FRINGE “Amber 31422” Review

FRINGE (FOX) Amber 31422 Review

FRINGE “Amber 31422” Season 3 Episode 5 – So the baseball playoffs are finally over (congrats Giants fans!) and we get a new episode of FRINGE. I’m actually surprised Fox didn’t try to work in the baseball playoffs into an episode of Fringe, maybe in the alter-verse they’re still the New York Giants. Anyways, let’s see what happens when the Fringe team faces some double-trouble, and Olivia takes a ride in a sensory deprivation tank.

What happens in Amber 31422?

Welcome back to the alter-verse! This week’s episode focuses on the Amber, the resin-like material (officially known as Amber 31422) used by the Fringe team to seal sites that are “crossing over” to our universe. Unfortunately, anyone trapped in the Amber is killed, or are they? Matthew Rose cuts identical twin brother Joshua out of the Amber using a home made laser cutter (how about getting one of those for Christmas, eh?). At first appearing dead, Joshua is revived, but soon the two have to escape before the Amber reforms.

This is the first time someone’s been freed from the Amber, and the Fringe team is called upon to find out how or why it happened. At first the though was that the robbery was to loot the trapped bodies or belongings, but Broyles lets the team in on a secret from Walternate. The people in the Amber are in fact alive and in suspended animation, but removing their bodies would cause the containment to collapse and trigger more breach events. Therefore the priority is to find Joshua before anyone else finds out he’s alive.

The team’s first stop is Joshua’s apartment, sealed since he was caught in the Amber. Their search leads to a secret room with lots of interesting technology in it. Lincoln starts to give us a lecture on the sonic device we saw in Fringe Season 1, but Olivia stops him to point out some noise we can’t hear. Seconds later, entire building goes boom. Everyone is okay with some cuts and scrapes, but Charlie’s arm has to be reset by a weird robot so he’s out for a bit.

Lincoln and Olivia decide to tempt fate and go visit Matthew Rose to ask about Joshua. Matthew is able to get the agents to leave, but then goes to the back of the house to see his brother. That’s when we learn the real bombshell, Matthew is Joshua and Joshua is Matthew. Turns out that Matthew had gone to stop Joshua from robbing a bank, but was trapped in the Amber after Joshua was already clear. Joshua took over Matthew’s life while working to free him.

Meanwhile, Walter convinces Olivia to undergo tests in the sensory deprivation tank to understand how she could travel between worlds. Walternate’s setup is more high tech and classier than Walter’s tank back in our universe with a cow sharing the lab space. Still, Walternate is creepier when explaining the experiment’s use of psychotropic drugs to Olivia. Someone needs to get Walternate a fuzzy sweater and a plaid shirt. At first the experiment doesn’t seem to work, so Walternate ups the dosage, then all heck breaks loose. Olivia suddenly appears in a gift shop (apparently in our universe?!), and breaks a snow globe in front of a boy before disappearing again.

Olivia gets back to her apartment, where she tries to come to terms with what happened in the experiment. Imaginary Peter appears and does his best Harvey the white rabbit impersonation by suggesting that the Rose twins could have switched. When the Fringe team tries to prove this out with retina scans, the results don’t back up Olivia. Lincoln finds a potential break in the case, but Broyles sends Olivia home instead, concerned that she’s not stable after the experiment.

On her way out of Fringe Division, Olivia uses Alt-Astrid to identify a potential target if Joshua Rose were trying to rob another bank. She goes to the location and finds evidence that Joshua is there, but just as she thinks she’s got the drop on him, he tasers her and goes into the bank. The Fringe team is alerted to the robbery attempt, which is triggering a molecular destabilization event. Broyles orders a quarantine using the Amber, but Charlie and Lincoln convince him to hold off until they are able to pull an unconscious Olivia from the bank.

Matthew shows up in the bank vault to stop the robbery, but Joshua explains that his goal was to get himself trapped in Amber to take attention off of Matthew. As the Amber resin starts to form in the vault, Matthew leaves and heads back home. Olivia comes to inform him that Joshua is trapped in the Amber, and actually gets proof that could prove the brothers had switched. She decides to not follow through when she realizes that she would be taking Matthew away from his family for a second time.

Peter reappears and convinces Olivia that seeing him is proof that she is not from the alter-verse. To see if she really is going crazy, she goes back into sensory deprivation tank and reappears in the gift shop. This time, though, she looks around and sees that the Twin Towers are not standing and then calls her niece (who doesn’t exist in the alter-verse). When she reawakes in the alter-verse, Olivia tells Walternate that she didn’t travel this time – all she saw was black.

What I Thought About The Episode

I was a little concerned that the break in the show the last couple of weeks due to the World Series may cause some viewers to become confused or lose interest in Fringe. This was a strong episode that gave us a great Fringe division case while also moving along the meta-storyline. Hopefully there was enough “meat” to this episode to keep casual viewers latched on and get buzz building for the show.

Acting wise, Anna Torv is still rocking as Olivia. She’s great at showing complete confidence and calm at one moment, and then presenting the vulnerable, unsure side of Olivia in very convincing fashion. Seth Gabel’s is becoming one of my favorites as well, Lincoln’s cool and smart demeanor is so much fun to watch. Special kudos for Shawn and Aaron Ashmore for doing a solid guest starring stint as the Rose twins, it was fun trying to guess whether it was Matthew or Joshua in a certain scene.

The episode also brought us some new nuggets of information about how the alter-verse is different from ours. Here are more Things I Learned About The Alter-Verse (Other Than Amber Kills):

  • Remote defibrillators – Joshua uses these to jump start Matthew’s heart just as he’s been freed from the Amber. It’s a cool piece of equipment that shows off the advancements in the alter-verse technology.
  • Cary Grant was in the Maltese Falcon – Lincoln attributes the famous quote from the Maltese Falcon, “The stuff the dreams are made of.”, to Cary Grant and not to Humphrey Bogart. Bogie was great in The Maltese Falcon, but Cary Grant would have been interesting in that role. Maybe Bogart was Roger Thornhill in the alter-verse’s North by Northwest?
  • Negative Matter Ring – This is similar to the technology that we saw in Season 1 of Fringe to allow people to walk through walls. Joshua was using the technology to open up walls into bank vaults, and then sealing them up without any evidence. Unfortunately, the technology also led to matter displacement events to trigger at the banks.
  • Oct 17, 1989 – Walternate identifies this as the first time resin was used to quarantine a matter displacement event, apparently in Boston (maybe at MIT?). In our universe it’s known as the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which occurred in the Bay Area just before Game 3 of the World Series.
  • What did you think of “Amber 31422”? How will Olivia handle the new revelations from the end of the episode? Will Walternate or Broyles catch on that she’s changed? Let me know in the comments section below. Make sure you tune in to Fox to find out “what’s the frequency, Olivia?” next Thursday at 9 PM for Fringe’s next episode, “6955 kHz”.

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