On Fringe

Waltered States

By Nick Mamatas

One Pill Makes You Smaller . . .

Walter Bishop is one of the most beloved television characters in recent memory. In addition to getting all the best lines on the program, and thanks to John Noble’s scenery-chewing performances, Bishop was one reason to give Fringe repeated chances during its shaky first season. But there are plenty of genius kooks on TV; what makes Bishop stand out is his uncomplicated use of psychedelic drugs. Even Dr. House eventually suffered the consequences of his Vicodin abuse and went straight (at least temporarily), but Bishop actually gains insights into the super-scientific conundrums he faces thanks to drug use. And now, thanks to a glimpse into the other universe, we know what Bishop would look like without a constant supply of psychedelics (and with all the parts of his brain intact): the cold and authoritarian Walternate.

The Walter/Walternate conflict seemed doomed to destroy the two universes. Yet, these geniuses are the only people mentally capable of saving both their worlds. In a September 2010 interview, John Noble hinted that the two characters he plays may yet come to an accord. “What’s got to happen is that there has to be peace made,” he told E! Online. “If this breach is indestructible, what if the two great minds of each world got together and said, ‘We know how to fix it.’”1 Can it happen? The season-three finale suggested that Walter and Walternate may yet join forces.

There’s a real-world duo–one who captured the essence of the conflict between the drug-fueled  …

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