"Amber 31422" (3.05)

Before I begin discussion of this episode of Fringe, I will point out, as usual, that this review does contain spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, I don't recommend reading any further until you have seen it. Okay, well, we do get a couple of answers in this episode. We know, for example, that the people encased in the Quarantine Amber 31422 are technically still alive and can be revived (which doesn't make any sense to me, because how is that possible when they are not eating or drinking?), but Walternate is lying to the public and telling it that they are "legally dead." We also know, or at least can make the argument, that Cortexiphan was not used on the Other Side (something that will be discussed more fully). As usual, however, I find myself asking more questions, which is typical of not only Fringe but J.J. shows in general (Alias and LOST), so I am not surprised. I, in fact, like it. I just want all of the questions to be answered by the end of the series (and to any U.K. readers, I mean the entire show, not the season). This episode is fairly good. It is far from being the worst episode I have ever seen, but it certainly isn't the best, either. I have struggled with a Bunsen Burner rating, but I eventually arrived at 7.5 Returns to the Tank.

One question that I have been asking myself is why Walternate and Brandon would have Redverse Olivia's memories stored in some sort of bank. I mean, I understand that it has been his intention to do this to Olivia, but for how long, and are they even related? Is it just required, for some reason, that all Fringe Division agents submit to such a procedure when they are hired, or is it simply that when, in the second season finale, "Over There," Walter asks Bolivia to do him a favor, he also asked her to submit to some sort of procedure during which a copy of her memory was made? I don't know, but on some level, these questions are important to me. I find it funny how Walternate says to Olivia that he would like to put her through a series of experiments "with your permission," because what would he have done if he didn't have her permission? Granted, I understand that she, at the time, thinks that she is Bolivia and that Bolivia is very dedicated and that he therefore counted on her agreeing to it (which is why he transferred Bolivia's memories over in the first place), but I'm just hypothetically positing the question - what if she had said no? What would he have done?

At first, I was very confused as to why people have been protesting, demanding to "free the ambered," but then I realized that they probably just want them freed so that they can give them a proper funeral and burial, not that they know that they are alive. However, one question that this episode asks and never answers is how the Rose brother knew that his brother could be saved. We probably won't ever have a conclusive answer, because the situation with the Rose brothers is most likely purely episodic. By the way, to anyone who may have recognized the brothers but didn't know who they are, exactly (I was in that boat until my boyfriend, Ray, told me who they are), they are the Ashmore brothers (Shawn and Aaron), and one of them has been on Smallville (which I don't watch), and the other has played Iceman in the X-Men movies. I don't really like this episodic story with the twin brothers, but first of all, I would like to point out that this is not the first time that we have seen twins on Fringe. We have seen them in the pilot episode and in episode 1.19, "The Road Not Taken," for example, so I am wondering if there is some sort of picture that we are supposed to be seeing. Does it have to do with the fact that we are dealing with twin universes? Second of all, I like how the concept of the twins switching places ties into our two Olivias having switched places.

I really like Lincoln Lee. I think that he is bringing a great deal to the show, but what doesn't make sense to me is how he is going to be kept on the show, which I hope he will be. We know that he is a resident of the Other Side (obviously), and we also know based on what the actors/actresses and crew have told us that this red-blue pattern will last for about half of the season until it all comes to some sort of head, so I am wondering what will happen when it does. I don't want to lose Lee or Charlie (again), for that matter. I love the comment made about the homemade laser knife, that it is rather sophisticated tech for someone of Rose's status. I had to laugh, because that is putting it mildly in comparison to this side. That is pretty much unheard of on this side; no one would have that on hand. The first time that I watched the episode, I didn't really catch dates, so I discovered after chatting with members of and listening to the Fringe Podcast that the breach at Harvard Yard occurred on October 17, 1989 (another new detail that we get from this episode), and I am not 100% sure (as was no one in the chat room), but I think that 1989 is the year that the lab fire happened on this side, so perhaps, Walter was trying to cross over a second time?

Yet another question that is answered for us in this episode is what exactly the Amber 31422 does when it seals an area off, and I absolutely love the scene in which we see the black hole on the UHD (unidentified hand-held device) sucking up a helicopter, because we got an idea of just how bad the situation has been over there. Black holes that suck things up? How horrifying! Anyway, I also really love the scene between Walternate and Colonel Broyles at the restaurant, and I have to have to wonder about the newspaper article that Walternate is reading. It is in reference to Peter having been taken away from him in 1985, and Walternate seems to genuinely miss Peter. Does he really only want him for the Weapon, or does he actually love him? I don't know, but I find it worth bringing up and talking about. To bring his character back down again, though, he tells Broyles that even though the ambered victims can be saved, to do so would mean weakening the amber, so once again, we see a scientist putting science above all else, even lives. As if it justifies his actions, he tells Broyles that "nature doesn't recognize good and evil. Nature only recognizes balance and imbalance," which is a great quote, but I'm sorry, Secretary Bishop, it doesn't justify your actions.

Speaking of which, Walternate says to Brandon in this episode that "only those who risk going too far find out how far they can go." Why is Walternate familiar with this quote? Our Walter heard it from Bell, so did Bell share that quote with Walternate, as well? If so, he made a terrible mistake. Anyway, Olivia does go back into a tank in this episode, even though it is a much more sophisticated tank. I can't see it being as comfortable, because your entire body is underwater, including your head, and even though she gets some sort of tank through which to breathe, it only takes care of her mouth. Her nose is still exposed to the water, and that made me really nervous watching it. It doesn't seem very uncomfortable. I was also a little put off by the underwater speaker. I know that when my younger brother, Cody, used to go underwater in the pool, we would experiment and see if we could hear if we tried to shout to each other, and it was barely audible, yet Olivia can apparently hear Walternate just fine through a speaker? It seems a little hokey to me, but perhaps, as my boyfriend suggested, they simply have that kind of technology. When Olivia does end up crossing over, she finds herself in a gift shop, and I have to wonder, what is the significance of that gift shop? Is it just that it is across from Ground Zero? Also, can I just ask, what is the significance of snow globes on this show?

The second time that Olivia crosses over, she calls Ella to wish her a happy birthday, and that confuses me, because all "Peter" tells Olivia is that Ella lives in Chicago with Rachel and that she turned seven that day; he doesn't give her a phone number, so how does she know the number? I guess that I'm not going to lose any sleep over that, but it does puzzle me. Also, I could have sworn that we already stated that Ella was seven. I could be wrong about that, but I could have sworn that she was already seven. Perhaps, if she was, then Olivia's memory is still a little fuzzy? Speaking of "Peter," I love how he (Olivia?) recalls twins in school that always got good grades even though one wasn't so smart because they switched places, twins named Nina and Gina. That made me laugh, especially after seeing the image the Tumblr image (pictured below). I do know, though, that Olivia's demeanor at the end, after having called Ella, completely changed, and she was suddenly acting like herself again. I think that she may be back, and we will, of course, find out in episode 3.07, "The Abducted," but I have reason to believe that she is herself again, so she will probably pretend for a little while now, to be Bolivia, that is. If she is back, does that mean that she remembers having been Bolivia? I would think so, since she doesn't seem confused when she gets out of the tank.

Also (something that has already been briefly mentioned with a promise of further clarification), we may have gotten confirmation in this episode that Cortexiphan was never used on the Other Side, which would help support the idea that in "The Box" (3.02), when Bolivia says that it is going to be tough for her to mimic Olivia's photographic memory, it is because Olivia's photographic memory is due to her having been given Cortexiphan. Brandon and Walternate are puzzled by the chemical bound to Olivia's neurons. If Cortexiphan was administered on the Other Side, you would think that Walternate, of all people, would be aware of it and would be able to recognize it, especially with most of the technology being so sophisticated on the Other Side. I guess it was technically already confirmed, since Walternate doesn't seem to know (or at least is pretending not to know) how it is that Olivia can travel between the universes, but I think that this was meant to be an official confirmation. However, what doesn't make sense about that is that in episode 1.19, "The Road Not Taken," only one of the twins explodes on this side, and that was due to her having been given Cortexiphan like Olivia, and on the Other Side, both of the twins exploded, which means that they must have been given Cortexiphan, too. A plot-hole, perhaps? I hope not.

So, we get to see a little more of Alter-Astrid (Altrid? Bastrid?) this week, and we see that, yet again, she doesn't usually make eye contact with people when she talks to them, and to those of you who may not know, Jasika Nicole, who plays the part of Astrid, has said before that Alter-Astrid is autistic, and I can't remember who exactly, but I do know that she has someone close to her who has Autism, so I am sure that she is doing a good job of portraying it. There are a couple more aspects of this episode that have me stumped, though. Firstly, why did the bank-robbing initiate a need to Quarantine to begin with? Also, if when people are removed from the Amber 31422, they can be saved, how come our team didn't recognize that when they removed the people from the bus in episode 1.03, "The Ghost Network"? Is there some specific process that one needs to follow in order to resuscitate an ambered victim? If so, then when the people from "The Ghost Network" were buried, presumed dead, did they eventually come to and realize that they were buried alive? What a horrifying fate if so! Also horrifying is what we learn in this episode, that when someone is ambered, they are still aware of every moment with their minds stuck in the last thought that they had. Okay, well, perfect time to close this up. Be sure to catch the next episode of Fringe, episode 3.06, "6955 kHz," and be with me in prayer that the ratings will go up.

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