Fringe Review: Olivia Dunham, Superhero!

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Well now. Was that the shortest hour of television in the history of television or did I somehow miss half of "Brave New World, Part 1?"

The last few episodes have all been quite similar in that respect. Before I have time to wrap my head around the enormity of what's happening, the credits roll! That's an incredible combination of my somewhat thick skull and the extraordinary craft that goes into making an episode of Fringe.

Blast to the Past

We were duped!
I  have to give credit to producers who can hold a press conference and successfully retain the big secrets. As a writer, I've come to trust Joel Wyman and Jeff Pinkner when they say something, so I didn't think twice during a recent Fringe interview when they said they had so far been unsuccessful in begging Leonard Nimoy to return to acting and had resorted to planting signs in his yard. A slight exaggeration, maybe.

But when a legend in his field retires, to come back is one hell of a nod the material being written for him.

William Bell was undoubtedly pulling the strings of David Robert Jones.

The viewers knew that for certain, but it was anything but easy for Walter to convince others what we already knew was true. It was absolutely comical watching Walter in the institution, smelling the visitor logbooks and taking tentative licks like a monkey in an attempt to determine if Belly had been there after his death, as he surmised. You had to wonder if that was written into the scene or if John Noble just came up with that Walterism on his own. Either way, it was a hoot to watch.

The bishop without a capital B
It was odd that David Robert Jones planted the nanites device in plain sight, don't you think? He didn't even make the slightest attempt to mask his appearance. Of course, if he had, it would have taken longer for Walter to track down Belly, and that wasn't want dear Mr. Bell wanted, was it?

While Jones had normally been played tough and impenetrable by the ridiculously talented Jared Harris, we saw instead a man in awe of William Bell and easily bendable to his whims. He greedily lapped up the lesson given to him by Bell on how to plan a long-term vindictive revenge plot, and he didn't hesitate when told to take out the bishop afterward.

William Bell: In this game of skill one must have above all else, Patience. The board changes, but very slowly. The art of chess, the art is knowing when a piece is most valuable and then, in that very moment, being willing to sacrifice it. For in the vacuum created by the loss of what is most precious, opportunity abounds, influences maximize, and desire becomes destiny. For example, on this board, the most valuable piece is the bishop. Therefore, for the game to be won...
David Robert Jones: The bishop must be sacrificed. I'll attend to it.

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Jones learned a painful lesson. Diabolical mentors aren't the most trustworthy. The bishop wasn't a Bishop, but a Jones, and he was the sacrificial lamb.

Alex the asskicker!
Well, we all know her as Astrid, but Walter was on a roll and she was Alex. It's so wonderful to see things back to normal; as normal as they can be when your arch nemesis and the only other person with a brain capacity equal to yours is found to be alive and well. Astrid finally admitted to Walter that she enjoys her role as his mother hen and asked him to just let her enjoy it. That feeling came in handy when they happened upon Bell's lair and guns started blazing. Using some fancy footwork, she bought them enough time to run.

Unfortunately they were easily out manned and just as a severely shot Astrid fell into the arms of Walter, William Bell appeared to Walter to say hello to his old friend.

Olivia and Peter play Wii
When Jones was dispatched to take out the bishop in Bell's 20 year game of chess, there were two choices. One was to literally take out the Bishop. Peter. But there was a little detail revealed with one of Walter's experiments using pig brains and lemon cake - cortexiphan is regenerative. That's quite the puzzle piece to have lying on the floor, so I jumped right on that one! Who would be Jones' bishop?

In the end, we knew it was Jones himself, but Jones believed it to be Peter. I wasn't sure why Peter and Olivia had to be on two separate rooftops to lose the reflection of the sun through the antenna, but it served a great purpose. Olivia had to watch Peter get pummeled from across the street. She was aiming to shoot Jones, but two mall cops stopped her in her tracks.

Earlier in the episode we witnessed some of what the cortexiphan shots had unearthed in Olivia. She's no longer relegated to turning light bulbs on and off, but could stop computers, and nanites, in their tracks. Even armed with that fun fact, watching her crease her brow and become a Wii controller for Peter to fight against Jones when he was injured and couldn't continue was beyond what I expected of the dynamo that has become Olivia Dunham.

What's next?
First, another thank you FOX for the extra 13 episodes, because I don't think I could imagine having only one episode left in this stupendous series. When it's said you won't see something coming, you most likely won't see it coming. How often is that bargain held up? Rarely.

Astrid's life was left hanging in the balance. Does Bell have a reason to deny her treatment? I can't imagine why so my fingers are crossed that she will receive it. Think of it as hospitality. We've been told repeatedly that Olivia has to die, but until tonight we didn't see a lemon cake laced with pig brain lace itself back up. Why does that matter? Because if cortexiphan is regenerative, and with the extra doses Olivia has received as an adult, perhaps fate has been rewritten. If she is injured, will she regenerate? If a lemon cake can, why not the human Wii?

What about regeneration from death? Even in the first universes Massive Dynamic had learned to siphon memories from the dead. With as much cortexiphan as Olivia has flowing through her system, maybe the bullet we believed Olivia took to her death in 2036 lead to her seclusion or isolation instead. My head is spinning with ideas on what's to come, and I can only imagine the great thoughts you are having. Share them in the comments!


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (132 Votes)

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


Olivia: Jean Grey! Hahaha! Well, not surprising, we saw her moving boxes with her brain in "The Day We Died"- But Kick-Astrid? I Knew she had been holding back. The question is, is Belly bad, or is he doin what he's doin for a reason? Cos, why would he have been with Walter when Walter Ambered himself? But his hand was sticking out (in invitation to have it chopped off no doubt) so maybe he was trying to stop Walter. Maybe the Observers will invade in the next 'sode. But Astrid in Transit, wasnt talking about Belly as Bad Belly. Too Bad the transfer of Belly's Brain into that big guy didnt work out in "LSD," then they really could have called Belly "Belly" (And Jiggly Belly at that). Hahaha!

Uncle jackass

Speechless in awe of the greatness of Fringe. Speculating on what's to come is absolutely pointless for me, and I tip my hat to to the writers for never getting it right :-)


@WatchesTooMuch - you're talking about a show which has multiverses, a woman who can control other peoples bodies and nanite-induced spontaneous combustion. The entire show is ridiculous...ridiculously awesome! So shut it... Lost girl!! Evil Belly!! The easy bake oven!! Kick-Asstrid!! Wii-Livia!! Loved it all ... until that ending! Not Astrid!! Great review Carissa! As usual! I would hope your deserving reviews would get quoted in magazine ads, but we know that only happens to the vapidly contrived reviews these days. :)


OMG! Thank you. Thank you!!
I heard part of this quote, Googled fringe... And desire becomes destiny... NOTHING...but waaaaaait for it...
30 seconds later, voila! You've posted a blog with great reflections and the entire text of the quote i wad srarchong for AMAZING!
"The art of chess, the art is knowing when a piece is most valuable and then, in that very moment, being willing to sacrifice it. For in the vacuum created by the loss of what is most precious, opportunity abounds, influences maximize, and desire becomes destiny."
Now I can ponder at leisure. Thanks, again.


bell's appearance is sudden, but it was kinda hinted in that future episode, we all just assumed it was just an Easter egg. I'm ashamed to admit it but I think I had a mini orgasm when I saw leonard nimoy. and a little correction, the company is called massive dynamic, not global dynamic. GD is in the show Eureka.


Calm down sally, astrid is alive. Remember the Letter of Transit episode? It's Olivia that I'm more worried about next week.


"I wasn't sure why Peter and Olivia had to be on two separate rooftops to lose the reflection of the sun through the antenna, but it served a great purpose." The whole setup was ridiculous. You want to get to Peter so you commandeer two satellites and create a concentrated beam of sunlight to burn a hole through a skyscraper and into an oil reservoir because you're certain that Walter will figure out where you're controlling the thing from and send Peter and Olivia to fix the problem so you can ambush Peter on a rooftop. Sure, the Independence Day effect was cool, but seriously? And this was one of the 2-3 best episodes of the year. (Agh!)


Great episode. Olivia FTW!


Bell: "The art of chess ... is knowing when a piece is most valuable and then, in that very moment, being willing to sacrifice it. For in the vacuum created by the loss of what is most precious, opportunity abounds, influences maximize, and desire becomes destiny." This is absurd. First, you don't throw a piece away in order to exploit the "vacuum created by the loss of what is most precious." You sacrifice a piece to TRADE IT FOR SOMETHING OF GREATER VALUE. Second, Walter may be of greater value than Jones ... but Bell could have easily attracted Walter without throwing Jones away. Third, if Jones knew anything about chess, he would know that you SACRIFICE YOUR OWN PIECES not the other player's. Fourth, why would Jones even think that Peter was more important at this point than Walter? Why wouldn't he ask "which bishop"? Fifth, is Jones really only a bishop? Does that make Charlotte (or whatever her name is) the queen?


NOOOOO! Not Astrid!! And what a lame ass death for Jones. I guess the return of Bell meant Fringe couldn't afford to keep him on. I really don't see the point of bringing back Bell. Especially with the random story they pulled out of thin air of him faking his death blah blah blah. Give me a break. He smiles so much, I can't believe for a second he has any bad intentions. What was the purpose of the bishop? I hope next week answers some questions. Nice to see Charlotte from Lost again.

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Fringe Season 4 Episode 21 Quotes

Jessica: What are you?
Walter: I'm human, what are you? Is this some sort of alien invasion? Are you part of a strike?

Peter: Three bedrooms and a dog run...
Olivia: Nursery?
Peter: Nursery?