Friday’s episode of Fringe was very well-balanced, as much of this season has been. After last week’s excellent flashback to Olivia’s, Peter’s, and Walter’s past, it was nice to see Peter and Olivia all grown up again in this week’s episode, “Os” (short for Osmium, one of the densest and heaviest metals on Earth), which had just the right seamless blend of fringe science and Over Here/Over There mythology. Furthering the plot toward the supposedly inevitable collision of the two worlds, our intrepid team set upon the task of discovering how a mad scientist, Dr. Crick (hi there, Alan Ruck! You will forever be Ferris Bueller’s bff to me!), was making men float by using such a dense material.
Despite Walter’s best efforts, he and Astrid were not able to figure what was going on, which may very well be a first for them. Walter managed to figure out that the osmium was combined another extremely heavy element, lutetium, but still couldn’t deduce how men were flying. There was no shortage of gore on hand, as the test subjects bled from their orifices, Walter tasked Astrid with disposing of an obscene amount of blood (“I went to Quantico for this!??!” was a great line) and Crick sawed off limbs to further his research, where his test subjects were paralyzed from the waist down and thus willing to steal more material to allow them to walk and fly.
Good old-fashioned detective work allowed them to pinpoint the Museum of Science as a vault of lutetium, where they stopped Crick’s latest victim/subject and captured the scientist as well. The camera work was quite good in this scene, and I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the floating paralyzed young man with the astronaut flight suits as well as Peter’s flying tackle. We found out that Crick was conducting these experiments to help his own paralyzed son, a typical play on the mad scientist just trying to help the ones he loves. What was intriguing was Walter’s conclusion on how Crick was able to do it: it shouldn’t have been possible, but the merging of the two universes is changing the laws of physics and letting elements behave differently.
The stress of figuring out how to fix the two worlds and keep Peter safe are clearly weighing on Walter, who was coping in the opening scene by doing what Walter does best: smoking up! And with none other than Jorge Garcia, aka Hurley to all you Losties out there. How nice it was to see Garcia on my television again! Watching him giggle with Walter was a joyful sight indeed. Here’s hoping for a couple more cameos in the future.
Walter’s lighthearted mood showed through in spots, most notably when he was smiling about Peter and Olivia’s renewed relationship. It was great to see them sweetly holding hands, and finally seeing Olivia smile so readily (and wouldn’t you be smiling if you got it on with Joshua Jackson, ladies?) let me warm to her character much more than in the past. It took me a long time to get there with Olivia, and I’m usually the first to declare my love for the strong female characters. Plus, the little glimpses into their relationship gave the viewer satisfaction without heading into sugar-overload territory, and I think it was a great reflection of how these things play out in real life when two professionals start dating. Peter and Olivia aren’t going to be making out at crime scenes or in the lab, nor do we need to see them doing so to understand their bond. The writers and actors portrayed their new love very well and didn’t hide it, although how cute was it to see Peter bashfully drop Olivia’s hand and Nina chastise him for doing so? But I digress. The cheese factor was always cited as the danger with Mulder and Scully getting together on the X-Files, but mature adult relationships can be done on TV, folks! Somewhere, Chris Carter is sadly shaking his head.
I feel that the Fringe writers used Nina particularly well in this episode, having her point out the benefits to Walter’s imagination and telling him, basically, to be himself and the solutions would come. After his frenzy over Bell’s files, he appeared much more collected when he went to Nina at the end of the episode and rang the bell that “Belly” entrusted to Nina. The holy-crap-oh-my-God moment took place, of course, in the very last scene as Olivia channeled Bell in Peter’s office (den? cave? Homeboy needs some better digs). After Walter summoned Bell’s consciousness back from the dead, Olivia’s cortexiphan-enhanced body gave it life. I must commend Anna Torv for doing a spot-on Spock impression, and I’m not going to lie: I’m super excited to see how this plays out. Maybe now critics and whoever nominates people for Emmys will sit up and take notice of Fringe. Torv and Noble are clearly deserving, as is the entire ensemble. Torv is now doing Olivia, Fauxlivia, and Bell, and the range she displayed with just a few lines as Bell was enough to make me sit up a bit straighter. Although I feel kind of bad for Peter in this relationship – first he’s hoodwinked by Fauxlivia and now a 75-year-old dude is inhabiting his girlfriend’s body? Something tells me there will be 100% less cute hand holding and sexy smiles exchanged over coffee in the coming weeks.
One last bit of Fringe news: thank the flying spaghetti monster! It looks like Fringe is “a safe bet” for renewal next year according to TVLine’s Michael Ausiello. After this episode, it would be cruel and unusual if it wasn’t coming back in the fall.