Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv)
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How much you enjoyed this week’s Fringe depended on how much you’re enjoying watching Anna Torv do her Leonard Nimoy impersonation. Me, I think her act is aces, very wry and amusing. But you may feel as Peter did when the William Bell inside Olivia said he might be using her body as a host for weeks. “Weeks!” yelped Peter. “Not a chance!”

Josh Jackson did a fine job of conveying — through averted glances and various facial expressions of distaste — how creepy it is that his true love’s body has been taken over by the consciousness of a wizened male genius.

The Fringe Division case involved a woman (Paula Malcolmson, from Deadwood, Caprica, and Sons of Anarchy) who seemingly could not die, even as she desperately wanted to do so. All around her, deaths were occurring while she remained unscathed. The investigation brought in the Lincoln Lee of our universe: Seth Gabel as a horn-rimmed FBI nerd.

It was a night for novel pairings: Peter and Lincoln working together on the case, enjoying each other’s theories; Walter thoroughly enjoying the time he was spending with the Bellivia mash-up, as they shared a joint and competed to solve word puzzles.

It’s become increasingly clear that one of the things that will distinguish Fringe in the annals of first-rate sci-fi TV is that, unlike every such show, from The Twilight Zone to The X-Files, every single one of its “cases” will prove to have been related: They all end up being examples of the our-universe-is-unraveling theme. Thus once again this week, when Malcolmson’s Dana Gray told Peter, “I’m stuck here,” and Peter told her, hey, believe me, I know what you mean — it wasn’t a metaphor for Peter’s dual citizenship in the universes; she was a variation on the magnetism theory currently running through the show. In this case, her magnetized molecules (hit by lightning twice and survived) were super-bonded, sealing in her life force.

And it would be a mistake to separate out the talk of the life-force that held the woman’s body together from the philosophical jaw-boning Peter and Bellivia engaged in about fate, destiny, and synchronicity. “She needed to be here to save those people,” it was said of Dana. Just so, perhaps, Peter needs to be where he is to save the universe(s?), his dilemma called to our attention when Bellivia spotted the doomsday machine drawing in Walter’s lab. And both Dana Gray and Bellivia are, in Lincoln Lee’s phrase, “soul vampires,” albeit in different ways.

At the end, church bells rang and for a second, Olivia reentered — er, herself. But only for a second; the mini-cliffhanger was when Bell quickly re-gained control of Dunham’s body and said this finding-a-new-host thing was going to take longer than he’d thought.

Fringe benefits:

• Broyles’ authoritative bark was used for rare comic effect when he said to the Bell inhabiting Dunham: “I want you out of my agent!”

• It was Gene the cow’s biggest episode ever, as Bellivia contemplated transferring himself into a bovine host… in the horny hope that Astrid would milk him. Icky ha-ha.

What did you think of this week’s episode, titled “Stowaway”? Are you enjoying the Olivia/Bell meld, or do you feel, with Peter, “Weeks? Not a chance!”?

Twitter: @kentucker

Episode Recaps

Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv)
Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble star in J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi drama
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