Episode Title: "Stowaway"
Story by: Akiva Goldsman & Jeff Pinkner & J. H. Wyman
Teleplay: Danielle Dispaltro
Director: Brad Anderson
Previously on "Fringe":
FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) finally took the plunge and began a relationship together. Working past what Olivia’s alternate counterpart had done to them, the pair decided to remain honest with each other… a decision that weighed more heavily on Peter because he had been secretly killing shapeshifters and extracting their data disks in an attempt to understand their plans for this universe.
Meanwhile, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) was distraught by the prospect of having to outwit his own counterpart, Walternate. Upon finding the research of his lost colleague William Bell (Leonard Nimoy), Walter took an odd theory before Massive Dynamic head, Nina Sharp (Blair Brown). Walter told Nina that Bell believed in "Soul Magnets" which could draw a person’s spirit into another person’s body. When he tried to demonstrate his theory, Bell’s mind awoke in Olivia’s body.
At FBI headquarters, the scientists put Olivia through a battery of tests, but she insists that she really is Bell. As Bell explains it, he slipped the "Soul Magnets" into Olivia’s drink when he brought her to his office in the alternate universe. He assures the team that Olivia’s body can safely house his consciousness for at least a few weeks, but he promises Peter that they will find a new host within 48 hours. Bell also seems attracted to Astrid (Jasika Nicole), which freaks her out. Elsewhere, a woman named Dana (Paula Malcomson) tries to talk a man out of committing suicide. When he jumps off the building anyway, she follows him.
But Dana doesn’t die. And her seemingly impossible resurrection has been captured on film and witnessed by dozens. At the FBI, Special Agent Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) receives a note about Dana’s suicide attempt and recognizes her immediately. When the rest of the Fringe team arrives to investigate the site of her jump, Lincoln introduces himself. He explains that he investigated her murder many months ago with her husband and children, but her body was stolen. Ever since, he’s been following reports that she has survived several double suicide attempts. He admits to believing that she can’t be killed, which the Fringe team actually takes seriously (much to Lincoln’s surprise).
However, Lincoln is soon weirded out by the strangeness of Bell (who introduces himself as Olivia) and Walter, who theorize that Dana is like a vampire and needs the life force of the victims to survive. Peter and Lincoln track Dana down to a suicide prevention hotline and they discover that she was their most effective counsellor and unquestionably dedicated to saving lives. They also learn that Dana had been struck by lighting twice and Peter theorizes that Dana wants to die more than anything else.
Meanwhile, Dana fields a call from a man named Brian (Jason Poulsen), who lures her to his apartment. Before he commits suicide in front of her, he warns her about a bomb he placed on a train set to go off in a few hours. Back at Walter’s lab, Peter shares his theory and they come up with the notion that Dana is essentially trying to catch a ride to the afterlife. The team is soon called to Brian’s apartment, where they realize that he had built a bomb and that Dana had been there. Lincoln says that Dana was told about the bomb and that she may be hoping that this will be the thing that finally kills her.
On the train, Peter calls Dana and tries to talk her out of it. Despite the short conversation, Bell and Walter work out her location quickly. As she begins to have second thoughts about letting the people on the train die, the FBI swarms the train. Dana escapes to a nearby field and she is lost in a massive explosion. Peter and Lincoln find her body, devoid of life. Afterwards, Lincoln ponders why she died this time and offers his help to Peter and the team in the future.
Later, Bell and Peter share a drink and discuss whether it was Dana’s destiny to save the people on the train. A church bell rings and for a few moments, Olivia is back in control of her body and panicked. Bell retakes control and admits to Peter that his possession of Olivia may be more complicated than he realized.
If this episode was Seth Gabel’s audition to become a regular cast member next season, then he passed with flying colors. I’ve enjoyed Gabel’s occasional appearances as Lincoln Lee in the alternate universe and I did wonder why his counterpart in our universe hadn’t been seen yet. It turns out that the slightly nerdy Lincoln is a lot more fun than his hipster alternate self. "Fringe" occasionally needs characters to step back and remind us that what we’ve seen is insane. And this version of Lincoln is well suited for that.
Gabel and Joshua Jackson also had a quick and easy rapport as Lincoln and Peter. I’ve enjoyed the interplay between Peter and Olivia, but it really is refreshing to see a new partnership on this show that has no romantic overtones. It was like teaming up Fox Mulder with Wesley Wyndam-Pryce and it just worked really well.
I’m not as sold on the idea of bringing William Bell back in Olivia’s body. Obviously, it’s hard to get Leonard Nimoy back in the game if he’s really retired from acting. Anna Torv seems willing to try to replicate Nimoy’s voice and mannerisms as Bell, but it’s too soon to call it a success. I did enjoy the renewed partnership between Walter and Bell as the grown men become almost giddy at the constant weirdness thrown their way. There’s a hilarious scene nearly 2/3 of the way through where Bell and Walter seriously consider transferring Bell’s mind into the cow in Walter’s lab… and assigning Astrid to milk her/him.
It was also amusing to see Bell constantly flirting with Astrid and her inability to take more than a few seconds of that. I never really thought of William Bell as a Lothario, but the idea of him constantly trying to seduce Astrid in Olivia’s body could be really funny.
In the main plot of the episode, Paula Malcomson proves that she can act again after her horrendous turn on "The Event" as a crazed reporter. This wasn’t the greatest "Fringe" episode, but the writing makes all the difference. Dana is actually sympathetic and not a true villain. The only real weaknesses are that she never shares any screen time with any of the cast members (aside from a phone call to Peter) and the fact that her story ends in such an undefined way. Bell’s explanation that it was her "destiny" to be there just wasn’t very convincing.
But even with a slightly weaker episode, "Fringe" is still one of the best ways to spend your Friday nights. Keep watching it and tell your friends! We really need more seasons of this show.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.