Okay! This week, our assignment was to watch the episode “Stowaway” from Season Three of Fringe. (You can read the Television Without Pity Recap here, while the AV Club has their recap of the episode here. The post dedicated to the Season Three season premiere episode is here and the posts dedicated to the following episodes are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
As always, here are the ground rules: nothing that we have seen so far is considered a spoiler, anything that we have not yet seen should be considered a spoiler. Crazy nutbar speculation is *NOT* a spoiler, but confirming or denying said confirmation would be.
Here’s my idea for spoilers: please rot13 them. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them. We good? We good! Everybody who has seen the episode, see you after the cut!
My personal feeling about this episode is that they got a *LOT* of letters about White Tulip and someone in a room said “we need to do that sort of thing again. Any ideas?” As they brainstormed, people would periodically stick their head in the conference room and say something like “Don’t forget that Bell is possessing Olivia!”
I mean, it’s not like White Tulip was an Olivia-heavy episode. But, seriously, she was, at least, Olivia.
Anyway, I understand the preferred nomenclature is “Bellivia.” So let’s use that.
We kick off with Walter and Bellivia, together again, breaking down exactly what is going on. Bell is possessing Olivia while Olivia is in the back somewhere in a coma-like state. Bell makes statements similar to what I imagine any guy would make about finding himself trapped in a female body: bras are binding, these shoes are ridiculous, is it moisturizer, foundation, concealer, blush, powder or is it moisturizer, foundation, concealer, powder, blush? That sort of thing. The guys all laugh because, yeah, you never have to think about that sort of thing, you just shower and put a baseball cap on. Astrid, of course, is thinking about punching each of them.
Presumably in the nuts.
Anyway, we establish several things fairly economically: Bell needs to find a new host toot sweet (like, 48 hours), Walter is delighted by Bellivia’s presence, Peter is horrified by Bellivia’s presence, Broyles is irritated by Bellivia’s presence (but, come on, he’s irritated when he’s eating ice cream on his day off), Bellivia is delighted by Astrid’s presence, and Astrid is creeped out by Bellivia’s presence.
Cut to a rooftop suicide intervention in progress upstate. He’s telling her that he’s just given up hope and wants to end it all. She tries to talk him out of it until she realizes that, nope, he means it at which point she embraces him and they both go over the side of the roof together… and we see them splat together and then, after a moment, we see her twitch and get up and walk away.
You’re watching Fringe. (Blue credits.)
Anyway, this episode is all about how each of us has an appointment in Samarra. They talked about “fate’. They talked about necessity. They talked about inevitability. Peter is, apparently, fated to use the machine. Pardon me: The Machine. This universe is, apparently, fated to decay in the same way that the other universe is decaying… and Bellivia is, apparently, fated to spend ALL EPISODE giving us her best Nimoy. We get a call about someone jumping off of a roof and surviving. Must be that decay we’ve been talking about for the last few episodes… better get in the car.
Oh! There’s this universe’s Lincoln Lee! Huh. He’s kind of staid and not cool/hip like the other universe’s Linc. Walter must have sucked up all of the “awesome” in this universe while, in the other, Fauxlivia, Linc, and all sorts of folks have freak flags to fly.
Bell establishes that, no, the universe decay isn’t responsible for the person not dying and Linc shows up to explain to Fringe Division (“What division?”) that this woman may have been at several other double suicides that were, by the time first responders showed up, single suicides. “I don’t think this woman can die”, Linc says, and expects everybody to start laughing at him but… well, no. This is Fringe. That’s sort of a weekly occurrence ’round here.
Here’s what I like about Lincoln Lee in this universe: he’s FBI but he’s square. He’s vanilla. So when he encounters Fringe and walks in the lab and sees that there is a cow, he’s weirded out by it. We have gotten used to Gene. Sure, Walter has a cow. It’s part of the mental furniture of the lab for us. When Linc gets in there, he lets us step back for a minute and say “What the heck is there a cow doing in the basement of Harvard?”
So when they start talking about Dana Grey jumping with suicides and absconding with the life force of the people she jumped with, Linc can say “wait, wait… is that even a scientific concept?” which, seriously, is what we were all thinking at home, right? And then Anna Torv tells Linc and, by extension, all of us to quit being so danged reductive. (You can almost hear the script writer saying “that oughta hold the little S.O.B.s”.)
Well, one of the things we learned about Dana Grey is that she was killed, along with her family, a few months back… since then, apparently, she’s been trying to die the way she felt she should have died back at the original murder. So she’s gotten a job with a suicide hotline and, apparently, has hit it out of the park. She’s saved 37 lives since signing on and… well… we see how she deals with people who can’t be saved. She hitchhikes on their suicide. A stowaway.
Well, we see Dana help another lost cause suicide where she finds out that the suicidal guy not only intends (and, in a grisly scene, succeeds) to kill himself but he planted a bomb on a train… instead of trying to use the gun he used, she gets the heck out of there… allowing us to wonder what she’s doing at the same time that we get to watch Peter and Lincoln finally figure out what she’s doing. (Oh, and Walter and Bellivia made some marijuana-infused jokes about how maybe they could put Bell in Gene and then Astrid could be in charge of milking Bell. Which, as stoner humor goes, gets creepier and creepier the more you think about it. Usually the jokes just get dumber and dumber.)
The FBI investigates the suicide’s apartment enough to figure out that there is a bomb, we see Dana find the bomb on the train (and have an obnoxious guy sit next to her in order to make us not feel bad about… what? Is she going to just let the bomb stay on the train? Huh. That certainly adds a little bit of creepy to the “Ascension of Azrael” story we got a few moments ago (which was not a story that I’d ever heard before this episode and, seriously, that used to be a hobby of mine but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that story never existed in a corner somewhere… but, yeah, I can’t find that story on Google either. Well, not one that dates earlier than this episode.))
Anyway, in a surprisingly reductive series of good, old-fashioned, procedural know-how, they figure out that the guy who committed suicide called somebody, it was probably Dana, Dana is probably with the bomb, and she’ll probably answer the phone if the call says that it’s originating from her dead husband, and that they can probably trace it if they can keep her on the phone.
The probablys don’t stack up, however, and they don’t keep her on the phone long enough… they do, however, stay on the phone long enough to hear “NEXT STOP NORWOOD STATION” and, in a cute scene, Bellivia and Walter figure out which train Dana is on (“they’re doing that thing where they don’t finish their sentences”, Astrid tells Peter). This allows the Feds to stop the train and get aboard when there is only 8 minutes before the bomb goes off… Dana manages to escape the train with the bomb and run off into an empty field with it… where it blows up “harmlessly”. Dana doesn’t survive the explosion. Deep exhalation.
So now we’re back to dealing with the fact that Walter and Bellivia are Heterosexual Life Partners with one of them happening to inhabit the body of the Heterosexual Partner of the other protagonist in the show. There’s finally a conversation about relationships between Bellivia and Peter (AUGH!!! MORE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS!!!) but this one takes an interesting turn. Bell and Peter discuss Dana and why Dana stayed alive as long as she did. Nothing to do with the ascension of Azrael but with Destiny. Dana was *FATED* to save that train… and, presumably, those 37 people. She couldn’t die until she had finished the work she had to do.
While we sit and think about that, we hear a bell off in the distance… and Olivia is back! Just for a second! And she’s freaking out! And now Bellivia is back!
And he looks at Peter and says “This may be more complicated than I thought.”
Well… I’m not going to say “wow, what a great episode” like I did the last couple of times. It felt like it was trying to be one and that gets in the way of the whole “effortless” thing that the great ones have going for them… but I did think that it had some lovely moments and I’m seriously wondering what is going to happen with Bell, Peter, and The Machine now that I know that Fate has decided to start throwing its weight around.
So… what thinks did you thunk?