Friday, November 5, 2010

Fringe “Amber 31422” Recap & Review

All photos from Fox

Fringe “Amber 31422” takes place in the alternate universe, and Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is starting to have stronger feelings that this is not her true home. It’s another excellent episode which has Olivia working a case that, without her realizing, parallels her own situation. The story is about twins – one trapped in amber for years, the other twin taking over his identity and living his life, but eventually breaking his brother free. The episode also uses the "Twin Towers" as a trigger for Olivia to help her recall who she really is. Fringe does an exceptional job of using each case to advance the bigger story, and at the same time, brings depth to each character. For TV watchers who like a continuing story and also like a touch of science fiction, it’s the best show on television.

In this episode, the alternate Fringe Division is called to work a case where someone has breached the security and managed to release someone who was encased in amber. That amber is what helps quarantine an area affected by a breach from the other side. It seems that a man has released his twin brother from the amber and in the process, one of the people who was assisting in the "escape" gets trapped in the amber when the quarantine reseals itself. It seems that the twin who was in the amber was not the bank robber that people thought was trapped in there – it was the “good” twin. The “evil” twin (the real bank robber) was rescuing his brother, as he felt guilt over having his brother trapped in there all those years while he stayed out and assumed his identity. Confusing, I know. Because I had a hard time matching which twin was which, I’ll just call them “good” or “evil” twin (and add they were played by Aaron Ashmore and Shawn Ashmore).

The Secretary/”Walternate” (John Noble) is also beginning his experiments on Olivia to see exactly how she can travel between universes. Of course, he knows who she really is, but doesn’t know that Olivia is having suspicions that she is not from their world. The visions of Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), who offers her insights into her real mind and memories, are becoming more frequent.

While working the case trying to track down the twin taken from the amber, Olivia, Lincoln (Seth Gabel) and Charlie (Kirk Acevedo) head to the home of the man who got trapped in amber when the twin was removed, and they find a secret room with lasers and drills. Lincoln thinks it is for a device that would allow a person to walk through walls. While they are there, Olivia hears a noise and then she urges them to get out of the house fast. Just as they get out the door, the house explodes.

Walternate tells Broyles (Lance Reddick) that the people trapped in amber can be extracted and revived, and they are trapped in their final memory as the amber encased them. Walternate does not want the public knowing that. There is a danger, though, that removing someone from the amber weakens its structural integrity of the amber.

Olivia is also undergoing her first of Walternate’s tests in the sensory deprivation tank and the drugs which will hopefully give them insight on how she can shift between universes. She makes a short trip back and finds herself standing soaking wet in a gift shop and she drops a snow globe. It’s a short trip but Walternate is pleased that she did cross over.

Olivia begins to show the signs of “our” Olivia – the rule breaker who pushes boundaries. Peter appears and hints that Walternate is testing Olivia because they already know who she is and knows she can cross over. When Peter gives her a clue about how the twins could be fooling them by switching, Olivia pushes hard when questioning the twin they have in custody. That, combined with her mother’s (Amy Madigan) concerns that Olivia came back to work too soon, has Broyles telling her to go home. What Olivia doesn’t realize is that Peter’s advice on how the twins could be fooling them could also apply to her own situation, but this seems to dawn on her more and more as things progress.

Olivia bounces her theories of the twin switch with Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and asks her for possible bank targets with less human collateral. Astrid comes up with three. Meanwhile, the “evil” twin appears to be breaking into a bank, one of the banks in Astrid’s target list. Olivia gets there and when she finds "evil" twin trying to break in, he uses a taser-like device and knocks her out. But as "evil" twin opens up a hole in the wall, the warning sounds for an imminent breach. They hear the alarm at Fringe Division, and Astrid tells Broyles that Olivia was right.

When “good” twin arrives at the bank, he sees an unconscious Olivia but races inside where he confronts his brother. It seems his brother has no intention of robbing the bank, he just wants them to stop looking for him and allow his “good” brother his freedom. As his "good" brother was trapped in the amber for years in “evil” twin’s place, “evil” twin wants to set things right and be encased in the amber, calling his action his “one good thing. ”Good" twin runs out, and lucky for Olivia, Lincoln and Charlie revive Olivia and get her out of the subway area before they are all encased in amber. Afterwards, Broyles tells Olivia she broke protocol, but adds that she did a good job.

Later, when Olivia pays a visit to “good” twin, she tells them they found “evil” twin trapped in the amber. They shake hands. In doing so, she collected a skin sample and asks him what he thinks it would show. But, she seems to think about what it would mean for him, and then tells him the case is closed. As she walks back to her car, Peter appears and tells her she let him go because she understood what being trapped is like. She responds to Peter, saying he has no proof. He tells her she knows things only the real Olivia would know, things like Rachel and Ella being alive on the other side, that it’s Ella’s birthday, and that the twin towers have been destroyed. Peter says there is a way to prove it.

Olivia races back to the lab and tells Brandon (Ryan James McDonald ) she wants to go back in the tank. As she’s in there, Walternate arrives and Brandon tells him about a synthetic compound he found in Olivia’s brain. She then goes critical and finds herself back in the gift shop, soaking wet. The snow globe also breaking again. She sees a post card commemorating the Twin Towers and as she looks to the skyline she sees they're gone. She also picks up a telephone and dials a phone number. Ella answers, and is happy that her Aunt Olivia remembered her birthday. But before Olivia can say much more, she is yanked back to the other side, and Walternate is there as she is pulled out of the tank. She tells him that this time it didn’t work – all she saw was black. But that is not where viewers are left this week; while Olivia tells Walternate she saw black, we have the benefit of knowing that now “our” Olivia may see a way out!

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