"White Tulip" Review
First of all, “White Tulip” has a very compelling standalone plot: time travel. The format of the show is changed entirely and cuts back and forth between different moments of time. At one point, about twenty minutes in, the entire episode pretty much resets and we start all over.
The directing and editing is handled nicely in these “resets.” We see the same series of events happening (with minor alterations), but it’s still just as compelling as the first time around. This is accomplished by adding in different plot points. For example, the first time we watch Walter on the train, but during the second reset, we see what Olivia and Peter are up to right outside the train. It’s a clever way to reshow the same material, while keeping it fresh.
There’s an interesting scene early on that I want to mention. Olivia bring up déjà vu and Peter comments on how he never gets that sensation. This causes Walter to dart his eyes to the floor. It reminds me of an episode back in season one, where Walter explained déjà vu as a glimpse into what your alternate being has chosen to do in another dimension. Since Peter’s alternate being is dead, this would explain why he never gets déjà vu. I thought that was pretty interesting, but I’m not sure if the line was supposed to hint at that.
Anyway, I like how Fringe always tries to merge believable character moments among the unbelievable science. I think I read an interview with J.J. Abrams where he compares this style to The Twilight Zone, and I can see why it makes the show so good. The main character (Alistair Peck) in “White Tulip” is trying to travel through time in order to save his fiancé, who died in a car crash a few years prior. This, of course, connects with Walter’s experience of taking Peter from the alternate universe (from the brilliant episode “Peter”).
My favorite scene of “White Tulip” (as I’m sure many of you will agree - let me know if you do) is Walter explaining his belief in God to Alistair. Walter believes that God is punishing him for betraying the laws of nature by saving Peter. There is something profound about the conversation between these two brilliant minds.
Walter asks for a white tulip from God (symbolizing forgiveness) as a beacon of hope that Peter, too, can forgive him. Alistair travels back in time, regardless, ignoring Walter’s plea. But in a touching scene, we find out that Alistair only traveled back to die with his finance. This once again resets the timeline and it’s as though none of this has ever happened.
The ending to this episode is perfect. Walter receiving the paper drawing of a white tulip is a beautiful, appropriate conclusion, although a bit predictable. The scene almost proves Alistair’s theory that science is God. But to Walter, the drawing is just as profound as coming straight from Heaven because he doesn’t (and will never) know who sent it.
“White Tulip” is a clever story all around. It’s well written, well directed, and well acted (I ask again, can John Noble please win an award this year?). The previews for next week look promising and it’s only a few episodes until the two-part season finale.
I have a feeling the season will go out with a bang.