“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 billiedoux.com.)