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Falling or Floating: The Bell Tolls for Thee on Fringe

Hmmm, it appears that a father's love will drive men to do some horrific things in order to save their sons.

On this week's episode of Fringe ("Os"), written by Josh Singer and Graham Roland and directed by Brad Anderson, I couldn't help but notice the parallels between Walter Bishop and Alan Ruck's Dr. Crick (itself a likely shout-out to DNA visionaries Watson and Crick), who was experimenting on wheelchair-bound subjects in order to find a way to help his son walk again.

We've seen the consequences of Walter Bishop's actions and, as we're often told on Fringe, that long road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. Walter passed through the veil separating two universes in order to save Peter's life, but in that case, his love for his son, may have inadvertently destroyed two worlds as a result.

And, like Walter, Crick crossed a number of moral (and legal) boundaries in order to save his son, to transform his life for the better. But in this case, his son didn't need fixing because he never saw himself as broken. The sacrifices Crick made--and the deaths of his subjects/victims--along the way only made the inevitable discovery of what he was doing all the more worse in his son's eyes. All he ever wanted was his father's love and support.

While there were some nice thematic parallels going on in this week's episode, the case itself wasn't all that interesting (I predicted from the first second that muscle atrophy was mentioned that the thieves were wheelchair-bound) and felt lifted from Season One in a way. A little predictable and pat, but the science behind it--bonding the heaviest element on earth to lutetium created something lighter than air, an impossibility brought on by Walter's tampering with the laws of physics--was intriguing and Ruck gave a great performance as a father doing whatever possible to take care of his son.

But it was the other plots in "Os" that made the episode shine for me: the cameo appearance of Lost's Jorge Garcia as a Massive Dynamics security watchman who enjoyed a bong with Walter at the beginning of the episode; Olivia and Peter's uneasy courtship (and the game of truths); and the revelation at the very end of the episode that Walter was right about William Bell's "soul magnets."

I will say that while I've praised Anna Torv in the past (particularly during her breakdown scene after returning to the prime reality), I thought she was outstanding this week, particularly in her impression of Leonard Nimoy, which was spot-on. Walter was correct that Bell had engineered a way to contact him from beyond the grave and that the bell he bequeathed to Nina upon his death was the instrument that would activate his soul magnets and send Bell to them.

What no one predicted, I think, was that Olivia would be the vessel for such contact, though the connections between Olivia, Bell, and that bell have been established throughout the series. I didn't see that twist coming and it managed to be both eerie and surprising at the same time, a spooky reveal that occurred just as Peter was finally opening up to Olivia about the secret work he was doing in the lab. (Can't these two ever catch a break, I ask?)

While Olivia and Peter seem to be doing okay in their nascent relationship, I'm concerned that those secrets--the ones Peter was finally confessing to Olivia--will get between them in the end. And with William Bell currently inhabiting the body of Olivia Dunham, it's safe to say that their courtship is currently on hold for the time being.

(I also loved the mention of licorice in this week's episode. If you read my feature on Fringe over at The Daily Beast, you know what I mean.)

What did you think of this week's episode? Head to the comments section to discuss.

On the next episode of Fringe ("Stowaway"), the investigation of an apparent suicide reveals another set of fingerprints that lead to a woman with unique abilities.


Old Darth said…
Loved it.

Loved the show showed us how our universe is breaking via the Osmium and meteorite alloy defying the law of physics.

Fringe consistently does the best openings. And does them in so many ways. This time comedy and Walter bonging it up with Hurley was hilarious. The upside down shot of the floaters was slick too.

Fringe's main strength is writing real character beats amidst all the freaky and fantastic stuff that goes down. Or in this case - UP!

I loved the Peter and Olivia scenes. How often do we complain about shows where the characters withhold info from one another, speak half truths, or get interrupted? Yet in Fringe the characters actually TALK to one another like in real life. Go figure.

The MOTW paralleled Walter and Peter's relationship and the damage Walter caused saving Peter.

It also nicely encapsulated what unnecessary damage can be wrought by with holding information from loved ones prompting Peter to reveal his clandestine shapeshifter work to Olivia.

Who wants to bet that the tea Bell served Olivia in Over There Part 2 was spiked with Soul Magnets?

And Bell using a bell to bring himself back - did the showrunners have that scenario in mind when they choose the character's surname? Would not surprise me if they did.

A very FUN episode.

And Anna channeling Nimoy? Priceless.
ranger99 said…
In the previous episode we were told that the trigger for Olivia crossing over was a combination of fear and love. In the moment before Olivia channeled William Bell, i think she was fearing what Peter was telling her along with the fact that she was feeling love for Peter too. I think that this is an important fact being ignored. Why else did they show us the young Peter and Olivia episodes?
justjoan123 said…
I could be wrong, but I believe when Olivia first crossed Over There and met Bell in his office, the bell he subsequently left to Nina was on his desk. Yes?
Jace Lacob said…

Yep. That's what I was referring to here.
OneDay said…
I'll say it once and I'll say it a million times Fringe is the best sci fi show and one of the top ten shows on television. Episodes like this one make me come back week after week and I'm holding my breath with all the talk of cancellation. I hope FOX execs realizes what a gem they have and they continue to support the show. Olivia channeling Bell's soul or spirit was a stroke of genius and quite an unexpected twist!!

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