Spinal Fluid With A Side of Syphillis, on Fringe

Nothing like a little recreational spine-severing, Syphillis-engineering, and more hints about a secret underground science society known as ZFT. That's why last night's Fringe made us feel all grody-happy inside. Spoilers!

Fringe is scoring well on the tightly-plotted-o-meter - last week's episode, authored by Akiva "I, Robot" Goldsman, was scary and awesome. And this week's episode, "Midnight," kept bringing on the biological horror with a vampiric creature whose lust for spinal fluid took us one step closer to cracking the ZFT conspiracy.


For those who just tuned in, don't worry: It's an easy conspiracy to follow. ZFT is a group of outlaw scientists who show off to each other by experimenting on the human population with their weird flesh-growing bacteria and (this week) a virus that turns people into toothy creatures who must suck people's spinal fluid or they die. Attached to ZFT is mystery man Jones, who teleported out of prison using a toothbrush and string (OK maybe a few more things too), and a variety of other mad scientists who usually have labs in abandoned industrial warehouses or underneath Chinese restaurants in Boston.

But here's the creepy-spooky part: ZFT (short for "Zerstorung durch Fortschritte der Technologie" or "Destruction by Advancement of Technology") was inspired by a manifesto which states: 1. technological progress will lead to the apocalypse; 2. there is a parallel world to Earth that is more scientifically advanced than our own; and 3. a door has opened between that world and ours, but only ONE WORLD CAN SURVIVE. Got that? Now, back to hot chicks in nightclubs sucking spine.


A cute lady is eating people in Boston, severing their spines with her mega-teeth and drinking their spinal fluid. Why oh why is this? Turns out she's the nice wife of a scientist named Boone, who was working secretly for ZFT, engineering weird bacteria (like the flesh-growing stuff from an earlier episode) and viruses like the one that turns his wife into spine-drinker. The best/weirdest part is that this virus is delivered using syphillis "as a platform." So it's vampirism wrapped in an STD. Nice.

When Olivia and her Scoobies track Boone down, he admits he tried to leave ZFT and they infected his wife as revenge. He agrees to cooperate and give up some ZFT names if the Scoobies will track his wife down so he can give her an antidote. There's a great scene where Olivia asks Boone why the hell ZFT does stuff like this virus, and he says, "To create a human nightmare . . . to show off to other scientists." I love that idea, that there are crazy bio-hackers out there in the dark underground inventing weirdass viruses just to show off.

Eventually the Scoobies take down the spine sucker after finding a lot more bloody corpses and some sidebar drama about Olivia's sister getting a divorce (hubby suing for full custody of the kid! awkward to discuss via cell phone from a crime scene!). Walter works with Boone in his lab, whipping up an antidote from the guy's spinal fluid, because apparently it is the only fluid they have on hand that's "compatible." This of course leads to Boone having a stroke, since he's already drained a bunch of his fluid out to feed his wife before she took off for juicier spines. Luckily, though, the antidote works and his wife goes back to normal.

And Boone leaves behind a VHS tape naming all the ZFT names that he can. (Moment of "huh?" regarding the VHS tape: Is this a hint that Fringe is actually taking place in the less-advanced Earth dimension and we with our Blurays live in the more advanced dimension?) Olivia meets up with Broyles after-hours at a bar to discuss the names with him. Some she doesn't recognize, and Jones isn't among them. But Boone claims that the guy funding the whole ZFT science-terror operation is none other than the elusive William Bell, Walter's old friend and the founder of shady mega biotech corp Massive Dynamic. Since many of us already speculate that Walter had a hand in writing the ZFT manifesto, it makes perfect sense that Bell might be involved.


You can expect more William Bell next week, and he'll be played by (yes!) Leonard Nimoy. Strap yourself in, nerds - this is getting wild.

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I'm pretty sure the videotape used to record the ZFT message is the same tape as the lab notes Walter was listening to - by giving Olivia the information she needed, he destroyed some really bad part of his past. Just an off-the-cuff guess.