Episode Review: Johari Window
The episode recently had the title changed from Edina City to Johari Window. I have to say that Johari Window is a much better title, given the episode's significance with the theme of Perception.
The show starts with a young boy, Teddy, walking alone along the road outside of the woods. An officer, seeing him, rolls down his window and insists to give him a ride. As night falls, the officer glances in the rearview and the boy has suddenly changed, metamorphosed into a deformed boy. Taking him back to the station, they snap a photograph of the boy moments before his parents come in, looking quite deformed like the boy, killing all three officers before taking Teddy with them. At first light, it seems like some sort of story regarding werewolves, perhaps not the four-legged creatures but the transformation that occurred in the back of the squad car at night.
I love when episodes show continuity and Johari Window gave us exactly that when we first see Walter and Peter following the opening sequence. Walter, is afraid to come out from the car, remembering what it was like to get abducted and asks Peter, “what if he’s in there?” Peter assures his father, that he’s not in there and he won’t let him get kidnapped again. That’s a pretty big promise to make, considering they work Fringe Division and it seems lately someone is always in-danger.
It is Walter that suggests as they enter the town of Edina, “there may be werewolves in these hills.” Standing outside, Olivia stops Peter and Walter, asking about the humming sound she’s hearing. Walter, in typical fashion begins humming and singing some odd random song. The sheriff finds them a moment later and tells them what is better known as the Edina hum is from the military base. Olivia answers, “well that’s one mystery solved,” and somehow we all know that this will tie into the episode.
Driving to the hotel, a truck comes from the opposite side of the road, attempting to run them down. Olivia runs their car off the road in an attempt to avoid the incoming collision but manages to wreck the vehicle, rendering herself unconscious. Peter, grabs her gun and fires at the deformed man outside as there’s gunfire shooting back at him before the man drives off. The EMT’s seemingly glaze over Olivia and surprisingly for someone that lost consciousness; she doesn’t go to the hospital to get checked out. You would think standard FBI protocol would dictate you get fully checked out by a doctor. Of course though the windshield was broken everyone seemed perfectly unharmed. I find it just as interesting how many cars they’ve wrecked this season. Olivia has crashed two, Peter one. Remind me not to lend my car to either of them.
A short time later they recover the vehicle that had come head-on with them. Walter at this time makes a discovery for a butterfly, one he’s never seen on this continent before. This certainly stands out as strange. It is in the same woods that they find the body Peter had shot. The man, though dead, looks like nothing more than a man and Walter suggests they killed someone with metamorphoric abilities. They take both specimens back to the lab, in hopes of understanding how they change.
While back at the lab, Broyles contacts Olivia with information that there was in fact military testing done in the 70’s and inside the file that Olivia has acquired, we learn it is Project Elephant, the same tune of sorts that Walter had hummed earlier in Edina. We all knew we hadn’t heard the last of Walter’s singing and we suspect he was involved in the experiments. Back at the lab, the butterfly looks to have turned into a deformed moth and the body is once again deformed, in the same way when Peter had shot at it. Walter, putting the moth under the microscope realizes it has no metamorphic ability, just a deformity. This seems to stump him but our minds are reeling with the obvious Edina Hum. Astrid soon realizes the song Walter keeps singing is a mnemonic and they quickly recover the old file that he had once worked on. Go Astrid! We finally get to see a little more of her in this episode.
Peter and Olivia head back to Edina, looking through census numbers. Peter realizes something is not quite right with the numbers. At this point, I had already figured the entire town of Edina was like Teddy. Meanwhile Walter and Astrid, take the moth back to Edina. Pulling over on the side of the road, the moth looks to turn back to a butterfly. Astrid asks how this is possible and Walter tells her, “the man, the moth don’t change at all. What changes is our perception of them.” Perception, one of the main themes we repeatedly come across in Fringe.
Talking to Peter on the phone, they begin to understand it is the Edina Hum allowing us to see the people that are deformed as if they were ‘normal’. Walter, against Peter’s wishes, seems to get over his recent fears and heads into town with Astrid to find the source. It’s good to see the change in the episode for Walter, feeling more secure in himself once again. You can't really blame him for being fearful but it's good to see he seems to be doing his own investigating.
Walter, knowing who started the tests back in the 70’s and who was capable of creating such a generator to hide their deformities seeks out the daughter of the scientist, Rose, which happens to be Teddy’s mother. Walter sneaks around the house while Astrid plays a game of Operation with the boy as he attempts to find the generator. I found the game itself, Operation, quite amusing for Astrid to play. Seeing as how she helps Walter and his autopsies, there probably wasn’t a better game out there.
Soon Peter realizes the only change in the population seems to be a small number, births and deaths, that no one ever leaves this town. Peter now realizes and tells us that everyone in Edina is one of them. The officer chases after them, shooting at Peter and Olivia, wanting to keep the town’s secret. In the midst of all the shooting, Walter manages to turn the generator off and everyone’s true self is revealed. The town’s secret is no longer hidden. It doesn’t seem to stop the sheriff from still wanting Olivia and Peter dead. Now that their secret is out it shouldn’t matter but he has decided it is worth killing for. It is Rose that takes the final kill shot at the Sherriff, left with no other choice as he was going to kill Olivia and Peter.
We learn that the original pulse in the 70’s deformed the whole town and Rose’s father couldn’t live with that. He came back to Edina to perfect the machine, essentially the Edina Hum. The people that chose to stay in Edina, given the pulse, would be able to look beyond their deformities and live ‘normal’ lives. Walter comes to understand the importance of the pulse, what he did in shutting it down, how others would see them for their deformities and how it would affect their lives. He wants it kept secret, not made public. Broyles tells Walter that if he did not find the machine, there’s nothing to report. Walter seems to understand and thanks Broyles. I like how we always get a little insight into our characters. Walter is suddenly becoming more concerned for others and no longer only thinking of himself and his experiments. Broyles looked beyond the investigation and the report as did what he agreed was best for the town of Edina.
Peter tells his father that he’s proud of him for speaking up for those people, that he didn’t have to do that. Walter ends the episode by saying, “I’m glad you choose to see me the way you do. Very glad, indeed.” This just reminds us that Walter has yet to come clean with his own son about where he’s from. Peter’s perception of his father, will undoubtedly change when he does find out the truth.
For a standalone episode, it was nice to see it was about Perception, given it is one of the main themes of Fringe and from what we currently know about Olivia’s ability. The episode seemed to leave us with more of a moral dilemma in that is it better to hide what people are and perceive them as ‘normal’ or let their true selves be shown and gain for acceptance. Walter was probably right in that people would come in and want to study them, test them. Their lives would never be ‘normal’ again.