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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 19, Season 2, Brown Betty

Posted by Karl Withakay on April 29, 2010

As usual, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

A Doubly So-So Episode

This was a pretty meh episode from a Deconstruction viewpoint due to the nature of the episode.  Regardless of whether you liked the episode itself or not, it was also kind of a throw away episode that didn’t do much of anything for the show’s story arc/plot either.

Rachel Dunham, Mother of the Year

OK, let’s assume that Rachel had a really good reason for needing to go to Chicago for the weekend.  Was it really a good idea to leave her daughter in the care of her single, FBI field agent sister who wasn’t on vacation?  How was this any better than just taking Ella with her to Chicago?  Did she know that Olivia could just pawn Ella off to Astrid for daycare, or did she think Olivia was just going to bring Ella along on cases?

Did Astrid run over the FBI director’s dog at some point in her past?

How badly do you have to screw up in the FBI to not just be assigned to the Fringe division, but to be assigned as the lab assistant/ gofer/ baby sitter for the rest of the Fringe unit?  If Olivia’s not usually the sharpest tack in the junk drawer (the previous two episodes notwithstanding), what does that say for Astrid as Olivia’s lackey?

Story Walter’s Lab is Cooler than Real Walter’s

Story Walter has cooler toys in his lab than real Walter.  Real Walter needs to go to Think Geek and Edmund’s Scientific more often like story Walter apparently does.

Continuity Lapse

I know it was just a story being told to a child, but Fringe has usually done a commendable job on continuity in the past, in that scars and bruises persist from one episode to another.  It was a little disappointing to see story Olivia’s chest scar disappear in the next scene after Esther treated it.

Get Your Sci-Fi Straight

I know I’ve made this mistake in the past myself, but I’m not one of the show’s writers.  A bald guy in a dark suit and hat in Fringe is called an Observer, not a Watcher.

I Always Carry a Nice, Warm Blanket in My Zodiac

You know, just in case I happen to find a woman trapped in a leaky wooden coffin out at sea.  I wouldn’t want her to suffer from hypothermia or anything.

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4 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 19, Season 2, Brown Betty”

  1. Slarti said

    As a fan of the noir/pulp detective genre, I both anticipated and yet dreaded this episode, especially given the musical element. Ultimately, I have to agree on “meh.”

    A couple of things, though: During the scene where Esther was treating Olivia’s scar, Esther noted that the wound appeared to already be healing. Granted, that was probably mainly a cop-out so that they wouldn’t have to worry about keeping up with the bandage makeup, but there you go. Also, does Walter actually know that they’re called Observers? I assumed he called them Watchers in the story because he didn’t and needed a descriptive name.

  2. […] This week’s Fringe cipher was: HEART. A list of all previous Fringe reviews is available here. Karl has much more to say. […]

  3. bros said

    In regards to Watcher vs. Observer, who says that Walter didn’t forget what they were called and came up with a similar descriptor?

  4. FC said

    Have to agree with Slarti: Esther specifically said the wound was healing quickly. You can even see the wound on the chest sealing up. The tool she was attacked with was surgical: it makes sense that a tool designed for surgery would try to make sure that whatever incision was made heals fast. Naturally, HOW it accomplishes this is just plain magical, but it’s Walter’s Story and everything weird in it that happens can be chalked up to Walter’s drug induced imagination.

    Let’s not be too harsh on Rachel: it’s quite possible she assumed or even asked her sister to take the day off to watch her kid and maybe Olivia said she would, in which case this should read: Olivia Dunham, Aunt of the Year…

    I also agree that Watcher vs Observer is too much of a nit-pick. It’s still Walter’s story and for whatever reason he wants to call them watchers.

    In the end I found it enjoyably weird. I also find that my brain keeps making excuses for the show: I’ve seen it mentioned that Anna’s performance was sub-par for a noir detective, I chalked that up to Walter imagining a stuffy Olivia in a such a role. I don’t really know if Anna Torv can’t really cut it or if she was directed to do it that way (directors can make quite a difference sometimes just ask Wil Wheaton) or if she was just too stuck in her Olivia character to do the role properly.

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