"Momentum Deferred"

Season 2 Episode 04 (Airdate: October 16, 2009 on FOX)


Why do shapeshifting soldiers from another universe steal frozen heads? Does Walter get a date? And is drinking flatworm juice really worth it?



In the middle of the night a truckload of cryogenically frozen heads are stolen. In the meantime, Walter Bishop (the series mad - take that literally - scientist played by John Noble) has come up with an idea to help FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) remember what happened when she disappeared momentarily from the face of the Earth at the end of season one. She really must be determined to have her memories back, because the procedure involves drinking chopped and blended flatworm juice.

Two more robberies of the same kind take place in New York and Chicago. This time one of the perpetrators was shot and he bleeds a mixture of blood and mercury. In a twist, it is revealed that one of Olivia's trusted agents from her office, Charlie, is a shapeshifter and part of the operation responsible for stealing the heads. For now, they haven't found what they're looking for and Charlie (Kirk Acevedo) reasons that their activities must have alarmed William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) enough to have Olivia brought over to the other side to warn her. Which has put her on the top of their assassination list.

Back in the lab Walter shows Olivia a video of a woman he and Bell experimented on. She has the ability to see things others can't, like a halo around people from other universes. He sets out to find her again and when they do, to Peter's (Walter's son and his full time mad scientist sitter for the FBI) great surprise she not only harbors no resentment but is eager to help recreate the experiment. Her abilities, it turns out, have started to fade. When Peter (Joshua Jackson) rings a bell during the procedure, the same bell she's been hearing in her vague flashbacks, Olivia collapses.

In this state she remembers her conver-sation with Bell, who it is revealed is not a native to that parallel universe but has crossed over to it in the past. He apologizes for the crude method necessary to bring her to where she is and asks her to call him by his first name William - or Willem - as she called him as a child.
Olivia has no intention of getting friendly with him and confronts him with what she has figured out so far - that he and Walter used her and other children in drug trials. Bell assures her that it never was their intention to hurt anybody. "Guess what, you did!" Olivia shoots back unimpressed. She met some of the others and thinks it would amount to an understatement to call them permanently damaged.

In any search for knowledge, Bell relents, there are unintended consequences and victims. But she is not a victim. He can tell just by looking at her. She is only know coming into her abilities. Other people would have been torn apart by crossing universes. He warns her of a coming war that he and Walter predicted years ago and that they knew they had to prepare a guardian for to watch the gate between the universes. He himself cannot cross over now and maybe never again will. On this side, Bell continues to brief Olivia, hybrids have been developed, part organic, part machine, that can do things humans can't, like shapeshifting. They are called the "First Wave". He admits this all might be difficult to grasp. Olivia tells him she has no trouble grasping it, but she doesn't trust him and gives him a piece of her mind. Bell finds that it's not necessary for her to trust him, because if she'll look past her anger, she might find him more of an ally than she'd think. The shapeshifters on her side are looking for someone to open the doors between universes which is why she must find him first. He draws a symbol which identifies their leader and says that a storm is coming. Then time is running out.

In Walter's lab Olivia's body starts to have seizures. In her altered state of mind Bell gives her a message for Nina to remember and warns her that her landing in her universe will be unpleasant since he pulled her out of a moving car. "Momentum can be deferred, but it always must be payed back in full. As I always said to Walter, physics is a bitch."

Olivia comes to in the lab, sitting up abruptly. Next thing she travels to New York to show the drawing to Nina Sharp (Blair Brown ) who runs Bell's company for him in his absence. She doesn't recognize the drawing but reacts when Olivia mentions that a storm will be coming. It was a phrase Bell used in the past. when he realized the existence of the other side, the thing he dreaded most was the inevitable collision if their two universes ever came together. No two objects can occupy the same space and the same time and if the two met, only one would remain, which he termed "the last great storm". By smashing together two convenietly available snow globes, Sharp graphically demonstrates the likely outcome.

While there Charlie sends Olivia a message saying that Nina Sharp is a shapeshifter. Outside she confides in Charlie that she's glad she didn't tell Sharp where to find the missing head. At that moment she gets another message identifying Charlie as the shapeshifter from a device they took from a shapeshifter earlier. Why Charlie then beats the living daylights out of her instead of using his gun is anybody's guess, since before he wanted her dead. Anyway, this move leaves him wide open for her to shoot him in the head. By talking to her boss at the end of the episode Olivia finds out that the hybrids found the right head during another raid fifteen minutes before their own forces arrived at the scene.



Like any of the J.J. Abrams series I've watched in the past (Alias, Lost) this episode leaves the viewer with a lot of new questions while giving answers to previous ones. At least now we know what's at stake and what role Olivia Dunham is supposed to play in the grand scheme of things to come. Leonard Nimoy's character provides most of the information relevant to further the series mythology, and that seems to have turned into a problem, as he finds that role unsatisfactory, telling the Los Angeles Times:

"I've done three appearances for them. I don't know if I will do a fourth..."

"They've asked me to do more, but we have to talk about where the character is going. So far my character, William Bell, and my appearances have been used to lay in information about this alternate universe and the experience of being in this other world. And that's OK, but I don't know yet what plans they have for really developing a dramatic story for the character. I'm waiting for a conversation about that."

Noticing that William Bell seems to be ill and dependent on oxygen, the writers appear to have furnished themselves with a possible way out for when the time comes the actor is no longer available.

More reviews can be found at: Fringe: "Momentum Deferred" Review (IGN), Leonard Nimoy Explains Fringe's Final Storm (io9), ‘Fringe’ – Momentum Deferred, Inter-dimensional travel is not all it is cracked up to be (Airlock Alpha), and who note:

"Some other lovely touches: during Peter's talk about his childhood fear of being replaced (which, technically, he did to this Earth's Peter), he and Olivia talk about the 1978 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers,' which of course co-starred Nimoy."

And Agent Dunham makes short oder of Charlie in front of a mural that depicts Vincent van Gogh, an artist of interest to Mr. Nimoy.

Interviews concerning his appearance can be found here: Leonard Nimoy Talks Fringe (IGN), For Whom the Bell Tolls: Leonard Nimoy Talks FRINGE Part 1 & 2 (Starlog), 'Fringe': Leonard Nimoy on William Bell (Los Angeles Times) and Wired, where he describes his career thus:

“I think of myself as an ocean liner going full speed for a long distance,” Nimoy said. “When the captain pulls the throttle all the way back to stop, the ship doesn’t stop immediately, does it? It has its own momentum and keeps on going.”