Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fringe 3.16: "Os"

“It was Belly’s intellect that made the company great. All I’ve managed to do with its vast resources is to create a new flavor of cupcake frosting. Baconberry.”

“Os” was a decent episode of “Fringe,” although I didn’t like it quite as much as “Brown Betty” or “6B.” It featured a great performance by Alan Ruck as a scientist using unethical (to say the least) means to find a cure for his son’s paralysis. I believe it is Ruck’s performance that really lifts this episode out of complete mediocrity. There was some typically excellent work from John Noble, as well, as Walter struggles with the growing implications for our universe of his kidnapping of Peter from the Other Side over twenty-five years ago. There was also a fun little cameo from Jorge Garcia, aka Hurley from “Lost.” I kind of thought that if they went to the trouble of hiring Jorge Garcia, he would have had a bigger role, but alas it was not meant to be. Between his Thanksgiving guest stint on HIMYM and this episode, though, Garcia has certainly managed to land guest spots on some great shows post-“Lost.”

Garcia’s cameo came at the beginning of the episode. He plays a Massive Dynamic security guard, and he and Walter are looking at all the CCTV monitors and getting high. Walter thinks that being a security guard sounds like a fun job. Waxing philosophically, he compares watching the Massive Dynamic employees and visitors move around the building to a dance. He then notices one particular door that nobody ever seems to use. The security guard tells him that’s William Bell’s old office. Next thing we know, Walter is bursting into Nina’s office with an armful of files he procured during a raid on Bell’s office. Nina is not at all happy about this development. I think she's still very protective of William Bell, even following his death. Walter explains that he wants to remember how he used to think when he and Bell worked together. He feels like he’s lost so much since he asked Bell to remove those parts of his brain, and he desperately needs to regain some of that function if he wants to stop the two universes from destroying each other.

Next we get the introduction of the mystery of the week, and for once it actually isn’t creepy and gross. I would describe it as simply odd. Two men are breaking into the Massachusetts Metal Depository, and they’re suing strange weighted boots to accomplish the task. A security guard spots them as they walk on the side of the building. One of the thieves appears to be trying to take something out of his pocket, and the security guard, fearing that something is a gun, opens fire. One of the thieves is shot, and he starts floating up in the air. His blood floats, too, which I guess could qualify as something gross. The second thief somehow manages to get away.

Meanwhile, Peter is in Harvard’s engineering building, working on some sort of research related to the shape shifters he killed a few weeks back. Olivia calls him, wanting to go to a street fair. Peter lies and says he’s at the gym, but he still wants to go to the fair. He offers to meet her there. Plans are never certain for a pseudoscience crime-fighting duo, though, as Olivia soon gets a text from Broyles telling them to come into work. Olivia has her car read the text to her, obviously a thinly-veiled attempt at turning the show into a Ford commercial like “White Collar.” The crime scene itself is surprisingly entertaining in a macabre sort of way. Walter and Peter struggle mightily with corralling the floating body of the thief, and it’s hard not to chuckle. Heck, even Olivia chuckles at the scene. Olivia finds out that the thieves didn’t take a typical precious metal like gold or platinum. They took Osmium, which Walter explains is the densest natural element on Earth. He describes the theft as “using balloons to steal bowling balls.”

We next see a fancy building called Frost Aerodynamics, and we also get our first glimpse of Alan Ruck as Dr. Krick, the very unethical scientist. He’s in a parking garage walking to his car, and the surviving thief is there to surprise him. He complains that he’s not feeling well, and he thought Dr. Krick had said he worked out a way to make the weightlessness permanent and eliminate the side effects. He also mentions that he has what Dr. Krick asked him to acquire. Dr. Krick tells him to meet him at his lab. At the lab of another mad scientist, one Dr. Walter Bishop, of course, some breakthroughs have been made. Walter and Peter figure out that whatever made the thief float seriously weakened his immune system. Olivia has traced a key car found at the crime scene to a warehouse. As Peter and Olivia get ready to leave the lab and head to the warehouse, Walter starts gushing about how romantic a drive can be. I think it’s adorable how much of a Peter/Olivia shipper Walter is.

Dr. Krick arrives at the warehouse (the location of his lab) before Peter and Olivia do, and he finds the second (as opposed to dead at the crime scene) thief there bleeding profusely. He’s obviously having some sort of reaction to the treatment that made him weightless. He doesn’t last very long. Dr. Krick is trying to make some sort of compound that is supposed to help the second thief, but he dies before Krick finishes his preparation. Back at the lab, the first (also dead) thief isn’t doing so well, either. His floating power is wearing off. Eventually, he falls to the floor with a rather satisfying thud. Astrid tries to pick him up to put him on a table, but the body has become extremely heavy. Even Astrid and Walter combined can’t maneuver him. Walter figures out that the thief has Osmium in his blood.

On the way to the warehouse, Peter and Olivia play a game they call “full disclosure.” Olivia tells Peter about how she doesn’t like the way he rubs her back when they watch TV, but Peter is hesitant to share anything. Which is not good at all, considering he’s got a doozy of a secret- the fact that he killed several shape shifters. He’s getting quite uncomfortable with the direction the whole conversation is taking. Meanwhile at the lab, Dr. Krick is cutting the foot off the dead second thief and doing something with the bone. He sees Peter and Olivia arrive on a CCTV monitor, and he flees. When they investigate the warehouse, Olivia and Peter find a walk-in freezer with several dead former test subjects. Walter joins in the investigation and discovers that all of the victims had undergone Osmium injections. Broyles chimes in with the fact that they all had muscular dystrophy. At that moment, we cut to Dr. Krick at a murderball (intense wheelchair basketball) game, where it appears he’s trawling for new test subjects. He focuses on one boy sitting in the stands who says his health hasn’t allowed him to play for a while.

Later, Peter and Olivia decide to take a break from work in the lab and go on a pizza run. On their way out of the building, they run into Nina, who has a file for Peter of shape shifter research. Peter tries to play it off to Olivia as just being general background research, but it’s getting progressively more difficult to keep his secret. After giving Peter the file, Nina turns her attention to Walter. He has latched on to William Bell’s idea of “soul magnets,” because he want to bring Bell back to help him figure out the doomsday device. Nina tries to convince Walter he can succeed on his own, but I don’t think she’s especially successful.

We next switch perspectives back to Dr. Krick for a while. He injects Vince (the kid from the murderball game) with the Osmium treatment, and Vince is amazed as he begins to float and can actually stand again. After Dr. Krick finishes the injection, he informs Vince that he doesn’t have the materials necessary to make any more treatments. Vince, who is now totally hooked, immediately asks when he would have to do to get more. Now we know how those two other guys were recruited to try and steal the Osmium. We next see Dr. Krick at home, saying good night to his son. His son turns out to be wheelchair bound- he was also at the murderball game we saw earlier. It looks like Dr. Krick did everything he did to try and cure his son.

Walter is still experimenting, and he figures out that another very dense element has been mixed with the Osmium. This element is only found in meteorites. The team hypothesizes that the Boston Science Museum, which has a display of several meteorites, is the likely next target. It turns out they’re right. We see Vince go all Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible and lower himself in to the exhibit hall with the meteorites. The Fringe team arrives before Vince and Dr. Krick can finish the theft. Olivia manages to catch Dr. Krick as he’s running away, and Peter leaps from a rafter and tackles Vince as Vince was trying to float away. That one was a little ridiculous, but still kind of fun.

We next see Dr. Krick in jail. Olivia and Peter bring his son, Michael, to see him. Michael is not at all happy with what his dad has done. He sees it as his dad not loving him for who he is, disability and all. Michael storms off, and Walter steps up to the cell for his own conversation with Dr. Krick. He wants to know how Dr. Krick made those people float. It turns out that it was an experiment that never should have worked. Dr. Krick happened upon the combination of elements by chance. Walter goes to talk to Nina, extremely agitated because he thinks this is a sign that the laws of physics are starting to break down. This break-down is obviously happening because of the breach with the Other Side Walter created back in 1985. He thinks he knows how to fix everything, though. Nina has a small bell in her office, and Walter suspects that’s the trigger for Bell’s soul magnet. The trigger should bring Bell’s soul to a host Bell designated before his death. Before Nina can do anything, Walter rings the bell.

Peter, meanwhile, has finally embraced “full disclosure.” He is ready to tell Olivia everything about what he has been up to, because he desperately needs someone he can trust who has his back. Olivia is shocked and not especially happy about what Peter is telling her (especially when he gets to the killing shape shifters part), but it doesn’t look like she’s about to run away screaming, either. Just as she’s looking around Peter’s lab, ready to offer some sort of opinion, we hear the faint sound of bell. All of a sudden, Olivia’s voice changes. She has become William Bell. I’ve got to say, as good as Anna Torv has been this season tackling both Olivias, her Leonard Nimoy impression needs a little work. I’m still really interested to see where all this goes, though!

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