“White Tulip” was one of the best episodes of Fringe this season, and with all the complaining about the writers deviating from the main story, this was done so well, it doesn’t matter.
Guest starring on this episode was RoboCop’s Peter Weller, and much like his famous movie role, his character, Dr. Alistair Peck, is as much machine as he is man.
Everything starts off like any other self-contained story on Fringe. At a train station, there are people sitting in a car, and all of a sudden a man, Peck, appears out of thin air. As he leaves the car, a young man enters to find all of the passengers dead.
Like a lot of these cases, Fringe division is called in, the inspect the train, and quickly find a lead. Within the first 15 minutes actually, they find Peck’s house and Peck himself, only to lose him when he travels back in time to that same train car, killing the same people again. Time travel stories almost always go to the extreme, either really good or really bad. Thankfully, this is one of those awesome time travel stories.
The reason for Peck’s venture into time travel becomes pretty obvious in the middle of the episode, but it doesn’t take anything away from the conclusion of the story. Perhaps the most fascinating part of his time travel method is what he does to his body. Peck doesn’t use a machine with a user-friendly interface, instead he mutilates his body, putting various wires and circuitry throughout his body. This, along with a lot of the fringe science in the show, demonstrates the difficulty of the experiments. This adds a bit of realism in a series about extraordinary science.
Peck’s going back in time proves to have some consequences, the most apparent being killing the people around where ever he’d end up. The other, somewhat obvious one is resetting what happens, so this time when the FBI shows up to investigate, they track down Peck a little bit differently than the first time.
While tracking down the time traveling man, there is also the matter of Walter trying to find a way to tell Peter about where he came from. John Noble continues being the best thing about the show as Walter struggling to come to grips with what he did in the past. It’s easy to see he’s never really forgiven himself for keeping Peter and all he is doing is looking for a sign of forgiveness.
Towards the end of the episode Walter and Peck share one of the best scenes of the series. They’ve both gone through a terrible event in their lives and are doing anything they could to fix it. The conversation between the two geniuses about the turmoil in their lives is wonderful enough, but the effect of that conversation brings the episode to a beautiful, heartwarming ending. Though this story has little to do with the big picture, the emotional connection Walter and Peck share make “White Tulip” truly sublime.
Fringe is as good as any show on television when it wants to be, and “White Tulip” is one of Fringe’s best.