Friday, November 5, 2010

Fringe: Season 3 Episode 5 - Amber 31422

Welcome Fringe Dwellers!  Well, what can I say?  Fringe is working really hard this season on getting my "W-word" seal of approval!  But, out of respect for LOST, I'm still looking for another word to exclaim my excitement for how awesome this show is!  The best compliment I can give it is that it has achieved my "most anticipated weekly show" status, and that is a pretty big deal if I must say so myself.  They just keep finding new ways to keep this weekly universe swapping story telling fresh and interesting.  I am just loving it!  But, enough with me dispensing the pleasantries.  We have a recap to get to.  So, let's get to it!

The fun thing about the Over There Universe is that each week that we are there we are learning more about that world's history, the POST "incident" protocols and consequences and also getting to know more about the dopplegangers and some of their co-horts that we never met in our universe.  And the FRINGE CASE OF THE WEEK is tying in beautifully with themes that our main characters are going through.   So, this week?  We learned more about the amber encased victims, Olivia's internal struggle to break free of her brainwashing and as the FOX promos have so justly stated:  The Journey Home has begun!  Awesome cliffhanger.  Awesome episode.  Awesome Recap? be the judge!

Fringe Case of the Week
(The Tale of the Switcheroo)

The case this week revolved around 2 twin brothers: Joshua and Matthew Rose.  (Sidenote: I've seen X-Men, I've seen Smallville and I never realized that the actors playing Iceman and Jimmy Olsen were the respective twin brother actors!  Just figured it was the same guy.)   Long story short, and was unveiled slowly throughout the episode, Matthew was a good man and Joshua was a criminal.  Joshua developed a way (using some crazy kind of gas) to "walk through walls" and rob banks.  Yes, there was a similar case in OUR world in the first season I believe.  One difference, when Joshua would break rules of matter, it would cause a tear in the universe walls.  Matthew came to stop Joshua from robbing a bank 4 years ago, and the Fringe team sealed up the area in Amber with Matthew encased with various others in amber.   Joshua, pulled a Don Draper and assumed Matthew's identity and let Joshua "die" in the amber. 
  • Here's the issue with that.  The guilt was eating at Joshua and he developed a way to drill Matthew out of the amber.  GUESS WHAT?  The resuscitated him and he's alive!  

  • Oh yeah, and Walternate had a little sidechat with Broyles explaining that ALL people that are in the quarantined areas can be resuscitated!  And, if it was ever found out that one of the people was freed from the amber and alive, it would cause worldwide pandemonium.   Yes, Walternate expresses a little regret in this episode for having to take such drastic measures to save their existence.  Broyles paraphrased the great Spock while they were discussing the FIRST tear in the universe and having to seal off the Harvard Yard and 63 civilians in amber.  You know the whole "Needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (or the one)" speech.  If they didn't do it, half of Boston would have been wiped out.  It didn't make me feel any more sympathy for Walternate though.  Yes, our Walter helped create this monster, and Walternate may be doing what he feels is right.  But, right now I just cannot find it in my heart to sympathize with what he's attempting to do!  Of course, we don't know exactly what his plans are yet.  We just ASSUME he's trying to destroy our world or do something that benefits his world and harms ours. 

  • Anyway, back to the case.  Olivia was very quick to crack the code on the case, which may have come as a shock to Joshua.  Of course, it was all a case of her sort of going through the same identity crisis and the voice in her head that guided her to the solution.  But we'll get to that in a bit.  She also was able to HEAR a bomb set to go off in Joshua's old residence.  She saved Scarlie (AlternaCharlie) and Lincoln by warning them and getting them all to safety.   So what is up with Olivia's heightened senses?  I know she's special and all, but we never had her "HEARING" bombs over in our world, right?   I could be looking way too much into this, but I found it interesting. 

  • It could have been Joshua's plan all along, but he put his plan into motion to perform one more bank robbery.  He used his crazy device to open up a hole and break into the bank.  But he had no tools with him.  Matthew showed up to stop him, as did Olivia (who was knocked unconscious and she can thank Charlie and Lincoln for getting her out of there before she got amberized!  I can't believe that Broyles would let that happen.  Surely, Walternate wouldn't be happy!).   Anyway, Joshua decided to sacrifice himself into amber to let Matthew RESUME his life and have the questioning cease about how both of them are alive.  It was kind of an emotional moment!    Matthew was able to return to his wife and 2 kids and his screw up brother would go into an eternal state of frozen'ness, where he felt he belonged in the first place.   He didn't belong in the world he was living.  Sounds familiar to a certain main character, right? 

  • In the end Olivia knew that there was a switch that occurred and delivered the "sad" news to Matthew (who was actually Matthew now).  She swiped some of his print and was threatening to analyze it, but once she saw one of his kids, she backed off.  Case Closed, and cue the return of HEAD PETER (we'll get there in a sec)    

Olivia's Journey Home

So we know that Walternate is trying to learn the ways of how Olivia is able to cross between worlds.  We learned in the last "OVER THERE" episode that they were going to build a sensory deprivation tank to try and channel these abilities.  Olivia's personal story begins with a regular checkup with Doc Brandon at the Department of Defense - Liberty Island. 
  • We learn that Olivia has been thinking she's Bolivia (yep, that's what the producers are calling her) for 8 days now.  
  • Walternate arrives and it would seem that this is the first time we have ever seen him smile.  Awkward!!  Walternate provided a dossier to Olivia (who thinks she's Bolivia) explaining how the OVER THERE Olivia, aka her, can cross between worlds safely.  Although Walternate, tricky genius that he is, explains to her that he believes that SHE has this same ability but they need to perform experiments to see if it's possible.   He claims that these experiments are for a reason of being able to DEFEND this world from the other side.  Sounds like an offer she can't refuse, even if it's a lie!  She accepts to take part in the experimentations. 

  • As mentioned previously, we have the return of HEAD PETER in this episode.  It's the constant reminder to Olivia that something is OFF in this world.  She does not belong here.  She is in denial for most of the episode and tries to pretend he isn't there.  But there was one instance where he mentioned how he knew a set of twins that both got straight A's in school.   This triggered the idea in her head that the twins played the ol' switcheroo.  So, she ended up listening to Peter in this case which, in turn, helped his case to get her to listen to him more later on.
  • But in the meantime, she was placed in the deprivation tank for almost 5 hours the first time.  And it wasn't until Walternate ordered the increased drug dosage to near lethal levels before she reached a point where she crossed over.  Where did she cross over to?  Well, a gift shop to be exact with green statue of liberty snow globes (you know, because she's on liberty island!).   She knocked over a snow globe which broke on the floor.  And of course, she freaked out and was brought back OVER THERE.  The poor kid got blamed by his mother for breaking the snow globe himself.  I got a good laugh out of that.  Reminded me of all the times my imaginary friends broke stuff around me when I was growing up! 

  • Other subplots were going on here too.  Walternate warned Broyles that Olivia would be going through these experimentations, so if she started acting odd to raise a flag.   And, Olivia of course was seeing visions of Peter when her mother came to visit so this raised an alarm to her.  She, in turn, went to Broyles to tell him that she has gone back to work too early.   And Broyles, although impressed with her gifts of figuring out these cases, puts her on bed rest.  

  • After the case is resolved and Olivia visits Matthew, Head Peter returns to start ranting off lots of things about the other world.  Her sister is alive, she has a niece and today is her birthday, the twin towers have fallen.   Olivia states that there is no way to prove it but Peter disagrees.  Olivia returns to Liberty Island earlier than scheduled and demands to be put back in the tank.  (Not sure why this didn't raise alarms with Brandon and Walternate but the writers can get away with it because everyone is itching to see Olivia have a major breakthrough in her return!) 

  • She is put in the tank and more time passes.  Brandon points out some synthetic compound attached to the neurons in her brain that must have been present since childhood.  Hmmm during the crazy experiments that Walter and William Bell did to her?  Yeah, probably.  Of course, with them discovering this, I'm wondering if they are one step closer to determining how to cross worlds safely WITHOUT the help of Olivia.  Because, it seems now that Olivia will be even more determined to get BACK.  And, if and when she does, I don't think these "OVER THERE" stories will suddenly stop.   And at some point, we may start to see some regular crossing of worlds to whatever end.  I'm definitely intrigued to the possibilities! 

  • Anyway, Olivia reaches critical levels again and finds herself knocking over yet another snow globe in OUR Liberty Island gift shop.   She looks at a rack of post cards and sees a picture of the Twin Towers with the phrase "we will never forget" on it.   She looks out the window and sees the New York skyline with a gaping hole in it.  She looks down at a telephone and without thinking just starts dialing numbers (and of course, I'm seeing time running out in the episode and yelling at her to hurry up!!!).  Who picks up the phone but her niece Ella screaming "I knew you'd call me on my birthday Aunt Liv!"  And before she can respond she sees the world around her falling out of focus.  I wanted her to tell Ella something that would be able to trigger some chain of events back to Walter and Peter but that would be too easy and too improbable!   

  • She awakens and Brandon and Walternate are pulling her out of the tank.  But, the best part of all of this?  She used her quick thinking and told them that she saw NOTHING!  It didn't work!   Ohhhhh yeaaaah....OLIVIA'S BACK! 

Just fantastic.  So we have had a few episodes with Olivia unknowingly being Bolivia.  Now, we'll have Olivia kinda or fully knowing who she is but pretending to be Bolivia for however long it takes to figure out what is going on and get back home.  What will her plan be?  One can only guess.   But, like I mentioned, it may not matter to Walternate in the long run if he already has figured out what he needs to send an army of OVER THERE'ers to our world or whatever he wants to do.   And of course, on the other side, Walter and Peter are slowly putting together the DOOMSDAY MACHINE all according to his plan.  I know we're only 5 episodes in, but this is shaping up to be one grand season finale.  Loving this show!   

We're not done yet, let's get to some of the fun stuff: 

  • Glyph Code is EVENT - Well, try and get me to NOT relate this to the new show on NBC that I'm recapping as well!  Of course, I'm sure EVENT in this case may refer to Olivia's various events: "Waking Up," getting back home twice!  Yeah, it's all a good time!  (Kudos and thanks to Fringepedia for the nice glyph code screenshots each week)
  • Observer Spotted - right when the Finge team gets on the scene of the latest "Bank Heist" the observer is hanging out in the shadows just chillin and watching!  You know, because that's what they do! 

  • Lincoln mentions to Olivia who has been late to the scene 3 days in a row that she needs to stop taking the "Nixon Parkway".   I'm no New York roads expert so I'm not sure which road this replaces.  They were traveling to Brooklyn so it could be the East River Drive or the Brooklyn/Queens expressway.   But that doesn't matter.  The point is, it would seem like Nixon was "not a crook" over there!   
  • Amber - So all the people are alive in that amber!  This opens up lots of possibilities for future stories.  What if our Walter finds a way to seal up those universal tears and SAVE the world?  These people could be brought back.  Cities could be saved.  Sure, the world may go bankrupt in therapy sessions, but it is certainly interesting.  Or hey, what if more incidents of people breaking free happen and everyone turns on the Secretary of Defense?    We also noticed that there are lots of protesters to sealing off areas in amber.   They have left flowers and mementos at the scene of the bank sealing with signs like AMBER KILLS!  Or something like that.  Nothing really to add to what I've already stated, but just observing!  
  • Also with the amber, we learned that people are still AWARE when frozen in the amber.  They have a strong memory of the last thing they saw before being sealed but it's not like they were put into a sleep state or whatever.  Like I said....lots of therapy! 
  • The tears in the universe were referred to as "Micro-Black Holes".  We see live footage from 20 years ago of Central Manhatan (their Central Park) being torn apart.    

  • How weird is ASTRID over there?  She's almost like a statistical robot and not much of a free thinker.  She could not process what Olivia was explaining to her when discussing the "switcheroo".  But when Olivia was eventually proven correct Astrid robotically tells Broyles "she was right."  Just weird.  Not sure if there is any backstory to that, but it's kind of crazy.  

  • Lincoln is very close to cured.  He just has some minor scarring on his face.  If each episode is any indication, but the next one he should be totally healed.  Not too bad.  What has it been like a couple weeks since he was burnt to a crisp?  That's some crazy technology.   Yet, they're still fighting smallpox?   Yikes. 

  • The date of the Harvard sealing was October 17th, 1989.  Walternate woke up happy that day.  Not sure if it's important, but it seems like it might be something referred to again. 
So that's it folks.  We're back and better than ever!  I can't wait to rejoin the saga of Walter and Peter next week and see where that story is headed.  And I'll be here to provide my musings and recappings as I've been doing for the past 5 episodes.  Look for the return of THE EVENT next Monday and possibly some other thoughts on TV as we dive deeper into November Sweeps!   Hope you enjoyed my ramblings and I'll see you next week! 

End Credits

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Mike V. said...

Missed one observation, but Ken Tucker on EW caught it:

"Cary Grant, not Humphrey Bogart, starred in The Maltese Falcon on Earth B. (Lincoln Lee: “Like Cary Grant said, the stuff that dreams are made of… “)"


Bryan said...

Oct 17, 1989 was the Loma Prieta earthquake in Northern California. Stopped the World Series and caused tons of damage including toppling a piece of the top section of the Bay Bridge. So perhaps Walter caused both the earthquake in our universe and the Harvard incident in the other.

Mike V. said...

Good call Bryan! I totally should have googled that date. Totally remember that earthquake. Using that specific date, they must have intentionally wanted to die the 2 events together...but I wonder why an indident in San Francisco would cause issues in an alternate universe in Boston???

Mike V. said...

Hmm, this ties back to the season 2 episode AUGUST also...the observer August rescued a girl Christine from the Oakland bridge collapse during the 1989 Earthquake. Her parents were killed but she wasn't. Then he tried to prevent her from dying in a plane crash. Can't be a coincidence!

AUStarwars said...

I thought it was a very solid episode...building towards the eventual joining of the worlds and olivia crossing back over (you know so she can go back to being her cardboard, boring self)..Im still wondering if the Amber harkons back to the first overall episode, wasnt there Amber involved in that car/bus crash or something?

Mike V. said...

AUSW - I think we're past the days of Olivia being boring. Her character has evolved a lot now. (well, at least this is my hope) All 3 of their characters and THEN SOME have evolved. I think you may be right with the amber. I really need to watch that first episode again....there may be something amber related with the "PLANE CRASH" lol But I know what you're thinking about too. In a later episode (maybe even the 2nd one)...there was some Bus crash where everyone was frozen or something. It may have been amber. I may need to put Fringe Seasons 1 and 2 Blu-Rays on my Christmas List! lol

MJ said...

Yeah but Joshua seemed to have no guilt over leaving his partner who helped to get his brother out now stuck in the amber ! LOL

Great ep ! Now that I finally got to watch it.

I was actually in the SanFran area during that earthquake, though not at the ball game.

MJ said...

I went and read the recaps on fox from season 1. The third ep had the bus where the guy released white smoke and everyone was frozen inplace in a 'misty translucent substance'. But it was not described in a way that sounded anything like the amber.

Mike V. said...

@MJ - Yeah, Joshua seemed to only care about what he did to his brother...anyone else that had to suffer was fine with him! That's pretty crazy you were in SanFran during the earthquake. My claim to fame is that I got stuck in Detroit during the blackout (was that in 2003?)....was NOT fun! We were just stopping there on the way to Phoenix and it was perfect timing to get stuck over night in there!

Nice job researching on the Fox site! Yeah, it's starting to all come back to me about that early episode....maybe it wasn't an amber color, but it was certainly similar! I still put Seasons 1 and 2 on my wish list to rewatch them. I'm sure it will be a good time.

MJ said...

Interesting Fringe article - and scary.

Wonder what they mean about Astrid ? Not happy with the 'last season' talk.

Mike V. said...

Definitely an interesting article, thanks for sharing! I noted in this recap that Astrid seems REALLY off in Alt-world. She seems like a human computer...but one that gets her stats wrong lol And she talks all robotic like. Very bizarre.

I'm not happy with the "last season" talk either. I guess it was inevitable after having under 5 million viewers last week. I do not want the show to move to Friday or Monday like they suggested but if it means the survival of the show...I'm game...just may have problems blogging in either case.

I'd even be up for them moving the show to FX or something like that. Though, granted, it doesn't seem to fit into the FX show genre. Too bad Universal (NBC) owns SyFy...that would be a good fit! Just can't imagine this show getting canceled when it's so good!

I'm sure Fringe Fans would unite in Chuck-like fashion to keep it on the air. Everyone will dress up like the observers and march towards FOX HQ in masses! lol