It’s opposite day on Fringe last night. With people switching places, universal characters revealing another side of themselves, and people who are dead but yet still here, everything is topsy turvy in this Earth-1 episode. This episode was very quiet, lacking in a lot of edge of your seat moments after the opening. While episodes like these are usually my least favorite installments, I have hope that it’s just a bump in the road.
Let’s start with the major point of contention: last week’s development that soul magnets are more than just a talking point and William Bell has risen! The twist is that he has inhabited Olivia’s body, an aspect I found intriguing last week but rather tiresome now. It’s a neat idea, but the writers of Fringe have yet to really do anything of merit with it, spending most of the episode with Bell/Olivia messing around on the sidelines. Needless to say I have yet to be convinced by this decision, as watching Anna Torv plumb the depths of her vocal range is both painful and hilarious to watch. For a show about very serious subjects, it is not a good thing when the viewer is rolling with laughter over the absurdity of what’s on screen. (Just ask the “writers” of V or The Event.)
Peter is understandably pissed about an 80-year-old scientist replacing his attractive, ass-kicking FBI agent, and pressures Fringe Division to switch the two immediately. Bell, fully conscious, informs them that it may take up to 48 hours for his spirit to move on. Great. Luckily for us, another freak of the week surfaces nearby and the B-story is spent with Walter and Bell-ivia screwing around in the lab with the occasional plot assist.
Now that that point of contention is out of the way, let’s get to the interesting part. The opening scenes introduce us to Dana Gray, a woman who tries to help a man come back from the edge of a suicide attempt, until she forces them both off the roof, crashing on the police car below. The kicker? Gray walks away from the accident as if nothing happened, until a group of passerby catch the incident on film.
Enter Lincoln Lee, FBI agent. As much as I was laughing through the William Bell portions of tonight’s adventures, nothing made me more giddy to discover Lincoln’s Earth-1 self. A nebbish federal agent who has a hard time grasping at the realm of possibility, this new Lincoln was great to watch fumble around the case and in Walter’s lab. A suspect accused of being unable to die? Cows chilling in a room of science? Get used to it, bub! The distinction between this lackey version of Lincoln and the confident man of action in the alternate Fringe Division was a nice parallel to play against, and one can only hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Lincoln-1.
The case of the week plays out with a few twists, but is fairly straightforward. Dana Gray’s family is dead, and despite being shot in the head, she is unable to join them. With each new dead body, there would be two sets of prints at the scene of the crime. Baffling Lincoln, the team quickly uncovers the truth about her, um, state of being. Though a number of clunky parallels were attempted between her situation and that of Bell-ivia, the way the story played out was interesting. Ms. Gray worked at a suicide prevention hotline, yet would answer calls and perform visits with the unfortunate souls, only to aid in their death once she arrived. One man planted a bomb on a local train, and so, seeing an opportunity to cross over, Dana Gray lets the man die and boards the train in the attempt to let the bomb explode.
The rest of the main plot involves Peter working with Lincoln to locate the immortal woman and convince her not to go through with things. The lack of Olivia being an active player during the investigation was definitely apparent, and no substitution of moments where Bell pops up to offer a few nuggets can make up for it.
While the tension was nice during the latter half of the episode, most of these scenes were burdened by a lot of talking, a little bit of misplaced religious symbolism, and an ending monologue on fate and destiny that I thought we left on The Island with Oceanic Flight 815. The final moments where Peter and Bell-ivia are talking offers the hope that our long national plot nightmare is over, but Bell returns soon enough. Wipe that grin off your face Mr. Bishop.
Article by Mark Ziemer