Fringe, "Amber 31422": Olivia's back... sort of

Quick Take, Fringe, "Amber 31422"
"You have to go home." - Peter


Review, Fringe, "Amber 31422"
(S03E05) In the Redniverse, Olivia is still there thinking she's Fauxlivia, and she's been back to work for eight days. Apparently, that's enough time to ask her to agree to certain tests to see if she has the powers that the supposed-other Olivia has, which she does, because it's her. But she has to do it voluntarily, or it won't work, and that was the whole point of making her think she's their Olivia to begin with.

They're working a case where someone has been cut off from Amber and revived -- which isn't supposed to be possible, and can't be known to the public because hundreds of people are currently trapped in the 'quarantines' that the amber is used for, and their families would want them all out, which would destabilize the fabric of the world since the Amber is there to stop the destabilizing. The man pulled out was, they thought, a bank robber who had been using advanced tech to rob banks, and the side effect that led to his quarantine was that the tech also weakened the fabric of the world.

But it turns out that the one in the Amber was his twin brother, and he's taken said brother's place for the last four years to come up with a way to rescue him. While the boys are tracking that case and Olivia is so sure they've been played by the twins that they call her irrational and pull her from the field, she agrees to the tests. They drop her into the isolation tank and pump her full of drugs, and for a while, nothing happens. Then she jumps, just long enough to get a boy in trouble for knocking over a snow-globe in the souvenir store she lands in before she snaps back.

Later, after mental-echo Peter has been bugging her to face who she is and go back home, she tries again, and lasts long enough to call her niece Ella for her birthday, which proves to her that everything Peter is saying is true. And she lies to them when they pull her out, but they saw the Cortexiphan at work in her brain. So Olivia's not really back, no matter what Fox's Notoriously Misleading Advertisements said, and the inevitable meeting of the Olivias is delayed again. We're five episodes in, and they keep dangling that over us, and it's starting to get irritating.

Olivia's adventures in the Redniverse are getting more and more psychological, and the more she tries to hide it, the higher the stakes get, but the less interaction we get from the rest of the cast, and that's a little annoying because they're fun characters. And it's fun to see how the characters we know could have turned out differently. Still, it was nice having a calm re-entry to the show after the mini-break, even if the preview did make it seem like it was going to be more adventurous. They're getting awfully close to wheel-spinning, though, and that isn't needed. There's twice as much story as last season, and they need to just jump in and let it all start falling apart. Teetering on the edge for too long can get real boring.

More thoughts on the episode:

  • Mental-echo Peter is so chatty. And shouldn't everyone be more concerned that she keeps reacting to things they can't see?  
  • Scarlie is the under appreciated heart of the other universe, much like our Charlie was here -- everyone is so serious and so dire, and he's very straightforward, very natural. He should get more screen-time.  
  • The whole situation with the switched Olivias is starting to feel really needlessly complicated. I mean, it makes sense that they'd want to plant one of their own in our universe, but the thing with Ourlivia having to believe she's Fauxlivia? Convoluted to the verge of being ridiculous, even if it does make sense in the context. Maybe it's just how it's been handled? But it's getting tiring keeping it all straight.  
  • It's kind of great that the general populace of the Redniverse doesn't like what the government is doing with the Amber. We've already seen glimpses that veterans are treated badly and such, and this adds to the idea that it's an unhappy totalitarian regime, and when things go south, it's sure to get really ugly over there. Maybe there will be refugees into our universe! Maybe Fauxlivia will start second-guessing her own government!
  • Video: Fringe, "Amber 31422"
    Official trailer for the episode: 

    By Samantha Holloway

    About the author

    Samantha is a freelance writer, editor and book and TV reviewer. She's currently in gradschool and working on her first novel, and one day she'll rule to world. Or marry her TV. Whichever comes first. Follow!

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