In the first part of this review, I touched on Walter’s current state of mind, how he is coming apart at the seams and how he is choosing to blame it on Bell’s absence and the surgical removal of his brain tissue rather than to look at all the resources he has at hand, namely, because of his position as CEO of Massive Dynamic. Walter is so stuck on his unhealthy dependency on Bell that at the first possibility of bringing him back, he jumps on it without thinking much of the potential consequences.
This arrogant streak in Walter is reflected in Bell, who deviously planted the harmonic rods in Olivia when she was taken to the other side by him for a ‘visit’ at the end of Season 1, beginning of Season 2. This negative trait of character, which also is making Walter very condescending towards the poor Astrid, makes me think it is much better to have them separated than ever having them together. Knowing that Bell is back, albeit in Olivia’s body, makes me extremely uncomfortable and not just because of the creep factor.
The parallel between the mytharc and the plotline in this episode is stricking; for just like Bell is using Olivia without her knowledge, putting a brilliant individual in danger of death for the sake of his own purposes, Dr. Krick is using individuals who might have been just as brilliant in a non-crossing-universes-at-will kind of way to ‘fix’ his son. This is all the more ironic that Michael doesn’t even consider himself as needing to be fixed, and that ultimately, this act of a loving father ends up wounding the son quite deeply.
By the same token, Walter ringing the bell that Bell (ha ha) left to Nina without thinking of the consequences of his actions was rather irresponsible and, again, a sign both of the arrogance of the man and his increasing desperation to find a solution to the collision of the universes, however high the costs.
Thankfully, there are counter-balances to these characters, notably in the form of Astrid and Nina. I wrote at length last season about how Astrid was one of the least appreciated characters in Fringe. This season, the award for leave appreciated character should go to the previously-suspicious Nina. After all, it is becoming quite clear that she is more friend than foe, despite her still rather shady dealings, and that she is slowly but surely heading to become the glue that is holding things together (except, of course, for the universes, which are still on a collision course).
I wonder what else Nina has uncovered in the last couple of weeks, while Walter was busy sinking in his despair and Polivia were flirting away. When Walter barges into her office, pushing a cart with Bell’s folders in them, she is studying the First People books. I know that one of the upcoming episodes has, as title, “The Last Sam Weiss”; knowing that Nina and Sam had quite the relationship makes me hope that said episode will shed some light on both him and her.
The one relationship we could bask in during this episode was, of course, that of Peter and Olivia. Oh, how happy Fringe fans are that these two are together. The escalation from being forced to work together to close coworkers to friends to lovers makes it all the sweeter for those like me who dream of having as a spouse their best friend. The flirting is of course totally adorable and must have melted at least a couple of millions Fringies’ hearts:
Olivia: I thought you were going to sleep in!
Peter: I thought you were going to let me sleep in!
And, of course, Olivia’s: “I love a good street fair. And you’re not so bad yourself.”
I love the lightheartedness their relationship is bringing to the other characters in the show. The smiles that Astrid and Walter exchanged when Peter immediately decided to go with Olivia to check out the key card were adorable, as was the follow-up:
Peter, looking at both Walter and Astrid: What’s up?
Walter: Nothing! When your mother and I were courting, we used to take long walks in the park but I can see that for your generation, a drive to a warehouse will be just as enchanting.
It is quite probable that some of the light-heartedness relates to the fact that, having chosen our Olivia, Peter ensured that our universe will survive (or so says Sam Weiss). But even if the danger of two universes colliding wasn’t looming, fact is that some relationships are like that, in that they bring joy to those who spend time in the company of the couple. I have the impression that, since marriage is about establishing a family (with or without children) which is the fundamental building block of society, such a relationship has a sort of power in that brings joy and happiness to others, infusing positively the community-building process.
Of course this light-heartedness cannot remain if the trust disappears, all the more that Olivia has, understandably enough, trust issues. Trust has to be worked on, and Peter is doing a brilliant job. While he had held something big from Olivia before, this time he chose to tell her the truth about his involvement with the shapeshifter killing spree (Season 3, Episode 11, “Reciprocity”).
I have to admit that, although he was truthful, I did worry about Olivia’s reaction, which William Bell unfortunately (or conveniently?) interrupted. While his effort to be completely honest is laudable, it’s still a pretty big deal to have lied about something like this. On top of that, killing a bunch of shapeshifters is in itself a pretty big deal, too. On a side note, Peter has been working on the data stored in the discs he recovered from said shapeshifters; according to Bell, the decoder is in his office, which means that once the Bell-in-Olivia issue is resolved, we are going to potentially have a lot of information handy, some of which is (hopefully) bound to come in quite handy in the future.
On a lighter note, Walter and the rest of the team continue to provide us with some great moments, some amusing, some just impressive.
Some of the cutest moments were related to Olivia and Peter. One was Olivia’s: “Is this why you asked to meet me halfway across campus and not at the lab so that we could make out in front of college students and not in front of your dad?”
Another one was the couple being caught holding hands in the hallway outside the lab, only to be caught by Nina.
Speaking of which, how very sophisticated is Nina turning out to be, combining happiness at the turn of events with a simple:
Nina: Please do not let go of a beautiful woman’s hand on my account.
Peter: Walter told you didn’t he
Nina: Yes and he’s very pleased. As am I. (…) I must say I think you have made a very wise decision in going forward. You deserve to be happy, both of you.
Even Walter’s quirkiness, while testing her patience, doesn’t seem to frazzle the dapper Nina, although it did give us this gem of a moment:
Walter, looking into Nina’s eyes after ringing the bell: Belly?
Nina: No, Walter, it’s still me.
Walter, disappointed: Of course;
Nina: Well, what now?
Walter: If I’m right, wherever Belly is, he will find us.
Both Walter and Nina turned their heads to look at the door
Speaking of quirkiness, we find out amongst other things that Bell was just as quirky as Walter when it came to some of his research:
Walter: It could be from that period when Belly was searching for a perfect bowel movement.
Walter: Everybody poops, dear.
Poor Astrid didn’t really get it easy this episode. Not only was Walter quite condescending with her at times, but she ended up with quite a wallop of a task (disposing of the victim’s blood, stored in gallon measure bottles too numerous to count), instructions to which she responded with what I am going to now refer to as The Most Epic Astrid Eye Roll.