Fringe is back from its hiatus! The story continues and the plot thickens with new layers of understanding as Walternate (John Noble) and Alt!Brandon (Ryan MacDonald) start experimenting on Olivia (Anna Torv) to figure out how she can cross over on her own. More ethical lines are crossed in this episode, which makes the alternate universe less black and white and more grey – what do you know, just like our universe. Even the show’s archvillain, Walternate, is showing some interesting signs of ‘greying’.
On this week’s episode, entitled “Amber 31422”, we head back to the alternate universe where Fringe Division is investigating a particularly unique sort of robbery; someone has broken into a quarantined area and has taken someone out of the amber he had been stuck in for four years.
It soon turns out that one of my previous hunches, shared with many Fringe fans and discussed a couple of times on The Fringe Report, was right: people stuck in amber are still alive, disturbingly enough. As Walternate explains it, they are stuck in a form of suspended animation and unfortunately, cutting them out would affect its structural integrity.
It’s information like this, sprinkled throughout the episode, that delighted me, what with the extra layers of sophistication added to both the alternate universe and, most importantly, to the character of Walternate. This season really seems to be about exploring shades of grey.
Another constant source of delight are the various cute little things sprinkled throughout the episode that made me smile, including Lee’s reference to the Nixon Parkway. The Glyphs are always intriguing, and this episodes’ spelled “EVENT”. Finding the Observer has become something of an automatic reflex; he was this time behind Lee and Scarlie when they notice Olivia’s car parked behind the bank, near the end of the episode.
While as always, there are those who complain that the storyline is advancing way too slowly, there is a growing number of Fringe fans who are starting to appreciate the storytelling technique used. The plot was an intricate mix of monster-of-the-week (even though there really wasn’t a monster involved this time) and mythology.
Four years ago, Joshua Rose’s twin brother got caught in amber while breaking into a bank vault. A professional bank robber, Joshua had developed a technique to get into these bank vaults that would create an instability in the fabric between the two universes; and so, any place he’d hit would get quarantined.