“Each choice leads to a new path, to go to work, to stay home, and at each choice we take creates a new reality.”
– Walter

Most of us go about our daily lives, taking reality for granted. We accept the universe as it is. But our reality is not determined exogenously. Rather, it is the accumulation of thousands of choices made by thousands of people over thousands of years. Every decision we make has the ability to affect that reality profoundly. Thus, the existence of alternate universes, as Walter describes it, presents the ultimate “what if?” game. For every hypothetical situation – What if I had studied harder for the calculus final? What if I had taken the subway to work today instead of the bus? – we can posit an alternate reality that would answer our questions.

Visiting that alternate reality, however, poses a problem. As Walter explains, we may sometimes catch glimpses of it, which explains the phenomenon of déjà vu, but it is nearly impossible to immerse ourselves in it. However, there are some people with a heightened ability to “cross over,” so to speak. Our very own Olivia Dunham is one of them.

Olivia’s déjà vu is subtle at first. At the scene of an explosion, she sees two charred bodies – twins – even though only one of them died in her reality. Later, in Broyles’s office, Broyles asks about the charred twins and then re-enters his office to talk about the single burned body. Olivia seems to be experiencing slightly different versions of the same reality more than once. However, the most chilling sight that Olivia witnesses in her momentary shifts to the “other side” is a view of Boston in flames, with once majestic buildings in a state of disrepair. What set of choices could have led to such a violent reality?

It’s a difficult question to answer, and not because it can be hard to analyze cause and effect. Conspiracy nut Emmanuel Grayson describes a pending war between universes in which soldiers from one side will cross over to the other to fight. If soldiers from one side can visit the other, then they can alter the fabric of a foreign universe. That is to say, a universe can be affected by choices made by people who don’t even reside in it. Thus, it’s entirely possible (and as we’ll find out later, probably true) that the alternate version of Boston that Olivia saw was the product of decisions made by denizens not only of that reality, but of others as well – maybe even her own.

Thus, the complex web of choice that constitutes our reality can also span universes. Fringe is no longer just a show about freaks and monsters. It’s a tale about the fabric of those universes and the decisions we make to stitch it.

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