Os (Fringe)

Last updated

Fringe episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 16
Directed by Brad Anderson
Written by Josh Singer
Graham Roland
Production code3X6116
Original air dateMarch 11, 2011
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
"Subject 13"
Fringe (season 3)
List of Fringe episodes

"Os" is the 16th episode of the third season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe , and the 59th episode overall. The episode centered on the Fringe team's investigation into a series of robberies of the element osmium, which they connect to a scientist (Alan Ruck) who is able to defy the laws of physics.

<i>Fringe</i> (season 3) season of television series

The third season of the American science fiction television series Fringe began airing on the Fox network on September 23, 2010, and concluded on May 6, 2011. Twenty-two episodes long, the season was produced by Bad Robot Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, and its showrunners were Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman. Lead actors Anna Torv, John Noble, and Joshua Jackson reprised their roles as FBI agent Olivia Dunham and the father-son duo Walter and Peter Bishop. Previous series regulars Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole, and Blair Brown also returned, along with recurring guest stars Kirk Acevedo, Seth Gabel, and Ryan McDonald.

Science fiction Genre of speculative fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction that has been called the "literature of ideas". It typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, time travel, parallel universes, fictional worlds, space exploration, and extraterrestrial life. It often explores the potential consequences of scientific innovations.

Drama Artwork intended for performance, formal type of literature

Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance: a play, opera, mime, ballet, etc, performed in a theatre, or on radio or television. Considered as a genre of poetry in general, the dramatic mode has been contrasted with the epic and the lyrical modes ever since Aristotle's Poetics —the earliest work of dramatic theory.


"Os" was written by Josh Singer and Graham Roland, while Brad Anderson served as director. Along with Ruck, the episode also guest starred Jorge Garcia in a brief cameo as a security guard.

Josh Singer American screenwriter

Josh Singer is an American screenwriter and producer. He is best known for writing The Fifth Estate (2013), Spotlight (2015), The Post (2017) and First Man (2018). He won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Spotlight and was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for Spotlight and The Post.

Graham Roland is an American film and television writer and producer. He is also an Iraq War veteran who served in the United States Marine Corps from 2000 to 2006.

Brad Anderson (director) American film director

Brad Anderson is an American film director, producer and writer. A director of thriller and horror films and television projects, he is best known for having directed The Machinist (2004), starring Christian Bale, psychological horror film Session 9 (2001) and The Call (2013), starring Halle Berry. He also produced and directed several installments of the Fox science fiction television series Fringe.

On its first broadcast in the United States on March 11, 2011, an estimated 3.76 million viewers tuned in, giving it a 1.5/5 ratings share for those between the ages 18–49. Critical reception to the episode was generally positive, as multiple critics noted that Ruck was well-cast as a scientist just trying to help his son.


The Fringe team is called to the scene of a robbery of a metal depository; the body of one of the thieves, shot by a security guard, inexplicably floats off the ground, while a second culprit has gotten away. They find that the thief has taken off with a supply of osmium, one of the densest elements, and an autopsy later reveals that the dead thief's body is filled with the metal. Tracking a security card on the body, they enter a warehouse where they find the second culprit, dead, along with the bodies of several more people, all of them paraplegic. Walter (John Noble) notes that the physical properties of osmium (both gravitational and thermal) have been reversed, and by melting the osmium collected from the first victim using liquid nitrogen, they detect the presence of the rarer element lutetium, typically only present in meteorites.

Osmium Chemical element with atomic number 76

Osmium is a chemical element with the symbol Os and atomic number 76. It is a hard, brittle, bluish-white transition metal in the platinum group that is found as a trace element in alloys, mostly in platinum ores. Osmium is the densest naturally occurring element, with an experimentally measured density of 22.59 g/cm3. Manufacturers use its alloys with platinum, iridium, and other platinum-group metals to make fountain pen nib tipping, electrical contacts, and in other applications that require extreme durability and hardness. The element's abundance in the Earth's crust is among the rarest.

John Noble Australian actor and director

John Noble is an Australian actor and theatre director of more than 80 plays. He is best known for his roles as Dr. Walter Bishop in the US Fox science fiction television series Fringe, and Henry Parrish in the Fox action-horror series Sleepy Hollow. His most high-profile film role was as Denethor in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He also provided the voice of the DC Comics supervillain Scarecrow in the 2015 video game Batman: Arkham Knight, where his character served as the main antagonist. In 2015, he joined the main cast of the television series Elementary as Sherlock Holmes's father. He was also cast as a doctor in the Australian TV series All Saints. In 2012, Noble was diagnosed with osteoporosis. His charity, Noble Bones, helps to raise awareness for the disease.

Lutetium Chemical element with atomic number 71

Lutetium is a chemical element with the symbol Lu and atomic number 71. It is a silvery white metal, which resists corrosion in dry air, but not in moist air. Lutetium is the last element in the lanthanide series, and it is traditionally counted among the rare earths. Lutetium is sometimes considered the first element of the 6th-period transition metals, although lanthanum is more often considered as such.

Recognizing that the local science museum has a display of meteorites, the Fringe team is able to secure Dr. Crick (Alan Ruck), the man behind the osmium injections, and another paraplegic who has taken Dr. Crick's injections as they attempt to steal the display. With Dr. Crick in custody, Walter learns that the man had worked in aerospace to find an alloy for fighter craft. He happened upon the combination of the osmium-lutetium alloy that generated a material lighter than air, and sought to refine a permanent solution to give his own paraplegic son the ability to walk, having promised the same to those that had died from earlier, lethal doses of the alloy.

Alan Ruck American actor and writer

Alan Douglas Ruck is an American actor. He played Cameron Frye, Ferris Bueller's hypochondriac best friend in John Hughes' Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), and Stuart Bondek, a lecherous, power-hungry member of the mayor's staff in the ABC sitcom Spin City. His other notable films include Bad Boys (1983), Three Fugitives (1989), Young Guns II (1990), Speed (1994), Twister (1996), and Kickin' It Old Skool (2007). In 2016, he co-starred with Geena Davis in an updated Fox TV adaptation of William Peter Blatty's best-selling novel The Exorcist.

Walter, who has lamented to Nina Sharp (Blair Brown) his need to have William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) back to make himself whole, realizes that the only reason the osmium-lutetium alloy became lighter than air was due to his own transgression into the parallel universe that has started to break down the laws of reality. To reverse those effects, Walter intends to use the idea of "soul magnets", microscopic devices that can be ingested by a person to call forth the soul of another. Walter believes Bell had arranged for someone in the prime universe to be his vessel, and rings the bell that Bell had bequeathed to Nina, believing it to be the instrument that will activate the soul magnets and call forth Bell.

Blair Brown American actress

Bonnie Blair Brown is an American theater, film and television actress. She has had a number of high-profile roles, including in the play Copenhagen on Broadway, the leading actress in the films Altered States (1980), Continental Divide (1981) and Strapless (1989), as well as a run as the title character in the comedy-drama television series The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, which ran from 1987 to 1991. Her later roles include Nina Sharp on the Fox television series Fringe and Judy King on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.

Leonard Nimoy American actor, film director, poet, musician and photographer

Leonard Simon Nimoy was an American actor, film director, photographer, author, singer, and songwriter. He was known for playing Spock in the Star Trek franchise, a character he portrayed in television and film from a pilot episode shot in late 1964 to his final film performance in 2013.

Simultaneously, Peter (Joshua Jackson) has decided to open up to Olivia (Anna Torv) and shows her the five data discs from the shapeshifters he killed after the doomsday device weaponized him. As he discusses it with her, Olivia hears the sound of the bell. She turns to face Peter, revealing herself to now be possessed by Bell.

Joshua Jackson Canadian actor

Joshua Browning Jackson is an American-Canadian actor. He is known for his starring role as Pacey Witter in the teen drama series Dawson's Creek (1998–2003), Peter Bishop in the science fiction series Fringe (2008–2013), Cole Lockhart in the drama series The Affair (2014–18), and Mickey Joseph in the drama miniseries When They See Us (2019).

Anna Torv Australian actress

Anna Torv is an Australian actress known for her roles as FBI agent Olivia Dunham on television series Fringe (2008–2013) for which she was nominated for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series in 2011 and as Doctor Wendy Carr in Netflix's Mindhunter (2017–present).

Shapeshifting transformation of a being or object by supernatural intervention

In mythology, folklore and speculative fiction, shapeshifting is the ability to physically transform through an inherent ability, divine intervention or magic. The idea of shapeshifting is in the oldest forms of totemism and shamanism, as well as the oldest extant literature and epic poems such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Iliad. The concept remains a common trope in modern fantasy, children's literature and popular culture.


Jorge Garcia, known for his character Hugo "Hurley" Reyes in Lost, made a cameo appearance in "Os". Jorge Garcia 2.jpg
Jorge Garcia, known for his character Hugo "Hurley" Reyes in Lost , made a cameo appearance in "Os".

The episode was co-written by co-executive producer Josh Singer and executive story editor Graham Roland, [1] while former Fringe producer Brad Anderson directed it. [2] [3]

The return of the William Bell character to the series was inspired by Leonard Nimoy from earlier seasons. In his first appearance on Fringe in the first season finale, "There's More Than One of Everything", Nimoy requested that a bell be placed on his desk so that his character would be able to ring it as a play on the character's name. When the writers considered how to bring Bell back for the third season, they recalled this mannerism, and wrote it into the larger mythos, being the means by which Bell's mind emerged from Olivia's at the end of this episode. [4]

On March 3, Entertainment Weekly reported that actor Jorge Garcia would be making a cameo appearance in an upcoming Fringe episode. [5] Garcia, who previously starred as Hugo "Hurley" Reyes from J.J. Abrams' Lost , appears as a Massive Dynamic guard that is smoking a bong with Walter at the start of the episode. [6] Alan Ruck guests as Dr. Crick, the person behind the floating bodies. Ruck was approached by the show's producers having envisioned him for the role. [7] Ruck described the character, "He is no dummy... and he stumbled on to something and he is trying to figure out a way to use it. Ultimately he would like to use it for good, but in so doing he causes a lot of damage. So I guess you can say he's obsessed. And this particular point in time where the episode of Fringe starts, time is fleeting and he's just... under the gun." [7] [8] On his character's possible reappearance, Ruck commented, "I think not... Technically yes [he could come back], but probably not." [7] [8]

As with other Fringe episodes, [9] [10] Fox released a science lesson plan in collaboration with Science Olympiad for grade school children, focusing on the science seen in "Os", with the intention of having "students learn about meteorites and ways of finding them." [11]



On its first broadcast, "Os" maintained a 1.5/5 rating share for adults between the ages of 18 and 49 as with several previous episodes, with an estimated 3.76 million viewers. In the 18–49 demographic, Fringe was the second most watched show in its time slot, after CSI: NY . [12] [13] Time shifted viewing increased the episode's ratings among adults by 53 percent to a 2.3 ratings share. This was the largest increase in time shifting viewing for the week among network shows. [14]


Reviews of the episode were generally positive. Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly praised guest actor Alan Ruck's "sustained, understated" performance, and also called Olivia being revealed as Bell's vessel "a clever development," especially praising actress Anna Torv's imitation of Nimoy's voice rather than "doing the obvious thing and hav[ing] her lip-synch Nimoy reading the lines." [6] The A.V. Club's Emily VanDerWerff graded the episode with a B-, explaining that unlike Tucker, she thought the idea of "soul magnets" was "just so goofy that it's almost too much for me to handle". [2] VanDerWerff also felt there wasn't much of a connection between the episode and the ongoing storyline "until the show tries to force one in a way that doesn't feel as elegant as the show usually makes this stuff feel". [2] She did however praise Ruck as "well-cast," and wrote the episode "very nearly managed" to parallel Walter's "desperate measures to the desperate measures of other men also trying to save themselves or their children through science," which the reviewer considered the strongest asset of the show. [2]

"There are a lot of great ideas, and there are a lot of terrible ones, but the show's consistent, rock solid execution keeps it from embarrassing itself too much. It's only as I sit down to write about it now that I realize how dangerously close this episode came to being utterly ridiculous. And to a degree, that's what's so great about Fringe this season: It walks the line between perfect and ridiculous so well and walks it with such a straight face that it almost deserves points just for trying."

The A.V. Club critic Emily VanDerWerff [2]

Writing for the Los Angeles Times , critic Andrew Hanson referred to audiences' Friday night plans away from television when he commented the episode was "better than any movie you're going to see in the theater right now". [15] Hanson thought the mystery produced "surprises around every corner". [15] IGN's Ramsey Isler rated the episode 8.0/10, explaining he enjoyed the "classic Fringe" opening scene, the "decent [acting] job" by Ruck, and John Noble's performance; he also thought the script was "very clever [as] it reveals surprising story elements with innovative tricks". [16] Isler wasn't sure what to make of the Bell-Olivia plot twist however, commenting that "this new William Bell thing is either going to end up as the best plot device of the season, or the cheesiest thing in recent sci-fi history". [16]

Billy Grifter from Den of Geek was slightly disappointed with the "mad scientist" storyline as he felt it had been done before, but found several redeeming qualities: Alan Ruck's performance and the last five minutes featuring Noble and Blair Brown, and Torv with Joshua Jackson. [17] Grifter thought the Noble-Brown scene was "actually very funny," praising the two actors' performances, and added that this humor made the following Torv-Jackson scene's impact "even greater". [17] Referring to Torv's "passable" Nimoy impression, Grifter concluded that "the strength of Fringe is that it can take a rather light and fluffy premise, like the one in "Os", and embellish it with wonderful character moments and a genuine surprise or two". [17]

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