Northwest Passage (Fringe)

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"Northwest Passage"
Fringe episode
Fringe Northwest Passage.jpg
Peter and Sheriff Mathis (guest actor Martha Plimpton) autopsy a body
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 21
Directed by Joe Chappelle
Written by Ashley Edward Miller
Zack Stentz
Nora Zuckerman
Lilla Zuckerman
Featured music Mike McCready
Production code3X5120
Original air dateMay 6, 2010
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Northwest Passage" is the 21st episode of the second season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe , and the 41st episode overall. The episode follows Peter (Joshua Jackson) as he continues to stay away from Boston after learning his true parallel universe origins; his travels take him to a small town, where he helps the local police investigate mysterious disappearances.

<i>Fringe</i> (season 2) season of television series

The second season of the American science fiction television series Fringe commenced airing on the Fox network on September 17, 2009, and concluded on May 20, 2010. The season was produced by Bad Robot Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, and its showrunners were Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman. Actors Anna Torv, John Noble, and Joshua Jackson reprised their roles as FBI agent Olivia Dunham and father-son duo Walter and Peter Bishop, respectively. Previous series regulars Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole, Blair Brown, and Kirk Acevedo also returned, though with Acevedo in a limited capacity.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that has been called the "literature of ideas". It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, parallel universes, fictional worlds, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. It often explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations.

Drama Artwork intended for performance, formal type of literature

Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance: a play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on radio or television. Considered as a genre of poetry in general, the dramatic mode has been contrasted with the epic and the lyrical modes ever since Aristotle's Poetics —the earliest work of dramatic theory.

Contents

The episode was written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Nora Zuckerman, and Lilla Zuckerman. Joe Chappelle served as the episode director. It featured a guest appearance by actress Martha Plimpton. Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready helped write the music for the episode.

Zackary Lowell "Zack" Stentz is an American writer and producer of film and television, journalist, novelist, and teacher, best known for his work on Marvel properties with former writing partner Ashley Edward Miller.

Nora Zuckerman is an American television screenwriter, who has worked on a number of television series, most notably the FOX science fiction series Fringe and the Syfy original series Haven. She often collaborates with her sister, Lilla Zuckerman.

Lilla Anne Zuckerman is an American television writer and producer, who has worked on a number of television series, most notably the FOX science fiction series Fringe and Suits on USA. She has also worked on Human Target, and the Syfy original series Haven. She collaborates with her sister, Nora Zuckerman.

"Northwest Passage" first aired in the United States on May 6, 2010 to an estimated 5.82 million viewers. It received generally positive reviews, as many critics praised the writers' decision to focus on Peter in a new location. Others noted references to the television series Twin Peaks .

<i>Twin Peaks</i> 1990s American drama television series

Twin Peaks is an American mystery horror drama television series created by Mark Frost and David Lynch that premiered on April 8, 1990, on ABC. The series developed a notably loyal following in 1990, but declining ratings led to its cancellation after its second season in 1991. It nonetheless gained a cult following and has been referenced in a wide variety of media. In subsequent years, Twin Peaks is often listed among the greatest television series of all time.

Plot

After learning his true origins in "The Man from the Other Side", Peter (Joshua Jackson) leaves Boston and travels to a small town in the state of Washington. At a diner, Peter makes plans for a date with a local woman named Krista, but before they can meet she is kidnapped and murdered. Initially, the police suspects Peter is involved in the disappearance until told he was at his hotel all night. Peter decides to aid them in the investigation after catching a glimpse of Thomas Jerome Newton (Sebastian Roché), believing the shapeshifters are responsible and are coming after him; however, he does not wish Walter to be involved, asking Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) to keep his location secret.

"The Man from the Other Side" is the 19th episode of the second season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe. The episode follows the attempts of Thomas Jerome Newton, with the help of shapeshifters, to create a pathway between the two parallel universes, while the Fringe team's Olivia Dunham, Peter Bishop, and Walter Bishop try to stop him.

Peter Bishop

Peter Bishop is a fictional character of the Fox television series Fringe. He is portrayed by Joshua Jackson.

Joshua Jackson Canadian actor

Joshua Browning Jackson is a Canadian actor. He is known for his starring role as Pacey Witter in the teen drama series Dawson's Creek (1998–2003), Peter Bishop in the science fiction series Fringe (2008–2013), Cole Lockhart in the drama series The Affair (2014–18), and Mickey Joseph in the drama miniseries When They See Us (2019).

During the autopsy, Peter explains to Sheriff Mathis (Martha Plimpton) how removing a part of a brain could provide information to the killers. Mathis' partner, deputy officer Bill Ferguson (Patrick Gilmore), soon disappears. After they go to the scene of Krista's murder, Peter encounters Newton, but he escapes. Peter becomes suspicious of Mathis when he sees blood on her jacket; however, he believes her when she shows him her cut from a fall, which is bleeding normal blood, not the mercury typical of shapeshifters; he then explains the concept of shapeshifters to her.

Autopsy surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse

An autopsy is a surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse by dissection to determine the cause, mode and manner of death or to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present for research or educational purposes.. Autopsies are usually performed by a specialized medical doctor called a pathologist. In most cases, a medical examiner or coroner can determine cause of death and only a small portion of deaths require an autopsy.

Martha Plimpton American actress

Martha Campbell Plimpton is an American actress, singer, and former model. Her feature film debut was in Rollover (1981); she subsequently rose to prominence in the Richard Donner film The Goonies (1985). She has also appeared in The Mosquito Coast (1986), Running on Empty (1988), Parenthood (1989), Samantha (1992), Raising Hope (2010) and Small Town Murder Songs (2011).

Mercury (element) Chemical element with atomic number 80

Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is commonly known as quicksilver and was formerly named hydrargyrum. A heavy, silvery d-block element, mercury is the only metallic element that is liquid at standard conditions for temperature and pressure; the only other element that is liquid under these conditions is the halogen bromine, though metals such as caesium, gallium, and rubidium melt just above room temperature.

Peter begins to doubt the shapeshifters' motives after another body is found, but eventually comes up with an idea to read and track the victims' adrenaline spikes, which allows him to find where the murders took place: a dairy farm. They find the owner, who confesses to killing the women because they rejected him, and kidnapped and tortured Mathis's partner when he discovered the culprit. Repeatedly at the hotel, Peter receives calls with static, strange noises, and clicks, which he suspects are coming from Newton. In the end, Peter decides and prepares to head back to Boston, but is approached by Newton, who has brought "Mr. Secretary", the man from the Other Side, to see Peter. The man is revealed to be his actual father from the parallel universe, "Walternate".

Adrenaline hormone, neurotransmitter and medication. Epinephrine is normally produced by both the adrenal glands and certain neurons

Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a hormone and medication. Adrenaline is normally produced by both the adrenal glands and a small number of neurons in the medulla oblongata where it acts as a neurotransmitter involved in regulating visceral functions. It plays an important role in the fight-or-flight response by increasing blood flow to muscles, output of the heart, pupil dilation response, and blood sugar level. It does this by binding to alpha and beta receptors. It is found in many animals and some single cell organisms. Napoleon Cybulski first isolated epinephrine in 1895.

Meanwhile, back in Boston, a distraught Walter (John Noble) suffers a small mental breakdown at a supermarket. Olivia (Anna Torv) and Astrid (Jasika Nicole) escort him home, discovering his house is in disarray. After they ask why he didn't come to them for help, Walter replies he needs to learn to care for himself if Peter fails to return. He discovers a way to find Peter using his unique energy signature, but changes his mind after worrying that Peter will not forgive him. However, Olivia learns Peter's whereabouts from Broyles; they prepare to fly to Washington.

Production

"Northwest Passage" featured a guest appearance by actress Martha Plimpton Martha Plimpton 2015.jpg
"Northwest Passage" featured a guest appearance by actress Martha Plimpton

"Northwest Passage" was co-written by producers Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, staff writers Lilla Zuckerman and Nora Zuckerman. [1] Co-executive producer Joe Chappelle served as episode director. [2]

Miller later noted that unlike other episode scenes such as in "Grey Matters", Walter's breakdown at the supermarket "came largely out of nowhere. It was a thought experiment that took on a life of its own." [3] Miller continued that at the time, he and Stentz thought they were writing Olivia-focused episodes, but "In retrospect, we really wrote a four-part story about Walter, his relationship to children, and the struggle between Walter-who-was and Walter-who-is. If you look at it that way, his decision at the end of 'Northwest Passage' becomes the moment where he reconciles those things. He doesn't resolve them, but he comes to grips with them. Once again in retrospect, I think that's what the supermarket breakdown was really about. This happens — you think a scene is about one thing when you're in the middle of it, and realize it's something else entirely when you look back. Characters can be sneaky motherfuckers that way." [3]

A fan of Fringe, Pearl Jam musician Mike McCready talked with series composer Chris Tilton about writing some music for "Northwest Passage". McCready said he started "throwing ideas back and forth. And I think they just wanted a northwest guy to do it, because they were shooting it in the northwest". [4] He elaborated that "My role was smaller than someone who wrote all the music for it, but I think I was none the less integral in there. I mean, it was fun. Chris sent me his cues, and I just kind of rearranged them into guitar ideas". [4]

The episode featured guest actress Martha Plimpton as Sheriff Tracy Mathis. On her role, she later commented "That episode turned out really well; I was really pleased with it, and where else but on Fringe would I get to play the sheriff of a small town?" [5]

The crew shot an alternate ending in which Mathis questions Peter about his faith with the FBI. This was available on the DVD special features. [6] As with other Fringe episodes, [7] [8] Fox released a science lesson plan for grade school children focusing on the science seen in "Northwest Passage", with the intention of having "students learn about the scientific method and how it can be used to collect data through experimentation and observation in order to formulate and test a hypothesis." [9]

Cultural references

Many critics noted the similarities between the episode and the David Lynch television series Twin Peaks , with one reviewer writing there was a "definite Peaks-y vibe to tonight's episode, from the setting—Noyo County, Washington, home of a diner with "famous pies"—to the off-kilter camera angles and hushed tone". [2] Twin Peaks was originally titled "Northwest Passage" before its pilot, and both focused on solving a murder mystery in Washington state. [10] Other reviewers felt the "Mulder/Scully"-like investigation and the line "You want to believe" was a homage to The X-Files . [11]

A song by Leonard Cohen, "Anthem" is quoted in this episode. "Anthem" lyrics are: "There is a crack in everything/ That's how the light gets in." The Sheriff played by Martha Plimpton has a pen with "find the crack" printed on it, she states to Peter Bishop "that's how the light gets in."

Reception

Ratings

The first airing of "Northwest Passage" was watched by an estimated 5.82 million viewers in the United States. It earned a 3.7/6 ratings share among all households and a 2.2/6 share among viewers 18–49. [12] This was a ten percent jump from the previous week. SFScope writer Sarah Stegall speculated that the episode's "standalone mystery", combined with the recent Fringe season renewal, helped contribute to the ratings gain. [13]

Reviews

The A.V. Club writer Noel Murray graded the episode with a B+, explaining "It was the atmosphere that sold me on "Northwest Passage", an episode with a fairly middling mystery and only minimal advancement of the master-plot. (Though the end-point of that advancement was a doozy, and has me eating a little crow.) At times tonight the show almost felt like a backdoor pilot for a new series, with Peter tooling around the Pacific Northwest meeting local law enforcement and cracking cases. And while that's a show I'd definitely watch, I confess I'm anxious to jump ahead to next week, when there'll be inter-dimensional conflict and doppelgangers galore". [2] Murray considered the ending with the appearance of Walternate a "strong finish to a mostly strong episode". [2] IGN's Ramsey Isler gave it 7.8/10, writing that "Fringe's sophomore season is building up to an epic 2-part finale. This episode doesn't reveal much in terms of overall Fringe mythology until the very awesome ending, and even then it just confirms what we already knew or suspected. Still, this installment deserves credit for using a different formula and giving Joshua Jackson some much-deserved time in the spotlight all by himself". [10]

"Josh Jackson completely owned this episode. He so completely dominated it, so completely inhabited his character, that he nearly renders Walter Bishop superfluous. Yet this is all accomplished without negating any of the character development we have seen to date... If the plot had holes you could drive a starship through, the episode was still redeemed by top notch acting, the X-Files ambiance, and the new dimensions added to our knowledge of Peter. I can forgive lame plotting for the sake of excellent acting."

SFScope writer Sarah Stegall [13]

SFScope's Sarah Stegall praised the writers for showcasing Peter, believing Jackson gave "a solid, convincing performance that teaches us more about Peter than we learned in the first half of this season". [13] She also was pleased with Peter's reactions to the obstacles thrown in his path, but criticized the writing for having another man behind the murders ('Too much coincidence. Way too much coincidence. From a plotting standpoint, it was clumsy'). [13] Stegall concluded her review by praising all of the actors' performances, explaining that other than the "clumsy" killer plot twist, "I had no complaints at all about this episode. The supporting cast was top notch". [13] Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly enjoyed how the episode mystery was processed from Peter's point of view, and loved the revelation at the end about Walternate. [14] MTV columnist Josh Wigler praised the episode's "pretty mature storytelling" for not making Peter "go on an angry rampage" or become "an angsty ball of self-loathing" after the previous episode's events. [1] He continued, "You can see that he's hurting, but he's still not quite sure how to process everything. Excellent work from the writers and Joshua Jackson". [1]

After trying various science fiction shows after Lost , the Los Angeles Times ' Andrew Hanson felt the episode made "him feel like [he] picked a winner". [11] Like other critics, Hanson loved the twist ending, writing that "Fringe is making it more and more difficult for me to pick my favorite episode". [11] Television Without Pity called Walternate's sudden appearance one of 2010's "Most Memorable TV Moments", explaining "We knew we'd meet him eventually, but the way they surprised us with him at the end of a stand-alone episode was a fitting introduction for such an ominous and shadowy character, and we knew even then that it marked a new and improved era for the show." [15] At the time, TV Fanatic called "Northwest Passage" the best Fringe episode to date, giving the series' its first "five out of five stars". [16]

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References

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  2. 1 2 3 4 Murray, Noel (2010-05-06). "Northwest Passage". The A.V. Club . Retrieved 2011-02-05.
  3. 1 2 Anders, Charlie Jane (2011-05-03). "Fresh off Thor and X-Men: First Class, Hollywood's next big writing duo is about to explode". io9 . Retrieved 2011-05-24.
  4. 1 2 Pastorek, Whitney (2010-05-07). "Pearl Jam's Mike McCready on composing music for 'Fringe', taking singing lessons, upcoming PJ reissues: A Music Mix Q&A!". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  5. Strachan, Alex (2011-02-09). "Oh, baby! Unconventional sitcom is sign of Hope for viewers". Vancouver Sun .Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. Jackson, Joshua; Plimpton, Martha (2010). Dissected Files for "Northwest Passage" (DVD). Fringe: The Complete Second Season Disc 5: Warner Bros. Television.
  7. "TV Show "Fringe" on Fox Partners with Science Olympiad". Science Olympiad . Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  8. Holbrook, Damian (2010-11-11). "Fringe Unveils Science Sites". TV Guide . Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  9. "The Science of Fringe: Exploring The Scientific Method" (PDF). Fox Broadcasting Company. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-11. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  10. 1 2 Isler, Ramsey (2010-05-07). "Fringe: "Northwest Passage" Review". IGN . Retrieved 2011-02-05.
  11. 1 2 3 Hanson, Andrew (2010-05-07). "'Fringe': Ferguson's disappeared!". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2011-02-05.
  12. Seidman, Robert (2010-05-07). "Thursday Finals: "Survivor," "Bones," Adjusted Up; "30 Rock" Adjusted Down". TV By The Numbers. Archived from the original on 2010-05-09. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 Stegall, Sarah (2010-05-08). "Peter From Boston—Fringe's "Northwest Passage"". SFScope . Retrieved 2011-02-05.
  14. Tucker, Ken (2010-05-07). "'Fringe' recap: 'Northwest Passage,' Violet Sedan Chair, and Walternate revealed". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved 2011-02-05.
  15. "Year in Review 2010: Most Memorable TV Moments". Television Without Pity. Archived from the original on 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  16. Walker, Jennifer (2010-05-07). "Fringe Review: Best of the Season!". TV Fanatic. Retrieved 2011-05-24.