The much-discussed episode, titled “Brown Betty” after a very special breed of pot, is a drug-induced, musical fairy tale told by a mad scientist to the main character’s young niece. It’s a noir tale of a broken-hearted private detective, a young man with a glass heart, and an evil scientist who steals children’s dreams as inspiration for his inventions, which include teddy bears, hugs, and singing corpses.
But I’m not too interested in the plot, as fun and quirky as it was; nope, I’m interested in the setting. The fairy tale combines a prohibition-era, jazz age setting with the sci-fi technology of the Fringe universe… Jazz Punk!
Steampunk is, for the most part, running out of steam (haha), but it’s been a major sci-fi fetish for a good twenty years now. Could this be its replacement? You still have the dark, smokey atmosphere of Victorian London, but this time it’s noir New York, gangster Chicago. Imagine the potential: think of flapper dresses, the fedoras, the high-tech computers! Picture the roaring twenties, but with lasers and flying cars! Swing dance, but with AI?
Yeah, okay, that last one was cheesy, but I think the Fringe writers, in keeping with Fox’s theme week, inadvertently created an entirely new sci-fi genre — and possibly a new fetish. If you haven’t watched the episode, check it out. Let your imagination run wild with the possibilities… Smoke some Brown Betty if you have to.