Fringe season 3 episode 16 review: Os

Does any show on the telly right now go off on such brilliant tangents as Fringe? The last five minutes of the latest episode blows Billy away...

This review contains spoilers.

3.16 Os

On one level, I was slightly disappointed with Os, in that we’ve had more than enough mad scientists experimenting on the public in this show, and here’s another. The similarities between this and episode 9 of this season, Marionette, are striking, even if they were created by different writers.

However, two things resurrected it for me, one being the appearance of Alan Ruck (Speed, Greek, Twister) as Dr. Krick. He’s a great actor, and convincingly pitches the anguish of a father prepared to take extreme measures to help his disabled son.

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His discovery that two of the heaviest metals can be combined to make something super-light doesn’t actually make any sense, and eventually it’s revealed that it was never supposed to. If this isn’t a reverential nod to Douglas Adams and the ‘improbability drive’ of The Hitchhiker’s Guide, then I’m not sure what it was.

If it had meant to be science of some sort, then I’d have pointed out that, even if you hollowed out a person and filled them with helium, they’d still not have an overall density low enough to float. But Walter’s assertion that the laws of physics were being flipped avoided that practicality.

But the other golden Fringe nugget in here was the last five minutes, which went off on the sort of tangent that only this show can take.

What I especially loved about the two scenes that delivered a cool surprise was that the first with Walter and Nina was actually very funny. Convinced that it’s possible to connect to the spirit of William Bell, Walter rings his personal bell, and expects him to occupy Nina to communicate with him. The pause before Nina announces “It’s still me” was glorious timing, and this scene demonstrated what good performers John Noble and Blair Brown are. But the real skill here is that the humour in it then makes the impact of the final scene with Peter and Olivia even greater.

We hear the bell ring and then Anna Torv delivers a passable impression of Leonard Nimoy! Fringe has had a few ‘gosh’ moments, but that one elicited a verbal outburst from me which lasted for at least five minutes.

As this scene closed the episode, I’ve been wondering how much of the next story Anna Torv is going to have to channel live-long-and-prosper, if any.

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The strength of Fringe is that it can take a rather light and fluffy premise, like the one in Os, and embellish it with wonderful character moments and a genuine surprise or two.

If this is going to be the final season of Fringe, then I, for one, will miss its unique quirkiness, and how it came from beneath the shadow of being ‘X-Files-lite’ to be something altogether much more interesting.

Next week, the Fringe team tackle the subject that science fiction shows just can’t kill, immortality.

Read our review of episode 15, Subject 13, here.

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