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Fringe - 3.17 Stowaway Review by A.D.Harris

Once again, there are grumblings of Fringe not surviving past this May, probably prompted by the series' all time low ratings this Friday leading to a Twitter rumour that the show has already began packing up for good. The good news is that the show hasn't even begun filming the second half of this years finale so it is pretty much wrong that sets would be being disposed of at this point. I'm still of the belief that Fringe will get one more season, and so we all should have a few more Freaky Fridays before we say goodbye to Olivia and co. But for now, let's focus on what we do have; a very bizarre, not completely convincing episode and one that I'm sure will be viewed in a more positive light once the end of the season has played out.

Stowaway was designed for one thing and one thing only; to tell us that there is a third option that we had not yet considered. We were so focused on Sam Weiss laying it out for us we didn't bother to assume there was any other choice; Peter will either pick Olivia and our world will be fine or he will pick Fauxlivia and that's when we all should head for cover inside a fridge. Now we know that there may be some larger hand at play, the one that religious people would call God and what everyone else would call Fate. That means it may not actually matter at all what Peter chooses, because it's already destined to happen regardless. We just don't know what that 'it' is yet.
Overall it's a very exciting and wickedly intruiging line for a show like Fringe to take; there's a lot of fun to be had of a higher power than us, regardless if it's a God or not. Afterall, if you turn your minds back to the time-tripping bonanza that was ‘White Tulip’ the writers again dabbled in the higher powers with Walter asking for the flower as a sign that he should tell his son what he didn’t have the strength to tell. And also you should recall the clever twist that the higher power was science, Alistair Peck himself sending the flower. Heck, Peck even said himself “Walter, God is science. God is polio and flu vaccines and M.R.I. machines, and artificial hearts. If you are a man of science, then that's the only faith we need.”
So I have faith myself that whatever Peter’s decision is and regardless of whether there is some higher power, there will be some scientific explanation behind it. As Bellivia went all John Locke on us in the dying moments of the episode, “Now as a scientist, I like to believe that nothing just happens, that every event has some meaning. Some sort of message. You just have to be able to listen closely enough to hear it.” I felt very similar parallels to LOST, the mixture of religion and science that dominated the final few episodes ringing similar bells in my mind. Of course the difference between LOST and Fringe is that Fringe has always been about explaining the unknown on a weekly basis whereas LOST was about hiding it, and so I’m sure that we will find that there is some science behind the ‘fate’ that may await him.

The Observer a few episodes ago spoke on a similar vein whilst rambling about Fireflies; “You and I have interfered with the natural course of events. We have upset the balance in ways I could not have predicted.” Here The Observer is stating that what was fated to pass has been altered and that now this alteration has opened up to something that is unforeseen. That mystery of course would be the outcome of the machine. Even The Observer’s are worried enough about what is coming that they have begun to get ‘involved’ in events in the hope of shedding light on what's coming. Maybe then Bellivia (and John Locke) were right and that everything that happens does happen for a reason, but I’m wagering that Walter breaking a tear in Universes and saving Peter is something that has shredded this logic. We know that scientifically Walter’s actions has begun to shred that logic, heavy elements creating the ability to fly and lonely old people peering into the other side.
Therefore it’s a shame that such exciting...

...and promising events to come were revealed in a way that was quite disappointing to watch unfold on-screen. There’s no denying there was the emotional tragedy in Dana Gray’s story, her desire to be with the people she loved and lost is as close to every main character on Fringe’s story there has been for a single episode character, but it was all revealed in an un-characteristically sloppy way.
Mentions of lightning striking her twice were designed to trick us; to stop us thinking that the fact that she is still alive is not because being caught in a couple of storms has bonded her atoms together, but because she isn’t supposed to die until she saves the people on the train. Regardless, it felt like such a poor explanation, a random comment dropped in halfway through the episode that when they all just bought it, I was thinking to myself “Walter wouldn’t just assume something like that!”

Also the moment where Peter is wrapping things up with the very promising new Lincoln Lee we have on our side... “She's dead. So what changed? After all that time trying, why is she able to die now?” “Welcome to the Fringe Division. Every answer you get just leads you to more questions.”
...I was thinking to myself, never in the whole history of Fringe has Peter just sat back and said “oh well, better look understanding this next time.” In some ways after Bellivia’s speech at the end it makes more sense in what they were going for, but when you compare an episode designed to bring out a similar message like White Tulip you realise just how much better the Fringe writers are then what they delivered in Stowaway. It’s as close to cop-out as they have got, just about saved by the final few scenes.

Looking at the rest of the episode, we had the fairly pointless (so-far) inclusion of William Bell inhabiting Olivia. I didn’t really see what Bell brought to the table his episode, apart from a few cheeky glances at Astrid and a couple of jokes with Walter. Sure, the final scene was important, but had Bell not been around I can’t help but feel that putting Walter into that scene instead would have worked just as well. So hopefully there’s something more down the road that makes the whole point of Bellivia more important. Credit to Anna Torv though, she manages to pull off something that could have really, really sucked in a less talented actresses shoes.
Also the episode was impeccably acted as it always is, and Paula Malcolmson was brilliant as Dana Gray despite the average-ness of her storyline. Also it was nice to see Broyles showing some concern for his prized agent; emotion is something that Broyles always lacked, especially when compared to his now deceased doppelganger.
So overall, I’m excited for what’s to come; the opportunities are limitless, intruiging and could be a whole load of inter-dimensional fun. I know that the Fringe team can pull it off, it’s only a show that has offered so much quality that I would feel so negative on an episode such as this one. It’s a brave show that pushes the limits on a weekly basis and does things that I haven’t seen done before, and Fringe always manages to do that.
So if everything that happens does so for a reason, that means that I’m supposed to feel this way about Stowaway. That’s gotta be a good thing... right?!



Don't forget you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.
Twitter: @AdDHarris
Facebook: Adam D.Harris

For my other Season Three Fringe Reviews:
3.01 Olivia
3.02 The Box
3.03 The Plateau
3.04 Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?
3.05 Amber 31422
3.06 6995 kHz
3.07 The Abducted
3.08 Entrada
3.09 Marionette
3.10 The Firefly
3.11 Reciprocity
3.12 Concentrate & Ask Again
3.13 Immortality
3.14 6B
3.15 Subject 13
3.16 Os
3.17 Stowaway


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