a major part of Fringe’s DNA. It’s easy to imagine the other FBI duo getting attacked by guys with two irises and extra teeth.

“Welcome to Westfield” was a great episode, weaving small elements of this season’s story—notably Peter’s pining for his version of Olivia and the behind-the-scenes supervillainy of David Robert Jones—with a well paced, suspenseful episode of bizarre sci-fi and horror. There’s something about being stuck in a creepy town, unable to leave and surrounded by strangers who could snap and start stabbing you, that just works, and “Westfield” exploits those feelings while still keeping the feel of a Fringe episode.

There were a few contrivances, such as why this would be the one case Walter decides to actually tag along with, but all of those worked for me because it was worth having our central cast of Walter, Olivia, and Peter here for an episode like this. Because “Westfield” was a turning point in the complex Olivia/Peter relationship game, and the physics-defying events in Vermont aren’t responsible for Olivia’s sudden change.

Part of the reason Peter has been desperate this season to get back to “his universe” (a place I’m less and less inclined to believe actually exists) is his love for Olivia, which isn’t reciprocated in this reality because here he never existed. But throughout “Westfield,” Olivia has flashes of memories involving Peter: a sensual dream, memories of a case they never worked on together. At the end, the convergence seems to be complete, as Olivia carries on their Friday night movie-and-takeout tradition as if nothing has changed.

The gradual change in Walter’s attitude toward Peter, from contempt to reluctant acceptance brought on by Austrid’s comments last week, also lends some weight to the possibility that this will ultimately be Peter’s new home. Peter explains to Olivia that the Olivia he knows gave him something he hadn’t had since his mother died, a place to call home. His acceptance in this reality is, I think, inevitable, and even if he ultimately ends up somewhere else by the season finale, it’s going to be a difficult road deciding which versions of his loved ones are really “his.”

Fringe typically has two kinds of great episodes: strong character episodes with powerful stories and terrific performances, and really solid sci-fi enhanced by what’s going on in the Fringe-verse that season. “Westfield” was the latter, and I think the events in Vermont are but a preview of Jones’ larger plan, something this season has kept pretty close to its chest. Definitely looking forward to what’s coming next.

Kevin’s Grade: A

The Good

  • Peter is the type of guy who wouldn’t just jump into bed with a different version of Olivia, but I have a feeling it’s not going to be all that easy this time around.
  • Song of the week: The Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” playing in the diner. How apropos.
  • “Breakfast for dinner, the second most important meal of the day.”

The Bad

  • Only on TV can you use pepper spray in an enclosed space like a bus and not have to evacuate everyone.

The Weird

  • What’s Lincoln up to these days?

Things to Think About

  • So what’s Jones up to? Was Westfield a test run for something? Was it successful?

Next Week: 4.13 “A Better Human Being,” and some Peter/Olivia awkwardness during Valentine’s.

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