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Fringe: Momentum Deferred

“In any search for knowledge, there are unintended consequences. Victims, you might say.”

William Bell says that “a storm is coming.” A Katrina-scale metaphor-storm of interdimensional proportions. On one side we have the super-soldiers or shape-changers, part human, part machine, all evil. On the other side, we have Olivia, Peter and Walter. On a third side, we have William Bell and Massive Dynamics. Mr. Bell, et al., wants to recruit Olivia to fight on their side, but Olivia has some reasonable reservations about joining up with such morally gray dimension-hoppers with a history of atrocious acts and a general disregard for human life.

I’m just guessing, but I think the Observer-folk are the foot soldiers of William Bell: just like him, they don’t influence reality except to watch it, see what happens, and worry. They're like the embedded journalists of Operation Dimensional Disaster.

Olivia’s mission, should she choose to accept it, is to find the leader with the symbol on his head before the shape-shifters do. If the shape-shifters find him first, the leader will be able to open the portal between dimensions, which will result in a Pauli exclusion principle snow-globe disaster. Physics, after all, is a bitch.

Not much came of introducing Rebecca: she wasn’t the one to realize that Agent Francis was a shape-shifter, although she did seem to see some kind of halo around Peter. She’s an interesting love-interest for Walter, though, even if she is a compulsive face-toucher. Looking at Walter and Rebecca was like looking at Peter and Olivia 15 years in the future. I think Olivia felt the same way.

Earlier this week I realized that the bait-and-switch of ‘What happened to Olivia?’ was very similar to Buffy Season Five: for the first few episodes, Buffy didn’t even let the viewer ask who the spunky and annoying tween was. Then, suddenly, we get a Dawn-centric episode that explains nothing, and a Buffy-centric episode that explains everything. Just like that one ("No Place Like Home", I think), Buffy’s realization of the truth came in flashy overlays of her visual field and a general sense of inhabiting two different worlds simultaneously. And just like Season Five, Fringe has made us wait for answers.

We got quite a few of them this week, but I’m still not clear on the sides in the war. Maybe it’s supposed to be murky. The bad guys have the head now, and not even Angel and Spike can rescue the capo in time.

The Theme of the Week? Delay. Delaying answers, delaying information, delaying mortality (with cryogenics), delaying death (pseudo-Francis with the Slurpee of Rejuvenation), delaying romance (Walter and Rebecca).

Rest in peace, Agent Charlie Francis.

The Good:

• The Terminator-style ‘why won’t you die?’ shoot-out in the teaser was cool.

• Astrid answering the phone with ‘Bishop’s Deli.’

• Walter seemed so happy every time he greeted people.

• Peter and Olivia geeking out over Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

• Brandon: “Do you understand that you’re asking me to repair a piece of technology that is unlike anything that has ever existed on Earth…I can do it in three hours. Tops.”

• Rebecca: “At first I assumed it was all just a figment of my imagination. And the LSD, of course.”

• Peter acting like a dad, nervous about his kid’s first date as Walter rode off with pretty Rebecca.

The Bad:

• William Bell: “For reasons that will become clear in time...” Why not just tell us?

I Thought We Agreed This Was a Stupid Idea (as Peter says):

• Giving Olivia the worms to drink, and then just letting her continue on, business as usual.

• William Bell: “Most people who cross dimensions without your talent are simply torn apart.” Most people?! Does he try this often?

Four out of four rolling heads. For the great dialogue, the answers we did get, and the mystery we’re still figuring out.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. This is the Fringe I know and love. Fast paced, mythologically relevant and weird.

  2. This review was an enjoyable read, Josie. I particularly enjoyed your casual reference to "The Girl in Question." I really didn't like that episode, but laughed pretty hard at your capo comment.

  3. Nice review,

    I have one major complaint about this episode, if you are going to do pseado physics at least do proper research.

    The Pauli exclusion principle says that two fermions cannot exist in the same state. For example electrons witch are fermions, for each atomic shell there can be only two electrons, one in the state of up and one in the state of down.
    There is another type of particle called a boson - for example a light photon. These can exist in the same state.

    In my opinion grate pseudo science (like in Stargate, or Dr Who for example) must realy on the real thing, and cannot distort that science. It was very hard for me to "suspend belief" once she said that line.

  4. Hi WhyMe,

    Nice catch. Like the writers of the show (evidently) I always thought that the "two objects cannot occupy the same space" rule applied to all objects.

    It's nice to know that bosons can get up close and personal. :-)

    Seriously, though, I think that although Nina Sharp's explanation was lacking in hard science, the logic still makes sense: because both the alterna-world and the real world are composed of a variety of different subatomic stuff, including fermions, both worlds cannot occupy the same space. However, if they're not going to research the science, why bring up Pauli in the first place?

  5. I disagree about Nina's logic, but defiantly agree with your question.

    By the Pauli exclusion principle I would expect two fermion worlds to be able to interact - by throwing some person, say a blond, from world to world - but not collide. They simply can't exist together so the option of collision doesn't make sense. Same as the electrons in the atom. They are very close but cannot exist together so they simply don't.

    Actually bosons - partials that can exist together might interact strongly and invade each other, Einstein actually predicted it (Bose-Einstein Condensation) - so it seems to me that two boson worlds will collide and cause a big end of the world boom and two fermions won't.

    Since this stuff is fairly common and any professor or doctor in any physics department is well aware of the implications, it really annoys me that they didn't do the research. To me, research is really important in science fiction. If you don't want to do research then write fantasy - I can easily accept that.

    Sorry for the annoyed and long comment.

  6. This is the first time we got a significant scene with William Bell. And it occurred to me that the geeks that produce this show chose Nimoy specifically because of Spock. A major Star Trek theme was the fact that Spock was a divided being, part of both of his parents' worlds but belonging to neither one.

  7. I know I know, I'm 10 years late, but was I the only one who hated the actress that played Rebecca? I couldn't stand the way she talked and pouted out her lips. I am re-watching and muted all the parts she was in. BUT when she saw the halo around Peter I was like whoa...


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