Fringe: Signed, Sealed, Deliverance

By Stefanie Lee

Jan 15, 2010

Before I dive into last night's episode, "Johari Window," I must confess something. In case you haven't already noticed, I am horrible at spotting the Observer. Unless the episode is actually about the Observer, I will not find him. It's like Where's Waldo gone really, really wrong. So help me out. Was he in last night's episode? If he was, when? And what did it mean?

Okay, now that that's over with, deformed people in upstate New York! For the record, I'm from upstate New York, but I was not offended by this episode. Just wanted to clear that up. So, Fringe was at it again with the creepy people and the dark shadows and the fog machines. But behind all the obvious symbolism (People are not what they seem!), there was some heavy stuff going on in this episode.

The case of the gun-wielding mutants, if I may call them that, was like a test for the Fringe Division. Walter (John Noble) had reverted back to his hermit-like ways after his most recent encounter with William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) in "Grey Matters," but investigating this case got him out of the house and revived memories from the old days in the lab. He even talked back to the icier-than-usual Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick), who appeared not to have the interests of the mutants in mind. Peter (Joshua Jackson) had never killed a man before, but this case showed him what he was capable of. He and Olivia (Anna Torv) exchanged a poignant few sentences about what it's like to take a life—a topic that more crime dramas should cover, by the way. And Olivia had always played the role of the protector, with her FBI badge and gun, but this case showcased how Peter has evolved from friend to aide to partner. Watching their bond strengthen is truly one of the most satisfying parts of the show.

But this episode wasn't just about the main characters. J.J. Abrams and Co. were making yet another statement, this time about police corruption. It's hard for a show with roots in the paranormal to address reality, but I think it worked. We saw a two-faced (no pun intended) policeman, ready and willing to help the Fringe Division with their investigation while feeding information back to the residents of his town, and a mother, so desperate to protect her child and her secret that she became violent. It was a rare (and enjoyable!) glimpse into the personal lives of the one-off characters.

Though the case of the mutants was solved by the end of the episode, I couldn't help but ponder its relation to the big Fringe picture. As soon as Walter said the word "metamorphosis," my mind immediately jumped back to the Season 2 premiere, "A New Day in the Old Town," which introduced us to those freaky shape-shifters. I actually thought that the unfortunate-looking residents of Edina, New York, were a special breed of those suckers—after all, I wouldn't put it past J.J. Abrams to pick up a storyline that seemed to end several episodes earlier. And even though last night's episode didn't even mention the shape-shifters, I have a sneaking suspicion that the two phenomena might overlap in the future. My faith is in J.J. to make this happen. I mean, if the guy can incorporate references to both Deliverance and The Wizard of Oz into a single episode, he can do just about anything.

What did you think of the episode?


Follow TV.com writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom

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  • ShawnPrime Jan 20, 2010

    I just watched it. Wow it was creepy. I didn't see the Observer in this episode, but he had to have been there. I think Peter's killed someone before. He never disclaims Olivia's statements about the first time.

  • Darkcanuck65 Jan 19, 2010

    It was an excellent episode, very creepy. I am not so sure that it was the first time Peter killed someone. He never said it was, Olivia just assumed it. There is a lot about Peter that we just do not know.
    The town reminded me of Medina NY with out the horrible mutations, of course.

  • amber8032 Jan 16, 2010

    Like usual another great installment from Fringe. I absolutely love the bond that Peter and Olivia are starting to have. I just love every character from Olivia to Astrid to Broyles. I just hope Fringe never ends, cause Thursday is my favorite day of the week!! Great article and amazing episode!

  • OrSoIThought Jan 16, 2010

    I don't know if the two phenomena are related are not. The people couldn't actually change their form. It was a machine that altered human perception of them. Hence the title, Johari Window. So I'm not sure if the shape shifters are really connected here. But I think it was a good episode for Walter to see how what he does affects others in a more concrete way. Also, I almost never spot the observer, so don't feel bad.

  • comic_collectr Jan 16, 2010

    The Observer can be seen standing out of focus in the top left corner background of the crowd of people outside the Edina Town Hall, as they are being addressed by Sheriff Velchik just as Rose says "You're wrong Paul."

  • comic_collectr Jan 16, 2010

    The Observer can be seen standing out of focus in the top left corner background of the crowd of people outside the Edina Town Hall, as they are being addressed by Sheriff Velchik just as Rose says "You're wrong Paul."

  • comic_collectr Jan 16, 2010

    The Observer can be seen standing out of focus in the top left corner background of the crowd of people outside the Edina Town Hall, as they are being addressed by Sheriff Velchik just as Rose says "You're wrong Paul."

  • baidas4 Jan 16, 2010

    it was a great episode.. and about the Observer, it's the first time for me i catch him, when i was watching he wasn't on my mind really, but when i saw the sheriff talking to the people of Edina publicly, i was like: sure there will be an Observer between them, call it a sixth sense xD then i was pausing and playing after every second before i CATCH him :) only his head appears, he was standing in the back..

  • sandbur Jan 16, 2010

    It WAS a good episode with developments on many fronts, I agree. And I didn't see an Observer either...