“Fringe”, the often confusing but always brainy sci-fi series on Fox, has spent the last two seasons exploring two different, parallel universes; ours, and another, darker universe in which the World Trade Center never fell, but where a more sinister series of catastrophes has trapped people in amber, like prehistoric bugs.
Episode 6, “6995kHz” takes place in our world, and the swap that took place between FBI special agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and her counterpart in the “Walternet” world, known as “Bolivia” continue to exist in the wrong universes. Bolivia, continuing her mission to undermine our universe, has begun sleeping with the enemy- namely Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson). But before we find them hanging out together the next morning, the episode shows us this week’s “fringe” event. A group of shortwave ham radio operators are tuned into a station at the same time. The station is rattling off numbers, but as the listeners were tuned in, they all wince together, losing their memory. The Fringe Division team is called in.
At Massive Dynamic, which eccentric scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble) now owns, tensions between Walter and his son are on the rise due to Peter’s attempts to recreate a device built in the alternate universe. As Bolivia confides the problem with Massive Dynamic Chief Operating Officer Nina Sharp (Blair Brown), holes in her adopted personality are starting to crop up.
The source of the transmission is found, a strange magnetic cube installed at a “numbers station”, or place that rattles off numbers for no known reason. Walter uses analogue demodulation to make the transmission safe to listen to, finding two transmissions, one being a pulse that causes amnesia. It’s purpose appears to be to prevent numbers enthusiasts from deciphering what they decide must be a code.
Additional research leads Peter and Bolivia to check in with book shop owner and former numbers station monitor Ed Markham (Clark Middleton) to see if he has any insights. He gives them a 100 year-old book identifying the source of the numbers as being the “first people”, ancestors who had superior technology predating the dinosaurs. Peter and Bolivia skeptically take the book. A second incident erases more memories, causing a small plane to crash, and the team gains a second cube for Walter and Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) to work on.
While reading through the book, Peter stumbles upon a concept called “the vacuum”, the source of all creation and destruction espoused by the first people- and chillingly, finds the numbers match their calendar. Astrid and Walter continue to review the book and determine that the vacuum is indeed the key to the universe, a “secret worth protecting” Walter says. Peter finds a military grade transistor in one of the cubes and runs a search to find out who may have been responsible. Bolivia slips out, and Astrid has a breakthrough- the calendar and numbers are actually a cypher for map coordinates.
The team identifies the man responsible, but Bolivia gets to him first. An agent from her side, she cold-bloodily executes him before he can be apprehended. Upon his death, Fringe Division discovers the agent is a shapeshifter created in the other universe.
The team began to dig in one of the map coordinates listed from the numbers cypher. They uncover a piece of the vacuum device, the device Peter must create. Walter gives in to what’s necessary, accepting that it must be built. The rest of the pieces are scattered around the globe, and he acknowledges they have a lot of work ahead. Bolivia asks Peter if he knew, as a hypothetical, that only one world could survive, would he do anything and everything to save it, destroying the other to do so. He gives an optimistic answer; there has to be another way.
Bolivia goes to a secure location and reports back to her universe. They respond, “Well done. Initiate Phase 2.”
In the final moments of the episode, the Olivia trapped in the other universe gets ready to submerge for a sensory deprivation session, a way of freely moving between universes. It is mysteriously called off, and the hallucination of Peter Bishop warns her that Walternet no longer needs her.
“It’s not safe for you here any more, Olivia. You have to go home.”
“6995kHz” was episode 6 of season 3. “Fringe” airs Thursdays at 9 pm ET on Fox. Episodes can be viewed on Hulu.com.