wendelah1: (Etta Bishop)
[personal profile] wendelah1 posting in [community profile] fringe_rewatch
Two stinkers in a row! The B plot in this episode, where they all go off and find the Observer Child, is fairly compelling. I don't think we ever get an explanation for why he's mute and in a state of arrested development.

The A plot is stupid and pointless. Walter turning into his old self is such a non-issue. The whole idea that one could remove a part of someone's brain and then put it back decades later is beyond ridiculous.

Carla Warren doesn't belong in season five, period. Blair Brown is a lovely woman but she is not convincing playing her younger self. They should have come up with another idea. Additionally, I am certain that the writer for this episode has never dropped acid in their life.

 photo 08f0963e-7172-4796-8b2a-117d980a4708_zpse2ot0dqx.jpg

Air Date: 14 Dec 12
Written by: Kristin Cantrell
Directed by: Tommy Gormley

Summary: Walter takes a tab or two of Black Blotter and hallucinates a whole lot of nonsense because the writer can't think of anything better. Oh yeah. They find the Observer child, who is another missing piece of Walter's plan to save humanity.

Most Memorable Quote:
WALTER: There's only room for one God in this lab, and it's not yours.

Links: Transcript
The A.V. Club
Den of Geek
HitFix
IGN
Entertainment Weekly

Fanfic: Maybe?

Date: 2015-05-17 04:59 am (UTC)
cahn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cahn
So far this has been the nadir for me (if only because I completely misunderstood the previous episode, ha). Ugh.

I didn't think they were able to use Blair Brown in a way that made me dislike her, but they managed to.

The Observer Child is neat, but also you can see the bad writing there too: we're clearly supposed to feel tearjerky about Observer Child leaving his parental figures, even though we were introduced to them all of five minutes ago. Lazy writing, people! Even Anna Torv emoting for all she's worth can't save this.

Fanfic: I am working on an S5 fanfic, sort of. This is ALL SPROCKET'S FAULT. I guess I need to watch the end of the season first, though...

Date: 2015-05-17 07:44 pm (UTC)
sprocket: The trusted assistant at work (Astrid Fringe)
From: [personal profile] sprocket
Fanfic: I am working on an S5 fanfic, sort of. This is ALL SPROCKET'S FAULT.

*Mona Lisa smile* My work here is done.

Date: 2015-05-17 07:55 pm (UTC)
sprocket: The trusted assistant at work (Astrid Fringe)
From: [personal profile] sprocket
"Black Blotter" has an unusual requirement for one of Fringe's "experimental" episodes: with five episodes left at its beginning, it has to carry serious plot points. The writers and showrunners are out of time for breathers and tangents and wandering through rotoscoped zeppelins. But if anything in this episode is well done, it's because of the acting and in spite of some serious pacing issues in the writing, the editing, and the S5 arcing.

The great thing about Black Blotter is that the DVD includes episode commentary by executive director Joel Wyman and editor John Dudkowski. Instead of being frustrated by the huge structural issues of this very messy episode, I can reflect on other people's comments.

In the commentary, Wyman tells viewers, "...the truth is that there were some shortcomings with the script so we sort of - we found we could have done better in a few spots and we sort of reshot a few spots which we'll talk about later." (4'34") I think that's because it's a demanding script to write: the plot of the episode rests on swapping the radio for Michael, the Observer boy, but Walter's thematic arc is hanging out in a disconnected register with hallucinations of absent women. It's a shame, because there could be a through-line of Walter once again taking someone else's son, because Walter is right and the world is wrong. After all, what's the difference between Walter's faith (ha) in his plans in 1986 and 2036? I would like Fringe to answer that question for me.

Instead of that answer, we get the isolation of Walter's long flashback to the events of "Peter", three minutes of screen time spent watching John Noble watch S2 footage projected onto the lab walls. If you're not completely burned out, if you can step back and take this as a display of Walter's isolation and struggle with his demons, it's stunning. And it does serve the plot by confirming a few of the events from the old timeline are still in play in this timeline. But it's a very, very slow scene that doesn't connect well to anything else going on in this episode, or the season. Not linking Peter and Michael's stories is a missed opportunity. Instead, the connection is made between Olivia and Michael.

Wyman on the living room scene: "...We wanted to cut the scene running down the center between - really between Olivia and the boy."

Dudkowski replies: "Well because it's a big download, there's a lot of information here, but the emotional part of it is the boy and Olivia. And you don't necessarily need to be with each actor as they're sort of explaining their piece of information, it can be a soundtrack to the - again, to the heart of it, which is Olivia and the boy." (34'30")

But why? Is it an attempt to follow through from their connection in "Inner Child"? Knowing what's coming up, we can talk about Olivia and Michael as children used in Walter's scheming, but that's not highlighted in their interactions here. During that same living room scene, Wyman does get into the themes of the season, I guess the area I've been thinking about as resistance as a recurring concept: "...it's all about sacrifice, and one of the main - a lot of the themes this year were centered around the idea of sacrifice and what it takes to have freedom and things that I think people forget that freedom costs, and that was one of the reasons why Etta was taken from them to realize that, you know, it's a war. People have to give their lives for freedom and if you asked Etta would you give up your life up for this cause, her answer would be, 100 percent, 'yes'." (36'10")

But again, it highlights things missing in "Black Blotter". Talking about Etta's loss and choices highlights the missing reflection of Walter and Peter, which would help close the circle of parents and children, love and sacrifice and loss.

Also, after weeks of dodging the two-universe question, it's specifically brought up with respect to Michael and Olivia's memories of Michael. Hitfix nailed it this week, I think: the introduction of the alternate timelines without the show being able to re-stage the previous timeline for us to see means that we’re never sure as audience members what changed and what didn’t. The fourth season of the show basically posited “no much really changed on a massive scale”, which allows supporters of that choice to state that the core characters were still on display. And that’s a fine position to take, so long as we’re talking about things on a pure character level. But when things towards to plot, things get so messy so fast that it makes the entire endeavor of watching the show turn into a massive migraine.

Nothing of any real consequence (character-wise) in this show would mean any more or less had one reality always stayed intact. Let’s do a little thought experiment to see if that hypothesis holds true. Take stock of Walter, Peter, and Olivia right now. And ask yourself if any of them would be a different position now if Peter simply bridged the two worlds together and reality itself had continued onwards. If the answer is “yes”, then “Fringe” still works for you. If the answer is “no”, then the disappearing Peter act was a failure, and have crippled (if not severed) your engagement with the program.


Miscellany:
Wyman: "Yeah everyone always loves [Astrid being a badass], and when we wrote Astrid, we probably should've done that a lot more." (1'16") I wish Fringe had figured that out, oh, in the first season or so.

I love continuity, so I love that Peter still looks like he's just been in a fistfight.

Walter's green fairy evoked Moulin Rouge to me, a homage that seems to be accidental. For those unfamiliar with Moulin Rouge, it is a singing dancing Baz Lurhmann extravaganza starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman as star-crossed bohemian lovers. It's a mad, hectic, beautiful remix of half a dozen stories and has a brilliant soundtrack. I love this movie.

Based on this episode, I'm guessing one of the unresolved plot cards on the board was "Carla Warren's death". (I will mostly pass by the sexism of making the dead lab assistant a female doctorate. People with advanced degrees working in someone else's lab are usually postdocs, visiting, or maybe junior faculty. But it's a massive slight to call a PhD a lab assistant.)

AV Club loved the Monty Python homage, but my Python exposure has been sufficiently hit or miss I didn't grasp the significance of the sequence without outside prodding. Wikipedia tells me the original Python sketches were shown on the BBC in the late '60s and early '70s, reaching the US in 1972. The movies came later, in 1975 - the '80s. So it's actually age-appropriate that Walter might have Terry Gilliam free associating in his mind.

Additionally, I am certain that the writer for this episode has never dropped acid in their life.

Yes, this. Also, they didn't do the research to cover this deficit. Sigh.
Edited Date: 2015-05-17 07:56 pm (UTC)

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