Season 2, Episode 20
I have spent my life making things that bring joy and happiness, to make the world a better place. Bubble Gum was one of my first. Ah. Flannel Pajamas. Oh, Rainbows. And my latest project, Singing Corpses.
Distraught over Peter's disappearance and attempting to console himself with a self-made marijuana blend (the titular Brown Betty), Walter gets roped into helping Astrid watch Olivia's niece Ella for a few hours. He tells Ella a noir-esque story about a woman with a broken heart searching for one that's been stolen, full of thinly-veiled expies
of people from Fringe Division and ultimately painting himself as a well-meaning man who nonetheless causes great pain and doesn't deserve Peter's forgiveness.
Tropes found in this episode:
- Accidental Misnaming: Of the C Variant.
WALTER: Be careful, Stella (to Ella).
- Affectionate Parody: Of Film Noir
- All Animals Are Dogs:
WALTER: Gene, Gene, no licking. no licking.
- All of the Other Reindeer: We find out that Walter was roughed up in school because his mother would dress him up as parts in musicals.
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Gene's polk-a-dots.
- American Accents: Anna Torv seems to have a little trouble with Olivia's Noo Yawk accent.
- Anyone Can Die: Lampshaded.
ELLA: That's not how it goes. She can't be dead.
WALTER: Why not?
ASTRID: Probably because it's her mother, Walter.
ELLA: No, that's not it. Because that's not how stories work. She's in love — true love. She can't die.
- Anachronism Stew
- Artistic License - Chemistry:
- Walter spells MnSO4 as “manganese sulphate”, ignoring IUPAC guidelines, but later spells H2SO4 as “sulfuric acid”
- Artistic License - Medicine:
- The cricoarytenoid muscles do not actually contract the larynx. They are muscles intrinsic to the larynx. The posterior cricoarytenoid muscle laterally rotates the arytenoid cartilages, opening the vocal folds. The lateral cricoarytenoid muscle internally rotates the arytenoid cartilages, closing the vocal folds.
- The Bechdel Test: Passed.
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The singing corpses.
- Bizarro Episode
- Call Back: Picture of John Scott on Olivia's desk.
- The Cast Showoff: Oddly averted in September's case. Michael Cerveris is both a musical theatre actor and a rock singer, but he doesn't get a song.
- Cell Phones Are Useless: No signal in the crate.
- Continuity Nod: Ella plays operation with Walter as she previously played with Olivia in 'The No-Brainer' and Teddy played with Astrid in 'Johari Window'.
- Cloudcuckoolanders Minder: Astrid
- Deggans Rule: Passed, Astrid and Broyles.
- Deliberately Monochrome: We see black and white photos and Bell on the Viewing device appears like a black and white television.
- Dream Stealer
- Drugs Are Bad: Inverted Trope
- Fantastic Drug: Brown Betty
- Fantastic Noir
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted Trope. They actually show a bong on network television.
- Functional Addict: Although how functional Walter is could be debated.
- G-Rated Drug; Marijuana Is LSD: Given Walter's typical ingestion of psychedelics, sedatives, and various other drugs, the effects of marijuana are a bit overplayed in this episode.
- Hardboiled Detective: Olivia's character.
- Happily Ever After: With Ella's help.
- Heart Trauma
- Love at First Sight:
RACHEL: We met only a few weeks ago, but... it was love at first sight.
- The Nicknamer: Walter decides to change some names, to protect the innocent:
- Astrid Farnsworth becomes Esther Figglesworth.
- Instead of calling the Observer by a Month name, he is called by the Zodiac sign Gemini.
- The Observers are called Watchers.
- Noir Episode
- Not That Kind of Doctor:
ELLA: (playing the board game - Operation. to Walter as the buzzer repeatedly sounds) You're killing him. You're not supposed to touch the sides. What kind of doctor are you? You're not even trying.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: A Film Noir Musical Episode in a Science Fiction show.
- Once Upon a Time:
WALTER: Once upon a time... there was an accomplished detective.
- Product Placement: Red Vines get a label.
- Schizo Tech:
- Separate Scene Storytelling
- Something Completely Different
- Stoners Are Funny:
ELLA: All you've done is eat all my snacks and talk about weird stuff and everything makes you laugh.
- Storybook Episode
- Title Drop:
WALTER: I'd hardly classify what I've just smoked as marijuana. It's — it's a hybrid. Of Chronic Supernova and Afghani Kush. I call it Brown Betty.
- That Reminds Me of a Song:
- Walter sings Tears for Fears "Head over Heels".
- Broyle's does a very good job singing Traffic's "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys".
- The corpses sing "Candy Man".
- Astrid really brings it with "I hope I get it" from A Chorus Line.
- Olivia sings Stevie Wonder's "For Once in my Life".
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The man stabbed in the back at the Hawaii themed jazz bar.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?:
WALTER: I never told Peter stories. I was always... too busy with my work.
- Would Hurt a Child