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