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+.


@Jeffrey You're kinda weird.


a soul is energy and energy can't be created or destroyed right? i don't mind the soul talk because at the end of the day it's gripping, entertaining and thought-provoking all the reasons i watch fringe - i'm lovin the bellivia - even if only to see anna torv play it and the funny walter/bell momments! :)


@Nico I believe in God...not the "afterlife." And I ain't down with souls summoned from beyond the grave. Also disagree this has been there all along, and won't be following the writers down this particular path.


I completely agree. I agree that the show is heading in the direction Kirkpatrick mentioned and is "uncomfortable" with and I understand that a lot of people are uncomfortable with frank talk about the soul and the afterlife; but I am in the same position as the reviewer--I think that this is exactly what the show has been building up to since season 1, the signs were there for the show to embrace ideas about faith, but they were subtle. I, for one, am very excited to see where the writers take the show and I offer this request to all the fringe viewers who have been put off by the recent episodes: you many not agree with the idea of religion and science going hand in hand, or you may scoff at the idea of fate, but you have trusted the writers so far, so please continue to trust them.


Well i think everything is getting really interesting, but i really hoped that when those church bells rang that Olivia would be back for good, but that is not the case. And it seems like we'll have to wait until the episode after the next to see if we get her back. Next weeks episode looks really interesting, but what is going on over there? And as for the whole God being brought into science...well the two always seem to go hand in hand, as one always has to admit something that makes sense about the other. But i'm an atheist, and i don't believe God had anything to do with it...but i've always always been confused on whether fate could be real or not, because who says fate has to do with God? But...i don't know. We'll just have to wait and watch next week. Fringe, i have to say, is one of the best TV shows on right now, and while the whole Bell thing might be a little "uncomfortable" that doesn't mean this show isn't good. And it is, and it has got me so confused that i just have to watch, which i bet is their whole purpose.

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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