Like many Fringe episodes, this one is difficult to review. The premise of the episode is a mystery in the spirit of those found on The X-files that needs to be solved but the episode becomes less interesting when the mystery disappears and instead a familiar conclusion takes its place.
As for the story…
‘Welcome to Westfield’ starts of with a dream, one in which Olivia and Peter are making love and whisper to each other that they love each other. The surprise comes when the viewer discovers that this is not Peters dream from a life before the time shift but is the Olivia’s dream. It is an allusion to the fact that she seems to be remembering parts of her life from before Peter’s time shift.
Meanwhile Peter and Walter have found a way to interface with the time machine and now they only need Broyles’s permission to use the device. However, here the scene skips to the mystery of this episode. In true X-files style we see a 18-wheeler truck drive through the dark and rustic back-country of Vermont when suddenly everything goes ape. The electronics in this truck fails and the driver is forced of the road just like many others. As the drivers discus amongst each other the strange happenings a bright light suddenly appears in the sky. At first we are to be believed that it is a UFO in an homage to the X-files, upon closer inspection we discover that is an airliner that has just like the drivers of the truck and cars lost control making it crash in a field besides the road.
It is thus for our gang to discover what has happened, as they go through their paces at the crime scene we see Walter discovering the unique magnetic properties that have been left behind by the discharge earlier. He speculates what has happened but needs the flight data recorder from the downed aircraft and several bodies to draw a conclusion. Broyles says he will oblige, while they wait Walter suggests to Peter and Olivia that they go to the town of Westfield that is marked on a road sign which has a diner that serves excellent rhubarb pie. Peter and Olivia indulge in Walter’s food fetish and they take of to go to Westfield. Almost immediately upon arrival the viewer will notice that things are off, it is way too quiet even for a small town in the dead of night. Olivia states that she is intends to find a payphone and to contact Broyles as she can’t get any connection on her mobile phone. While Walter orders the rhubarb pie from the waiter in the diner Peter takes of to find the lavatory. As Walter talks to the waiter the viewer will notice that he is behaving weird and has strange eyes though Walter at first doesn’t notice it, after the pie on his plate magically disappears and the waiter suddenly becomes angry with him does Walter know something is amiss.
Meanwhile Olivia has found a payphone but it is inoperable, she does find a abandoned car that is still running which forces her to acknowledge that the town of Westfield is no ordinary place. She hurriedly makes her way back to the diner.
After Peter has finished using the lavatory he hears a groan coming from behind a door, opening it he discovers a man bleeding badly. For a brief moment the viewer is lead to believe the man is a zombie. Later on we learn the man’s name is Cliff.
Walter meanwhile has gotten into a full-blown argument with the waiter who states that he wont allow Walter to steal the pie just like Cliff wanted to do, then suddenly everything is as normal and the entire scene is replayed yet again with the waiter serving Walter coffee and rhubarb pie and yet again getting into an argument. This time the waiter pulls a knife and a struggle ensues with Walter, Peter comes to Walters rescue but has difficulty overpowering the man as well. The two aren’t safe until Olivia enters the diner and shoots the waiter dead.
After they briefly discuss the odd happenings in Westfield Peter shows the heavily wounded Cliff to Walter. Olivia finds another body behind the counter. Walter states that he can’t help Cliff and they must get him to a hospital. As they drive out of the town Cliff mumbles the words ‘Can’t leave town’, our gang soon discover what that means. After they drive passed the sign that says ‘Thank you for visiting Westfield’ they also drive passed the sign that says ‘Welcome to Westfield’. Apparently they are trapped in some sort of bubble that surrounds the town.
The four make their way to the Westfield police station where Walter manages to patch up cliff, the station is however abandoned. Cliff says that some people are holed up in a nearby highschool after the rest of the towns people became violent. They decide to make their way there. Meanwhile Olivia has more flashes from her life before the time shift and begins to wonder if she is starting to have the same delusions that Cliff says affected the people of Westfield. After the four reach the highschool does Walter and Peter deduce what is happening, apparently David Robert Jones has managed to use the rare ore found two episodes before to make a tear in the space between this universe and the alternate universe. That way every person in Westfield becomes infected with the alternate counterparts which explains their violent abnormal behaviour. Cliff is not affected because he has no counterpart in the alternate universe.
As soon as Walter deduces the mystery of this episode things become less interesting as it reaches its end. Apparently Jones’s plot was to destroy the town in an experiment, Walter and Peter deduce that only at the very epicentre will they be safe from the effects of this gash in space-time. With the use of an old school bus do the survivors manage to reach the epicenter and thus survive Jones’s prototype device.
Broyles later explains that agents found devices with the rare ore surrounding the town and that it seems Jones was running a test of some sort.
In the last scene of the episode we see Olivia getting ready for a date, she pours a drink when her date sounds the doorbell. Upon opening the door we see it is Peter, he asks her what that nice smell is and she says it is their favorite cooking. Olivia kisses Peter and the startled Peter realizes that Olivia can’t tell the difference anymore between this reality and the one from before the time shift.
This episode pays many homages to various horror thrillers, the first half of the episode works well in that regard though the second ‘daylight’ half is a lot less interesting. This is a flaw that seems to affect many Fringe episodes. The writers don’t seem to be able to keep viewers entertained for the full 45 minutes.
Score; 8 / 10.
Viewer Ratings; n/a.