This was one of those episodes that washed over me because we've seen too many iterations of this formula. It's Fringe 101: a brilliant scientist with humane intentions, who starts to commit crimes to keep his dangerous side project alive, attracting the attention of Fringe Division in the process, although we gradually realize the "bad scientist" is just a flawed genius with similarities to our own Walter Bishop (John Noble.) Sound familiar?
But while that subplot was certainly intriguing, it was also the biggest load of codswallop I've ever heard spoken on Fringe. The show usually has some core science that sounds plausible, to help you suspend disbelief, but accepting that Bell's disembodied "spirit" can be summoned by, ironically, ringing a bell he bequeathed to Nina (Blair Brown), was a step too far. It was too silly for words; not helped by the unintentionally hilarious final scene, with Olivia (Anna Torv) doing her best Leonard Nimoy impression as Bell's soul possessed her and spoke to Peter (Joshua Jackson) from beyond the grave. Is this how they're bringing William Bell back on the series? At the very least, I hope the show pulls a Caprica-style visual trick and has Nimoy reprise his role, as the idea of listening to Torv croak more of her lines already has me giggling.
Only a brief summation of thoughts this week, as my enthusiasm's at a low ebb. Alan Ruck did good work with a weak character, managing to make Dr Crick work far better than he did on the page, and it was good to see Olivia and Peter behaving like a loving couple (that won't last), but the rest of the episode was by-the-numbers twaddle. I expect more from Fringe, which has hit a very inconsistent patch mid-season, made worse by the fact its first 8 episodes this season were buzzing with confident freshness. Hopefully the show will turn things around as the season finale looms into view. But so far, in terms of quality, season 3's becoming the mirror image of season 2.
- Did anyone else think of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in those scenes where droplets of blood floated out of a shot robber's body? Appropriately, a movie that starred Leonard Nimoy, of course. Guest star Alan Ruck (famous for his role in Ferris Bueller's Day Off) also appeared in Star Trek Generations, to stick to the Trek theme this week.
- Excellent special effects for the levitating, have to say.