“I want what you want.”
– Olivia, to Peter

A while ago, when I wrote about “The Dreamscape,” I mentioned the idea that Olivia’s life is defined by misery. It’s not an idea that I totally agree with, particularly because Olivia does allow herself to feel joy at times (especially around Ella and Rachel). But it’s an idea that Fringe decided to touch on in “6B,” whether because it actually holds some weight or because the writers wanted to make a meta-commentary on a fan interpretation. My inclination is to go with the former, not because it has to be true, but because Olivia thinks it has to be true.

“6B” is a vehicle for ideas, not for huge mythological shifts or plot advancements. This is, after all, the episode of Fringe that is based on “feelings,” including a widow’s feelings for her dead husband, which are strong enough to rip a hole in the fabric of the universe. It’s also about Olivia’s feelings for Peter, Peter’s feelings for Olivia, and Walter’s feelings for Amber – the substance, I mean, not a person named Amber.

Peter’s position on his potential relationship with Olivia has been clear for a while now: he has laid his cards on the table, and now he’s waiting for Olivia to make the next move. It’s up to Olivia, now, to forgive him for being duped by Fauxlivia, or at least that’s what Peter thinks is holding Olivia back.

But it’s more complicated than that, and here’s where Fringe touches on the idea of Olivia’s life as misery. Olivia’s situation with Peter, even before Fauxlivia came into the picture, was fucked up. Totally, completely fucked up. She was in love with a man from another universe, for heaven’s sake! There are no regular circumstances under which Peter and Olivia should have met, let alone fallen in love. And not only is Olivia’s love for Peter, in a sense, wrong, but being around him is a reminder of all the shit that’s happening both in her life and to the universes. Peter is, after all, the reason why all these crazy, insane fringe events are happening. He’s the reason why there are holes and vortexes all over the Other Side. He’s the reason why there are shapeshifters going around killing people in positions in power and assuming their identities. He’s the reason why she went Over There and ended up imprisoned against her will.

Olivia can’t even compartmentalize and shove that all to the back of her mind, because of that pesky glimmer. As if knowing that Peter was the cause of all the crazy shit in her life weren’t enough, she gets a visual reminder of it too any time her emotions are heightened. As far as Olivia’s concerned, her situation is hopeless. She can’t get over her fears, the constant reminders of everything that is screwed up with her world and her life. She thinks that she’s just incapable of being happy, of trusting someone and giving herself over to someone else.

But she’s wrong, and she realizes this before the end of episode. She realizes that she has the power to be happy if she wants to be. She sees the kind of love and happiness Alice and her husband had, that it was powerful enough to cause a rift in the universe, and she realizes that’s what she wants. It’s worth having to deal with the memory of all the horrible things that have happened to her if it allows her to be with the man she loves. So she finally opens up, decides that being with Peter is worth the risk, and takes the plunge.

Meanwhile, Walter is dealing with potentially taking a plunge of his own. (No, not with Nina, you sick-minded Nina/Walter shippers!) He is faced with the same decision with which Walternate was no doubt faced many years ago: to Amber or not to Amber? Time is of the essence in his decision, and he must react before the rift that Alice’s feelings have created causes too much damage. Luckily, Olivia and Peter manage to fix the problem, rendering Ambering unnecessary, but it’s not a narrative cheat. Walter now realizes that Walternate may not be as evil he once believed. Walternate had to make tough choices too, and his first Ambering couldn’t have been easy. Walter now dreads the day that he’ll have to do it for himself, and he prays that the universes will be fixed before then.

But at least something has been fixed: Peter and Olivia are together now, and while the universe may be falling apart around them, at least they’ve found each other. And hey, that ain’t miserable at all.

For more information on the Fringe rewatch project, please click here. For my review of “6B,” please click here.

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