Last night’s second new episode of Fringe began in rural Pennsylvania, where something vicious rumbled beneath the earth and dragged people to hellish death. Olivia, freshly released from the hospital with a few attractive scars and limping a little with a cane, was eager to start looking for creepy fringe-phenomena. But she was also still troubled by lingering, vague memories of her “other side” experience–among other things, she’s starting to hear voices and sounds she can’t quite place, or has her sense of hearing heightened to such a degree that a passing fly sounds like a buzzsaw.

Walter gave her (and us) a quick refresher course in Fringe‘s theory of alternate universes (in short: there are many of them, they contains versions of ourselves doing different things than we’ve done based on the “choices” we make in those alt-worlds). Oh, and Evil-Charlie is now doing everything but shooting daggers out of his eyes as he passes as Regular-Charlie, slipping off now and then to communicate with the Other Side via that mirror-world Selectric typewriter that’s instructing him to get those memories out of Olivia and then kill her.

This episode, co-written by Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman, reversed the usual Fringe formula in one respect: while the pre-credit sequence showed us a pretty startling death, the truly scary moment, the one that usually occurs at the start of a Fringe episode, was placed this week as its climax, when the monster grabbed first at Olivia and then at Peter:

The creature and the filming of his attacks were jolting; exactly what the freak was, however, had various explanations, courtesy of Walter and guest star John Savage, playing a farmer-scientist whose land the creature inhabited. Olivia and law enforcement found a little coffin that should have contained Savage’s dead infant son, but which instead was empty with a deep hole dug through its bottom, and Walter’s delighted guess was that Savage had “created a super-baby!” This was refined to: a baby injected with scorpion DNA. (There was stuff about a dead mother with lupus that I won’t go into.) It was, in any case, a nasty thing to defeat.

Now, aside from the scary stuff, we also saw Nina Sharp visit Olivia in the hospital and give her the name of someone, a Sam Weiss, “the man who put me back together.” Why isn’t Olivia a bit more suspicious of why Nina is taking such a personal interest in her? We know it’s because Nina is working with Special Agent Broyles on the whole fringe-science/alt-universe situation, but Olivia just seems to accept the robot-armed-lady’s advice as her due.

And it turns out Sam Weiss is a sage who works… in a bowling alley. How cute. He’s played by Kevin Corrigan (Finn on Damages last season!) Between Corrigan, Savage, and the actor who played the Pennsylvania sheriff — Charles Martin Smith, “the Toad” from American Graffiti looking nicely aged and agile! — this was a good night for guest stars.

The title of the episode, “Night of Desirable Objects,” was explained toward the end: it was the name of a fish lure Peter had been keeping since a child, remembering a fishing trip his dad never accompanied him on. This time around, Walter said he wanted to come along. With this version of Peter. An ever-increasingly nice, brave, helpful, forgiving Peter.

All in all: scary, nicely sentimental, with a few key revelations. Plus Ricky Nelson singing “Poor Little Fool” before the opening credits.

What am I forgetting? What do you think it all means?