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'Fringe' recap: Using balloons to steal bowling balls

March 12, 2011 |  6:18 am

316_oz_158 Many people said that when "Fringe" moved to Fridays, it was heading into the feared "death slot." Heck, even "Fringe" said that. But why is Friday considered the last stop on the train to the television afterlife? Is it because everyone goes out on Friday nights? Kicks off their weekends? Maybe has dinner, sees a movie. Who has the money to do that anymore? Times are tough. Better to stay home on Friday nights. "Fringe" is better than any movie you're going to see in the theater right now anyway. 

"Red Riding Hood"? "Limitless"? "The Lincoln Lawyer"? I bet they're not all that great, and by that, I mean none of them start with Walter Bishop and Hurley getting high and laughing at stories about waking up in bed with Yoko. Though I probably shouldn't be dissuading you from supporting advertisers of "Fringe" if I want it to survive the Friday death slot, so go check them out this weekend. 

Friday night's little science crime unfolded with surprises around every corner. It all started with a robbery at the Massachusetts Metal Depository that felt slightly like the old 1970s "Batman" show. The escape built up to a crazy twist. Literally. The camera spun to show everything was upside down the whole time. These thieves are floaters. Their ropes were to pull themselves to the ground, and their boots weigh them down enough to walk. But one thief takes a bullet and is left tethered to the ground, a situation that summons the Fringe Division to show up and investigate.

The anti-gravity people trace back to an aerospace engineer named ... Alan Ruck. I don't think I ever caught the character's true name. He's just Alan Ruck to me. You probably remember him as Cameron from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Or maybe as the Dan Fielding-type character on "Spin City." Though he also took over command of the starship Enterprise in "Star Trek: Generations." Let's just say Alan Ruck has been around. And you can see why. He plays another "Fringe" villain you can almost sympathize with. 

At first Dr. Ruck seems evil. He has been experimenting on these men, making them defy gravity. Then he sends them out to steal heavy metals. He seems even worse after the next unexpected twist. These men all were previously confined to wheelchairs. Dr. Ruck recruits them at murderball games. I almost expected him to run into Jason Street from "Friday Night Lights" at some point. 

But Dr. Ruck only wants to help his son, who's also in a wheelchair. Dr. Ruck figures he’ll perfect the formula on these strangers before trying it on his own flesh and blood. The irony is that when his son finds out the lengths to which his father has gone to "fix" him, it ruins his already happy life. 

Throughout all this, our friends in Fringe Division deal with their own lives. Peter and Olivia are now a couple. They've managed to put the whole Fauxlivia issue behind them and give being happy a shot for a change. They're going to street fairs and holding hands and being overly cheerful when running into Nina Sharp ("Whatcha doin' here?" Did Olivia really say that?). It even gets to the point of full disclosure. Olivia admits she doesn't like it when Peter rubs her back, and Peter (eventually) admits he's hiding information from the FBI and studying the memory discs from the shape-shifters he secretly killed. Honestly, I think Olivia really got the better end of the whole disclosure concept. 

Meanwhile, Walter seeks out any connection to his former partner William Bell (former in both the sense that they broke up the partnership and that Bell is dead). Walter digs through Bell's office and finds his research, including a file on soul magnets, which could easily be the coolest band name. Walter figures he just needs to find the person Bell set up with these soul magnets and he'll be able to bring his old friend back from the afterlife. I'm hoping for that myself, mostly because I'm getting tired of Emo Walter. He's always crying and cursing himself for ripping the universe a new one. Hopefully, now that Bell is back, we'll see more of the inspired, energetic Walter.

That's right, William Bell is back. Not played by Leonard Nimoy. Instead this time Bell's soul takes control of Olivia's body. Now I'm not sure If I liked how quickly that played out. Walter figures out Bell's plan and that same day Bell takes control inside Olivia. Even if it was triggered by Walter ringing the bell Bell gave Nina, you'd think someone would have rung that bell before that moment. It really doesn’t matter. I'm just excited to see Anna Torv play Olivia possessed by Bell. That should be a fun time next week.

Product placement -– Now, I'm fine with a little product placement. I don't mind that we see the brand name of the phone when Peter is receiving a call from Olivia. Or the extra long pan over the dashboard of whatever Ford vehicle they're driving, but I don't need to hear the actual chime the car makes when you get a text while driving. I especially don't need to hear the car voice read Broyle's text message. It’s Lance Reddick. Why waste that great voice when you have it? 

Astrid action -– Astrid really got it tough this week. First, she gets treated to the delightful story of William Bell trying to perfect the bowel movement. Then she gets the direction to dispose of all the excess blood Walter drained from the thief's corpse. And finally, she has to mop up after Walter dropped mints in his two-liter bottle of soda. Astrid has really earned the focus of her very own episode. When are we going to see that?

Spot the Observer -– Observer just can't resist those crime scenes. You might have noticed him wandering in the background as the Fringe crew questioned the security guard at the Metal Depository. Or you might not have. He was kind of blurry, but I know he was back there.

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-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: The Fringe team (left to right, Lance Reddick, Anna Torv, John Noble and Joshua Jackson) investigates a case in which the thieves have managed to defy the laws of gravity. Credit: Fox

 

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