Fringe Review: Os ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Review: Os

      Email Post       3/12/2011 03:51:00 PM      

“It’s about trust. So it’s a great game, if two people are playing.”

For the past five episodes or so, I’ve had the same thought after each airing: How many viewers will call this the last straw, the final push, the reason to rant and rave and, ultimately, walk away? Fringe continues to push us past our comfort zone, not just in terms of scientific possibilities but also in the intersection between the personal and the scientific, with interesting results.

This episode was nearly perfect. The Walter-centric humor that bookended the story—with Hurley (as Kevin) in the opener and with Nina near the close—was delightful, and it was wonderful to see our hero having some silly fun with the community he is building at Massive Dynamics. As an unabashed Hurley fan, I desperately hope he will join the cast as a series regular, even if only to play Walter’s weed hook-up. The final shot between Water and Nina as they looked at the door was even better: subtle comedy that didn’t rely on a single line to be hilarious.

Peter and Olivia were equally fun-loving. Well, for a while. When last we saw our heroes (grown-up version), I wondered if Olivia’s relaxed demeanor was a put-on to lure Peter in. She seemed much more natural this episode, although I wonder where all those smiles and giggles will go once she returns to her body and tries to come to terms with Peter’s extracurricular activities.

Yeah…once she returns to her body. Cuz now, she’s possessed by William Bell, thanks to the soul-magnet-magic he worked back in “There’s More Than One of Everything.” At the time, I didn’t particularly pay attention to the ringing bell, but now we know that was a hugely important moment in which Bell…soul magnet…Olivia. Yeah, that’s it.

I am still undecided on the Belly-possession. That the soul magnets seem like a great idea to a very stoned scientist is an internal clue that the writers might be aware they’re taking us a step too far, or at least acknowledging that the science behind soul magnets is more speculative than anything else. Olivia did a wonderful job channeling Bell, but I was a bit embarrassed for her at the end. Possession by Spock? Complete with voice? I’m not against it, but it’s rather awkward and graceless. (I also feel horrible for Olivia. The Cortexiphan, the tank, Over There—can’t she just be a regular girl for a week?)

The humor and the final moments are just icing on the cake, a frame to the plot-of-the-week. The p.o.t.w. was solid, and it was neato to see Alan Ruck. However, I continue to be deeply uncomfortable with Fringe’s ablest logic. I will not repeat my earlier rant, but I will note that I do not understand why the show (via Peter’s dialogue and other techniques) assumes we will instantly see the logic between young men choosing one assistive device (a wheelchair) over a set of new assistive devices (a tether, lead boots, regular injections). Alan Ruck’s discussion with his son at the end hinted at some of these much larger issues, but Fringe continues to operate under a series of very bizarre assumptions about the perspective of the “handicapped” who are “confined to wheelchairs”—both of which are rather inaccurate phrases.

It worked well, though, as a plot that stands for the larger theme of the episode: trust games. Alan Ruck asked the young men to trust him, but they couldn’t know he was playing the game with another goal in mind: curing his son. Belly has been playing Olivia for years now without cluing her into her own participation in the game—would she have consented to be possessed by a dead scientist? It’s mental rape. Peter, on the other hand, has to deal with moving past his own reliance on game-playing and cons. His default position is lying to keep things on an even keel, but he took a gamble and disclosed his shapeshifter-assassinations to Olivia.

All of that is made possible, as Walter reminded us, by his actions so many years ago. The rules of the universe are breaking down, enabling Alan Ruck to try to save his son, but hinting at the destruction of something, if not everything.

The Decoder Key Is In My Office:

• Hurley: “What did he say?”
Walter: “It was the seventies. What could he say?”

• Walter: “Hold still, you infernal creature!”

• Walter: “It’s like using balloons to steal bowling balls.”

• Walter: “Belly was researching the perfect bowel movement…Everybody poops, dear.”

• Walter: “Yes, we never really solved that design issue. I suspect that may be why we didn’t get many volunteers.”

• Nina: “I don’t imagine you’re preparing for a science fair.”

• Olivia: “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 kids instead of your dad?”

• The upside-down shot of the men stealing the metal was extremely disorienting. It almost made me nauseous.

• I was genuinely worried that Young Man #3 was going to float into the atmosphere and burn up.

I said above that this was a nearly-perfect episode. It was extremely well crafted, beautifully shot, and full of delightful character moments. I may not agree with the perspective the show espouses as regards physical ability, but that’s a personal reaction and has little bearing on the artistic merits of the show. Will Belly’s possession of Olivia turn into something wonderful? I don’t know. We can’t know. But I will be watching to find out.

Three and a half out of four Hurleys.

(Are you sick of putting mints into bottles of cola just to watch something explode? Kill time by checking out my reviews of the Vampire Diaries and Fringe at


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you!
the one thing i am wondering though is how peter is going to react to his girlfriend being possessed with william bell?

Anonymous said...

@The anon above: I was wondering the same thing. In the CityTV preview it looks like he is campaigning for Olivia to go back to normal.

Anonymous said...

@The anonymous above
I know xD
i am also wondering where olivias soul is right now

al said...

I keep hearing/reading the rumor that there may not be a 4th season. Someone/anyone, please say it ain't so...any inside info out there? AL

Anonymous said...

There's only 6 more episodes to season 3. We need to make those remaining 6 count in the ratings. I made a facebook event for next week's episode. Please join and invite anyone you want. Right now, Fringe is caught between renewal and cancellation. We need to tip the balance to our favour.


Pato said...

I dont agree with you about the wheelchair issue, they made their point clear at the end when his son tells him he WAS happy, but you can understand that, as a father, he wanted to give his son everything he THOUGHT his son needed. And also i read your review with "your earlier rant" and lots of thing you said about the episode are incorrect, i think you should have double checked the facts. In your review you are all like "come on deformed people show your self to the world, we love you anyways!" When we all know unfortunately life is not that easy for people that are different, and I think THATS what the episode was trying to say.
But this is just my humble opinion...

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a great episode. Nice review too.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE everything that is happening in this episode. And of course ANNA TORV is really GOOD at imitating William Bell's voice. FRINGE TEAM ROCKS!! XD

Hannah said...

as he should anonymous 2. Its about time that Olivia had an advocate for herself.

Matthew M said...

I think you are taking your status as a 'critic' way too seriously. A 'reviewer' and a critic are not the same thing, at least they never used to be when I was in my teens and early 20's - a long time ago. I also think you think most fans care about what you seem to care about, we don't. We just want to watch a good show, enjoy it, go to bed at night knowing that the wacky scientist, love starved post adolescent adults and the military industrial complex has saved the world for another week. It was great seeing Jorje Garcia sharing the pipe with Walter. His character 'Hurley' was the best one on that fiasco called "LOST".
Next week, FINALLY, over here Lincoln Lee! Now if they would only bring Agent Amy Jessup back to partner with him.
Well, that's my critic of your critic. If you can't say something nice about "FRINGE" .....................

Anonymous said...

Fringeviewer here: hard to believe, but I am almost in agreement with Matt. And even as a critic, if you're going to object to something, have a very good reason to do it, not just your likes and dislikes.

All in all, I still will read your reviews.

Anonymous said...

George from Mexico

Hi friends, can you tell which episode tell us that William Bell is dead? I think I got lost somewhere. Last time I saw him , it was when he helped Peter and Bolivia to return to over here. I will really appreciate your help. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Are we sure they're saying 'Belly'? His name is William Bell, and nickname for William is... you guessed it... Bill. Pretty sure it's Billy... Belly sounds like a nickname a girlfriend would give him.

Cazza said...

So in Momentum deferred when Bell gave Olivia the cup of tea that's when the soul magnets were implanted wonder if the script/outline of what's to happen has been written a while ago?

Joanna said...

In no particular order:

-- When Bell helped the others come back to our side (end of season 2), he did so by letting his body be destroyed. So yes, he's presumed dead.

-- "Belly" is indeed the canon nickname used by Walter. This has been confirmed on more than one occasion, including the labels in a childhood drawing of Peter's.

-- The "ableist" thing is bunk. The scientist was clearly shown to be wrong in his actions and gravely mistaken in his attitude toward his son. Complaining that his character makes Fringe "ableist" is like complaining that "To Kill A Mockingbird" is a racist book because bad things happen to a black man in it.

Charity said...

I think this is my favorite episode out of the entire run. It was hilarious (the comedic timing is priceless), it had some really nice interaction between Walter and Nina (glad to see her have actual screen time), Peter and Olivia were just adorable, and... the twist at the end was fantastic. I did not see it coming. I should have, but it caught me totally off guard. I NEVER thought Bell would return as Olivia.

I... cannot wait for next week. It's going to be so awesome seeing Bellivia interact with Walter (the awesome duo is back, and you KNOW there is going to be a LOT of funny jokes about it), see what Nina thinks of it all, and see "our" Lincoln in action. I'm so glad this show gives me something to look forward to on Friday nights.

Blair said...

Anyone else see the observer. The one sighting I've found so far is at 8 minutes 45 seconds, as the team is interviewing the guard, right after Olivia shows him the sketch of the missing thief, the observer quickly walks behind Broyles holding an umbrella.

Blair said...

I just saw in the observer section that what I said above is right. Should have looked it up first... haha

Anonymous said...

@Matt - You critique this reviewer for making assumptions, but then you make assumptions of your own to counter that?: "We just want to watch a good show, enjoy it, go to bed at night knowing that the wacky scientist, love starved post adolescent adults and the military industrial complex has saved the world for another week."

I do not want to just watch a show and go to bed. Great television, something I consider Fringe (on a good day), cannot be set aside so easily. It sticks with us; it forces us to think and ask questions, both of the show itself and of the world we live in, ourselves.

I'm not on board 100% with everything this reviewer claims, but I respect that she understands and acknowledges this, instead of approaching Fringe as plot-driven television aimed at the less intelligent couch potato.

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