“This may be a little more complicated than I first thought.”
– Bellivia

That quote, the last words spoken in “Stowaway,” sums up the message of the episode quite nicely. When William Bell inhabiting Olivia’s body – henceforth referred to as Bellivia – says it, he (she?) is talking about being trapped in Olivia’s body and realizing that finding a new host for his consciousness might be more difficult than he had originally planned. But it also could apply to the conversation that he and Peter just had about the episode’s case.

Bell explains to Peter that originally he believed that Dana Gray was unable to die because the molecular bonds in her body had been supercharged by lightning and that the explosion from the bomb finally undid those super-strong bonds, killing her. But then, he proposes an alternative hypothesis: if Dana hadn’t been alive, she never would have able to find the bomb on the train and save all those innocent lives. Thus, she was kept alive that long because saving those passengers was her destiny, her fate.

One would be right to be skeptical of that interpretation of events. After all, Bellivia offers no explanation for the mechanism through which Dana’s fate acted. Was it divine intervention? The Observers? Or does the world naturally organize itself so that people can live out their destinies, as if by some invisible hand? Fringe neither confirms nor denies any of these explanations and leaves the viewer to come up with his or her own account of what happened and why.

Still, there is an important lesson for Peter to take from all of this: things aren’t always what they seem. Further examination of an object or phenomenon often reveals hidden complications. Take the case in this episode, for example. Bellivia and Walter originally posited that it had everything to do with molecular bonds and electromagnetism. But Bellivia later realized that the hand of fate could have had something to do with it.

Bellivia tells Peter this to make a point: we can’t avoid our fate. No matter far we try to run away from it, it’ll catch up to us. Peter knows, on some level, that his destiny is to step into the Machine, regardless of how little he wants to do it. But his reluctance is based on the idea that the Machine is an agent of destruction, capable of obliterating an entire universe. The Machine may serve an entirely different purpose than that. However, whatever hidden complications it has will only be revealed if Peter accepts his fate and steps inside.

For more information on the Fringe rewatch project, please click here. For my review of “Stowaway,” please click here.

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