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Fringe Episode Recap: Welcome to Westfield

I came into “Welcome to Westfield” expecting a fairly self-contained story about physics being turned on its head.  What we got, however, was an episode that starts digging into the real impact Peter is having on this timeline and the people within it.  

Why, if she never knew Peter, did Olivia feel such a strong connection to him in her visions early in the season?  What will happen now that Walter has decided to work with Peter and not hold him at arm’s length?  “Welcome to Westfield” provides a framework to consider such questions rather than answer them, while still moving forward the larger storyline and mysteries of the season.

Cold Open

This week’s cold open is all about Olivia and Peter – about them making some pretty passionate love. Olivia tells Peter she loves him and asks Peter to tell her the same. It’s pretty obviously a dream – but, surprisingly, it turns out to be Olivia’s dream! She’s abruptly woken from it by a phone call from Peter, who needs her to come into the lab.

It’s a little awkward at first, seeing as she’s just been bumping uglies with him in her mind all night. Olivia gets over it, though, and Peter re-explains the biomechanical interface of The Machine for everyone who forgot about it since last season Olivia. They want to test it, but need Olivia to get permission from Broyles.

We jump to a little highway in southern Vermont where folks cars are going dead and the items within them floating about. A plane flies low overhead and crashes nearby, afterwich all the cars start up again. It’s a bit disappointing for a Fringe cold open, “monster”-wise. It feels a bit like an afterthought, as though they realized they hadn’t yet introduced this week’s standalone story and just threw it in there.

Act One – Damn Fine Piece of Pie

Lincoln is still out of town apparently, but the rest of the team (including Walter!) comes out to investigate the plane crash and car issues. From some hubcaps that are still magnetized, Walter determines that the disturbances were caused by an intense, localized increase in electromagnetic force. Broyles and Astrid go to recover bodies and crash debris for the investigation, but Walter makes Peter and Olivia drive him off in search of some small-town rhubarb pie.

The three find a diner in a nearby town, which appears to be basically deserted and severely lacking in cell reception. Olivia goes to hunt down a pay phone, while Walter and Peter order up some delicious pie. Walter chats up the counter guy, who at first seems pretty nice in spite of his disturbing eyes. Things start unraveling pretty quickly, though. Peter hears noises in the back and finds a badly beaten man in a storeroom, while Walter’s new buddy starts shifting back and forth between jolly and threatening demeanors. Eventually he takes up a knife and attacks Walter and Peter, but Olivia returns just in time.

Cliff – the man Peter found – is in serious need of medical care, so they hightail it out of town. Well, they try to leave, but somehow just keep ending up heading back into town. Cliff ominously announces that they can’t leave – they are trapped.

Act Two – Communicable Crazy

Having failed at leaving town, Peter, Olivia and Walter take Cliff to the local sheriff’s station to look for medical supplies. Walter says that he has seen this phenomenon of a mysterious town that cannot be left – in Brigadoon. The episode has been pretty straight forward and un-cheeky so far, so this out-of-the-blue reference is a wonderful little surprise.

Walter manages to jerry-rig a blood transfusion for Cliff, who relates how his sister went bonkers and killed her husband of 18 years: “It was like she was all of a sudden having memories from someone else’s life”. It’s like widespread schizophrenia, and it always starts with confusion, forgetting things, tremors, then culminates in paranoia or violence. Those who haven’t yet succombed have holed up in a nearby high school, making it the group’s obvious next stop.

They decide to stock up on supplies (ie, guns), during which Olivia muses on whether the army might be involved like in that one case she and Walter worked. Problem is, Walter says that never happened. Peter, though, did work such a case with his Walter and Olivia. Olivia tries to play it off as something she read in his files, but it’s far from convincing.

Walter asks Peter for a gun, but gets pepper spray instead.

On the way to the high school, Olivia starts having tremors, gets dizzy, and practically starts speaking in tongues. She says it feels like there was somebody else in her head, and surrenders her firearm to Peter. Has she caught the crazy?

Act Three – Double Trouble

Over at the high school refuge, Walter examines one of the supposedly “immune” folks who has started exhibiting symptoms. As the affected woman babbles on about the air quality and alternates between thinking her long dead husband is alive and realizing he isn’t, Walter notices that she has a second row of teeth in her bottom jaw. When taken with the fact that the crazy diner guy had two irises in each eye (which is why they looked so strange), he suggests that whatever is affecting the people here was causing rapid mitosis and the generation of multiple body parts.

When Walter draws a blood sample from the woman, Olivia and Peter have him take one from Olivia, too. Walter is obviously worried by the situation, as he protests a bit too much that Olivia is probably just being her overly empathetic self. After he takes off to go science, Olivia asks Peter what his Olivia is like. Peter somewhat wistfully say she’s driven and stubborn, but also that she sees the best in people even when they don’t see it themselves and she gave him a place he wanted to call home. Peter also divulges some boring (but cute?) information about how they would always order pizza and watch cheesy horror films on Friday nights. Lock this information away, as it will become important later!

Everyone is distraught when the lady Walter had been examining kills herself. Well, everyone except Walter, who is too busy testing blood and playing with the school’s PA system.

After summoning Peter and Olivia over the intercom, Walter reveals that the recently departed woman had twice the amount of genetic material she should have had. It was similar to an experiment he and Bell performed by combining tiny portions of the two universes together in a fishbowl, which merged the two universes and made the laws of physics to go crazy (in the fishbowl). This Vermont town is a point of overlap between the two universes and the people are actually merging with their alternate universe counterparts, gaining parts of their physiology and their memories. Peter and Olivia start freaking out, seeing as Walter buries the lead about Olivia’s tests coming back with no anomalies.

Walter is certain that kind of large-scale universe merging would have to be deliberate because of the immense power and technology necessary to carry it out, and the team wonders if David Robert Jones and his recent score at the quarry could be behind it.

The team doesn’t have too long to ruminate on this possibility, though, as it appears the town is quickly being demolished/ceasing to exist.

Act 4 – Turn That Frown Upside Down!

The towns from the two universes have merged together, creating a surplus of mass and energy that is causing the laws of physics to collide. Everything is about to be destroyed, and Walter despondently says that there is nothing they can do. Peter, however, asks him if the forces might be offset by opposite forces. They determine that the group needs to find the veritable eye of the storm – the center of the merger – where they can be safe from the impending destruction. Peter and Walter scramble to determine the safest location while Olivia and the locals look for transportation that won’t be affected by the electrical issues. The perfect vehicle in such situations? An old school bus, apparently.

Just as the bus is about to drive off, one of the guys onboard grows a second face on his own face and attacks Peter! The second, almost fully-formed face is upside down and bulging out of his head! It is so gross and awesome that I honestly rewound the scene twice just to see it. This time, Walter comes to the rescue with the pepper spray Peter issued him earlier.

Act 5 – Honey, I’m Home!

As the hurricane metaphors become increasingly literal, the group of survivors makes their way to the bike shop Peter and Walter identified as the “eye of the storm”. After a moment where the storm outside shatters the store’s window and sends debris flying everywhere, everything goes black.

When everyone rises, everything in the town and surrounding area except the bike shop’s block has been reduced literally to dust. Broyles again gets to say there were no survivors, but adds that there were several devices powered by the mineral David Robert Jones snatched placed around the town. The amount of mineral used for the town-demolishing devices was only a fraction of what he made it out of the quarry with, which does not bode well.

Back at the lab, Walter is making crepes over lab burners and tries to get Peter to stay and eat with him. Peter declines though, saying hopefully tomorrow they’ll get approval to test the machine. Walter agrees, but you can just feel his heart breaking as he remembers that the whole point of this is to get Peter back to his own timeline. Which means he’ll be gone and Walter will be alone. Again.

Olivia is hanging out at home, having some wine, when Peter stops by to check on her. Olivia tells him she’s fine and grabs him a glass of wine, calling out that she ordered pizza like always. Then she plants a great big kiss on him.

NEXT WEEK: Olivia remembers it all (maybe)! Peter makes a questionable moral decision (maybe)! And there’s a creepy guy who can kind of tell the future…maybe? Again, it’s a bit muddled but we it’s probably safe to say we can expect to deal with this new hybrid Olivia and the implications of the growing connection people of this timeline have to Peter.

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