Fringe: Johari Window Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, January 15, 2010
This episode of Fringe is all about things not being what they seem. It succeeds on several levels. It is set in the small town of Edina where a runaway boy suddenly transforms into a mutated beast in front of a police officer’s eyes. Other creatures kill the cops and take the boy, but
they are too late to stop a photo of the boy from being uploaded into a police computer. Stories of deformed creatures have circulated around the rural area for years, but now there is proof. Call in the Fringe team.
On the surface this appears to be your typical family of deformed hillbillies story, but it turns out to be more. There is a twist in the way the creatures were created and how they are seen. The story is also a sneaky but effective vehicle for the development of the major characters of Fringe.
We get to see a different side of Peter when he kills one of the creatures. When the body transforms back to human form after death, Peter is troubled that he killed a man. For a moment, he slips away from his flippant persona and needs to be consoled by Olivia who has killed quite a few people in her time as an FBI agent.
As with so many strange things that happen on Fringe, Walter did research on this very phenomenon decades ago. He just has trouble remembering it since parts of his brain were cut out and he was sent to the insane asylum. With a little prompting, Walter and Astrid manage to retrace Walter’s steps and piece it all together.
We get to see the developing relationship between the Walter and Astrid. It is a fun dynamic since Walter’s scatterbrained intensity contrasts with Astrid’s gentle skepticism. It was nice to see Astrid getting a slightly larger role in this episode. She promises to be a significant character on Fringe if the writers would let her get out of the lab and do more than fetch things.
Walter shows the most character growth in this episode. As it starts, he is still traumatized from his experience being held against his will in the asylum after a visit. This was from the last season 2 episode, Grey Matters, that aired on December 10, 2009. Walter is afraid to go into a grocery store or even leave his home. As he solves the mystery with Astrid, he gains confidence and asserts his independence. He begins to realize that he can do things without Peter by his side. In fact, he brazenly disobeys Peter and continues to investigate the mystery after being told to return home. The Walter of a few episodes ago probably wouldn’t do that.
In the end, it is revealed that a government conspiracy is responsible. Isn’t that the cause of most of these things? Walter feels sympathy for the creatures and guilt over exposing them. In an uncharacteristic act, he personally stands up to Agent Broyles and pleads to keep the town’s secret. Broyles shows that he is more than a by-the-book FBI agent by agreeing to Walter’s request. This exhibits his increasing trust for Walter, a man whose judgment he initially doubted. Peter later tells his father that he is proud of him for standing up for the townspeople, thereby acknowledging Walter’s growth over the course of the episode. We now know the characters of Fringe better than we ever have.
Mania Grade: B+
TV Series: Fringe
Episode: Johari Window
Starring: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jaskika Nicole, Lance Reddick
Written By: Josh Singer
Directed By: Joe Chappelle