Another week, and another part of the Pattern emerges on Fringe. This particular part centered around what’s tantamount to a psychic friends network, of sorts. You know, if your psychic friends were interested in the logical extension of bizarre scientific experiments commissioned by the government during the Vietnam War. We all have those sorts of friends, right? No? Just me then? Oh. Moving on then.
This week’s piece of the Pattern centered around the titular "Ghost Network," which is NOT, as I originally suspected, a television channel dedicated to programming starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. It’s instead a wavelength imagined by Walter Bishop and William Bell, theorized as a possible method of transporting military secrets far from enemy attention. While certain Vice Presidential candidates choose to use their Yahoo accounts to send important missives, those behind the Pattern use this ghost network to communicate.
Only problem? Another test subject of Walter Bishop’s been tuning into the ghost network due to a proliferation of metal in his bloodstream. This patient, Roy, turned these sensory impressions into horrific paintings of the future. Think Isaac from Heroes by way of Tim Burton and you have the general idea of his artistic output. Olivia, Walter, and Peter spent the majority of this week’s episode trying to use Roy to tune into the Pattern’s frequency.
Roy’s involvement with the group stems from his latest drawing, left behind in a cathedral after a failed attempt to confess his sins: he accurately drew a scene involving bodies on a bus frozen in fear. Naturally, the compounds that caused such an event stem directly from research done by Massive Dynamic’s vast R&D department. What turned the tables slightly is the object around which the bus incident occurred is NOT manufactured by Massive Dynamic itself.
I suspected that the early and obvious introduction of Massive Dynamic as the Big Bad of Fringe would be slightly misleading. I don’t think they are a group dedicated to kittens and cuddles, but Olivia helpfully reminded us tonight of what Massive Dynamic’s COO Nina Sharp said in the pilot: that science itself was progressing past the point of human control. What may have started in Massive Dynamic has long since passed it by and turned into something not even the corporation’s resources and brainpower can fully process.
When Nina Sharp hands over the MacGuffin of the episode (a non-descript disc, roughly the size of a quarter) to her lab technician, he notes that its intact state could potentially help the company "break the encryption." This, plus Sharp’s announcement that they had found "another one" of these, suggests that embedded in these discs are information vital to understanding both the progression and purpose of The Pattern. The revivification of Agent John Scott is perhaps another clue that Massive Dynamic might have a long reach in the world, but it’s not long enough to touch those behind The Pattern. (Which is a way of saying they might have a few questions for the currently deceased ex-employee when he wakes up.)
Perhaps this lack of reach explains the mysterious group we saw at the beginning of last week’s episode, a task force of sorts led by Special Agent Broyles that counts Nina among its members. You can think of it as Joss Whedon’s Watcher’s Council, Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or DC Comic’s Super Friends. Actually, let’s not think of them in that last way. The point is this: there are various organizations that all had a part in contributing in some fashion towards The Pattern, and have pooled their resources together in order to stop it. This makes the fight over Olivia Dunham potentially important.
If The Pattern is what happens when science goes too far, then it stands to reason that all of those Latin-loving ghost whisperers may have once stood in Dunham’s shoes: idealistic, intelligence, blessed AND cursed with curiosity. The seduction and/or perversion inherent in the extension of Bishop/Bell research may have created a group set with an almost religious desire to see it through to what they feel is the logical end. The very use of Latin as the language of choice speaks to a sort of ritualized aspects to their quest, linking them in some fashion to another type of pattern in history with which they identify. To quote John Lennon:
You tell me that it’s evolution,
Well, you know
We all want to change the world.
But when you talk about destruction,
Don’t you know that you can count me out.
I can easily imagine Broyles saying something like this to Nina Sharp, can’t you?
A few other tidbits from tonight’s episode:
- Anyone else pick up on the overt Christian imagery in this episode? Between Roy’s steam punk crown of thorns to the image of the DEA agent’s bleeding hands, it was hard to miss. Should we be brushing up on our Book of Revelations?
- Peter’s back story inched forward every so slightly with his encounter with a mystery photographer in a diner. Looks like Peter didn’t check back in with his group upon returning from the Middle East. Of course, the identity of this group is anyone’s guess. If I were a betting man, I’d say at least one person in said group might have a little bit of insight into the encryption on those discs. But that’s just a hunch. Leave your theories below!
- Walter’s acute assessment of Peter’s run-in bespeaks two things: a keener mind than he lets on (shades of Jack Sparrow, really), and a deep love of his son. The latter was confirmed at episode’s end, with his look of pride watching Peter play "Someone to Watch Over Me."
All in all, this was a step up from last week’s episode. I found the Ghost Network a far more intriguing and original concept than super soldiers, and loved the subtle introduction of a third party potentially behind the Pattern. Massive Dynamic is a much more interesting organization now that it’s no longer completely omnipotent. It’s still 99% omnipotent, but hey, it’s a start, right?
Is Fringe still on your "Must Watch" List, or are you losing interest? Why is everyone so interested in Olivia? And will Peter’s back story dovetail into the Pattern or merely exist as frosting on the Fringe cake? Leave your thoughts and comments below!
Ryan always comes back to the duck over at Boob Tube Dude.