Fringe Review: For Whom The Bell Tolls

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Note to movie producers, if you're looking for someone to play Katharine Hepburn, I've found your ideal lead: didn't Anna Torv sound eerily like this icon on "Stowaway?" The accent seemed difficult for her to keep up, as there were times she sounded almost like plain old Olivia.

As soon as guest star, Paula Malcomson walked away from a skydive off of a building, I figured they had already chosen her to house William Bell. After all, his brain won't die, so he might as well live in a body that won't die. Once he got used to wearing the bra, the rest seemed simple.

Since Leonard Nimoy's guest appearances were kept to a bare minimum, we never really got to know William. He's kind of an ass. He's not as quirky as Walter, so he doesn't get Walter's free ass pass.

It was hard enough to forgive him for taking over Olivia's brain, but he didn't even give it a second thought. He knew there were risks, but his concern for Olivia was only that her body let him find a way to rehouse his consciousness before the process caused any lasting damage to Olivia.

Stowaway Scene

I found it strange that the division wasn't more excited to meet our universe's Lincoln Lee, as a comparison from the other universe. Maybe it's because Olivia's brain was on vacation that it seemed anti-climatic.

I was so looking forward to the episode where Olivia finally met someone new from the other universe, and her brain was on sabbatical. I would have preferred them to allow Olivia to meet Lincoln first. Was anyone else disappointed by this?

Dana Grey was so much like Malcomson's character from Caprica it was difficult to keep my mind on Fringe and not remember what that show could have been. To have her play another person obsessed with the soul, afterlife and our ascension into heaven had to be more than a coincidence... tight down to a bomb on a commuter train, just how Zoe died. By the end of the episode, I didn't believe her appearance was a coincidence at all.

If you read Jeff Kirkpatrick's column this week, you know he was concerned that Fringe was going in a direction that left him feeling uncomfortable. After viewing "Stowaway," I believe he may be right in his assessment.

While Walter and William Bell were trying to find scientific ways to restore his consciousness to a living being so that William can live forever, Dana was trying to die to be with her deceased family in the afterlife. She was researching both scientific and spiritual reasons for the soul to move beyond our world.

In the end, Dana died after saving the train full of commuters from the terrorist's bomb. As William and Peter discussed this over tea, William's first thought was that the electromagnetic impulses from her multiple lightening strikes (heretofore thought to be keeping her alive) were counterbalanced by an impulse from the bomb as it exploded.

But even William had to admit that the other possibility wasn't scientific at all: That she was stuck on earth because she was meant to keep those people alive. Just as he was admitting to fate or a higher power and that you have to listen to all possible messages, church bells rang. Olivia's supposedly resting brain fought to the surface for a split second. Apparently Olivia's furlough wasn't as placid as William thought.

To me, that scene presented the idea that the Fringe Division needs to explore further than the scientific realm. It was practically a finger from the hand of God pointing right at their conversation. The exciting thing for me is that I have always believed in a very close partnership between God and science. One would have created the other.

What are your thoughts on the possibility of opening up Fringe to more than just the scientific realm? I'm all for it, but I know at least one other person who will be less than pleased.


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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


I'm fine with them opening up the show to themes about God and the afterlife. It's silly of us to think that science isn't already trying to investigate it after all. A co-worker of mine was complaining one day about her atheist physicist husband because he had recently read a scientific paper (real one!) about proving the existence of God and apparently it had proved there was SOMETHING. She said he was so freaked out he was annoying her to no end. It must have been in Russian (their main language) or something, it was never something I heard of in North America. I thought it was funny, my poor friend was so exasperated.


Shaun - your argument that belief in a Creator is an unintelligent view is amusing, especially when athiest believe that complex organisms such as the human body just happened by accident. Try throwing a bunch of lumber and nails in a pile and see if a house can build itself without thoughtful design and precise construction. Seems to me it's lazier to believe we're all here as the result of some monumentally random accident versus recognizing the necessary intelligence involved in our design.


The God and soul stuff are as embarrassing as the fate claptrap. I'm sorry to see this year's writers drag the show down with woo like this. We need Peter and Olivia back together, some wild cases, and some Peter Bishop Action Hero stuff to pull the ratings back up. I did love Peter growling at Walter that he wants to know how to get Olivia back; so do I!


"Hollywood has always had an agenda and we are all too willing to be sucked in by it. Easier than trying to use our brains." Well THAT'S funny... I've always felt that people who believe in some Big Sky Daddy and ask him/her/it to help them get through life, rather than depending on themselves and taking responsibility for their own actions, find the crutch of religion much "easier than trying use our brains." I'm not sure what this "Hollywood agenda" is that you're raving about, Rebecca, but if it bothers you so much then why do you watch any TV (or movies) at all, beyond The 700 Club and the like? Why watch a show like Fringe that, at least until now, was always about viewing things through a rational, scientific approach? Even though the show is always very much pseudo-science and often very silly, at least it applies a scientific basis, and uses the scientific method, in its approach. Heck, you can go to and see ways to apply Fringe to the classroom. Cool stuff. But last night may have changed things... While I think science and spirituality can peacefully co-exist, I don't buy into Carissa's "close partnership," or the idea of "one creating the other, at all. Bell, a stone-cold scientist, of all people shouldn't be talking about "destiny." It doesn't make sense. I'm confident that the lazy writing in "Stowaway" won't result in Fringe taking the downward turn that Lost did, which became all about "destiny" trumping free will and "explaining" things with magic, glowy caves that really didn't explain anything at all. I'm confident Fringe won't go there, but it's teetering awfully close to the edge right now.


@pam - you're right. I could have SWORN I wrote Katharine! The mind is an interesting organ, isn't it? I know the consensus is that the church bells brought Olivia back for a moment, but then why wouldn't any old bell have brought William into Olivia's brain at any given moment once she drank the tea? That's why I equated it with a higher power, rather than merely the ringing of a bell. With Fringe, the sky is the limit!!


I think you might be meaning Katharine Hepburn, not Audrey. :)


People don't want to think about God. Especially Hollywood. Hollywood has always had an agenda and we are all too willing to be sucked in by it. Easier than trying to use our brains.


Messing around with Peter and Olivia's relationship with multiple obstacles to keep it on the move- the writing is so transparent at this point its in yo'face. So they get one episode together and even then they are barely in it, only talking about their relationship that we are strangely not privy to. What the frack? Where are those crazy kids? Go away Bell, you're boring me. Olivia and Peter need some Peter/Fauxlivia moments to bring me back on the happy train. This is just depressing.


@Jeffrey The writers have been playing around with this since at least early on in Season 2. Remember Agent Jessup? She was investigating parallels between Fringe cases and Bible verses, but they abandoned that subplot... it seems to me that they might finally be coming back to it.


@ Jeffrey But ok

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Fringe Season 3 Episode 17 Quotes

William Bell: Now, Olivia's brain can accommodate my consciousness for several weeks, before would anything happen to her.
Peter: Weeks? Not a chance.
William Bell: And, I am confident Walter will find a more stable home, long before that.

I understand that this could take some time getting used to. Imagine how I feel, I never knew that a bra was so binding.

William Bell