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- TV Series: Fringe
- Episode: What Lies Below
- Starring: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jaskika Nicole, Lance Reddick
- Written By: Glen Whitman, Robert Chiappetta
- Directed By: Adam Davidson
- Network: Fox
- Series: Fringe
Fringe: What Lies Below Review
Humans Knocked Down the Food Chain
By Kent Ninomiya
January 22, 2010
© Fox/Bob Trate
Humans arrogantly believe that they sit at the top of the food chain. This episode of Fringe points out that we do not. Bacteria sits at the top and feasts on us regularly. It is a fact pointed out in a college lecture earlier in the Fringe series and driven home in “What Lies Below.” A man walks into an office building hoping to sell industrial secrets to a company. Instead, the drops dead and spews a killer virus all over the place. Olivia and Peter go to investigate. By the time Walter, Astrid and Agent Broyles get there, it is obvious that they have an epidemic on their hands. The building is quarantined with Olivia and Peter stuck inside.
The virus starts killing people in the building, but there is a classic Fringe twist. The virus is not content to just kill people. It wants to spread and reproduce. The virus drives the victims to go outside and infect more people. It then becomes a struggle between the Centers for Disease Control and FBI trying to keep the infected people inside, and the virus controlled people trying to escape.
Throughout all of this, we witness conflict playing out inside Walter. As a scientist, he knows that he must keep the virus contained. As the father of Peter and friend of Olivia, he desperately wants to find a way to let them go. Walter becomes further conflicted when Peter becomes infected and the virus drives him to try to escape at all costs. We witness the normally cool Peter fall to pieces under the strain.
The situation is further complicated by the CDC deciding to eradicate all the infected people to prevent the virus from spreading. At this point we are treated to further growth in the Astrid Farnsworth character. She stands by Walter and refuses to leave the building even though she knows there are soldiers on their way in to kill everyone. There is a pivotal scene where Walter realizes that he can't save Peter and wants to give up. Astrid is the one who rallies Walter's spirit and inspires him to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds. Let's hope that the writers continue to allow Astrid to get out of the lab and contribute to story lines in this way.
It turns out that the virus was from a rock sample found 10 miles under that ground. Walter concludes that it is the same virus that wiped out the ice age mammals 75 thousand years ago. Since humans survived that time, Walter figures that it was an historical event that halted the spread of the virus back then. His mad scientist logic leads him to a miraculous cure only he could devise. Let's just say it has something to do with an erupting volcano and horse radish from an office break room refrigerator.
There are a few inconsistencies in the episode. Why didn't all the infected people jump out windows like one of the early victims did? Why was only one office in the huge high rise infected? Why did the CDC allow quarantined people to just walk out of the building after passing a rudimentary cheek swab test? However, in order to enjoy Fringe you really shouldn't ask questions like that.
All in all it was quite an entertaining episode and even had some ominous foreshadowing. Walter mentions that he couldn't let Peter die “again.” When Astrid asks what he means by that, he says “some things are meant to be left alone.” I can't wait to find out what he meant by that.