Fringe Summer Rewatch: #305 "Amber 31422" ~ Fringe Television - Fan Site for the FOX TV Series Fringe

Fringe Summer Rewatch: #305 "Amber 31422"

      Email Post       9/03/2011 02:44:00 AM      

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.

Unanswered Questions:

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.


witharmsakimbo said...

I know a lot of people think that "The Plateau" or "The Abducted" are the most interesting Over There episodes of that first bunch ("Olivia" is great too, but more special and different). "The Abducted" is certainly important for its last 15 minutes, but as with "The Plateau", I never really connected with the case. Not much does happen in "Amber 31422" in terms of overarching storyline, but it's still my favorite Over There episode of the first couple. Admittedly, that might be because I have an identical twin myself and I know how much we mean to each other and how difficult it sometimes becomes to separate the one from the other and have others and ourselves see us as different and unique people. So having the twins in this episode, I believe, makes it much much easier for us (and you don't have to be a twin to realize this) to comprehend the idea of two identical people living very different lives because of different circumstances, like the two Olivias, Walters etc.
So these parallels alone make the case of the Rose brothers intriguing. Did anyone else get really confused several times over which brother is which one? I certainly did and that surely was intentional. Remember how Walter says in Reciprocity that it's fascinating "how the tiniest change in our composition can yield such drastic changes in our behavior". The twins look so much alike and yet they're so different in their behavior and personality.
The parallels to the Olivias is really obvious, yet the twins also remind us that such oddities as doubles are not and other-wordly thing, they can exist within one universe.
Being a huge Peter Bishop fan, I was glad to see him a bit as Projection Peter and I liked Olivias picture of him, because, frankly Projection Peter is kinda fun and seems less burdened (remind you of anyone?). Just like Peter likes to see Olivia being quicker with a smile (and gets it with Altliv), Olivia has a more light image of Peter in her mind. Altlivia and Projection Peter are basically both polished versions, but ultimately these versions are cheats. Peter and Olivia eventually have to realize that in order to find real love, the love that conquers shattering universes in the future, they have to take the hard road and face their burden together. So I think that without these versions of each other, these two might have realized that they had to accept the other one's burdens and they never would have been able to work together in "The Last Sam Weiss" to get Peter into the machine.
Anyway, those were my two cents of random thoughts on this interesting episode. Another great review, thanks Aimee!

Aimee Long said...

@witharmsakimbo: I really liked the concept of the polished versions that we each may perceive in our loved ones. Often we idealize the best parts of a person. But real love comes with accepting the flaws. Thanks for the great comments!

cortexifan said...

part 1

-Olivia took a red pill, her shirt was blue.
Were those pills to prevent Olivia’s memory to come through or were they to “open her mind” so the experiment would work? Any thoughts?
-Franklin Street is what the girl wanted directions to who killed McAllistar in 2.18 The Man From The Other Side.
-Amber was also used on the bus in 1.03 The Ghost Network. How did it get to our side? Who brought it? If it was known that people trapped in Amber could have been revived, would they still be alive?
- “As Cary Grant says: Stuff that dreams are made of”; It’s The Maltese Falcon and Humphrey Bogart says it on our side.
-First time Walternate used Amber was Oct 14th 1989 in Boston, here are some other dates: Peter Bishop Act of 1991 (3.07 The Abducted), Peter was taken in 1985 (2.15 Peter, 3.15 Subject 13).
-Walternate: “Nature doesn’t recognize good and evil, only balance and imbalance. I intent to restore balance to our world.” Does that not imply that the other side (ours) needs to be in balance as well? Was that sort of a clue that Peter figured out when he created the bridge? This is what he said in 3.22 The Day We Died: “This isn't a war that can be won. Our two worlds are inextricable. If one side dies, we all die.”
-The popsicle: Is that an Olivia memory from her and her mom, or did they do stuff like that over there too?
-Going through walls was a case in 1.10 Safe where Loeb stole Walter’s device. The difference there was the grid and the danger of getting stuck. In the alternate universe it seems that method was perfected.
-How and where did the brother get all the medical equipment and meds without raising suspicion?
-Projection Peter: “Does that feel familiar? Two people who look exactly alike.” I love how flustered Olivia looks after Peter said that.
-When Olivia said to be quit, I thought she was going to recognize the case from her side as they talked about going through walls. Instead it was her super hearing saving them from the bomb. Fauxlivia had that super hearing in 3.02 The Box and heard the trains come before anyone else.
-Charlie to Lincoln: “Okay, Mr. Wizard…” another reference to Wizard of Oz.
-Fauxlivia to Lincoln: “Ok mom.” Olivia said that to Astrid in 2.19 Brown Betty.
-When Olivia went in to the tank, it reminded me of a Stargate SG1 episode where Hathor came out of the tub wearing a white gown, she had red hair and was wearing something on her head. The Peter in her head is a Stargate SG1 thing too. One episode Carter was stuck on a ship by herself and all the other characters talked to her (in her head).
-When I saw this the first time Walternate saying: “Only those who risk going too far find out how far they can go.” I shuttered. How does he know this phrase? What was the relationship between him and Bell really?
-Olivia: “… just like riding the roller coaster at Coney Island.” Liv, you don’t like roller coasters.
-Brandonate: “Oh Hell.” Peter said that in 2.19 Brown Betty as the beacon came through the wall.

cortexifan said...

part 2

- :( Poor kid in the gift shop.
-Ironic that this is a case about switched identities, hm, sounds familiar :)
-I’ll say it again, I don’t trust Mrs. Dunham.
-Olivia shaking the coffee machine. It’s ok, it’s not real coffee anyway :)
-Alt-Astrid: “I don’t follow your logic.” Just something that stood out.
-Going off and investigating on her own is definitely an Olivia trade.
-Train tracks; Peter disabled the devise on some in 3.02 The Box and here Olivia gets zapped on them. Later Fauxlivia gets zapped also when she gets kidnapped in 3.18 Bloodline.
-“Anomalous energy signature detected. Class Two breach.” Same guy says the same line in Over There Part 1.
-Sounds like Charlie and Lincoln both cared for Fauxlivia (that’s who they think she is). If they had known then that it was a doppelganger, would they have cared as much?
-This is the second time Olivia broke protocols. First time in 3.03 The Plateau when she forgot the oxygen. Since Broyles knows who she is I guess he was lenient with her. Would he have with his Olivia as well?
-Projection Peter to Olivia: “Only you can save yourself.” She did, eh, with help of Alt-Broyles (3.08 Entrada).
-Rachel moved to Chicago. I really want to know what’s so special about it. I have not been there yet :)
-So when Olivia went into the tank the first time, cortexiphan was not traceable yet. The second time she went in, Peter had just told her about Ella. So her trigger: love and fear, kicked in and the cortexiphan became traceable. I think Olivia and Ella have a very special bond.
-She broke the snow globe twice. When she crossed over in 3.07 The Abducted she was able to stabilize herself better.
-The balloons in the gift shop are blue, purple and yellow.
-I think Walternate knew she was lying.

If Peter never existed in this episode…
-would Olivia have considered it on her own that the twins switched?
-Would she have gone in the tank as scheduled?
-She would have not know about Ella and her trigger would not have set off the cortexiphan, thus the testing would have continued.

Xindilini said...

Mr. Wizard is a reference to a U.S. educational TV show that explains science to kids.

cortexifan said...

sorry about that and thanks for clearing that up. I'm not familiar with US educational TV shows. I'm not from here. Ha that sounds like a Fringe line.

Xindilini said...

I'm from Canada. I don't understand half the references everybody makes. I mainly watch a lot of documentaries.

cortexifan said...

I do live in the States now but am still learning on how things work. Do you live in Vancouver, have you been on the set? If I come can you give me any idea where to stay inexpensively?
I so want to see them filming :)

Xindilini said...

No, I've only been to Vancouver airport. I live in Toronto and work in animation production, near a street that has seen quite a lot of filming all summer.

cortexifan said...

thanks for answering back so quickly. Much appreciated. Still 17 days :)

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