Welcome to the FB review of the Fringe season 2 episode 4 – Momentum Deferred. In this review I present my honest opinions on both the good and the bad aspects of the episode. I also take a look at the answers and unresolved mysteries, before sharing my thoughts on other aspects which may have been overlooked.
- Kirk Acevedo. If you’re gonna go out, then you might as well go out on top of your game. I’ve been impressed by Acevedo’s work this season. I’m not sure whether it’s the shift in his storyline or because he’s upped his form, but this is the actor I thought we’d have in season 1. What really caught my eye is how convincing he was as the shapeshifter, coupled with those fantastic expressions of pain, suffering, regret and preparedness. He was fantastic, soulful and damn, I’m gonna miss our boy!
- Subtext. I was really entertained by the underlying stories in this episode – particularly involving Olivia the soldier and the shapeshifting soldiers. We are not only looking at parallels in terms of worlds, but also possible foreshadowing. The shapeshifters are the first wave from the other side..soldiers created to save the day, possibly with ‘good intentions’ (it’s all relative, as they say). These are the same reasons William Bell gives Olivia as to why he did treated her with Cortexiphan. Evil Charlie and his band of brothers are precursor’s and might tell us something about future Olivia’s mindset. It’s brilliant stuff.
- The overarching storyline. Fringe is best when tackling the central storyline. There’s greater value, progression, excitement and continuity (for the most part) attached to episodes like “Momentum Deferred”. I don’t expect every episode to be as full-on as this one (I liked Fracture, and consider that to be a good way to do a stand-alone). But I really wish that the powers that be would stop trying to cater for the casual viewers as much as they are, and make the show for the people who really care about it. I know that not every fan loves serialized episodes as much as I do, but I think that most us have the same 6-7 central storyline episodes listed amongst the our favourites. There is value in the stand-alone’s, but in my opinion, the writers need to make a decision – do them better (like Fracture) or don’t do them as often.
- Olivia Progression. I feared that we’d see little of the progression that Olivia had made under Sam Weiss’ tutulage. I was therefore pleased to see Olivia’s reaction when she had jarring memories of the other side, recoiling slightly, but otherwise taking them in her stride. If Olivia really is the “strongest” of all the children, then what she’s going through must very difficult. I continue to appreciate the little details that they add to her character. It really is a journey with her, and like I’ve said many times before – I’m on board.
- Rebecca. Here’s the thing, I’m slightly conflicted about this because at first I found her introduction to be pointless and contrived (the way her drug-state coincided, or triggered, Olivia’s own memory flux, for example). Then they saved it with her being able to see that Peter was from another reality (I suspect she was going to tell him earlier, but the LSD kicked in). In retrospect, I also thought Theresa Russell did a good job – she was believable as a free-spirit (if that’s the term), had good chemistry with John Noble and the character is one of the few people who has shown Walter such outward compassion. This brought about an interesting, awkward yet excitable side to Walter. A side which brought a few smiles, but more importantly revealed one of his character flaws – that he is still a selfish father. His lack of consideration for Peter’s feelings in light of how Peter feels about his mother was a reminder of just how far the Bishop’s have yet to go. To his credit, Peter showed greater maturity and consideration – sucking up his angst and giving Walter the permission to get some (“he said yes!” lol). Seriously, that must have been a very difficult thing for Peter to do. What I liked about this side-plot was that it came after the pair had made arrangements to get separate rooms. They are both gaining their independence. Last week Walter was hurt by Peter’s desire to have his own space, this week the shoe is on the other foot. It’s brilliant, it’s complicated, it’s subtle. So yeah, thanks Rebecca.
- I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again for this episode – I love the the cinematography this season. From the camera angles, to the lighting, to the techniques used to portray different emotions or states, it’s all been very well done.
- William Bell & Olivia / Nimoy & Torv. I loved finding out more about Bell. I thought he had the presence needed for such a heavyweight character, giving us plenty of answers but leaving us with a raft of questions. As usual, Olivia held her own. I particularly loved the wealth of emotions that she went through before being yanked out of the window. Despite a few fumbled lines, I thought Nimoy was very convincing as the mystical father figure. He conveyed a sense of warmth, but there were hints of something not so altruistic. I also thought Torv was excellent. She is great at switching between emotions. My only slight complaint with this scene is the way the beginning didn’t quite match-up with what we saw in the season 1 finale (i.e. Bell never said “Oliviaaaa”). I guess the scene being a memory is their escape route.
- Continuity & details. The episode reveals that it has been 6 weeks since Olivia returned from the other side (1.01), yet she asks Phillip about the conversion device they found a few weeks ago. Maybe I’m being overly picky, but in my world a few weeks means 3, not a month and a half. There were also a few other continuity issues such as Bell’s office miraculously changing since we last saw it in More Than One.
- Peter knows it all. Really? I let it slide last week but I’m having a problem buying the idea that Peter knows the answer to everything. Including shapeshifting technology. Peter’s ‘resourcefulness’ is constantly hinted at but is nowhere near as believable as, say, Olivia having abilities. The problem is slightly lessened by the fact the writers used Phillip to poke fun at the convenience of Peter’s knowledge, but how often can they go on doing that without adding substance to Peter’s prowess?
- Lack of follow-up. I was hoping that the writers would use this episode to explain how on earth Evil Charlie managed to perform miracles by taking on original Charlie’s shape, getting dressed in his clothes, hiding the body, rustling up the abandoned nurses body and dressing her, in the space of 30 or so seconds. I would have settled for almost any explanation..even super-speed, or something..anything. But nothing. Nada. The thing is, I understand – they needed to make it fit because it is actually a delicious storyline (the whole Evil Charlie thing), but in forcing it, they left the curtain wide open and we got a glimpse of the man standing behind it. Thing is, they could have thought their way out of this, and who knows, maybe they still can? But for now, it’s still a plot hole and an opportunity missed.
- Why didn’t they suspect Charlie!?? This was probably the weakest aspect of the episode. When Walter revealed that the dead shapeshifter from New Day wasn’t wasn’t in fact a shapeshifter, I fully expected Olivia, Peter, Walter and Astrid to all realise that the most likely person the shapeshifter could be was..CHARLIE! Especially, since they also found the broken conversion device at the scene. There are a lot of brains in that Lab but they all seemed to check into lala land. I had a real problem with this because it sucked me out of the episode for a good few minutes. If the shapeshifter was supposedly killed by Charlie, then I’m sorry, but after Walter’s ‘good news’ there’s only one person said shapeshifter could be. He was the only one at the scene! Really bad moment. I know it was one of those story-telling contrivances, but this one was too glaring. The characters are more intelligent than that and so are the bulk of the viewing audience who do notice things like this and rightfully question them. Also, as for the real-time rendering, nice touch but I’m struggling to work out how Olivia didn’t notice that it was Charlie’s image straight away?
- Evil Charlie doesn’t think ahead. What I found hard to believe is that Evil Charlie would leave it til’ the last minute before stocking up on some mercury juice. Dude knows that he needs it (lots of it) to survive over here in that body, and yet he waits until he’s at deaths door before getting his fix? Again, I know it was one of those moments to heighten the tension (and it worked, to be fair. Acevedo nailed that scene in the car), but I wish they could figure out more believable ways to induce tension into scenes.
- Massive Dynamic employee Brendan. What a douche. I’m putting him in the “bad” section, not because I don’t want to see more personality from MD employees, but because he was bad. Seriously, why hasn’t Nina ripped his still-beating heart out with her robotic arm yet?
- Perhaps I’m being picky, but since this episode mentioned it, how exactly the Evil Charlie’s transformation device break? After all, he was able to use it one more time after he killed Charlie. I’m not sure what he did to cause it to break after the initial struggle? Seems a plot contrivance.
- How did the head of the shapeshifters leader become detached? Who decapitated him? Why did they put it on ice? What does his symbol mean? How long have the shapeshifters been amongst us?
- How did Bell know what Peter’s mom used to say to him – “let him be a better man than his father”? What role did Bell play in Peter’s life (I assume he knew both of them)? What role in the battle does Bell envisage for Peter?
- Can Bell be trusted? What are his real motives? Who started the war?
- The shapeshifters are a highly advanced technology – mechano-organic hybrid soilders – part human, part machine. They ingest (and possibly produce) mercury which helps them to maintain shapes. Walter found 47% mercury in the blood of one of the dead shapeshifters.
- The shapeshifters conversion device is ID-locked, meaning that they can only work on the assigned owner. Evil Charlie’s device was broken so he was stuck inside Charlie’s body as he wasn’t given “extraction”. The shapeshifters main mission was to find the head of their leader. The shapeshifters are able to cross over safely due to their design. The shapeshifters are called “the first wave”.
- Due to Walter’s past experiments, Rebecca developed the ability to see beyond the limits of her vision..to recognize “people that didn’t belong”. She noticed a glow, or aura around them. Towards the end of the episode, she notices this glow around Peter, because as we already know, Peter is from another reality. Interestingly, Rebecca decides not to to mention it to Peter, which is understandable. But she doesn’t appear to raise the issue with Walter, either.
- William Bell confirms that HE brought Olivia over to the other side, rather than Olivia somehow causing herself to cross over. He describes the method as “crude”.
- Has a year really passed in the Fringeverse since episode 1.01? Olivia seems to think so, as she tells Bell that she’s been trying to meet with him for “over a year”.
- During her meeting with Bell, Olivia suffered disorientation from “time-slips” – different periods of time converging on one. Bell reveals that it also happened to him when he first came to that world.
- Bell confirms that he is indeed OUR William Bell. There had been some speculation that this might be a version of Bell from another reality. He also confirms that he is stuck on that side and can not (or will not?) go back yet, possibly ever. Bell goes on to say that to his knowledge, no more than 5 people have crossed over from over here to over there and lived to tell the tale.
- Bell instructed Olivia to find the head of the shifters leader before they find him (although he didn’t explicitly tell her the location of the head – he merely wrote the location on a piece of paper, presumably for her own protection). Apparently their leader is able to open the doorway between universes – (that probably means more than two).
- Olivia’s ‘Greek message’ to Peter when she comes to in the hospital bed in episode 1.01 – “Let him be a better man than his father”, was an instruction given to her by Bell. He knew that Peter would know what it meant.
- Bell’s “a storm is coming” or the “last great storm” refers to the inevitable collision between worlds, in which only one world will remain. Similar rhetoric can be seen throughout the ZFT excerpts.
- Olivia makes an interesting point when she suggests that the shapeshifter would have killed her a long time ago if he wanted her dead. While we know that he was trying to get information from her, it does hint that for whatever reason, the shapeshifter didn’t want to kill Olivia. We saw signs of this with the nurse-shapeshifter in 1.01, who was on the verge of tears when she realised she would have to kill Olivia. It does seem that the shapeshifters take on more than the identity of the person they transform into, thus the nurse had compassion and Evil Charlie possibly had a semblance of the love for Olivia that original Charlie had. This could explain how Evil Charlie managed to deceive Mrs. Charlie (and Olivia) for 6 weeks without her realising she was sleeping with a stranger.
- Another interesting tidbit – the shapeshifters are not necessarily head over heels with their ‘creators’. The newly introduced shifter ironically calls them “sweethearts”, further highlighting the fact that they are SOLDIERS. As we know, soldiers follow orders, they are sent to fight, but that doesn’t mean they believe in who or what they are fighting for. We really have a broader sense of who they are now.
- So the shapeshifters are hybrids – only part human. But they are part HUMAN, right? That’s important, because that makes me see them as human. I’m just interested in where the writers will go with this.
- Am I imagining it, or is Peter making a lot of references to Olivia being the one who carries the gun, recently? I wonder why the writers are making Peter drag this issue up? Are they trying to remind us that Peter is still a civilian, or that he’s very much vulnerable, and that we should be less worried about Olivia’s safety and more concerned for Peter’s? Or maybe Peter just REALLY wants a gun? I don’t know, but I have to think that every out-of-place comment is there for a reason.
- Nina’s had a haircut. Aww!
- Bell tells Olivia that most people who cross dimensions are torn apart. This ties into what I speculated the other week, when comparing David Jones’ attempt to cross over. Surely he would have been ripped to shreds had he made it? Unless his transformed state would have helped him to survive the ordeal?
- Walter seems to distance himself from Bell’s clinical trials, but evidently Bell views it as a joint project.
- Walter tells Rebbeca that the bus leaves every half hour, and he only has 14 minutes to walk to the stop. Well, catch the next bus..or the one after that, or the one after that. Lol!
- It was good to see Walter apologise to Rebecca for taking advantage of her. It seems that both Walter and Bell came face to face with their pasts in this episode. Obviously intentional. Where Bell stands with Olivia is still very much unresolved..she might never forgive him, or she might yet appreciate what he was trying to do. Whereas Rebecca clearly holds no grudges against Walter, in fact, she thanked him (and really wanted to thank him some more). Of course there’s a difference between Olivia and Rebecca’s situation – Rebecca wasn’t a child when she was experimented on, and she gave consent. Nevertheless, I find it interesting reading between the lines with what the writers might be saying regarding the culpability of the two men.
Momentum Deferred is possibly the strongest episode of the season so far, and is up there with the best of season 1 (although I really have a soft spot for Arrival and Ability). It had just about everything; stunning visuals, good story-telling, excellent performances, crazy-ass flashbacks, mythology and a major character death (albeit deferred from 1.01). It’s the sort of episode that makes you want to look-up who wrote and directed it (for the record it was directed by Joe Chappelle and written by Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller).
As I mentioned above, I will miss Charlie..evil or otherwise, he was pretty darn awesome in season 2.
The title of the episode relates to Olivia’s return from her meeting with Bell. But I think it could also relate to the writers giving us payback after a couple of the more stand-alone episodes in Desirable Objects and Fracture. Or perhaps it alludes to the next big dose of serialized goodness being deferred until a few episodes down the line? As Walter used to say, stand-alone episodes are a bitch.
Best Moment: The entire William Bell / Olivia meeting and Rebecca noticing the glow around Peter.
Best Performer: Kirk Acevedo
Episode Rating: 9.1/10