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.
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.
Ella clomps off, proclaiming that it "smells funny in here." Walter doesn't even know (well, doesn't remember) who Ella is, so Astrid reminds him, and Walter's staring after Ella like he's thinking her head would make an excellent bong. Olivia explains that Rachel had to go to Chicago for the weekend, so she asked if Olivia could look after Ella, and Olivia is in turn asking Astrid to watch Ella for a few hours, correcting Walter, who responsibly says he couldn't possibly look after anyone else: "I'm well into Phase 1." Astrid explains to Olivia: "Walter just smoked something called Brown Betty."
Well, someone should be watching Ella, as she's about to get kicked in the head by Gene, and it's Walter who goes off to scold Gene for licking.
And then Ella and Walter play a game called "Operation," or, from the way a shaky Walter plays it, "Next-of-kin Malpractice Lawsuit." Ella admonishes Unky Walt for killing the guy: "You're not supposed to touch the sides! What kind of doctor are you? You're not even trying!" Hee! She has that indignant only-child bossiness that girls -- like my own three-year-old daughter -- have. Walter looks at the heart he just pulled out of the patient while Ella gripes that all Walter has done is eaten her snacks, talked about "weird stuff" and giggled at everything. Ella, think of it this way: it's just practice for your first college roommate. So she suggests he tell her a story, but Walter says he's not very good at stories.
"Didn't you used to tell stories to Peter?" asks Ella, and Walter and Astrid both get a little frowny-faced at the mention of Peter's name. Walter sadly says Mrs. Bishop did, but he was always too busy with his work.
Undaunted, Ella asks Uncle Walter if his own parents told him stories, and now Walter gets very excited: "My mother loved Chandler and another writer called Dashiell Hammett. She loved detective stories. Oh! And musicals! She adored musicals! She often would dress me up to play parts in plays at school." He adds that he was "roughed up" a lot as a child.
So with a little prompting from Ella and Astrid, Walter launches into a story about an accomplished detective who decided to retire because there was one mystery she could not solve: "How to mend a broken heart."
Annnnddd this is when we go into the drug-hallucination/dream-sequence/musical bullshit that I've been dreading since last week. Good thing I've decided to go into it with such an optimistic attitude!
Let's check in with O. Dunham, behind an office door marked "Private Investigations." She's done up like a proper 1940s dame would be, all Veronica Lake, and she's looking at a framed picture of John Scott, whose dark suit could be present-day for all we know. Rachel comes in, apologizing to "Miss Dunham" but she's left her several messages, hoping to hire her: "My boyfriend, he's gone missing." Olivia says that she's "kinda busy" as she pours herself a drink. Also just like present-day!
Rachel's worried that something bad has happened to Peter because he got in over his head with a gambler named "Big Eddie" (also present-day Peter's still-unseen nemesis). Olivia shakes her drink in Rachel's direction by way of offering her one, but Rachel declines. Olivia says that usually when someone comes in worried that their sweetheart's gone missing, by the time they find out what she usually finds out, they wind up wishing he really were dead. It made more sense when she said it, I swear. She suggests Rachel do herself a favour and go home.
Rachel says Peter wouldn't do anything like what Olivia's suggesting. "We met only a few weeks ago, but it was love at first sight. You probably don't believe something like that exists. But I assure, it does." While Olivia's face lets us know that she does believe that exists, Rachel starts singing. Disturbingly, she's singing in Walter's voice. Pleasingly, he's singing "Head Over Heels" by Tears for Fears. I love that song, and start to think that maybe I was dreading this episode a little more than I needed to.
Ella, however, seems less than enchanted as she watches Walter dance around, singing with his eyes closed. He finally comes back to reality ("What those school kids must've done to you," marvels Astrid), and we can hear that the actual Tears for Fears song is playing in the background. Well, that's lucky! Ella's kind of gone off having weird Uncle Walter tell her a story, and suggests he teach her algebra instead.
Walter tells some lie about how the "medication" that he's on causes his "posterior and lateral cricoarytenoid muscles to contract his larynx," which ought to clear everything up for Ella.
Back to the story! Olivia asks Rachel when the last time she spoke to him was. "On the telephone two days ago," says Rachel, and hands over a picture of old-timey Peter Bishop, reading a newspaper and wearing suspenders, as was the style at the time.
In the present, Ella interrupts: "Wait a minute! That's wrong. My mom doesn't love Peter," she says. Ah, so innocent. Your mom would jump Peter in a second, sweetheart. Sorry, but it's true. Walter says it's just a story: "But, as with all good stories, things aren't always as they seem. So where were we?" "She just took the case!" says Ella, really getting into it. She's impossibly cute. Anyway, Walter explains that Rachel didn't know that Detective Olivia once believed in love, especially "great love," and she took the case to see if such a love really existed. Anyway, Walter says he's not sure Ella will