Fringe – Momentum Deferred (S02E04), Episode review

For the fourth episode of [[Fringe (TV Series)|Fringe]], it’s invasion of the frozen head snatchers. Yes, a mysterious gang are robbing severed heads from Cryogenics labs all over the place. And guess what, it’s up to Agent Dunham and her cohorts to find out who’s behind the thefts, with a little help from her parallel universe-hopping benefactor, William Bell.

But first, a little light experiment in which Walter gives Dunham a nice, blended mixture of treated worms to help her remember her trip to the Twin Towers. This triggers a series of flashbacks eventually brings Dunham back to her meeting with William Bell and recovers her memory of their conversation. But more on that later.

This is the episode that wraps up the Charlie Francis story arc. You know how he got killed and replaced by the shape-shifter? I kinda knew that was coming when he was wearing that ridiculous hat in the first two episodes. Anyway, it seems that Charliebot is in league with the head snatchers, and they’re looking for the frozen head of their apparent leader. Charliebot is having some difficulties maintaining his shifted shape and for some reason starts guzzling down mercury from thermometers which seems to do the trick.

Back in the lab, Walter, Astrid and Peter discover that the dead man is not the shapeshifter, and they draft in a lady Walter and William Bell worked on back in the day. Her ability? She’s able to identify people who’ve come from the other universe. And she seems to have a raging MILF-ish crush on Walter, which is intriguing.

However, while they’re experimenting on the crazy lady, Dunham collapses and suddenly has a full, vivid flashback of her meeting with Bell. He tells her a little more about stuff she already knows, and reveals more information about the shape shifters who are seemingly the “First Wave” in the war between the worlds. He also mentions that he is unable to return to Dunham’s world “for reasons that will become clear”.

Startlingly, Dunham doesn’t defer to Bell and tells him she doesn’t trust him or Massive Dynamic, his company. He warns her that the truth will come out eventually and also describes her as the guardian that they were grooming to protect the world. He tells her that the shapeshifters are searching for the frozen head of a man who can “open the door between the worlds”, which presumably is the catalyst for the war.

I was a little bit disappointed by his “storm to end all storms” speech. That was a bit cliched, in my opinion. However, it’s some compensation to see how Olivia got returned to her world – that scene where she shoots through the window of her car never gets old, especially because it’s wrapped in so much mystery.

We can fast-forward past the little hints about Peter being from another universe. And also Walter’s little romantic tete-a-tete with his test subject.

The sinister Charliebot discovers that Massive Dynamic are on the verge of revealing his identity and tricks Dunham into leaving her meeting with Nina Sharp. Outside the building, she glances at her mobile and sees Charlie’s face as the result of the scan. Too late, Charlie kicks several shades out of Dunham (you can hear bones breaking, I swear it) before she eventually fires several rounds of bullets into him. He has a brief Terminator moment, recovering for a moment before a bullet to the head finishes him off.

For all its action, Momentum Deferred was quite a vague episode in many ways. The William Bell sequence was quite disorientating, leaving more questions than it actually answered. The story with Peter being swapped out of his universe to assuage Walter’s grief is bubbling along nicely, although the biggest question is how Peter will react when he finds out. I’m guessing the truth will out when the team most need to be unified and this will fracture them when they’re vulnerable.

The best bit was when we returned to usual Fringe weirdness – the scene with the head knitting back onto the body while the eyes opened was truly gross, sinister and dark. And of course it means there will be implications for the Fringe team in future episodes. What I am loving is how the writers are balancing the ‘freak of the week’ stories with the overall series arc. It’s handled deftly with a nice drip-drip of information that’s building up the tension. Possibly why Fringe is one of my favourite shows on TV at the moment.

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