Friday, November 12, 2010

Fringe, Season 3, Episode 6: "6995 kHz"

Hey y'all. I'm in the midst of a hellish week, work-wise (I'm recapping three shows at TWoP, so if you feel like popping in to see what I thought about Boardwalk Empire, Sons of Anarchy, or Grey's Anatomy, please do!), so no Fringe review from me. But I contracted my pal Kirk Hamilton to give the write-up for me. Now, I haven't even had time to WATCH the episode yet, so I can't even comment, but I'm confident Kirk has it covered, and I'll be back to make comments (in the ... you know, comments) probably over the weekend. Enjoy it! And thanks again to Kirk for coming through for me.
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Thanks for having me, Joe! Okay, let's do this.

So here I was, hoping that after real-Liv realized the truth of her situation, we'd actually get some Liv-on-Liv action this week. Oh, how naive I was! It's like I haven't been watching television my whole life. No, instead, we got another placeholder episode as the various pieces of this season's puzzle (and Walternate's doomsday machine) were slowly moved into place.

The episode begins with a bunch of interesting-looking strangers getting waylaid by a bunch of numbers, and man… the whole "Spooky voice reading numbers on a radio" has sure started to wear out its welcome fast, hasn't it? Between this episode and a similar trick working its way into the new Call of Duty game, I'm kind of on Mysterious Numbers-overload this week.

12, 34, 17, 9, 15, 42, 40…

The bulk of the episode is spent trying to figure out what happened to all the Ham Radio Number-Channel Enthusiasts (hey, it's a "thing," okay?) around the globe who lost their memory by listening to a certain numbers broadcast. Also, to figure out why the broadcast was happening in the first place. Which… to be honest, still kinda hazy on that over here.

We learned that there was a race of super-advanced people who populated the earth Before The Dinosaurs, which on any other show would seem like a pretty major revelation but in this episode is treated pretty matter-of-factly. I dunno, I hope we learn more about these "First People" in coming episodes. Seems like it could just be another narrative device to explain implausible stuff—"You say this is impossible? The First People must've done it!"—and I'm not really sure that this show needs yet another of those.

We also got to meet another shapeshifter, who must've watched a bunch of Alias back in the day since he chose to take the form of Ken Weisman, a.k.a. Marshall Flinkman, everyone's favorite impressively-chinned CIA tech wiz. After Walter (excellently) repurposes a wah-wah pedal to mute the signal's low frequencies, he learns that the Evil-Flinkman (Fink-man?) was plugging in a box at various radio towers and broadcasting the numbers for some unknown purpose. The memory loss was simply a side-effect of the signal, built in to keep people from learning about it.

The larger goals of the shapeshifter's mission are left unclear, mostly because Fauxlivia blows his ass out of a window right in front of Peter and Broyles, which prompts Lance Reddick to give what might be the single most hilarious reaction shot I have ever seen:

Peter and Walter spend the episode arguing about Peter's quest to understand the doomsday device from last season's finale. Peter seems to think that they need to keep up with the Alt-Universe, while Walter is terrified for Peter's safety and is afraid of what the device is capable of, should he get it working.

After sharing some more chemistry-free kissy kissy scenes with Peter, Fauxlivia gets Nina to talk to Walter about letting Peter continue his research, since of course, she (Fauxlivia) wants Peter to reactive the device and destroy his world, thereby saving her own. Nina agrees, but only after appearing to intuit that something is off about Fauxlivia. She heads over to the lab to talk with Walter, and the two of them do a J on the Harvard campus and talk shit about how wussy and boring Harvard students have become. It's as awesome as it sounds.

So in the end, it would appear that the magnetic box was kind of a MacGuffin (shocker!), a tool in a larger scheme. Asterisk gets her Rubicon on and cracks the First People's code in increasingly improbable ways, eventually realizing that the numbers code to the First People's wacky calendar, which lines up to a code matrix, which eventually winds up pointing to the coordinates of 59 different points on the globe. …yeah, okay, whatever.

The twist is that each of the locations marks a buried part of the doomsday device, and the team will now have the means to reassemble the thing. Walter changes his mind about not letting Peter experiment on the device, just after Peter explains to Fauxlivia that it is not his plan to destroy her (and really, their) reality, but that he hopes to find another way, something that won't cost so much innocent life. Fauxlivia remains difficult to read, as always.

The episode ends by flashing to real-Liv, still trapped in the Alt-World with the boring boringness of Ghost-Peter. She realizes that Walternate has gotten what he needed with the tests, and that she needs to escape. So then Ghost-Peter tells her, "They've gotten what they needed from the tests. You need to escape." POW! ROLL CREDITS!

So yeah, kind of a placeholder episode. Though between the electromagnetism, the numbers recordings, the plane going down, the Flinkman factor, and the presence of a Mystery Box, it certainly felt even more Abrams-y than most.

But what did I miss? What did everyone else think? Has the show dropped more hints about Walternate's plan more than I caught? Can Peter really find a way to fix the tear without killing everyone? And WHAT, by God, DO THE NUMBERS MEEEEEEN?

You can -- and are encouraged to -- find Kirk elsewhere at Murfins and Burglars and Gamer Melodico.


Kris McN said...

"After sharing some more chemistry-free kissy kissy scenes with Peter..", I know, right? Have they always had so little chemistry, or is this some subtle acting on their parts? I honestly can't remember if live-Peter and Ourlivia generated any more heat in their few macking scenes, it's been so loooooong.

Is Fink Man really gone so fast? Lowest guest-star-screen-time to guest-star-promo-time ratio EVER.

Thanks for the great guest post, Kirk!

Kirk Hamilton said...

(thanks, Kris! :)

For my part, I've never really felt any heat between Josh Jackson and Anna Torv, whether she's playing Fauxlivia or Ourlivia. I've always liked their scenes together, but it's never felt romantic. So back in the S2 finale when they got all, "I have always loved you" and started kissing, I just groaned.

It felt forced, like the writers had decided at the outset that that would be the arc and didn't pay attention to the fact that Liv and Peter had developed a more big sister/rascally brother chemistry than anything romantic.

Hopefully they'll figure that out and will come up with a third party who actually has some spark with one of them. Given how much they've improved so many aspects of the show this season, it wouldn't surprise me if they did.

It shouldn't be hard to find an actress who has chemistry with Joshua Jackson... he's Joshua Jackson for cryin' out loud! But I'm wondering which actors would provide a good romantic foil for Torv, she seems a little more challenging.

And yeah, I hope Fink-Man isn't dead—I miss the mighty chin already. At least he's a shifter, so he can maybe come back. Or maybe the First People can just resurrect him with their almighty First People Powers. :P

Jamie said...

I'm getting a little irritated that everything Fauxlivia investigates relates back to Walternate's plan. I'd like to see her actually tackle a mystery with our world's Fringe division rather than be several steps ahead of everyone. Meanwhile, a more gradual reawakening of Ourlivia would be nice, rather than the acceptance of her other-worldliness and then the fight-or-flight response we're likely to see soon.

This is maybe the only time I've ever wanted a show to move the master plot along more slowly.

Namaste said...

Did anybody else think that the Observers might be "The First People"?

Anonymous said...

New Fringe post? *weebles*