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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.



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