When over a dozen people start losing their memories after listening to their ham radios, broadcasting a sequence of strange numbers, it's time to call in the Bishops. Granted the Fringe team as dealt with weirder in the past but this week's case has to be there oldest phenomenon, pre-dating even dinosaurs.
This week's Fringe episode, "6955 kHz", evolves people listening to 'number stations' on their shortwave radios as a hobby. The stations broadcast a sequence of numbers which people try to decode or crack. The only problem is when or if they do solve this puzzle their memories reset back to zero, not even remember their names, for their mathematical efforts. Some hobby eh? Also Walter becomes upset with Peter working on the mysterious doomsday tech again. This only helps make for an episode chalk full of snarky backhanded remarks towards Peter to help show Walter's disapproval. Meanwhile Astrid, with a little help from the Bishops, finds the true meaning of the numbers. Even though their originals are still a mystery they appear to come from a group called the 'first people', thought to have been around even before the dinosaurs (according to Walter).
"6955 kHz" is mostly a bridging episode to help set up the bigger picture for this series. There some big ideas hinted at in this episode, but not a lot actually happens. When the numbers eventually lead to a connection between Walternate's doomsday device and these mystery people, it seems to bring up more questions than it answers. As for me I have a theory that the 'first people' were/are the observers and they are somehow intertwined with these machines as well. The most serious scene in the episode being Walter rolling a joint as he tries to talk Peter out of looking into Walternate's device. With that being one of the only scenes to help devolve any of the characters "6955 kHz" primarily focuses on establishing ground work for the season finale.
But before the end of the season there is bound to be a confrontation between the alternate Olivia (aka Bolivia) and the Fringe team form the prime universe when her cover is blown or is figured out. This episode, out of all the ones in the prime universe, hints at this inevitable encounter the most with plenty examples. One when Peter asking Bolivia to recall the exact sequence of numbers tests her photographic memory only the real Olivia has. Another one when they have their meeting with Markham, the eccentric bookstore owner, and having to pretend that they had met once before. But the funniest example they use in the show is when Peter surprises Bolivia with U2 tickets and she has to pretend that she loves the group. Picking a band like U2 is probably a small choice by the writers so that it would allow Peter to pick up on Bolivia's tells. I mean you would have to be living underneath a rock or being from an alternate universe not to know who U2 is. Oh wait she is!
This episode, even with all the information and new questions it brings up, is the probably the weakest episode of this season so far. This is a little disappointing seeing how a smaller character like Astrid gets more attention than normal in this episode. Walter had started calling Astrid 'Watson' to Peter's 'Sherlock Holmes' in the episode, but it seemed like they waste the opportunity for some great jokes there. Another thing the episode has is a scene between Nina and Astrid with the two exchanging a weird look that suggests there could be something hidden there. I can't think off hand if they have ever had a scene together before but another theory, that goes back to one I had watching the first season, that Astrid was a mole planted by Massive Dynamics. It would seem a little farfetched, even for Fringe, to have Astrid's evolvement in fringe division be a ruse up to this point. In any case tune in next time, but just not to frequency 6955 kHz. You might forget what you're watching.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.