Join us for our Fringe Summer re-watch, where we review every episode of Fringe during the summer hiatus. Comments are welcome as we dig into the connections made over three seasons.
When Amber 31422 first aired, I remember the reception being shaky. However, I really enjoyed this episode and do not feel it is a “throwaway” episode in any way. In an overall story involving doppelgangers, the tale of identical twins made me think about the nature of what makes us who were are. Plus, the similarity in the twins-switch versus the switched Olivias was engaging. I really enjoyed the performances by real-life twins Shawn and Aaron Ashmore. I also appreciated one of the many callbacks seen in Fringe: Walking through walls was used to steal hidden objects from vaults belonging to Walter in the Season One episode, Safe.
Olivia was fully immersed into the life of her counterpart from Over There. Walternate had no problem in fooling Olivia in a quest to find out how she was able to safely cross into his universe. Of course, in his viewpoint, Olivia was an invader and enemy. Yet I found it difficult to feel sympathy for him because he also treated the Olivia from his own world as a pawn. His Olivia was sent blind into another world, with no knowledge of Waltenate’s intentions for that world - or for his son. However, she was eventually able to see just how wrong she was treated by Walternate. Walternate used both of the Olivias’ desires to be heroes to his advantage.
The Weight of the World
This episode showed some more of the consequences of Amber protocol, particularly the loss of many lives. Yet, there was a terrible secret that was kept from the public: Those trapped in Amber were not dead, merely in a state of suspended animation.
Walternate felt the loss of something precious. His son. He also described the first time he had to initiate the Amber protocol, and the date stuck out to me: October 17, 1989. The date of the earthquake in San Francisco, which in our world was important. In the episode August, the parents of Christine Hollis died in the earthquake. The observer August watched her all of her life, and he fell in love with her - he protected her with his very life.
Walternate told Broyles a statement that pretty much encapsulates his character:
Nature doesn't recognize good and evil, Phillip. Nature only recognizes balance and imbalance. I intend to restore balance to our world. Whatever it takes.
Unfortunately the true “balance” meant the survival of both worlds, as Peter came to find out before blinking to wherever he is - or isn’t…
While I truly can not feel complete sympathy for him, Walternate's heart-felt issues concerning the magnitude of Amber dispersal did show a soft side to the man. Truly, it would be awful to have to do terrible things to some families, so that the greater good could be accomplished. Walter would face some of these very hard facts in 6B when he had to grapple with the same reservations about using Amber as Walternate did. Even to the point of Ambering Olivia and Peter, if it came down to it.
How Far Would You Go?
Joshua Rose made a mistake and paid for it many years. But as he said, he never gave up. He wanted to do “one good thing,” so he made sure that he was trapped in Amber at the end, so that his brother could rejoin his family in peace. Danielle Rose had mentioned that Matthew had complete awareness the entire time he was trapped, and that his last fearful thought was stuck in his mind. At least in the end, it seemed Joshua was stuck in a thought of happiness for doing the right thing. Once again Fringe shows how far one would go for those he or she loves, and this is another example of “being a good man.”
Two People Who Look Exactly Alike
The key to projection Peter’s statement to Olivia concerning the Rose twins being comparable to her situation with her alternate is the word “Look.” He also brought up an example of two twins that Olivia knew in school, one being smarter than the other. In other words, same packaging, but different contents.
In the case of Joshua and Matthew, they may have been genetic copies, but otherwise were very different. Joshua exhibited a capability with technology whereas Matthew was an accountant.
It is a terrible thing to look like a killer. Joshua, posing as his brother Matthew, told Olivia and Lincoln:
JOSHUA ROSE: My-- my brother-- ripped families apart, okay? Mothers and husbands trapped in amber because of the crimes he committed. He'd know better than to contact me. Do you have any idea what it was like for me when Joshua's face started showing up on the news? I mean, every time I went to the market, to a movie, take my kids to Little League... people would look at me and see him.
OLIVIA: That must have been very difficult for you.
JOSHUA ROSE: You know, just because we look alike, it doesn't mean we have anything in common.
Walter spoke about Walternate in The Day We Died:
Imagine coming over here to try to save the world... only to be stuck here when your world was destroyed. Not to mention having the same face as the most reviled man in the universe.
When Olivia came back from the other side, she had to come face-to-face with the revelation that she was essentially replaced. She dallied back and forth thinking that her alternate was Peter’s preference. It really hurt when she told Nina Sharp, “She’s like me, but better.” Olivia discounted herself so much.
It must have been terrible for Danielle Rose to live with a man that looked exactly like her trapped husband. After all the time he was gone, they were able to pick-up where they left off, still very much in love.
For All Intents and Purposes?
The personality of our Olivia peaked through the attempt at making her just like her alternate.
- When she was investigating Joshua Rose’s apartment, she noticed the sound of leaking gas, but Lincoln and Charlie did not. Was this an example of acute hearing exhibited by Olivia in prior episodes?
- When Olivia figured out that Matthew was being played by his brother Joshua, she was very tenacious with Broyles. Very much like the Olivia Dunham we knew from the Pilot episode and the early part of season one. She simply would not take no for an answer. Alt-Astrid seemed taken aback by her relentless drive.
- She also exhibited the kindness that I love in Olivia. When she saw Matthew Rose’s son, she wrapped up her investigation, knowing full well what had really happened.
What is Real?
Projection Peter made another appearance, and explained to Olivia that pills would not make him go away. Olivia told him that he’s “not real,” to which he smiled. I’m fairly well-convinced that Olivia’s visions of Peter will have far more significance in season four. One of the lines in The Firefly seemed to be a bit of Peter being sarcastic with Walter but did this line mean more?
WALTER: Peter. You're up early.
PETER: Oh, no, I'm still asleep upstairs in my bed. You're just talking to an astral projection of me.
Did Lincoln Lee lose family/friends to an Amber quarantine?
Walternate mentioned to Broyles a breach in Harvard yard. Did this have anything to do with Walter in our universe?
Did the other Olivia receive a phone call from Rachel about the call with Ella? It is odd that nothing ever came from the sudden call drop due to Olivia crossing back Over There.
If Peter Was Removed From the Equation...
Olivia was Over There because of Peter. The events that caused the breaches in the universe may have still occurred without Peter. So, if Olivia wasn’t Over There…
Joshua Rose might have been able to avoid detection and avoided encasing himself in Amber if our Olivia was not on the case.
Charlie and Lincoln may have died in the blast at Joshua Rose’s apartment.