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

Fringe Review: Stowaway

      Email Post       3/20/2011 06:01:00 PM      

“Destiny, fate. Jung called it synchronicity. The interconnectedness of apparently unrelated events. Don’t you think it’s curious we meet a woman unable to die at the exact moment my consciousness returns from the grave?”

The Theme of the Week is fate. The question of the week is trickier—how much fate happens despite (or because of) our heroes’ actions, and how much does William Bell make happen? Is he really the focus of all this synchronicity?

Bell thinks well of himself. In his eyes, the events of this week happened for him: if not to provide him with an immortal and attractive female body, then at least to thematically resonate with the major ideas that follow Bell around like Linus’s cloud: What happens to the mind after death? Must everything end, or are some things, some people, eternal? Is Bell an instrument of fate, or does he use fate as excuse to get what he wants? When he hears a bell, he assumes it tolls for him. Might it not toll for Olivia? Or for some poor dead soul?

Fringe doesn’t take the easy path. Bell is a troubling character, but he is not an outright villain. From one perspective, Bell, Walter, and Walternate are playing a game and angling for control of the king and queen: Peter, who has the power of destruction and preservation, and Olivia, who has the power to move anywhere. From another perspective, so many of our heroes in both worlds are in the dark, trying to do the best they can with what they have. We, who have fairly unfettered access to both worlds, know so much more than we do. And even we do not know what will happen.

Those bigger questions notwithstanding, the loss of Olivia just might be outweighed by the net gain of the embellishment: Belly and Walter giggling their way through investigations, playing off of each other, getting high, and making inappropriate jokes. They really are partners, cued in to one another’s thoughts, and Peter’s girlfriend is now inhabited by the mind of his father’s best friend. It’s vaguely Oedipal, and just as creepy. Stranger things really haven’t happened, have they?

Not to Over Here Lincoln Lee. (Do we have a catchy name for him yet?) Watching him Clark Kent his way through the wacky world of new-to-him Fringe Division was delightful. He would make a compelling permanent addition to the cast, especially if he and Olivia have an encounter at some point—it would be interesting to see if his Over Here counterpart has feelings for her, too.

In re-thinking this episode in light of the overarching mythology and zany character moments, it’s easy to lose sight of the plot of the week, which was extremely touching. Dana Grey’s attempt to die and to reunite with her family—or at least to get out of Purgatory—was a mirror for just about everything: Walter’s attempt to regain his missing brain functions; Olivia’s attempts to stay put in one world and regain control of her body; Walternate’s desire to reunite his family at almost any cost…And, of course, Peter’s future decision, which even he doesn’t yet know about.

Dana got what she wanted when she refused to do what she had to do. She wasn’t willing to sacrifice lives to get what she wanted. Would Bell make the same choice? And, more importantly, what does he want?

Hello, Freak Show:

• Bellivia: “Stranger things have happened.”
Lincoln: “Um, no. They haven’t.”

• Lincoln: “One of these things is not like the others.” That’s one of my favorite quotes.

• Walter: “I love word problems!”

• Bell: “I have two thoughts…”
Peter: “What’s your second thought?”
Bell: “That my first thought is wrong.”

• “What if this isn’t about biology or physics? What if what we witnessed was the very reason that Dana Grey couldn’t die? Because she needed to be here to save those people’s lives.” An echo of Olivia’s question a few episodes ago.

• The first suicide looked like the zany love child of Greg Grunberg and Sam Weiss.

• Bellivia said he has lived a long time. Did anyone else wonder just how long?

• Astrid buttoning her blouse after Bell’s numerous comments was hilarious.

• I spent the entire episode and the entire re-watch thinking of Dana Grey (played by Paula Malcomson) as “that woman from all those shows.”

• Please, not the cow. Not the cow!

• I couldn’t tell: were Walter and Bell working the same equation from different sides of the see-through board? Or were they solving it independently?

• Peter, don’t drink the tea! Don’t drink the tea!

3.75 out of four Azraels. Because I do miss Olivia.

(Want more piercingly incisive commentary along the lines of "that woman from all those shows"? Check out my reviews of Fringe and the Vampire Diaries at


padmay97 said...

I only know Paula Malcomson as Dr. Grey's wife on Caprica. Good review:) I miss Olivia, but I am enjoying having William Bell back.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about your piercingly incisive commentary, but here's mine - William Bell's possession of Olivia is the ultimate form of rape. And Walter's advocacy to have Belly stay inside her(no pun intended)before Broyles intervened with an ultimatum, really disappointed me. Exactly how deep are the loyalties between Fringe characters? I wonder.

Anonymous said...

Got to agree with you there, anon, but don't forget, these two thought nothing of conducting drug trials on children and seem to have a well-developed god-complexes. That Walter would even assume that the Observer set up the situation in Firefly simply so that Peter would drink his brain-growth formula and thus save Walter's life, or Bell's assumption that Dana Grey shows up just as he's 'descended' shows the level of megalomania these two might have displayed in their early years together. I think this episode was, intentional humor aside, supposed to remind us that these two are not, and never have been, truly benign. I came away with the feeling that William Bell wasn't everything he's appeared to be, at least.

Charity said...

I was a tad disappointed in this episode -- I expected to see everyone's reactions to Bell infesting Olivia, and instead it picked up in the middle of the "action" so to speak. I also think it's odd that Nina was not involved -- the man she loves comes back to town in the body of a woman she has always tried to protect and she's not even mentioned in the episode?

Wow... this was not the William Bell I expected! I always knew he had ambiguous morality and a lethal dose of "end justifies the means" but he was COLD in taking her over. Love the ending, though -- I think Liv is not going down without a fight.

Danny said...

I agree with both anonymous. Although there have been some comments praising the humor of Walter and Bell and their dynamics in this chapter to me I did not like. I wonder where he was Walter's concern for the welfare of Olivia and the supposed happiness because he finally gave the relationship between her and Peter, all that paled to his desire to take back to Belly. Everything speaks in stronger loyalty towards Williman Walter Bell to his son and his girlfriend. Besides the outrageous occupation of the body of Olivia, it seems that William's stay is not as harmless as he tried to speak, by the way she suddenly turned to his body, his quick departure and the expression of the face William justify Peter placed at the end of the chapter.
Finally, I want to say that although I liked the different interpretations that Ana has made ​​Olivia, I can not say the same for Bellivier not block the voice impostada me, because although it is supposedly the Spirit would Bell's speaking, it does through body and Olivia's vocal cords, one thing is to imitate the accent and one try to imitate the voice. Remember the episode released from the first season, which was a possession, the girl who played the voice never fascia, although it changed the way he talked and moved, which is logical.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Olivia will be glad to have Spock's Katra out of her head. Oh wait that's another story.

Hannah said...

I agree, I like your review, and highlights and I to Miss Olivia.

Next Epi's going to rock!! Thanks for the review.

T mags said...

Just a thought, Occam's Razor, she died at the end because she never tried a bomb before. The explosion could have been enough to break the magnetic bonds.

Hannah said...

I think that the first annonymous brings up a good point and I'm brought that he/she brought it up because it is an issue and I think that it is about time that someone thought of her and brought it out. I like that in this episode Peter was steadfast on his anger/resentment/and need to get Olivia back, how he didn't like what Bell was doing and wouldn't look him in the eye for real the whole episode, his resenment and anger was real and his not liking bell "inside" his girlfriend and loosing liv was totally understandable. It was really sad at the end when Olivia fought her way to the surface just long enough to call for help from Peter and then got sucked back it. The smile on his face in seeing her was priceless and I hope that they can saver her soon!!

Matthew M said...

Your second guessing aside, I loved the episode, haven't laughed that much in a while. Watched a second time and laughed again. Hope Lincoln returns soon, noticed Peter and Belly/Olivia tried not to let on they recognized him.
I was hoping the book "The Afterlife of the Soul" was real like the book in Subject 13 but no luck. Checked Amazon and Bookfinder. Couldn't read the full name of the author, Jennifer Romh or Rohm something. To bad, would have like to read it!

tankadin said...

I got the impression that she walked away before the bomb actually exploded and at most she got knocked down by the shockwave.

T mags said...

I think it was 20 lbs of explosives. How far away would you have to walk to just get knocked down? I'm guessing walking away just left us a better corpse.

k said...

I can help thinking that this perfectly mirrors the Bolivia 'take-over'; again Olivia is pushed out, replaced and trapped. Walter's complete ignorance of the gravity of the situation was shocking - I can't help but hope this plotline serves the purpose of dethroning Bell as the supreme ruler of all knowledge in the Fringe-verse. This episode was far too sinister to be part of helping the Fringe gang. Bell is not who he appeared to be at all and doesn't seem concerned IMO about potentially being unable to help save the Universe. I see it as Bell almost 'being' the missing parts of Walter's brain. Right from the start he has brought Walter closer in line with being Walternate.

Cerulean said...

We shall call him NerdLee! and he shall be mine! and he shall be my NedrLee!

Anonymous said...

Fringeviewer here: My problem with the episode was that Walter claimed Belly's importance to save Peter from the doomsday machine... and then neither of them did anything about it. Busy with the latest crime? Peter and Lincoln figured everything out except for the train where Dana was traveling with the bomb.

Oh, well... I'm looking forward to next week's episode anyway.

Unknown said...

How pissed off will Olivia be! First AltOlivia stole her life and now William Bell borrows her body. She is being violated!

FringeFrog said...

I loved this episode, despite my misgivings going in to it. Walter I think is just so stuck on not man being enough to save the world, that his reliance on Belly has overruled everything else, there is a serious downward spiral here that is growing a lot of momentum (John is amazing).

Belly is being a sick freak but when has he ever been someone you could work out? Anna was great, not an easy ask.

Astrid as usual was a delight, but I think my favourite is Nerdlee (well done Cerulean), Lincoln is funny and smart, what a lovely relief from all the angst going on. Lincoln is great in both universes and I really hope NerdLee becomes a regular fixture – I can't wait for Olivia to see him as herself.

fringeobsessed said...

If you 'wikipedia' Jung's "synchronicity" it says that one of Carl Jung's favorite quotes on synchronicity is an excerpt from "Through The Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll. Hmm, does the Alice in Wonderland theme sound familiar?

fringeobsessed said...

"Okay, this is going to sound insane."

I'm surprised you didn't add a bullet with this.
This phrase uttered by BLincoln(or NerdLee) in "Stowaway" haunted me for 30 minutes before I found it in the transcripts at
Peter says pretty much the same thing to Olivia near the end of "The Arrival" when she signs him out of the hospital after his mental assualt by John Mosley and his first run-in with September.
"I know this is gonna sound insane."

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