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I can’t tell if Jorge Garcia is incredibly unfortunate to be pigeon holed as the guy who played Hurley for the rest of his life or incredibly fortunate to have that recognition despite not being a very good actor. Either way, he popped up in the opening of Fringe last night as a guard who watches the security cameras at Massive Dynamic, sharing a scene with Walter.
Meanwhile though, the security isn’t quite as tight at a nearby metal repository, where two men who appear to be walking on the ceiling are revealed to be on the ground when they’re spotted by a guard. He shoots one of them, but the other manages to get away with a supply of osmium. What’s strange is that the man who gets shot has atrophied leg muscles and floats out of his shoes and up into the air, defying gravity, which makes this a case for the Fringe team.
Walter finds the same rare metal in the dead thief’s blood, which is apparently what is causing the lighter-than-air effect in his body, even after death. Eventually it wears off and the corpse drops to the ground, but the mystery remains. Walter wonders how on earth the planet’s densest element could cause a man to float, and he seems to be growing increasingly frustrated with things that make no sense, and not having his friend William Bell around to collaborate with. He brings back up the soul magnets idea with Nina, but she’s dismissive of the whole idea that someone’s essence could remain on earth after death.
The team uses a security card found on the body to locate a warehouse, where they find the dissected corpses of several people, who apparently were confined to wheelchairs when they weren’t floating, which explains why only their legs were atrophied. Further research reveals that the osmium was mixed with lutetium, another rare, dense metal, which is usually only found in meteorites. The group figures that the Museum of Science would be a likely target for someone who needed more to create the floating effect, and they get there in time to stop the bad guys.
As can be expected with Fringe, there’s a reason for the dead bodies. A man named Dr. Crick, played by Alan Ruck, known best as Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off but making a career in minor TV villainy lately, had been recruiting disabled men and using their desperation to walk again to get them to help him secure more material, since the effect is temporary. His eventual goal is to find a permanent solution to help his son, also confined to a wheel chair, but repeated doses of the rare metal prove deadly, and the son is horrified to learn that his father was willing to let people die to try to “fix” him, when he was happy with his situation as it was.
The real twist comes when Crick reveals the secret behind the combination of dense metals – there is no secret. He merely combined them while working on an experimental aircraft and they started floating. It wasn’t anything he did, it’s just that our heroes’ universe is starting to feel the same reality-altering affects that the other one is, and the laws of physics are breaking down. Even more desperate to talk to Bell again, Walter goes back to his friend’s old office, convinced he gave the soul magnets to someone, and ringing the bell will call his consciousness back into their body. He thinks it’s Nina, but the bell has no effect. Elsewhere though, right after Peter reveals to Olivia that he killed the shape shifters a few weeks ago and has been trying to learn more using their data discs, she tells him something in “my old office” can help. It’s Bell, having taken over her body, apparently giving her the magnets before his death. It’s a pretty decent ending to a pretty decent episode.
I did have some issues with the case here – usually the bad guys have more motivation for their ill deeds, especially if they’re portrayed as decent men who have gone too far with their science, like Ruck’s Dr. Crick is here. But I don’t see why he couldn’t have brought his discovery to someone else to try to learn more about the strange effect, rather than apparently resorting immediately to theft and indirect murder to acquire material. And the impetus from his son could have at least been stronger – sure, he wants his son to be able to do anything he wants, but he wasn’t exactly dying in that wheelchair.
As far as the longer term stuff, I’m still not sure I like the way they’re handling the Peter/Olivia relationship right now. I honestly found them a more interesting pair when their connection wasn’t overtly romantic, and the depiction of their early courting giddiness and hand holding, while everyone around them smiles lovingly, is just a bit odd for this show. I wasn’t even sure about Olivia’s Leonard Nimoy voice – on one hand, it sounded pretty close, but on the other, it seemed like she was just doing an old person voice. Still, I’m interested in where the show is going. The stakes are really increasing for this impending battle between universes, and I’m really curious what Bell’s return, even if it’s in spirit only, will mean.