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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 6, Season 3, 6955 kHz

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 11, 2010

A Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

Science Fiction is Often Cooler When Derived From Reality

Number stations are a real phenomenon that I’d heard of before this episode, but I don’t remember where from; maybe I don’t remember because I listened to one.  The stations are pretty much exactly as portrayed in the episode, minus the multiplexed memory wiping signal, and they are reported to have been around since WWI.  They broadcast a series of numbers, words, or letters in a artificially generated voice, tunes or Morse code.  It is generally believed that the transmissions are used to send messages to spies.  It’s a fascinating subject, and is also an excellent basis for a Fringe episode.

Magic Maglev

Broyles describing the floating mystery box:

“It’s not floating, exactly.  Apparently it’s got some sort of magnetics inside.”

OK, but unless the rack also had “magnetics inside”, that doesn’t explain how the box was able to float

Maybe He’s Thinking of Using an iPad?

I don’t know where Peter gets “It’s impossible to do microelectronics with gloves on.” from.  I found links for selling gloves “ideal for use in microelectronics”, links about latex glove allergies in microelectronics applications,  links selling gloveboxes for microelectronics, and a nifty picture of someone wearing gloves while handling a silicon wafer of integrated circuits, and that only took me a few seconds to find.

Analog Demodulation

Considering that Walter didn’t know what about the signal was responsible for the amnesia, he shouldn’t have been so sure that his wa-wa peddle would alter the signal enough to make it safe to listen to.  I would have patched it directly into a computer (without any speaker output), run the audio through a speech to text application to get the numbers, and used an audio program to analyze the waveform to see if there was a multiplexed signal.

Physical Abnormality Almost Always = Evil (In Pop Entertainment)

As soon as I saw the different color eyes, I thought, “There’s no way this guy isn’t evil.”  At Least he didn’t have a humpback.  The real question is, since he turned out to be a shape shifter, did the original person he copied have different colored eyes, and was he therefore also evil?

Bad Planning or Bad Transistor?

So did he not check the device until he got on site, or did the transistor go bad while he was setting the device up?  Rather than having a spare of every individual transistor and integrated circuit that might go bad to do a field repair with, wouldn’t it have made more sense to carry a spare finished, complete board or better yet, a spare device?  By the way, why didn’t he get the spare transistor from the same place he got all the other apparently untraceable parts?  He didn’t buy the transistor after he discovered the bad one; he already had it with him.  Are the writers trying to get me to believe that the only traceable part in either of the two devices was the one replacement transistor?

Wait A Minute…

Uh, how did the bad guy know what frequency the pilot would tune to when trying to re-establish contact with the tower?  (Why was the pilot communicating with the tower over the amateur frequency of 4029kHz before switching to 6880kHz, which is just past the amateur, aeronautical mobile range when neither frequency is used for air traffic control?)

Quotes of the Show: Amusing Dialog

Walter while unpacking another of the devices he can’t figure out:

“Fantastic, now I have bookends.”

Walter to Nina:

“Nina, if I’d have known you were coming, I’d have baked a cake.”

Astrid to Nina:

“He means that…literally.”

For the search Engines

The complete number sequence from the 3rd ring of the calendar was as follows:

8, 21, 16, 7, 11, 8, 10, 13, 12, 34, 17, 9, 15, 8, 42, 40, 27, 11, 9, 21, 18, 12

The 2nd ring had the following text:

Light Meets Dark, Period of Darkness, Dark Meets Light, Period of Light

The Inner ring was numbered 1 through 6, and the outer ring was marked 10- 360 degrees by 10’s.

Walter Is Not an Evolutionary Biologist, and it Shows.

Walter in response to Astrid considering the concept of ancient people who evolved before the dinosaurs absurd:

“Why should we be so arrogant as to assume we’re the first Homo Sapiens who walked the Earth?

Hey, if Walter wants to postulate that we are not the first intelligent species to walk the Earth, fine.  If he wants to postulate that we may not be the first bipedal intelligent species to evolve, fine.  But for Walter to suggest that the species Home Sapiens could have evolved before the first true mammals existed and then later evolved again into the same species displays a total lack of understanding of evolution, common descent, genetics, and the concept of a species.

Neither Verified Nor a Theory

Walter really shouldn’t think that a random work of fiction “verfiies” any of the speculations or conjectures that he liberally calls “theories”.  It correlates with his ideas, and may even support them, but it certainly doesn’t verify anything.

Walter Is Also Not An Astrophysicist or Cosmologist

“The Big Bang and its counterpart, the Big Crunch.  The universe expanding and contracting and expanding.  And endless cycle of creation and destruction.”

This one’s a little more of a nit pick, but Walter’s a little out of date on the Big Crunch.  The expansion of the universe is in fact accelerating and not slowing down, and therefore unlikely to end in a big crunch.

Is Peter an Expert on Eastern European Military Grade Electronics?

What makes a transistor military grade, anyway?  Why would they need to be licensed?  We’re not talking about integrated circuits here.  It’s a simple transistor.  Maybe it’s manufactured to very precise standards, and is very reliable (but not so reliable one didn’t go bad), but what could require it to be licensed?  I suppose it might have been radiation hardened, and maybe the government wants to know who’s using hardened components.  That might make sense since such components might be used in a nuclear weapon.  I still want to know how Peter is such an expert on military grade Polish components.

Tom Cruise’s War of The Worlds Plausibility Problem Resurfaces

How deep are these weapon components buried (seemingly buried for many years) such that nobody has ever accidentally dug one up before, and yet they can be unearthed with conventional construction equipment in an evening?


9 Responses to “Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 6, Season 3, 6955 kHz”

  1. […] This week’s Fringe cipher was: DECAY. A list of all previous Fringe reviews is available here. Karl, as always, has much more to say. […]

  2. FC said

    I don’t have a problem with Walter’s flights of fancy. As a matter of fact I thought the bit about the Big Crunch was on the dot for Walter; he’s been locked up in St. Clair’s for 17 years, he probably hasn’t read up on the most recent discoveries in science that don’t directly affect his work with the Fringe team. At the time he was committed, the Big Crunch was still a viable theory. For evolution, the writer was probably trying to get across the idea that man wasn’t the first intelligent species to walk on earth but botched it badly through ignorance. These guys need a science consultant. Or else they deliberately gave Walter those lines knowing it was wonky. Walter IS wonky so it’s in Character for him to make ditzy statements like those.

    Frequency: you’re assuming the shape shifter was killing these people on purpose, he was setting up these devices to affect anyone who might be listening, he doesn’t have to care if it’s radio enthusiasts or pilots. I didn’t get the feeling he was targeting someone in specific. The Pilot did goof on his radio though…

    This kind of dissecting is fun!

  3. Karl Withakay said

    Good point about the airplane victims. Because we were shown the people on the airplane, I made the mistake of assuming they were specifically targeted.

  4. NickS said

    Military grade microelectronics usually have wider ranges for temperature, humidity, voltage, g-forces, etc. Chips have to work from the arctic circle to Death Valley and even inside artillery shells subject to hundreds of Gs of force.

  5. Josh said

    Not sure about the scientific-specifics behind this, but could you use the Earth’s magnetic fields to levitate something?

  6. […] Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 6, Season 3, 6955 kHz […]

  7. D'Arcy Mulder said

    A little late on the reply – Just found this site & I love it! My first thought about where the pieces were located was Pangea. If the first people buried them before the dinosaurs, the continents would presumably be in different spots on the earth. So if it is assumed that the poles are in roughly the same spot now as when the pieces were buried, and that the coordinate system is based on the poles what are the chances that all of the land mass on the planet is at the same spot on the surface of the earth?

  8. Karl Withakay said

    Interestingly, the poles wouldn’t be in the same places. They move around a lot over the long term. (They even flip occasionally) They move around enough in human lifetime time frames to cause some problems at a Florida airport.

    And since the tectonic plates move around over geologic time, there would really be no way to establish coordinates and reference frames that would be useful over geologic time scales.

  9. Jonothan said

    Referring back to ‘Bad Planning or Bad Transistor?’ – think about how likely it is for people to ignore the possibility of something going wrong (hubris), and if the other parts are so untraceable, isn’t it reasonable to assume they are of high quality, and also, transistors almost always break, why would you need a special untraceable transistor, don’t they pretty much do the exact same thing?

    Also, if you refer to season one, Peter had multiple contacts in his ‘line of work’, he seems to have picked up on a lot of technology and haas experience with many characters, why is it so hard to believe he hasn’t come accross such knowledge? Especially considering his shady past.

    And with the idea of the first people, Fringe has had multiple farfetched scenarios, why is this one an issue? If we’re looking at it from a purely science-fiction point of view, could it not be that through probability, we just happened to follow the same evolutionary path? Doesn’t evolution say that organisms and species evolove based on what they do and use (as well as environmental influences)? Maybe using the words ‘Homo sapiens’ was sightly off the bat, but this is Fringe. Just look at the Watchers/Observers.

    And with the later comments, the idea of the buried objects. Yes, considering continental drift and the poles changing places, they wouldn’t be in the same places, but using modern day geography, they could’ve and should’ve used those co-ordinates and track their movement through our maps of continental drift, and the switch in poles, which have been measured the further down we went… So they could have found them, just not the way they did, and yes, they should’ve gone even further under ground considering the layers of sedement over the millenia.

    I believe the Big Crunch was covered in a previous comment.

    And the pilot didn’t switch to 6880 kHz purposely, if you watch, the interferenced moved through frequencies on its own and he was still trying to change when he was affected. And as mentioned in another comment, it was probably a random attack on the flight. However, if it was an attack, he probably would’ve known which frequency he’d be tuned into if he’d investigated and studied him before, knowing what frequency he’d be tuned into for flight control (even though those were not the correct flight control frequencies)

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