This week, our assignment was to watch the episode “Amber 31422” from Season Three of Fringe. (You can read the Television Without Pity Recap here, while the AV Club has their recap of the episode here. The post dedicated to the Season Three season premiere episode is here and the posts dedicated to the following episodes are here, here, and here.)

As always, here are the ground rules: nothing that we have seen so far is considered a spoiler, anything that we have not yet seen should be considered a spoiler. Crazy nutbar speculation is *NOT* a spoiler, but confirming or denying said confirmation would be.

Here’s my idea for spoilers: please rot13 them. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them. We good? We good! Everybody who has seen the episode, see you after the cut!

Yay, hurray, it’s a red-credit episode!

Now, the last time we had a red episode, I had it explained to me that one of my references was too oblique. Scorpius was a character from the television show Farscape. He was the bad guy who wanted the information in Our Protagonist’s Brain and this entailed keeping Our Protagonist alive… so one of the tools he used to do this was he injected a version of himself into Our Protagonist’s Brain who would show up from time to time to give advice and helpful information from time to time (who only existed in Our Protagonist’s mind). Now, in Farscape, it had this really great dynamic where we were rooting for Our Protagonist so we were pleased that the interior Scorpius was helping, but we also knew that it was for His Own Reasons and he did not have anything even *CLOSE* to Our Protagonist’s best interest’s at heart. Their interests merely happened to overlap… for now. Which was an *AWESOME* storyline. Anyway, the Peter that is hanging around Olivia’s consciousness is not like Scorpius.

You know what would have been cool? If, instead of Peter, it was John Scott. Can I have an amen? It’s a pity that actors exist. Someday, we’ll just computer generate everybody and use subtitles.

Anyway, we’re in the red universe again and we find out a number of very, very disturbing things:

People in amber are still alive. People in amber are still *CONSCIOUS*. Oh, and there is, apparently, an issue with people trying to break into the amber to free loved ones or to free the purses/wallets… and that, until now, the issue was pretty much moot due to the fact that it was never successful.

Oh, and the government has been hushing up the whole “people in amber are still alive and conscious” thing because if people knew, it’d cause a revolt.

So, all in all, the government in this universe is forced to make monstrous decisions involving citizenry, keep secrets lest there be a revolt, and otherwise fight a war that it cannot publicize lest the war be lost before it’s even begun.

No politics.

Anyway, the negative matter ring was the ring that allowed the bank robber to walk through walls… which reminds me of the episodes from season one where Mitchell Loeb was robbing banks. It’s cool that they’re doing shout-outs to some of the fringe events from Season One. It ties everything together.

The whole “twins” thing overlapping with the whole Ourlivia vs. Fauxlivia was a *LITTLE* heavy-handed, no? I mean, was White Tulip this heavy handed and I just enjoyed being manipulated that much? Surely not.

Anyway, the fact that they still use pagers in the other universe ties really well into how everybody has a cellphone earring… I mean, imagine if everybody stopped having a cellphone they could look at back in the early 90’s. What technology would arise getting people messages to each other in that vacuum? Well, I could probably come up with a better answer than “they still use pagers like it’s the danged 80’s” but that’s one of the things that just is really charming about the other universe. You could see how, maybe, something like that would be normal the way it was normal in the 80’s.

It’s also cool that even Walternate believes in taking drugs in a sensory deprivation tank. Well, in *OTHER* people doing it. I don’t see Walternate dropping a couple of tabs and spending half a day in there.

One thing about Olivia crossing over into the other universe: she broke a snowglobe over there. Remember Nina giving a speech about the two universes using two snowglobes and she smashed two of them into each other? They’re doing a good job with the shout-outs.

I also like how Scorpius Peter is doing what he can to help Ourlivia solve the crime… and then tells her that she did the right thing by dropping the case because she’s not Fauxlivia but Ourlivia (Herlivia?) and she asks for proof and he gives her Ella’s phone number. So, the next time she jumps over, she calls Ella on the phone and hears her voice before being yanked back. And she then, of course, lies to Walter about being over there.

The most interesting thing was Walternate’s speech about nature. Good, evil… he shrugs. He’s the guy with the shotgun. No, wait. Different show. Good, evil, he shrugs. Nature only cares about *BALANCE*. He only needed a snowglobe to break.

Anyways, this show was a good, solid show. Not as amazing as the last couple of weeks but… hey. What can you do? I like that they’re showing all of the moral and ethical trade-offs that the other universe is making and how, without Bell, Walter turned into someone else entirely… someone who never discovered Cortexiphan, for example.

So… what thinks did you thunk?


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. Totally OT, but is Farscape worth my time? I have the complete series sitting here, I tried to watch it but lost interest/patience less than 10 eps in. Should I keep trying or is there a specific point at which it gets good?

    • The first season gets good with the last episode.

      You think you’re watching a disjointed “wacky thing of the week” series… until the last episode ties everything together.


    • Farscape is one of my favorite sci-fi shows (ranked third behind Firefly and Babylon 5). As with many shows, the first season is trying to figure out what they want to be and do not have the benifit of a brand name to keep people watching (Star Whatever). It starts as a “Fish out of water” show with John trying to figure out his new world, but after the first season they move on for that to not be as large of an element. I have always liked how this show has more than humaniod with funny head pieces for aliens. I also like how it takes time for the main charatcers to accept and work with each other (unlike most Star Trek).

      It takes the second season and the introduction of Scorpius to really make the show interesting. You have to love the strong badguys.

      I would sugest watching through the first two episodes of Scorpius and if it still does not interest you, then drop it.

      • Let me just add one thing to what Dman has said here:

        Scorpius is urbane.

        You’ll find yourself looking forward to Scorpius showing up and saying “Hello, John”.

    • I think it’s my favorite show in the entire world. Certainly my favorite show that I’ve first watched as a grown-up.

  2. I liked this episode and love how they continue to have parallel plots running on the parallel universe. Maybe this was ham hended, but I am willing to forgive. Maybe I am too used to shows like Lost where it take years (well it feels like years) to have people discover stuff that we have known about for a long time, but I am often surprised in this show how quickly those “secrets” are revealled to the characters. I thought they were going to play this one up for a while longer, but, BAM, Olivia now knows.

    Now we will have a parallel between both Olivias knowing they are not that universe’s real Olivia and trying to cover it up. I suspect mom is going going to figure it out first, but we shall see.

    • Yeah, just re-read this and I must have written you a response in my head but not posted it.

      Fringe is surprisingly good at saying “you know what, let’s stop teasing this crap and get to the *REAL* thing we want to talk about” starting with this season. They still do some weird stuff of the week… but it feels much less frivolous. (I mean, seriously, some of the stuff from Season Two just drove me *NUTS* waiting for us to get back to the good stuff.)

  3. Anyway, the negative matter ring was the ring that allowed the bank robber to walk through walls… which reminds me of the episodes from season one where Mitchell Loeb was robbing banks.

    It reminded me of David Robert Jones escaping from prison, although he used a different method.

    Anyway, this is one of my favourite episodes of the season. It’s incredibly creepy that the people in amber are not only alive but conscious, and it shows the difference between ‘our’ universe and the red one that the Fringe team’s reaction to learning they’re alive is an automatic “yes, we definitely need to keep this from the public”, rather than anger at having been lied to and more interest in finding a way to safely remove people from amber. When you’re in a crisis, the number of things you’re willing to tolerate goes way up.

    The ‘twins’ thing may have been little heavy-handed (though no more than the Fauxlivia-shapeshifter comparisons last week), but I thought it worked well as a plot in and of itself, and they snuck in a reference to A Tale of Two Cities at the end with “Let me do this one good thing.”

    I think they overuse brain-Peter as a way of getting Olivia to realize who she is; it feels gimmicky, though granted I can’t come up with another way of getting her to realize her identity off the top of my head.

    Walternate telling Olivia he’ll be giving her “a number of psychotropic drugs” is one of my favourite things. ‘Our’ Walter would be having a lot more fun doing it.

    One thing this episode raises for me is how thoroughly procedural-type shows (cop, doctor, whatever; and this still has elements of a cop-procedural even if it’s become something different) underrate the importance of communication skills. It’s not enough, in any job environment, to just say “I have a hunch” and expect to be believed. Come up with some other tests – as one idea, ask the brother a variety of things about well-known events within the last few months, which a person who had been in amber wouldn’t know about; his brother couldn’t have briefed him on everything. Olivia certainly achieved nothing except being tased and nearly ambered by going off on her own.

    Possible plot hole: how did Olivia know Ella’s phone number? I guess the talk with mindPeter triggered her memory.

    • Olivia surely had her sister’s number memorized. You don’t even need the photographic memory to make that one plausible.

    • I think they overuse brain-Peter as a way of getting Olivia to realize who she is; it feels gimmicky, though granted I can’t come up with another way of getting her to realize her identity off the top of my head.

      Maybe it’s the Farscape talking but I *LOVE* this trope. The only thing that could make it better is if it were John Scott, because then you could honestly wonder about whether it was “really” John Scott or if it were Olivia making a construct of John Scott.

      You know that this is Olivia’s construct of Peter.

      • It is a good point about John Scott, that would make an interesting twist. It is also interesting that the whole person in my brain is back like with John Scott.

      • “You know that this is Olivia’s construct of Peter.”

        Well, given the events happening in the fifth season right now… I’d say it’s back in the realm of plausibility that it might not be Olivia, after all.

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