This episode, while definitely not my favorite episode of the season so far, is a decent episode, and I ultimately give it 8.5 Plastic Explosives. The case, while more or less "stand-alone," is very compelling and emotionally riveting, and I would even go as far as to say that it is oddly beautiful. If there is any area at which Fringe excels (and, believe me, there is), it is storytelling, and this episode is certainly no exception. Anna Torv, as always, is amazing, and it surprised me when I discovered that her performance has actually been controversial, as some people didn't like her performance and have even been rather harsh about it, saying that there is not a single spark of Bell's character existing, something with which I totally and completely disagree. I think that she does a fantastic job of capturing Nimoy's mannerisms, and she is utterly hilarious, as well. Her mannerisms and her facial expressions are simply priceless, and while it may be true that, for the most part, Bell's character has never really been very fun-loving, cheerful, and mischievous like it is now, it would stand to reason that Bell is thrilled that his "soul magnet" idea was valid and that his life has therefore been extended.
The opening scene of the episode explains when Olivia had the "soul magnets" implanted, and I was right about that; it happened when she visited Bell on the Other Side at the end of the first season, and, in fact, that is part of the reason why he brought her "over there" in the first place. The opening scene also explains where Olivia is right now, a question that I had previously posited, seeing as how she is obviously not present in her body right now. Bell says that her consciousness simply lies dormant, and that causes me to wonder where Bell's consciousness has been during these past few months that he has been "dead." In "6B" (3.14), Walter says that Bell posited the idea of "soul magnets" and said that if he were right, he would contact Walter "from the Great Beyond," so what is meant by "the Great Beyond," I wonder? When I first saw that scene, I didn't think much of it, but I think that we should (if we aren't all already) pay very close attention to everything from now on, which Redverse Olivia does tell "us" in "Over There, Part 1" (2.21) when she says, "If you could tell me what you saw; I mean, even small things could be important." I definitely think that we should be listening to her.
Now that Bell (who has, by some, been cleverly referred to as Bellivia) is back (well, for now), he really is so funny. He is mischievous and is incredibly gleeful, like a child. He says that he had never previously imagined how binding a bra would be, and the first time that I saw this episode, I didn't catch that; when I did catch that, I died laughing. He also really seems to like Astrid, and you know what I mean. He tells her that she has really beautiful hands, just in case no one had ever told her that before, and he puts the binding of magnets that he uses as a demonstration for Lincoln on Astrid's wrist as a bracelet, saying that it really suits her, and I love how Astrid then proceeds to button up her shirt. He then smirks mischievously, and this scene is an example of Anna's genius acting talent. I can only imagine how much fun this episode must have been to film, seeing as how they all probably lost control and laughed quite frequently. Bell promises Broyles that he will only be inside of Olivia's body temporarily and says, "You have my word, young man," and I found this interesting, because we know that Bell had had a relationship with Nina, and based on the incredibly strange kiss in "A New Day in the Old Town" (2.01), we can assume that Nina had had some sort of relationship with Broyles, as well, yet Bell refers to him as "young man." Just how old is Broyles?
It is outrageously funny when Bell has the idea of implanting his consciousness inside of Gene. The expression on his face, especially with the glasses, is utterly priceless, and you can see the sinister mischief that is blooming in his mind. I would imagine that Anna and John, particularly, had a lot of fun filming this episode, seeing as how they spent a lot more time together than they usually do. Astrid says on the phone that she can't really figure out what conclusion at which they are arriving, because "they're doing that thing again where they don't finish sentences," which I would imagine that this was their typical behavior "back in the day" when they were lab partners, which we got a much closer glimpse at in this episode, which makes it a pretty meaningful episode in that sense. We certainly get to know Bell a lot better than we ever have before. He is apparently adventurous, and (as we had already known) likes to experiment. This is why, for a short while near the end of the episode, I thought that he was going to suggest having sex with Peter, figuring that Peter would agree since he is in Olivia's body; I just totally got that vibe when he said that Walter said that it would be a good idea if he stayed there for the night and then offered a cup of tea. I wouldn't put that past Bell; I really wouldn't.
I really like what Bell says at the end of the episode, because it opens two different doors of possibilities; either the magnetic charge of the bomb finally made it possible for Dana Grey to die, or she couldn't die prior to the explosion (which was pretty powerful; how was she not blown to smithereens?) because she had a purpose to fulfill, and that purpose was to stop all of those people from dying on the train. Science vs. faith definitely comes into play here (which it also does in regards to Dana connecting the story of Azrael to her own situation), and I think that we also have to wonder whether or not the Observers are involved if Bell's latter thought is true. I do like how Bell's positing of these two ideas is consistent with the Season 1 tagline, which is "Imagine the Impossibilities," which is certainly not the first time that that tagline has come into play on the series. Olivia returns, but it's only for a few seconds, and then, Bell says, "I think that I may have been wrong; this may be a little more complicated than I first thought." At first, I said, "Oh, no!" However, I think that all that that probably means is that there is a variable for which Bell didn't account, and now, he needs to make some new considerations. I don't think that Olivia is in any danger, just for the record, but we probably won't be finding out until Fringe returns from its lowatus on April 15th, since "Bloodline" (3.18) is an "over there" episode.
After Season 2 had concluded, I feared that Bell would be another Jones, not mentioned even once during the course of the third season, but obviously, I was wrong, which I am really happy about. Leonard Nimoy has even said that he will be returning to the show, and even though I don't yet see how that is possible, this is Fringe, so I have to "imagine the impossibilities," right? What I don't understand about this episode is why Nina is not in it. After all, she and Bell were business partners and lovers, were they not? However, Bell has returned, yet she has no involvement whatsoever and doesn't even "meet" him, so what's up with that? It would be something if Broyles made the decision not to involve her for that very reason, but you would think that there would be a scene in which he explicitly says that, because it is kind of a major point to overlook. I love the look on Broyles' face when Bell introduces himself to Lincoln; it is yet another priceless look, and it is one of agitation and annoyance.
Something that I do absolutely love about this episode is the fact that the Lincoln on this side is finally introduced to us, something for which I have been waiting a long time, since I love Lincoln. This Lincoln is definitely different, and I honestly can't decide which Lincoln I like better, as they each have their charms. I love when he arrives at the lab and sees Gene, obviously wondering why there is a cow in the lab. He later says to Peter that his work with Fringe Division was "a lot more exciting than Hartford," and this makes me wonder whether or not he will be back on the series. I really hope so, and I wish that Seth Gabel would just be regarded as a series regular already. I love the Peter and Lincoln bromance in this episode and really wish that it would develop into something further, even though I know that that obviously is never going to happen. Lincoln, interestingly enough, refers to the Sesame Street song "One of These Things (Is Not Like the Others)," and that's not the first time that that song has been mentioned; the first time is in "Jacksonville" (2.14), when Olivia discovers her ability to identify objects that belong on the Other Side. Overall, despite the annoying convenience of the bearded man who had been sitting next to Dana on the train showing up just in time to say that he recognized her from the photo, this is a really satisfying, emotionally compelling (both really funny and really tragic) episode.