Dr. Boone: I often wake up at night, frightened, with the understanding that there are things Man shouldn’t know, that the scientific trespasses I have committed –
Walter: – will one day be judged.

As exemplified by Walter’s relationship with his son and the stirrings of romance between Peter and Olivia, love is a central concept on Fringe. Love can bring great joy to people, like when Walter reconnects with the son who had left his life seventeen years ago. But it can also require great sacrifice. “Midnight” is about both of those aspects of love.

The first scene after the opening credits is goofy, even for Fringe standards. A couple, Neal and Helen, is telling Olivia and Rachel about a matchmaking service called Two Singles Together. It allows both members of the couple to keep their own schedules and lifestyles while still maintaining some semblance of a romantic relationship. Neither one has to make any sacrifice for the other, and neither of them has to share his or her life with the other. According to Olivia, that defeats the purpose of being in a relationship. And she’s right. Two Singles Together is just about the dumbest idea ever. If neither partner is really willing to make a sacrifice for the other, then how much do they really care for each other?

On the other hand, this episode features Dr. Nicholas Boone, a biochemist whose wife, Valerie, was infected with a strain of syphilis that turned her into a spinal-fluid-sucking vampire. To keep her alive, Boone has been feeding her his own spinal fluid. Just a few weeks ago, he was up on his feet, reveling in the joy of being able to spend time with his wife and a home video camera. Now, because of spinal fluid loss, he is confined to a wheelchair.

But to Boone, there is no question that he must continue to keep his wife alive. That he would give up her life to save his own is unthinkable. So, he opts to use his own spinal fluid to synthesize an antidote, and even when Walter warns him that doing so could be fatal, Boone persists. In fact, he even lies to Walter and claims that he has enough spinal fluid left to be able to give some up. In the end, he sacrifices his own life to save Valerie’s. It’s impossible to imagine that Neil or Helen would do the same for each other.

Fringe tells us that love is a powerful force, that like science, it can do both good and harm. Walter sympathizes with Boone, a fellow mad scientist. Both have pushed the boundaries of science in ways that some would consider ethically questionable, but both realize that science can also be used to reverse the damage and even to do good. However, it’s also possible that Walter empathizes with Boone for a different reason. Just like Boone, he recognizes the sacrifices required for love, that love may drive one to cause great harm. “Midnight” hints that Walter, motivated by love, may have done something nearly unforgivable, for which he is still seeking redemption. What that something is, we’ll find out in due time.

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