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Fringe – Stowaway

Last week I wasn’t sure about the soul magnets concept or
William Bell taking over Olivia’s body. And honestly, I don’t think the whole
thing is working out that well. The concept of minds inhabiting other bodies is
a staple of science fiction, but tying the whole thing to “souls” just makes
the idea seem too fanciful for this show. Bell
in general seems awfully flighty and mystical for a genius scientist, talking
about fate and destiny and offering spiritual reasons for the unexplainable as
much as physical ones. And Anna Torv’s Nimoy impression really got on my nerves
after a couple minutes. The focus is too much on the old guy voice, and not
just trying to match his inflection. It sounds stupid. Bell wouldn’t have a creaky voice in a young
woman’s body.

 Fringe - Stowaway

But these issues didn’t ruin the episode itself, which was a
bit light on real interesting fringe science, but still had an effective story
and some of the show’s better actual detective work. The actual mechanics
behind Bell’s
possession of Olivia were pretty cool, to. Bell has taken over her body, but her
consciousness is still in there, dormant. He claims he can stay there for a few
weeks without harming her mind, but Peter and Broyles want him out a lot
quicker than that, and Bell
says Walter should be able to find a suitable host in a couple days. It has to
be an active but unused mind, and not necessarily human. They start looking
hospitals for a candidate.

Meanwhile Paula Malcomson, who you’ve probably seen
somewhere else on TV, finds a man on a roof, and tries to convince him not to
jump off. She catches him before he can fall to his death, but he convinces her
there’s nothing she can do, and she not only lets him fall, but rides him down
as they both land on the top of the car. He’s dead from the impact, but she
walks away with a few scrapes and a bloody nose. The fringe crew arrives on the
scene, with Walter hypothesizing that this is a spot where the fabric of the
universe is breaking down, allowing her to land more softly than she should
have, but there’s no evidence. Our universe’s Lincoln Lee then appears for the
first time, working for the FBI and saying he’s been following this woman,
named Dana Gray, for over a year. She and her family were murdered in a home
invasion in 2009, but she didn’t die, and since then she’s been seen leaving
the scenes of suicides every few months.

Back at the lab, Walter and Bell discover that the molecules in Gray’s
blood have an unusually strong electromagnetic attraction, which is possibly
keeping her alive despite multiple incidents that should have killed her. Bell calls the
electromagnetic force “life’s energy”, and the group guesses that maybe she’s
stealing the energy of the suicide victims to sustain her own life, possibly
even convincing them to kill themselves. A soul vampire, if you will. I won’t,
because I still think the whole soul thing doesn’t jibe very well with what
this show’s been for three years.

While Walter and Bell work on
his body problem, and Bell
makes creepy comments about Astrid, Lee and Peter investigate further, and
discover that Gray was struck by lightning twice before her family’s murder and
that she actually works as a counselor at a suicide prevention support center.
When they find that she was reading about how the soul finds its way to heaven,
Peter has an idea – maybe she isn’t stealing the soul energy from other people,
but trying to hitchhike on their deaths to the afterlife so she can be with her
family again.

Elsewhere, she gets a call from a suicidal man and goes to
his apartment, where he confesses to planting a bomb on a train before shooting
himself on the head. After talking to someone at her church, she has the idea
that if a single person isn’t enough to help her die, maybe many people will do
the job. So she finds the bomb and sits with it on the train, hoping her end is
near. Peter eventually gets her on the phone, and while he can’t convince her
not to let the bomb go off, they get a snippet of background noise that clues
them in on the location she just passed, and Walter and Bell use the power of math to determine which
train she was on. They stop the train, and Gray escapes with the bomb when it
explodes and kills her.

Bell
has two theories about why she could die. Either the explosive energy of the bomb
disrupted the strong electromagnetism that was holding her together, or as he
prefers to look at it, she couldn’t die because it was her destiny to save
those people from the bomb. This doesn’t really make sense because if she didn’t
get the call from the bomber someone else would have and probably could have
stopped it, just like it doesn’t make sense that just because someone drew
Peter activating the doomsday machine that he will automatically do it. I’m
sure he will anyway because the show needs something for the season finale, I
just don’t really understand the direction this half of the season has taken.
Everything’s happening because of emotions and true love and soul magnets, and
I’m not sure what I’m supposed to believe. The ideas are neat, but their
presentation of them seems to be veering away from the audience they attracted
in the first place. I guess we’ll see how it works out.

Rating
8.4

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