With Rachel out of town, Olivia's in charge of her niece Ella for a few days. So she does what anyone would do: drop her off at the lab for Astrid and Walter to babysit while she follows up some leads on Peter. Which isn't a great idea to begin with, even discounting the fact that in the wake of Peter's disappearance, Walter has gone and gotten himself astronomically high.
Inspired by his special blend of "Brown Betty" pot and Ella's desire for a story, Walter spins a noir-inspired narrative about all the regulars, but in a 1940s setting. In it, "Rachel" hires hard-boiled private dick "Olivia Dunham" to find her missing boyfriend, "Peter Bishop." Ostensibly about a broken heart, the case leads old-school Olivia to Broyles as a cop (singing jazzy Traffic covers in a piano bar), Nina Sharp at Massive Dynamic (whose office looks, hilariously, exactly the same), and then to her own client, who has been murdered all Fringey-like.
Rachel turns out to have been hired by wheelchair-bound mad toymaker "Walter Bishop," whose chest is missing the glass heart Peter stole. Olivia calls up her old assistant, "Esther Figglesworth," moments before getting attacked and intimidated by the Observer with a laser scalpel. That leads Olivia back to Nina, who says a prototype of the instrument was stolen from their labs. Nina warns Olivia about the "Watchers," but turns out to be working on the orders of "William Bell," who she's in love with despite his being a cartoon in a window. Apparently they're conspiring to use the heart to take over the world. Now that Olivia knows too much, Nina and the Watcher, "Mr. Gemini," try to kill her but she's rescued by Peter. Things get flirty until Olivia remembers to accuse her rescuer of the theft, which is when Peter reveals that Walter really gets his ideas by stealing the dreams of children and then swapping them for nightmares. And he also reveals that the glass heart everyone's after is the very one he was born with, and that he was ready to give it to Walter until he learned the truth. Right then is when they're overrun by an army of Watchers. Olivia fights them off, but Peter's glass heart is taken, and even Olivia's popping some batteries in his chest doesn't bring him back (but her singing Stevie Wonder to him does). Olivia and Peter retrieve the heart from Walter, who was behind it all along, and is left forlorn when Peter unforgivingly tells him, "Some things you can't undo." Harsh!
But then Ella makes up her own ending, in which Peter splits the heart with Walter and they live happily ever after, the end. Just in time for Aunt Liv to return from her search for Peter empty-handed. Obviously Walter likes Ella's ending better.
And in the real ending, the Observer is worried; Peter hasn't come back, and Walter doesn't seem to remember his warning. Was the warning, "Don't smoke that crap?" Because jeez, what a dense and bizarre blend of allegory, music, The Singing Detective, The Princess Bride, production design that includes 1940s cell phones and laptops, and a Gilligan's Island dream sequence. And here's my happy ending: Daniel's doing the full recap instead of me.
The bubbling sounds of a water pipe emanate from Walter's office. The good doctor tilts his head back and breathes out smoke, while he listens to "Roundabout" by Yes. Man, isn't high-definition wonderful? You get to see all of Walter's unruly nose hairs as he leans back. And you know the old premise about how marijuana intensifies your personality (Bill Cosby asks, "But what if you're an asshole?")? What else is Walter going to do but grab an electronic labeler and make sure every damn thing in the lab has a label on it? I worked in a restaurant like that once. I managed to grab the manager's labeler and put one that said "Champion of the World" on my shirt. I was fired. Not for that. Probably despite that.
Anyway, Walter's in a frenzy. Never again will he have to taste-test the brown stuff in the bottle to make sure it's manganese sulphate! He even labels the Red Vines!
Astrid strolls in, sees what he's doing, and right away can tell he's slightly altered. Not because of the pupils, but probably because of the Yes. "I've decided we need to get organized," he says, meekly, but Astrid can tell he's been smoking marijuana.
Walter indignantly says he wouldn't classify what he just smoked as marijuana. It's a hybrid of Chronic Supernova and Afghani Kush that he calls Brown Betty. Instead of asking Walter to pass the dutchie on the left-hand side, Astrid says she knows how he's feeling. "It's important to take control of one's life," says Walter, who's having a hard time holding things together.
Astrid calmly tells him that Peter is going to come back, but he just needs some time. And Olivia comes in, and an excited Walter asks if she found Peter. Olivia says, "I have some leads that I would like to follow up, but I have to..." and Walter to interrupts to ask what could be more important than finding Peter. Since Peter has disappeared of his own free will, probably many things are more important for an FBI agent with a full-time job keeping the universe from collapsing in upon itself, but by way of answer, Ella skips into the lab to tell her Aunt Liv that the snack machine stole the dollar she gave her. By which I presume she means that she got some candy, ate it, and now wants more. Ella says hi to Astrid and "Uncle Walter." Awww. That's also a Ben Folds Five song title! Astrid tells Ella that they have some snacks back there in the fridge, so she can help herself, and I really think Astrid might want to check to make sure Walter doesn't have some special brownies in there.