Just when it felt like the third season of "Fringe" could do no wrong, they toss us an episode that not only feels like a step backwards, but also introduces a plot element that leaves me uncertain in my opinion. Yet in the end, I'm left wanting to see how it all pans out, so I suppose the writers have done what they intended to do.
First, the majority of the episode, which felt like a step back into all-too-familiar first season territory. The case itself really didn't have much to do with current events, it seems, and so it felt more connected to The Pattern than the war between universes. If anything, it felt like an episode inspired by "Inception" and its gravity-defying effects. Granted, there was some actual science hidden in the plot, wrapped in the usual fringe concepts, but it just didn't seem all that involving.
The subplot with Walter and Nina was a lot more interesting, and it was good to see Walter's deeper connection to Massive Dynamic mined for more plot gold. There are aspects to the Nina character that still beg for exploration, and this seems like a natural way to keep her in the story. It's so natural that it felt like a great way to bring some of William Bell's knowledge and theory into the plot without the need for William Bell.
Of course, that's not how it panned out. I was wondering how they would counter-balance Peter's desire to be with Olivia now that they are together, and this is apparently how it will happen. If I were Peter, I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with a woman possessed by William Bell either. The voice alone is creepy. It's like Olivia is trying to be Batman. I suspect this is a way to get Bell back into the story for some necessary exposition without bringing Leonard Nimoy into the picture for an extended period of time as well, but this could be pushing things to the very brink.
Let's set aside the contradiction of Walter exploring the notion of "soul magnets" and Bell's survival after physical death, when a couple episodes ago, ghosts were out of the question in his mind. (After all, everything in "6B" should have served to reinforce his feelings on the matter.) I just don't think this is a good plot twist. I'm not sure they can pull it off without it being ridiculously silly in execution. And that's the last thing "Fringe" needs right now.
It all comes down to the next episode, where we will apparently see a lot more of the Bell-possessed Olivia. Anna Torv has been asked to pull off some subtle and amazing performances this season, but this is going to be the most challenging.