Spoiler status: this post is about Season 4, Episode 18. I don’t think it’s spoiler-y for anyone past episode 2 of this season but YMMV so, please, proceed with caution if you haven’t been watching recently.
There were a couple of moments that led to my favourite scene in this season’s Fringe. First, Walter packing a case to cross to the other side, even though he wasn’t meant to stay for more than a few hours –
[Olivia] Walter, you do realize that we’re just walking through a door.
Then, when the investigation did indeed involve staying for a few days, his acceptance of Faux-livia’s invitation to stay at her place –
[Walter] I’d appreciate that, thank you. I shall refrain from sleeping naked.
These little moments led to the vision that was Walter, padding through the house in the middle of the night, dressed in a silky, glittery dressing gown which the wardrobe department should totally get a prize for.
You might assume it belongs to Olivia – it is certainly feminine, and he is staying in her house – but it fits him just fine, and he’s a man who’s middle belies his sweet tooth. I very much doubt that a gown belonging to buff Agent Dunham would cover enough of Walter to spare his decency. Or our eyes. No, I’m sure the gown is his, and he packed it himself, and it suits his character so wonderfully that I’m still thinking about it a few days later. It’s a genius detail that reflects something we love about Walter – how he’ll always chooses pleasure over convention, and usually not realise there was any other choice to make.
I bet it’s a real thrill to be a wardrobe person and come across an item which is perfect for your character. How does it work? Do they get a budget to go shopping specifically for the cast, or do they keep an eye out when shopping for themselves? Like, they’re out buying ordinary things for themselves, maybe a vest or a new pair of jeans, when in the corner of their eye they see it – the perfect gown for brilliant, tragic Walter, or a sexy black jacket that cocky, futuristic Agent Lee would love.
Comparing the doubles is one of my favourite things about this series – I’m always watching to see how the writers and wardrobe differentiate between the characters. It’s more than the ear-pieces that the alternates wear, or the blimps in the sky overhead. It’s more than the classic ‘Rebel wears hair gel, Nerd wears glasses’ trope, though that’s definitely in play. It’s their expressions, the way they walk, how they look at each other. Anna Torv has played at least three different women this season – all Olivia, all different enough that I reckon I could tell them apart just by listening to how they spoke. There must be something there I can steal and use in my writing.
In many ways, Walter is the TV character I’d most like to be. He’s self indulgent, blasting his favourite music from stacked-up speakers with no care for the neighbours, eating whatever he craves, whenever he likes. He’s usually crammed full of psychedelic drugs, while either padding around naked or in slinky robes shot through with shimmer. He’s dearly loved and well respected, indulged by the government because he is a genius. He has a pet cow and he sees Joshua Jackson every day. All of these things would make me very happy indeed.