Fringe 365 Project – #186


I have a lot of questions about William Bell. A LOT of questions…

For starters, why did his acolytes in Season 4 (i.e., Jessica) know so much about the Observers?

What was he doing in the typewriter shop when Walter, Peter and Astrid ambered themselves? There seems to have been an argument or confrontation. What about?

The last we hear about Bell, he is still in amber, but captured by the Observers. Captured… or preserved?

Who is that “scientist in Norway,” anyway?


Walter Bishop is one of the greatest characters of sci-fi (in my humble opinion) — but behind every great character, stands more greatness. On Fringe, that character is William Bell as personified by the great Leonard Nimoy.

William Bell barely appears in Fringe’s 100 hours, and he is almost more of an idea than a man. He is sometimes on screen, but more often talked about. A mysterious and powerful figure, he seems to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Is he good or bad? We’re always kept guessing – although at the end of Season 4, a version of him seemed to go completely over the edge into megalomania.

I think William Bell, as chimeric as he is, is one of Fringe’s most brilliant ideas. His existence in the Fringe universe creates a huge dramatic space, a cloud of possibility into the unknown. He is a less human Walter Bishop – both in a wonderful and a potentially horrible sense. Belly always dreamt bigger than Walter, but his dreams could also be more twisted. Belly was Walter’s great friend, but also his great enemy. He is above Walter — always one step ahead, always with some wisdom to share – but also below him. Belly does things Walter would never do — like steal another scientist’s ideas — or be the mastermind behind child experiments, or build shapeshifters, or… who knows… maybe even build the Observer race?

We never really know where Belly is at any time — until he happens to show up out of the blue. Like a god (or a devil?) he seems to travel between all universes, between life and death, and maybe even in time. I’d venture to say that without Belly to keep him on his toes, Walter Bishop would never be such a great character. And it’s interesting that when he had a chance and much justification to kill him, Walter could not pull the trigger on his old friend.

Where is William Bell now? Unknown. But I like to think that somewhere — wherever the gods of science fiction live, in that great laboratory in the future — Walter is finally catching up with him, and that they will meet again.