"What if I fail?"
"You won't fail, Walter."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because you can't."
"You won't fail, Walter."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because you can't."
This is a bridging episode between where Fringe was and where it's heading, and the stakes have never been higher for our favorite mad scientist, Walter Bishop.
Like many in the series so far this is mainly a relationship episode, mostly about that bittersweet relationship that can exist between a father and son.
I always loved Greek mythology as a kid, so in the fourth scene, Walter's immediate reference to Icarus' flying to close to the sun and falling to the earth made me smile. It also made me alert. It wasn't just the famous Daedalus and Icarus father and son story we were talking about here, but most likely the foreshadowing of another father losing a son.(Yikes!)In a quick recap, Daedalus the designing father and his son, Icarus, were trapped in a labyrinth on the island of Crete by an evil king(long story). Daedalus came up with the idea of crafting a set of wings out of feathers and wax with which he and his son could escape. Before they did, Daedalus warned Icarus not to get too close to the ocean lest his wings get wet and malfunction, and not to get too close to the sun, lest the wax of his wings melt and he fall into the sea. Unfortunately, Icarus got carried away by the magnificence of flight and flew too close to the sun. The wax holding his wings together melted, and Icarus plummeted into the sea and drowned. There's no hard proof yet but I can't shake the feeling that this is foreshadowing of the fate of Peter Bishop sometime in the future of the series, not exactly in the manner of this myth, but similarly none the less.
The plot of 'Os' is fascinating. A loving scientist father, Dr. Krick, has a dream of curing his ailing son, Michael's muscular dystrophy at the same time he's trying to find a metal for a US aircraft project that's dense enough to protect pilots from ground fire, but still allow for flight. Somehow he ends up mixing the two densest metals on earth, Osmium (Os, hence the title) and Lutetium (Lu) and the result is mind blowing, as he has made a totally new molecule that is lighter than air. Somehow Dr. Krick makes the jump to inject this new oddity into unknowing, wheelchair-bound human subjects(sound like someone we know and love?) who are joyful to be able to walk again and also able to fly. Unfortunately the desirable effects diminish and disappear over time rendering the subject heavier than a lead balloon (pun intended) and so Dr. Krick is looking for that perfect dose to bring on the desirable effects forever, and 'make his son happy.' But progress is slow as there apparently are scant local sources of Lutetium. Fortunately for Dr. Krick the Museum of Science(a real Boston area landmark and one of my favorite places)has an excellent astronomy exhibit which includes meteorites, a source of Lutetium, according to Walter Bishop.
Dr. Krick cleverly gets his eager subjects hyped up to help him steal more. This leads to Dr. Krick's downfall, the end of the research, and the end of Michael's respect for his father.
The plot leads up to the key scene in the episode when Walter confronts Dr. Krick in his prison cell and demands to know how he made the gravity defying chemical. Dr. Krick's explanation is below:
"I combined two of the densest elements on earth and somehow the result was a new molecule. A molecule lighter than air. It should never have worked. It was an accident. A miracle."The light bulb goes on for Walter and he goes to Nina Sharp's office to tell her while Dr. Krick is the man in custody he is not the man responsible for what happened, that Walter himself is.
Nina just watches him as he explains it all ties in again to Walter's grievous sin 25 years ago of removing Peter from Over There and changing the laws of physics in both universes forever, resulting in increasing chaos and eventually, demise.
Twice in this episode Walter mentions Bell's 'Soul Magnets' concept that he mentioned to Peter in '6B,' that Belly posited that one could insert special magnets into a person and using some kind of trigger the soul or consciousness of another deceased person could be activated in that magnetized host. It doesn't take Walter long in the second soul magnet scene to spot Bell's gift to Nina on the shelf behind her in his office. He picks it up and tries to explain to Nina how her bell works, but in his over eagerness to get his friend back to help him not fail, he rings the bell. It's funny that Walter assumes Nina would be William Bell's vessel. And it's another comical scene when Walter asks "Belly? " and Nina replies, "No Walter, it's still me." They both look towards her office door waiting for Bell's vessel to come forth. Unbeknownst to them Bell's 'vessel' is across town.
'Os' is also a delightful snapshot of where Peter & Olivia, the partners and romantic couple, are now. In the first P/O scene, Olivia phones Peter while driving to work, and it is implied they shared the previous night together. It is not revealed how much time has passed since the ending of '6B.' I like to think P/O had more than one passionate night together. Walter tells Nina in the second scene of the episode that they are now a couple. Walter was at least four hours away in the New York office of Massive Dynamic when they consummated their relationship.
How wonderful was it to see our Olivia Dunham truly happy in this episode? That smile on her face was bigger than any we've ever seen before and it made the P/O shippers smile.(Thanks, Pinkner, et al.)I believe our Liv is truly in love with Peter Bishop from this statement she makes to him near the beginning of the episode:"I love a good street fair. You're not so bad yourself." Makes you smile, doesn't it? There were other adorable Olivia moments is 'Os' such as the post-coital SUV ride with Peter in which they apparently were practicing "full disclosure" and she told him in great detail how she didn't like the way he rubbed her back while they watched TV.
Olivia tells him she loves "this full disclosure" and "why didn't they make this agreement earlier?" Peter says the full disclosure concept is supposed to involve talking about how they feel about each other but Liv disagrees, saying it's about everything. She asks him if he's holding out on her to which he laughs at first, and then answers, "No, I'm just clarifying." Hmm. More on that later. Olivia's next words I think hold a much deeper meaning for later in the season and/or beyond. "It's about trust, so it's a great game if two people are playing." In a very telling Peter Bishop non-verbal, he laughs a tad, smiles, and then when she's not looking at him the smile disappears. The beginning of the second to last scene where Peter kisses her in greeting in the hall of the Harvard Engineering Building is Olivia cute. She's bursting with happiness and asks him, "Is this why you asked me to meet you across campus and not at the lab so we could make out in front of college students and not your dad?" I dare you to watch that at least 6 times and not smile or chuckle each time.
The P/O scene involving Nina Sharp eying their PDA(public display of affection) deserves its own paragraph. They leave the lab and Walter's second chuckle of the episode for a pizza run.
Peter grabs Olivia's hand and holds it as he tells her "their smiling is kinda freaking me out," referring to the knowing smiles Walter and Astrid are giving the couple in this episode. Olivia is beaming again, and eyes their visitor. "Don't look now," she warns Peter, and as Nina moves closer Peter drops Liv's hand like a hot potato. Nina explains she "just came by to drop off a file Peter requested from Massive Dynamic," and brashly adds,"But please do not let go of a beautiful woman's hand on my account." Olivia is looking down, most likely blushing. Peter's the one to answer. "Walter told you, didn't he?" To which Nina responds, "Yes, he's very pleased, as am I." Olivia changes the subject abruptly asking what the file's about. Peter beats Nina to answering, telling Liv "I've just been doing some research on shapeshifters." Olivia replies, "Oh, I didn't realize. Anything in particular?" Peter ends it there saying, "No, just background," as Broyles rings Liv's cell and ends the conversation. As Olivia moves away to take Broyles' call, Nina steers Peter toward a private conversation, and to deliver the best pun of the episode. "I must say, I think you have made a very wise decision to move forward." That should remind you of Nina's conversation with Sam Weiss at the end of 'Concentrate and Ask Again.'
Peter Bishop is all over the map in this episode. In his first scene doing dictation in his top secret engineering lab, he seems not so over joyous that his lover is calling him on his cell. The smiley voice he puts on when he says "Hey," sounds forced. In the P/O scene in Olivia's SUV(did you notice she's letting him drive it?) I mentioned earlier, the way his smile quickly disappears when he knows she's paying attention to the directions reminds one that this man is still 'mechanized.' I'm wondering if we're supposed to get the impression of a Jeckyl/Hide type of effect. That sometimes, the caring, genuine Peter Bishop peeks through, and other times it's this all-consuming Dark Peter with the mad drive to get to the goal. Whatever it is, I don't like it, but I think Josh Jackson's working hard to see that we get what he's trying to portray in his character. If there is an internal battle raging inside Peter, the genuine Peter ends up on top in the last scene of the episode, but let me back up a bit. Right before Walter gets his answers from Dr, Krick, Walter and Peter witness this very bittersweet conversation between Dr. Krick and his son, Michael:
Dr. Krick:"I hurt some people. I was trying to help them. I wanted to fix them, they were in wheelchairs like you. I know I should have told you sooner. Maybe if I had it never would have come to this. I did it for you, Michael. When it was perfected I was gonna give it to you."
Michael: "Is that how you see me? As someone you need to fix?"
Dr. Krick:"Of course not. I just want you to be happy."
Michael: "I was happy. I went to bed at night knowing I had a father who loved me."Wow. This conversation is epic. The parallels with our other characters are massive!
This could easily be Walter talking to Peter, or Peter talking to our Olivia(substitute 'father' with 'boyfriend' or 'lover'), or even Walternate talking to Peter. Notice how the camera focuses on Peter when Dr. Krick says he should've told his son sooner. Dark Peter is absent in that moment, and Peter is dripping with guilt, shame, and regret, in my opinion. That and Olivia's words earlier about full disclosure hit him where he lives. So it's no surprise he has Olivia meet him in the Harvard Engineering Building in the last scene. Peter seems nervous and doesn't laugh at Liv's cute question of whether they're going to make out there. He turns all dark blue eyes as he tells her he hasn't been totally honest with her.(I must interject here and say it's hard to take that part seriously as there's a sign on the wall to the right of Liv's head that says 'Receiver' with a red arrow pointing towards Olivia-a little not-so-subtle foreshadowing anyone?And a nice easter egg too.) Peter gets to the core of what's been bugging him. "Whatever's going on with the two universes, whatever our fate is, I'm right at the center of it." Olivia reminds him they are all trying to figure it out. Peter's next line is the core of it."I know you're all trying to help, but it's not your face in that drawing, it's mine." And there it is, as many of us suspected. Despited being mechanized Peter Bishop is scared, and has reverted to his old style of coping- looking out for himself, and taking whatever measures are necessary for his self-preservation. Let me put the rest of Peter's words to Olivia in paragraph form so you can see the intensity here:
"I've been working on something for a while now. Something I didn't want to tell anyone about because, frankly I can't trust the FBI, and as much as I know Walter cares, he's too protective, I can't trust his judgement. But I do trust yours. And I don't want there to be anymore secrets between the two of us. So, full disclosure."Wow. We haven't seen Peter this intense with Olivia since 'Marionette.' In a sense, his confession to her is more intimate here than anything physical they may have done. You can tell by Olivia's face that she's very concerned. When we return to this situation in the very last scene of the episode, Peter unlocks the door to his personal lab and follows Olivia inside. Like his bedroom this is another "treasure trove of mythology porn." Peter takes a moment to explain that inside is everything they have on the machine. Peter never takes his eyes off her as she makes a beeline to the blinking, silver discs in their daisy-chain arrangement. "Are these?"Olivia asks him. "Memory discs from dead shapeshifters, yeah, " Peter answers quickly. "But how did you get them?" Olivia asks, the last words fading out as it clicks for her. The look between the two of them is very intense, and the tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. This is the second shoe dropping. Olivia realizes Peter is the mystery shapeshifter killer. The fallout cloud from this will be huge, but we don't get to view it as just then the bell tolls for our Liv and in a brilliant reveal she becomes the vessel channeling William Bell! Peter doesn't realize it, of course, and keeps talking. "I've run it through every code-breaking program I know, but so far, I can't break it." Olivia, facing away from him, answers in a very creepy voice, "That's because the decoder key is in my office." Peter notices something's changed in her voice but doesn't know what's going on. "What? At the FBI?" he asks her. "No," the new 'Bellivia' answers, "At Massive Dynamic." She turns and faces Peter, giving him a sort of creepy smile. "Hello, Peter. It's nice to see you again." Peter Bishop's expression is priceless, and the episode ends there.
Walter Bishop is feeling very insecure in this episode, from the first scene where he's smoking a bong with Lost's 'Hurley', to the point where he realizes that getting Bell back is the answer to his big problem. The word 'fail' is mentioned 5 times in this episode, and there are parallel conversations on the topic between Walter and Nina(at the top of this review) and Dr. Krick and his son. When Dr. Krick is helping his son get to bed he tells him he's on the verge of a giant breakthrough in his work. The son tells him "You've never failed before, you won't fail this time." And Walter doubts his capability. At one point he has an outburst while talking to Nina. "He cut out parts of my brain, Nina. I don't think I'm capable." The big question is, will having his friend and labmate,'Belly,' present through Olivia Dunham help him succeed? Time will tell.
This episode was a masterful blending of bittersweet emotion and humorous, fun moments.
I don't think I've chuckled this much during a Fringe episode for a long time. You know what that means though. Gloom and Fringey doom lies ahead somewhere. Besides the P/O moments I mentioned, I loved the young-handicapped-man-turned-pilferer floating through the Museum Of Science and giving a nod to the seemingly floating astronaut. White boots vs. black boots. I also loved hearing Astrid giggle at Walter's comments about courting styles. Can we have more of Astrid giggling, please? And Walter sharing the bong with Hurley? That was great fun also.
Things In This Episode That Make Reference To Other Episodes:
- "...a new flavor of cupcake frosting, baconberry." Walter's words remind me of his strange reply to Peter and Broyles' conversation in 'The Box' when he says:"Bacon-flavored pudding. Now that would surprise me."
- bleeding from the eyes-One of Dr. Krick's test subjects was bleeding from the eyes. That should remind you of Ray's drawing in 'The Ghost Network' of the woman bleeding from the eyes and the poor people in the diner in 'The Cure' who bled from the eyes before they died.
- The P/O conversation in Olivia's SUV-should remind you of another P/O post-coital conversation in the same vehicle during '6995 kHz.'
- P/O working together on case files-should remind you of 2 other times they did that, once in 'Johari Window' and also in 'Marionette.'
- Walter's little outburst in Nina's office-reminded me of others in the pilot episode and 'There's More Than One Of Everything.'
- "Is that how you see me? As someone you need to fix?" Michael Krick's words to his father remind me of the scene in 'Concentrate and Ask Again' when Olivia comments on how the cortexiphan made Simon Phillips unable to function, and Peter's too quick reply that Olivia was nothing like him.
- 'The harmonic vibrations emanating from this bell will draw it forth from whatever vessel he chose..." reminds me of the vibrating cylinder in 'The Arrival,' and Sam Weiss' description of Peter-"whatever frequency Peter Bishop is vibrating at" in 'Concentrate and Ask Again.'
- "Hello, Peter. It's nice to see you again." William Bell's exact same words to Peter in 'Over There:Part I.'
- "Each monitor's its own movement all blended together in a beautiful symphony." The image of Walter sitting there monitoring all of Massive Dynamic's movements reminds me of the repetitive theme of playing God in this show.
- "And his happiness is a constant reminder of the price of my failure, of what will be lost if I don't succeed." Wow, Walter's starting to feel the pressure. Can he handle it?
- "Then I remembered how good. We. Were. Together." Walter was talking about he and Bell, but from the look on Nina Sharp's face I can't help but think she was hoping Walter would remember how well she and he were together. I still think they had a physical relationship in the past that Walter cannot remember.
- Olivia calling the dead guy "The Balloon Man"-that seemed out of character to me and more like something Peter Bishop would say rather than Olivia. Now that they're even more connected are they taking on each other's attributes?
- "What if I told you I could give you a miracle?" I'm not always right, but I believe we'll hear this exact thing again in the future.
- "I just came by to drop off a file that Peter requested from Massive Dynamic." OK. Nina Sharp is rich and busy. She could have had a courier drop off that file, so what was Nina's real reason for coming in person? Was it to witness that Peter and Olivia were closer? Or did Peter ask her to meet him? Or did she want to call Peter on that favor he owes her? Or was she just checking up on Walter and using Peter's file as an excuse. I wonder if we will ever find out the real reason she showed up at the lab that day.
- Peter's bizarre jump into the air to grab the younger balloon man-That seemed an awfully dangerous move, and yet Peter was not hurt. Is Peter Bishop able to fly? That makes me think of the book a too young Olivia was reading in 'Subject 13' called Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. In that book the character Peter Lake, who has some Peter Bishop characteristics can fly using his horse, Athansor.
- "Daedalus crafted wings for his son, Icarus, so he could fly away. So he could be free. Te wings he gave him wound up killing his son. Dr. Krick:"I suppose that makes me a lucky man. " Walter:"Other parents weren't so fortunate." I think Dr. Krick thought Walter was talking about the parents of the dead test subjects, but Walter was really talking about himself and his son Peter Bishop's death. And again, I think this is foreshadowing of another Peter Bishop's death. I do hope I am very wrong about that.
- Osmium("Os") + Lutetium=Olivia +FauxLivia? Hmm. Metaphorical talk of combining 2 rare metals to create a new molecule? Sounds Fringe-y and I'll bet it will happen.
- "I've run them through every code breaking program that I know but so far I can't break it. I thought about giving it to Astrid. *ring* I don't want to hurt her. Did anyone else catch that Bellivia seemed to hear Peter's thoughts right after she heard the bell? That should remind you of Simon Phillips in 'Concentrate and Ask Again'. And since we heard Peter ask this too, like Simon, we don't know who Peter doesn't want to hurt? Astrid? Olivia? FauxLivia? I wonder if Bellivia will continue to be able to hear people's thoughts into the next episode? And scarier yet, when our Liv finally gets back to herself, will she continue to be able to read people's thoughts?
- Olivia Dunham possessed by William Bell-You don't have to look far to learn that some people are upset by this and call it a cheap move for Fringe to make. I know it's temporary and I find it fascinating Anna Torv gets to explore this, so I'm OK with it. I'm much more upset about how Olivia will finally deal with Peter's revelation when she's back to her old self.
I give it 4.5 out of 5 bells.