"Brown Betty" Review
But “Brown Betty” is an all time low. I can see some Fringe fans loving this episode for its willingness to break all the rules. I imagine it’s destined to be a polar episode: you either love it or hate it. I’m in the latter group.
See, if “Brown Betty” was shown at the beginning of the season, it would have worked fine. I love noir-style films, and “Brown Betty” does an admirable job of recapturing that style and mixing in a Tim Burton feel. But to air this episode when there is such momentum and things are really heating up? That’s just cruel. “Brown Betty” literally does nothing to move the Fringe story forward. It barely makes sense (I guess since Walter was smoking pot before telling the story).
In fact, if you happened to miss this episode, there’s no reason to watch it. Nothing happened. It’s like having a character wake up and say something like, “Oh! Never mind! This was all a dream - just forget it ever happened.” Except it’s worse, because there wasn’t any character development at all. If the writers needed to pen this script (and I’m blaming FOX for this - you are the only network that would create a music-themed week), they could have provided some fascinating insight into Walter’s state of mind.
But no. We didn’t learn anything new about Walter. In fact, we learned more about how Walt feels in regards to his situation with Peter in the five-minute scene from “White Tulip” (where he confronts the time traveler). “Brown Betty,” on the other hand, is forty-three minutes of only Walter’s perspective… and we learn nothing.
Now I’m not saying this episode was boring - it wasn’t. There were a few cool moments. One aspect of “Brown Betty” that intrigued me was Nina Sharp’s relationship with William Bell. In Walter’s mind, they’re romantically involved. But in the real world, she seems caught up with Broyles… I hope the writers address that in future episodes.
Another interesting scene was when a cylinder (first seen in an episode from Season 1) burst through the wall before the observers attacked. I’m glad to see that cylinder back and I wonder if the writers will shed some light on that by the season’s end. I hope so.
Anyway, I apologize if you like “Brown Betty.” If I remember the episode for anything, it’ll be how it forced me to write my first negative review. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the charm, but this was simply the wrong time to air the episode. I’m going to re-watch last week’s and pretend that’s where the story left off. Honestly, that’s where it did leave off, because nothing happened this week.
Wait, that’s not true. We learned that the observers still exist and that Peter is still missing. The rest was just a bad drug trip.