Fringe co-showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman have gone on the record about the idea of the mythalone -- an episode that both stands on its own while still propelling the characters and plot forward -- becoming the new status quo for the science fiction TV show. But last night's episode, titled "6955 kHz," didn't quite fit that mold: instead, this was mythology driven all the way, an absolutely essential episode that introduced elements to the world of Fringe that will surely have enormous ramifications as the series pushes on.
In "6955 kHz," numbers enthusiasts all across the American east coast gathered together in a chat room to crack a code from a number station -- a radio broadcast of unknown origins featuring an artificial voice reciting a stream of numbers over and over again. But as the numbers session accelerates into high gear, the chat room's participants are suddenly afflicted with retrograde amnesia, all thanks to the broadcast. Enter the Fringe team as Peter Bishop, his father Walter and Olivia -- or, really, the incognito Bolivia -- investigate the cause of these temporary memory losses and, more importantly, the origins of the broadcast.
The investigation leads to several discoveries, not the least of which is "The First People," a book that chronicles the first humans to evolve on the planet, a technologically advanced group that came before the dinosaurs and vanished from the pages of history without a trace. Bolivia and Peter both reach the conclusion that these first people were responsible for creating the various parts that compose Walternate's alleged doomsday device, and their hunch is further solidified when Astrid cracks the code of what the number stations stand for: 38 coordinates across the world, all pertaining to scattered pieces of the doomsday device. Peter and the gang find the first piece in Jersey City, and now the search is on to discover the remaining 37.
The revelation of the first people is sure to inspire several theories -- the likeliest, in my mind, is that the Observers are the last remnants of this pre-dinosaur species of man -- and the discovery of the doomsday device's various components is likely to become a major driving force throughout the remainder of the season, especially given Walter's reluctant consent to assemble the device. Peter, believing that forces from Over There are likely to be working 'round the clock on the device, feels that he and his colleagues have a moral obligation to conduct similar experiments in the name of protecting their own world. But Walter isn't as convinced, sharing his concerns with Nina Sharp -- while also sharing some legally prescribed marijuana on the Harvard University campus -- that Peter is potentially playing directly into Walternate's hands. Walter's hunch is well-founded; after all, he and Walternate essentially share the same brain, albeit one that's had different life experiences. But in the end, Walter is either genuinely convinced of Peter's position or he simply wants to keep a closer eye on the device's assembly for everybody's sake.
These game-changing revelations weren't the only standout moments in "6955 kHz," as Bolivia's struggle to preserve her cover while resisting her evolving feelings for Peter Bishop continued in full force. The duplicitous Dunham is inching ever closer to discovery, first by neglecting to remember book seller Edward Markham, and later when Nina points out that it isn't like Olivia to not interfere with Peter and Walter's hardships. There's little question that Bolivia is good at what she does -- she's managed to maintain her position thus far, despite numerous obstacles falling in her path -- but she's surrounded by equally intelligent men and women, some of whom are even sharper than she is. It won't be long before the combined efforts of Walter, Peter, Nina, Broyles and Astrid reveal Bolivia's true identity, and when that happens, the results are bound to be explosive for everyone involved.
But even if Bolivia's new colleagues aren't able to put the pieces together, there's someone else she has to worry about: the real Olivia Dunham of Over Here, who, as we saw at the conclusion of last night's episode, very much knows that escape from Over There is absolutely essential for her continued survival. If nothing else, it seems as though Olivia and Bolivia's rematch is coming closer to fruition.
An all new episode of Fringe, titled "The Abduction," airs next Thursday (November 19) at 9/8 PM central on Fox.