“Fringe Division was created to investigate tragedies of an unimaginable scale. You and I both know that there is no crime more heinous than the theft of a child.”
– Walternate

One of the things the early portion of Fringe’s third season does so well is in portraying a society slightly divergent from our own, distinctly different, yet eerily similar. Sure, there’s fun to be had in playing Spot the Difference and glimpsing ads for Dogs the musical or Red Lantern the comic book superhero. But it’s even more interesting to view Over There as how Over Here could have turned out under slightly different circumstances.

Take, for example, Fringe events. They’re more common Over There than they are Over Here. Scared of being quarantined or swallowed up by a micro black hole, people on the Other Side live in fear. Just as it’s common Over Here to see people waving signs about how we are being punished for our sins every time a volcano erupts or a hurricane hits land, people Over There tend to cling to religion when faced with events that signal the disintegration of Their universe. After all, what could be more apocalyptic than that? As Lincoln tells us in this episode: “Every time there’s a Fringe event, a new church pops up.”

The idea that the alternate universe is a funhouse mirror’s reflection of our own is apparent in the Peter Bishop laws, a stringent set of rules governing child abductions Over There. On Our Side, child kidnappings are treated with an extensive amber alert system. They’re often the subject of intense media attention. Images of missing children often interrupt scheduled television broadcasts. Over There, things have been taken a step further: any child abduction is treated as a potential Fringe event.

It’s a wonderful interplay between micro and macro. Walternate, having had his son kidnapped and taken to another universe, used his power and influence to enact a set of laws that would ensure no one else would suffer the same fate as he did. Unfortunately, they’re woefully impractical, wasting Fringe division’s resources on cases that could be handled by the local PD. However, the kidnapping featured in this episode is the rare one with a Fringe-y twist: a man known as the Candyman captures children then returns them a few days later after draining the energy and vitality out of them, often leaving them terminally ill.

It’s fortunate then, that Our Olivia, the one who is excellent with children, has now fully remembered who she is. Her personality is back, and it’s apparent in the way she approaches the case. She’s stubborn when she investigates it, even standing up to Broyles when Alt-Olivia would have backed down. She’s gentle, open, and trustworthy when interviewing Broyles’s son, and the information she gleans from him turns out to be vital in cracking the case and saving the kidnapped boy’s life.

Let’s look at the sequence of events that led us here. The little boy’s life was saved because Our Olivia was stuck Over There after having crossed over to get Peter back after he was taken back Over There by his real father because Walter had kidnapped Peter and brought him Over Here over twenty years ago. Heck, if it weren’t for the Peter Bishop laws, Olivia might have been too late to investigate the case. It’s an interwoven tale of micro feeding into macro feeding back into micro and so on and so forth. But if the young boy’s life has been saved, he has Walter to thank for taking Peter from Over There all those years ago.

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

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