Welcome to our Fringe review for chapter 3.16 – “Os”.
In this review we provide completely honest opinions on the good and the bad aspects of the episode. We identify the answers that were provided and the mysteries that remain locked away. We take an in-depth look at other aspects of the episode that made an impression on us, before rounding off with our final thoughts and episode rating.
- Os was an engaging blend of mythology and standalone fare. While I wouldn’t say this was the strongest “mythalone”, I thought the supporting story functioned well on its own merit while connecting with the main arc on several levels.
- Visual Effects. Fantastic visuals with the floating men. The camera work and effects didn’t just tell the story, they were part of it. Inception eat your heart out.
- The continued exploration of the soul. One of the story’s most interesting themes extended through Walter’s quest to make himself whole by bringing back his old friend, William Bell.
- Nina and Walter. These two are wonderful together. They really hit those home runs, delivering genuine heart to proceedings. Special mention goes to Nina, her character is gradually be fleshed out, and not a moment too soon. She’s still the dubious Cheshire Cat, but she brings a certain warmth to go with her guile.
- The cliffhanger was a good one. That Bellie returned through Olivia brings with it so many interesting possibilities. Personally, I can’t wait to ring William’s shiny Bell once more. I have questions galore.
- The Olivia/Peter goo-fest takes up too much focus. While it was better integrated into the mythology in this one, it’s still too prevalent for my taste. Of the two, I’m finding Olivia’s character to be suffering the most. She’s not as authentic as she once was; it’s all too forced and gooey.
- The “soul magnets” require more explanation than they were given here. I’m fine with Bellie’s consciousness returning, and I reckon we’ve already seen how he delivered them into Olivia’s system (more in the Observations), but hopefully the SMs themselves will be fleshed out.
- Disappointing that Peter’s prejudiced slaughter of shapeshifters should be brushed under the carpet. It was only right that his morality should come under scrutiny with Olivia being the one to least question his actions. But as soon as she finds out, she goes all William Bell. Which is great, but it’s also a bit of a cheat. This is a show that deals in consequences, so I’ll hold out hope that we do come back to this at some point. I refuse to simply brush it away.
- Though I enjoyed the cliffhanger, I could have done without knowing that Bellie would return through Olivia. It must be hard to get the balance right, especially in today’s ‘now culture’. But some plot developments, like Bellie’s return, would have carried a lot more weight for me had it been more of a surprise.
- Where is Olivia’s consciousness while Bell’s has inhabited her body? Has it simply been repressed for the time-being?
- What other constants of the universe are changing due to Walter’s actions?
- What information is on the shapeshifters memory disks?
- Peter has been unable to read the shapeshifter encryption disks.
- Dr. Floaty targeted people with muscular dystrophy – those with a desire to walk again – to help him perfect a cure which he intended to give to his son.
- William Bell’s consciousness has returned through Olivia.
- William Bell has the decoder key for the shapeshifters encryption disks. This seemingly removes any lingering doubt that he designed the shapeshifters.
- After the high of Subject 13, there’s nothing like a mythalone to bring you back down to Earth. Though in truth, Os was actually one of the stronger mythalones and I thought it played pretty well.
- The opening scene was high-leer-ious. Walter recounting found memories of Yoko Ono with Hurley, or, should I say, “Kevin”. It was a nice way to widen the spectrum of Massive Dynamic, giving the otherwise cold place some warmth, while affording Walter the odd meta-analogy. I don’t think we’ll see Kev again (he’s off to Alcatraz), but it was a cool scene.
- It was also an effective way to introduce the episode’s major idea – Walter’s frustration at ‘not being whole’ and his quest to bring Bellie back from the great beyond. Kevin telling Walter that he’s a better boss than Bell made him laugh, but it also led him to Bellie’s office where he found his research on “Soul Magnets”.
- Good to see Nina still digging into the First People books after her discussion with Sam Weiss. I take it that Sam didn’t tell her everything after the screen faded to black, so it’s natural for her to continue her own research. You’d think she’d find a more comfortable office to do her reading though.
- I love the idea that Bellie was working on a “morality detector”. I’m tempted to say that Walter might want to look into that once he’s done with the soul magnets.
- Odd that Nina would ask Walter why he was going through Bellie’s old research files. Of course, it gave Walter the chance to deliver some exposition, but you’d think she’d see the value Bell’s notes.
- That said, someone had to act as the counterweight in Walter’s quest. Nina should be more open to bringing Bellie back but perhaps she found it painful? And to be fair to her, she had no real reason to believe that Bellie could be brought back. Apart from the fact that she’s seen the ‘impossible’ happen on numerous occasions.
- It was interesting to get a little look inside Walter’s psyche here:
Walter: “If Bellie were here he wouldn’t let everyone down”.
- That’s the kind of pressure Walter is dealing with. Not only is he struggling to be the equal of his equal, but he’s feeling the weight of expectation. People look up to him, they expect him to come up with answers. Fascinating, though, that Walter should continue to compare himself unfavorably to his old friend. This coming off the back of Walter and Nina’s touching scene in “6B”:
Walter: “William would have worked out what the Boom-Boom-Machine does and how it relates to Peter. And to make matters worse, for the first time since we’ve been reunited, Peter is truly happy.”
- He began so well too. It’s pleasing to see him actively trying to solve the problem. However, his primary motivation still seems to be Peter. That’s to be expected, but whether or not Peter is “truly happy” shouldn’t dictate his level of motivation in finding answers. He can’t allow that to blur his thinking because two universes need saving here.
- Nina’s reaction to discovering that Olivia and Peter are “a couple now” was amusing. Of course, we know how pleasing this information is to her – she’s clearly taking Sam’s words at face-value, or at least she’s not willing to simply hope that there might be “another way”.
- But I do find her general attitude somewhat disconcerting. Why is she so dismissive of the alternate universe’s right to ‘survive’? I’d like to think that someone in her position would be more concerned about any world being destroyed, regardless of which side it was.
- Perhaps in the quiet of the night she exudes more concern about the consequences for both sides, but it’s not been shown. While this is a essentially a war, unless we get more context on why she’s being so smug at the thought of ‘her side’ surviving then it will continue to be an issue. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, perhaps only one side can survive. But even if that were the case, I like to think I’d be a bit less gleeful about it. Love you Ninakins, but that’s how I feel.
- Going back to Walter, he says that Peter’s happiness “is a constant reminder of the price of my failure, of what will be lost if I don’t succeed.” This line better illustrates why I’m still concerned at Walter’s ability to do the right thing for the common good. It’s all Peter, Peter, Peter.
- I admire Walter’s determination though. His appreciation of Bellie, and how good they were “together” brings another dimension to his search for ‘wholeness’. It’s not just the missing memories that are affecting his current feeling of inadequacy, but the memories of how good he and his old friend were as a team. It’s about balance – of the mind and soul.
- It was a bit forced, but it works for me within the confines of a person so close to something that’s just out of reach. The sense of this proximity, coupled with a desperate need, bringing Walter’s emotions to the surface.
“..maybe I can think the way I used to, the way we used to. When there were no limitations. Back when anything was possible”
- Of course, all of this is underscored by Walter’s reason for asking Bellie to remove sections of his memory in the first place. Like I’ve said before though, to go back sometimes a few lines need to be crossed.
- I like the sentiment in that idea – “when anything was possible“. It says something about what he is fighting against; the limitations that have since erected because of the possibilities that were sought and taken without a second thought. There’s always a price to pay.
- The introduction to the crime of the week was interesting. I appreciated the perspective tilting camera work, even though my bearings didn’t fail me. In fact, this entire storyline was pretty predictable, but that didn’t detract from my level of intrigue. Some good acting, visual effects, and neat storytelling saw to that.
- Ah, how nice to get invited to Peter’s off site Treasure Trove of Mythology Porn (TTMP). I still haven’t forgiven him for murdering those shapeshifters, and I find it a bit weird that there hasn’t been more on-screen research into his connection with the BBM. There may not have been space for it, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bit of a disconnect. That said, I’m happy to see some exposition in this instance, letting us know that Peter has been continuing his own private research, even if we haven’t seen it.
- The portrayal of Olivia and Peter’s relationship is problematic for reasons I’ve already been over. I appreciate that Olivia’s happiness is making her seem more like her double, but it feels too forced. Altlivia, though interesting, is not the most authentic of characters. So this incarnation of Olivia suffers from the same problems, if not worse.
- Like the great John Locke before her, Olivia is not someone you give up on lightly, but there’s no doubt in my mind that she is suffering from one of the weaker moves in the Fringe storytelling.
- I love Broyles. He makes me laugh when he’s not trying to be funny (which is, like, all the time): “They used their………ability, to get up there”. Talk about a pregnant pause – I almost gave birth!
- Dr. Floaty calls his subjects “pioneers”. In one sense he’s right, but there’s no doubt he took advantage of their desperation to walk again. He displayed some remorse but it came down to it he was OK with the pile up of dead bodies.
- Dr. Floaty’s new subject says that he stopped believing in miracles a long time ago. It’s interesting that Dr. Floaty should open his eyes to the possibilities, and that such ‘miracles’ should be rooted in science. A science made possible because of Walter rupturing the fabric of the universe when he stole Peter. There’s some nice entanglement in that.
- Olivia and Peter holding hands was a bit much. What does Broyles think about their lack of professionalism while on the job? All of this is just so the house of cards can come crashing down when they find out about the baby. I don’t find this kind of ticking time-bomb as compelling as Walter’s secret about Peter being from another universe.
- I hate to say it but Olivia’s reaction to Nina seeing them holding hands was probably the most cringe-inducing Olivia moment in the entire series.
- Good to see Nina out of Massive Dynamic though. She’s clearly happy with Peter’s current choice of Dunham.
- Walter’s little moment with the mint and cola was actually pretty funny – Astrid’s shriek was priceless.
- The soul exploration was fantastic. It’s my cup of tea, I have to say. I like the idea that Bellie prepared a way to return from the dead by planting ‘soul magnets’ inside Olivia. There are a few questions attached to this, as noted above, but I believe the explanations are there.
- Sure, I may be somewhat biased because it’s one of the themes I wanted to see explored since the shapeshifters were introduced, but it’s good to see the writers going further with it and tying it into Bellie’s story.
- I like Walter grappling with his deficiencies, it makes him a far more complex character than the one who larks about while the world is crumbling around him. Having him doubt his “capability” is interesting and very specific. As is often the case, Nina provides him with a very useful response. She tells him:
“It was never your intellect that made your exceptional..it was your imagination, your boundless creativity.”
- Interesting that she should see his true genius stemming from his ability to imagine, to create. Again, very specific words that take on even greater significance in the wake of the excellent Subject 13. I like what the writers are doing with this aspect of the story.
Nina: “You’re not quite whole, Walter. But the best parts of you remain, so focus on that”
Walter: “What if I fail?”
Nina: “You wont fail, Walter”
Walter: “How can you be so sure?”
Nina: “Because you can’t”
- It’s such an authentic moment. One that speaks to the history they’ve shared – one being reformed in this new era where they gradually reconnecting. Nina is always great in these one-on-one moments with Walter. She gives him the confidence he needs, the unwavering belief in his ability to always find a way. Much like Walternate, he responds to this kind of energy, it stimulates him.
- This helps illustrate why Walter needs specific people in his life – Peter, Olivia, Astrid, Nina, Broyles – they each play different key roles, and it’s perfectly acceptable to believe that Bellie does too.
- Beautifully played by both actors. Now, this is the heart of Fringe, this is the kind of romance in which the show excels. I wouldn’t swap Olivia and Peter meeting as children, as there’s meaning in that, but I don’t believe the adult incarnations carry the level of authenticity that some of the other relationships do.
- It was useful to see Floaty with his son, Michael – who clearly wasn’t an unhappy person.
- What a shame he had to see Michael’s handicap as an imperfection, as something that needed fixing. And, of course, his son unknowingly gives him the spur he needs to continue by remarking on how he never fails.
- I thought it was a bit weird that Dr Floaty should shout “let’s go” at Subject Floats as he ran away from the scene of the crime. Obviously the poor kid couldn’t run with him. It was as though he was so guilty that he felt the need to shout something, even though it made little sense.
- Did he expect Subject Floats to untether himself and escape by floating away? Well, that’s what happened, until Peter..lord bless this guy..performed his superhero move to prevent Subject Floats from going all ‘red balloon’.
- After all, every super should have a trademark move. I’m calling it The Wonder Leap (TWL). That’s Peter for you – to serve and project. Love the expression on Broyles face, counting the cost of all that broken glass.
- While Dr. Floaty isn’t an entirely unsympathetic character (Alan Ruck played him well), his treatment of the test subjects was disgusting. He used and discarded them like cardboard, and saw his son’s inability to walk as a problem that needed fixing. Did he ever ask Michael if he wanted to walk this way?
- How immensely sad was it when Michael looked at him in horrified disbelief, and said: “Is that how you see me, as something you need to fix?” In that moment he saw his father and their relationship in a different light. Dr. Floaty tries to reassure his son, instinctively touching the boy’s leg:
Dr. Floaty: “I just wanted you to be happy”
Michael: “I was happy. I went to bed at night knowing I had a father who loved me”
- This is Fringe winning right there. It’s easy to see how this applies to the Bishops, but I’m glad they didn’t milk it too much. We’ve been on similar ground many times before, so all that was needed was some nice camera work, while Floaty and his son provided the narrative. We can extrapolate our own interpretations.
- Indeed, I’ve often speculated whether Walter’s love for Peter is as genuine as people generally accept it to be. After all, this is a man who essentially replaced his biological son with one he stole from another universe.
- How does Walter really see Peter? What are his real feelings towards him? While I have no doubt that he loves him, it’s clear to me that his devotion is built on the ruins of the past. On his guilt. On his impression of how things ‘should be’. On his own personal need not to fail.
- Walter’s situation is unique, but it also reflects the truth in that love is not always one thing. It’s driven by many complex needs, some more authentic than others. Similar questions could be asked of Walternate.
- And this isn’t a criticism of Walter – like I said, it’s a reflection of a truth. What’s important for him as a character on Redemption Road is that he learns from all these cautionary tales that are manifesting up in front of him. As I’ve said before, Walter is encountering these specific problems for a reason. They are his tests. Don’t let trying to save Peter cloud the bigger picture, Walter.
- Dr. Floaty tells Walter how he defied the laws of physics:
“I combined two of the densest elements on Earth and somehow the result was a new molecule. A molecule lighter than air. It should never have worked. It was an accident. A miracle.”
- He really did believe it to be a miracle, perhaps affording him an extra smidgen of sympathy – how could he not pursue such an opportunity? One might ask. Though the real weight comes from Walter discovering that it was his act of crossing universes that made this possible – he changed the laws of physics, and this was further proof.
- The problems in Walter’s world are of his own doing. Again, there’s a certain entanglement manifesting these ‘chance’ encounters. It’s no wonder that the answers to the problems our heroes have lie close to home.
- Interesting that there should be a ‘scientific’ explanation behind such a miracle. But when you’re dealing with physics at this level, reason and miracles all kind of blur into one. It’s worth asking why the ‘illusion’ is there in the first place. Questions I hope the show explores further because the cement has certainly been mixed.
- It may take him longer to wipe the mercury blood from his hands, but I’m glad Peter finally came clean to Olivia. He’s good at brushing dubious acts under the carpet, but well done to him, it looks like he’s gotten away with it.
- It’s interesting that Bellie implanted the soul magnets in Olivia. “Momentum Deferred” needs to be re-examined (as I recently speculated), as do those time-slips. Anyone for tea?
- The second coming of Bell was well delivered, it has to be said:
Bellivia: “Hello Peter, it’s nice to see you again”
- Now that’s how to end an episode.
Os is a strong fusion of mythology and stand alone. The heartfelt elements are provided through Nina and Walter, and even the villain-of-the-week has his moments. While the return of Bell, along with the continued shift in the structure of their universe, stand as worthy progression points to make this a good episode of Fringe.
Best Performer: Blair Brown
Best Line: “You’re not quite whole, Walter. But the best parts of you remain, so focus on that” – Nina to Walter.
Best Moment: Bell’s consciousness returning through Olivia
Episode Rating: 8/10