'Fringe': Olivia eats worms, Leonard Nimoy rings a Bell


Last night’s thrilling Fringe episode may have been titled “Momentum Deferred,” a reference to physics, but as William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) said, quoting Walter Bishop, “Physics is a bitch.” No, what they should have called this episode is “Ring My Bell,” after the great 1979 Anita Ward hit. For it was by the striking of a bell that Olivia was jarred out of a new alternate-world visit with William Bell, and this time, she remembered what he said… which was nothing less than a warning about a pending Armageddon in “our” world (i.e., “the last great storm”; “an inter-dimensional war”).

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The hour began with bad guys (it’s still a tad disorienting to see Roger Cross — the late Curtis Manning from 24 — among the villains) hijacking a truck filled with cryogenically-preserved heads. There’s a shoot-out; a dead man’s body bleeds mercury, and Walter finds on the crime scene one of the devices “the shape-shifter used” in a previous episode, except this one’s intact. There’s some quick interaction between Cross’ character and the shape-shifter-possessed Charlie, who’s acting increasingly strange: “You’ve been in that body too long. You’re dying.” Uh-oh: things are not looking good for Kirk Acevedo’s continuing Charlie role…

The night also began with Walter’s latest attempt, back in the lab, to help Olivia regain her earlier memories, this time by having her drink an earthworm shake whipped up by Astrid in a blender: comic relief with a purpose.

Next, remember the hippie girl we saw on an old videotape in an earlier episode, the one Bishop and Bell pumped full of LSD and got her babbling about “soldiers from somewhere else”? Well, she grew up to be guest star Theresa Russell, who, as Rebecca Kidner, agrees to undergo another such test in Walter’s lab to try and get back some of her memories. (What is it with Fringe and men digging into women’s memory banks?) By the way, before he sends Rebecca tripping on “homemade psycho-tropic drugs,” Walter plays Yes’ 1971 “I See All Good People” as a mood-enhancer and a lyrical comment on what’s going on: that is, in the past, good people have turned their heads and ignored possible evil in the world, something for which Walter hopes to make amends. While also extracting more info for the present case, of course.

While Walter was puttering around with Rebecca, Peter struck a bell — and immediately Olivia, who’d just been observing, was thrown into the alt-world and her meeting with William Bell. This resulted in one of the most emotional and fierce scenes in Fringe‘s short history, as Olivia stood her ground against Bell’s silky assurances and chattiness. When he reminded her of the name she used to call him “when you were a girl,” Olivia became ferociously angry, bringing up the long-ago “drug trials on young children” — who included Olivia. “We weren’t trying to hurt anyone,” said Bell.

“Guess what?” said Olivia coldly. “You did… I don’t trust you, Dr. Bell.” This was an abuser being confronted by his abused victim. (Question: Since Walter was Bell’s partner in these experiments, does she feel the same rage toward Walter, and has tamped it down because of her fondness for the man and his son?)

Undeterred, “Belly” (what a terrific, coolly-controlled performance Leonard Nimoy gave here tonight) knew this was his brief chance to tell Olivia about the “coming war” and the “hybrids, part organic tissue, part machines.” These are The First Wave, and to combat it requires a “guardian… between this side and yours,” said Bell. He indicated that Olivia is meant to be that guardian: “You are the one, Olivia.”

I haven’t had a chance to mention Nina Sharp’s presence in this hour, so I’ll say here that Olivia brought her the odd semi-circle symbol that Bell gave the FBI agent to show to Nina.

And then, as though there wasn’t enough info and action packed into this hour, poor, tortured, soul-robbed Charlie made his move, trying to convince Olivia that Nina is the shape-shifter, but only tipping his hand that he is. So Olivia shot and killed him. The rumors of Kirk Acevedo leaving the series seem to be true… unless he comes back in some other way/shape/form/universe-location.

Fringe wrapped up with the cliffhanger of the cryogenic head sought by The First Wave being grafted onto a body, thereby getting a super-soldier ready to cause havoc in the weeks to come.

I continue to admire the way Fringe can mind-meld its scientific fiction with workplace-family drama and light comedy, juggling an increasing number of characters and subplots, while still maintaining a strong narrative through-line. My guess is that one of the next steps in Fringe‘s storytelling is to bring Peter, already displaced in the two universes, into the inter-dimensional war more actively.

And I’d like to see more of Nina Sharp’s lab assistant Brendan — funny guy, wasn’t he?

So what did you think of this jam-packed hour?

Comments (80 total) Add your comment
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  • Bob

    Best episode of the season by far. I love the episodes that focus more on the over-arching story, and this one totally delivered. Though I’m still not sure what to think about Curtis being a villian.

  • Matt S.

    As Bell explained to Olivia what happens when one first comes into the other dimension i wondered to myself if perhaps Peter went through the same thing as a child when Walter first brought him over from the “other side” and what impact that may have had on Peter

    • orville

      Or if he had major time shift and memory issues like they showed in the episode too.

      • tunedelicious

        Nah, that came from the worm sundae!

  • Matt S.

    Oh and that scene at the end where the head was merging with the body and the eyes open… AWESOMELY CREEPY!

  • Garry

    I had been waiting for the show to get deeper into the “alternate reality” aspect of the storyline, so this episode was very satisfying.

    But I must say that Leonard Nimoy looked and sounded as if he crawled out of his deathbed to do the episode. Has he been ill, or is he older than I had assumed? His frail appearance almost distracted me from an otherwise brilliant scene between Bell and Olivia.

    • dgh

      I didn’t know if they made him up to look like that to show what effects being in another Universe has on a person.

  • Ace

    Great episode. Also, Charlie isn’t really gone…there is still parallel universe Charlie. The writers have said that he is still shooting scenes and they are close to filming the mid-point of the season right now.

    • Charlie’s Angel

      Oh, good. I was so upset to see him die in this season’s premiere. This is good news!

  • Elle

    I LOVED it! I didn’t even think about Grey’s Anatomy. I wasn’t sure about giving up GA for Fringe, but now I know I made the right choice :)

  • joesmom

    This show is made of WIN! I just wish Fox would give it a better time slot instead of Thursdays against every other big show. How can you not love Walter, with his “A little cannabis before bedtime” comment. *LOL*

    • Cinda

      I agree Joesmom. I’m sad that this is the best show on TV right now more people aren’t watching it because network heads in their infinite wisdom put it in this time slot. The acting and writing are just superb, especially in this episode. I too loved that line from Walter and Yes’ “All Good People” was so fitting.

      • tunedelicious

        The fact that it’s the best show in its time slot virtually dooms Fringe. This is a common behavior for Fox: the have a new show, it’s original and has a great crew, the network doesn’t know what to do with it, so they put it either into the Friday Night graveyard or directly in the headlights of the oncoming freight trains of the competition. When will they ever learn?

  • Shaun

    I didn’t see last night’s show yet (love my DVR!), but for the person wondering about Nimoy’s age and health the guy is 78, so I suppose he’s going to look frail if you haven’t seen him in a while. Aside from Fringe and this summer’s Star Trek movie, he HASN’T done any acting quite awhile.

    I didn’t see the Trek movie yet (I’m still not sure I like others playing the classic characters or all the changes they’ve made), but my wife tells me he was looking old there too. Not just “Spock’s pushing 200″ old, but just looking old, period. It happens. I guess because Shatner, hairpiece and all, is so active and seemingly robust (they’re the same age and share the same birthday I believe)it’s all the more surprising. Shatner looks like he could have a haeart attack any day though.

    Anyhow, I promised my wife I’d watch the Trek movie on DVD, and I’m looking forward to seeing more Nimoy on Fringe!

    • sil

      I actually watched the new Star Trek movie for the first time right after the Fringe Episode and it was GREAT! It was a little difficult for me to follow the main plot, BUT the acting was great! These kids did a phenomenal job recreating the classic characters! If that is your hesitation, then I suggest you go ahead and watch it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

  • Warren Nadler

    Best hour this season. John Noble remains such a genius. A truly remarkable actor. My guess is that all the cast feels privileged to work with him.

    • Moe

      I agree about John Noble. I loved him in the last two LOTR movies. He was even crazier there than as Walter.

  • AA

    Love love LOVE this show!

  • nykolus

    what about when peter shook rebecca’s hand??? hmm… great show.

    • Gabriel

      yes , thought i was the only one that caught that,either it is to remind us peter is from the other side,or something more sinister

  • Deebo

    Amazing episode last night..The visual effects during the Olivia and Bell convo was done very well…This was the best episode yet in the entire series and Kurt’s acting as the shape shifter was great..Love Fringe!!!But bring it to Tuesdays or Wednesdays please!!!

  • Luke

    I would love to see the lab assistant and Astrid pair up and see where that leads cause his character was hella funny.

  • jen

    am confused about something. Bell said he pulled Olivia out of the moving car, but it appeared (to me, at least) that she crossed over in the elevator during the season finale. I guess it’s not that big a deal, but if anyone can clarify, it would help. thanks!

    • Sonja

      When she was driving and swerved, that is when she actually crossed over. In the alt universe she continued driving to the hotel and got in the elevator, but in this universe she crashed.

    • The Toddibear

      See, I was thinking the same thing. She was in an elevator, she transferred, and they met. But I also wondered if there was a time gap in there we are unaware of? Why was she in the car in the first place?

      • CerberusVenting

        So just to clarify for anybody that may be confused about this. If you watch the season 1 finale Olivia is in a near miss accident (this was when Bell switched her to the alternate universe)which is why in the premiere of season 2 there is her car in the accident,but in the other world she swerved,pulled up to a building, had lunch, then when she got on the elevator she was transported to the twin towers where she met Bell and talked with him. She then was put back to the exact place where she was taken from, the front seat of her car going 30 miles an hour…physics is a bitch. Got all that :)

      • Zan

        I suspect that Olivia was pulled through a soft-spot, into the mirror/alt-universe while she was driving her car. She did get into a car accident in the origi-universe — if you watch the finale episode again you can actually hear the sound of a car crash at the exact instant she appears to swerve. However, Olivia’s body had been pulled from the car at the exact momment of the crash. Olivia then went to the hotel to wait for Nina, but Nina did not show up b/c she was still in the origi-universe.

        While in the elevator, there was blue flash of light and people appeared and disappeared around Olivia — at that momment Olivia was teleported to Dr. Bell’s office in the alt-universe (remember that when the German guy teleported from jail in season 1, there was also a blue flash of light).

        When Olivia returned to the origi-universe, her mommentum from the car accident was conserved (but deffered during her absence) so Olivia came hurtling out of the windshield.

        The only thing I don’t understand is how she ended up in a new car in the alt-universe. But Dr. Bell seems to have mastered the laws of time and space, so I’m gonna let this go.

        I originally thought that Fringe was going to deal with a multi-verse this season, however, as the writers have been emphasizing mirrored objects, I suspect that we’ll only be dealing with two universes for the time being.

        On another note, with respect to FRACTURE, I was thinking of the photos the Observer received. I thought it was weird that the Observer was watching Walter since they know each other and spoke to each other in the finale. So perhaps the photos are of the alt-Waler… Just a theory.

      • rlangdon

        Apparently even the first elevator was alternate reality. Remember, there was a near miss car accident on her way to the meeting.

      • elr

        Thank you CerberusVenting. I was wondering about that too. I don’t remember the near miss accident from the finale, so I’ll have to watch it again.

    • Anonymous

      i think maybe bell used the momentum from the car crash that should have happened while olivia was going to meet nina and used it to bring olivia over a little later on in the elevator. he then used it to get her back to our reality.

      • jen

        ahh yes…I remember the swerve. makes sense now. thanks!!

  • Gwen

    When my husband was first telling me about this new show called “Fringe” and what it was about, I didn’t think I’d be interested. But I’m certainly interested now! I’ve watched every episode, and can’t wait until the next one. The story line is part of the attraction, but mainly it’s the acting. I love this cast! Fox had better do something to support this show!!

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