“Nature doesn’t recognize good and evil, Philip. Nature only recognizes balance and imbalance. I intend to restore balance to our world, whatever it takes.”
– Walternate

Since that fateful night in 1985 when Walter kidnapped Peter from Over There, everything Walternate has done has been to right that wrong, to restore balance to the universes. As far as he’s concerned, restoring that balance involves eliminating Our universe, no matter what it takes. But until he can put a stop to the ostensible threat that We pose, he must deal with the Fringe events on the Other Side.

Walternate brings the same ruthlessness to doing this that he does to fighting Our universe. The damage that vortexes and wormholes can cause must be contained at all costs, even if it involves sacrificing lives for the greater good. Thus, he invented amber, a substance that acts as a sort of space-time bandage, plugging holes in the fabric of the universe. It does what it was intended to do, but it renders the area around the plugged hole, now termed a “quarantine zone,” unusable, and any people who happen to be in the vicinity become trapped in the amber, arrested in a state of suspended animation, like little hairs that get stuck in a band-aid’s glue.

That the people who get trapped in amber are still alive is a well-kept secret, one that could cause mass rioting if it were revealed to the public. But there are a couple of people who suspect that fact, one of them being bank robber Joshua Rose, who rescues his identical twin brother Matthew from an ambered subway station in Brooklyn. Joshua robs banks the same way that the thieves did back in season 1’s “Safe,” but since the fabric of the universe is weaker Over There, this causes mini-tears, little rips that need to be ambered. It was his most recent failed heist that set off the ambering protocol that trapped his brother.

“Just because we look alike doesn’t mean we have anything in common.”
– Joshua Rose, impersonating Matthew Rose

When Joshua says this to Olivia, he’s referring to himself and his brother, of course; Matthew, unlike him, is a law-abiding family man. But he may as well have been speaking about the two Olivias. Our Olivia’s personality is starting to break through, not only in her increasingly frequent hallucinations of Peter, but also in the way she handles Joshua’s case. She’s stubborn and tenacious in cracking the case, even defying orders from Alt-Broyles. However, despite the seismic shift in her personality, despite the fact that the version of Peter in her head keeps telling her that she isn’t from There, she tries to rationalize everything away, taking anti-psychotic pills at almost every opportunity she can get. It’s easier to medicate her problems than to deal with them head-on, and she does so with the kind of ruthlessness usually reserved for swatting flies or squishing cockroaches.

Luckily, Olivia has the Peter in her head to act as a sort of guide to convince her that she should stop rationalizing away the inconsistencies in her life. Walternate is not so fortunate. He has no voice telling him that he’s rationalizing his lust for revenge by telling everyone that we’re at war with the Other Side. He’s willing to send shapeshifting soldiers Here, to build a doomsday machine, to submit Olivia to dangerous experiments, all in the name of righting the wrong of his kidnapped son. Thus, when it comes to waging war against our universe, he applies the same principle as he might have applied to science many years ago:

“Only those who risk going too far find out how far they can go.”
– Walternate

For more information on the Fringe rewatch project, please click here. For my review of “Amber 31422,” please click here.

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