Fringe: What Lies Below Review -

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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

Fringe Review
© 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.


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MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 1/22/2010 12:26:02 AM

I'm here to try to anwer some of your questions:

Why didn't all the infected people jump out windows like one of the early victims did?

Probably - because it didn't really work out to swell the first time is my guess.  I mean she didn't make it very far.

Why was only one office in the huge high rise infected?

Well, because it wasn't airborne remember?  It was saliva and bloodborne and even if it was they had shut off the air flow.

Why did the CDC allow quarantined people to just walk out of the building after passing a rudimentary cheek swab test?

Probably to save time - no need to explain it any further really - move the story along.  There were plenty of service vehicles out there; I'm sure none of the people went straight home' Peter didn't.  They probably just left it to your imagination.


Pretty good review - quicker than usual, too - I love the scene where Walter let's his secret slip.  I wonder how that's going to turn out.  I loved this episode like most others and I'm sure I'll love the next but it seems weird that they'll have two similar shows in a row.  Psuedo-similar.

KentNinomiya 1/22/2010 9:58:42 AM


I appreciate your answers but my questions ran deeper. The first woman jumped out of the window because she was controlled by the virus that just wanted to get out and spread. All the crazy infected people wouldn't care if they died jumping out the window like her. The virus just wanted out. Yes, the virus was not airborn, but one of the office guys got it even though he wasn't near the blood. Besides, the bike courier spewed all over the front door as he died. Wouldn't that potentially endanger the whole building or at least those who walked out the front door? The CDC does not quarantine a building then let people walk away the same day. Didn't you find that odd? Anyway, I appreciate your input and I enjoy your comments.



MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 1/22/2010 12:23:32 PM

Well as far as the jumping I was talking about the virus not making them jump anymore.  It knew that it killed its host and with the host dead it can't really do a good job of spreading.  It was obviously smart; it made Peter switch the swab to the otherside.

I have to rewatch it about how the other guy got infected.  I was talking to somebody through part of it. 

About it spraying on the door - most viruses, virii?, can't survive outside the organism...I think Walter mentioned that.  But I'll watch again and see.

raynardmuldrake 1/22/2010 3:45:06 PM

i actually like this one better when it was on The X-Files. Seems like 90 % of fringe episodes are taken from X-Files..but i still love Fringe though..i love the Characters and Astrid is really cute.

"None of the corpses display the black nodules. Murphy finds an ice core sample in the scientists' lab, and believes it to originate from a meteor crater. When ammonium hydroxide is detected in one of the corpses, Murphy theorizes that the core sample might be 250,000 years old.

Bear wants to leave, but the others are worried about infecting the outside world with whatever the scientists' bodies and the dog have. Bear still insists on leaving. When the others ask for a stool sample from him, Bear smashes a glass jar over Mulder's head and tries to flee. The others find something moving underneath his skin and remove a small worm, but Bear ends up dying as a result. Mulder calls in a transmission to pick them up, but is told help won't be available because of the weather.

The worm removed from Bear is placed in a jar of ammonia, and another one is recovered from one of the corpses."        From The X-Files episode ICE

ponyboy76 1/22/2010 6:31:49 PM

Is someone going to do this every week? Yes, we all know Fringe tells some similar stories to X-Files. X-files has been off the air for how many years?I loved that show, but  I am very glad a show like Fringe is here to pick up where it left off. I mean they were on for 8 seasons. It must be hard from th writers of Fringe to come up with total originalty every episode going against 8 years of material that its going to overlap a little. I mean the shows are pretty much in the same genre. Its like Family Guy and South Park tackling the same stuff, which they do.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 1/23/2010 12:03:57 AM

I know Ponyboy, it seems like X-Files is going to be for Sci-Fi what Simpsons are for animated comedy or comedy period.

mac2j 1/23/2010 3:11:33 PM

I actually felt like this episode was weak .... much poorer science and rife with inconsistancies....

"this sample isn't good enough to isolate the strain" ... seriously you could come up with


And which building code exactly encourages you to make 16th floor windows that shatter on contact with a 100lb woman but 1st floor windows that withstand being smashed repeatedly with a giant steel fire extinguisher wielded by a 180lb guy.

I love this show but this was one of the worst episodes I've seen....

ponyboy76 1/24/2010 4:10:25 PM

You know Mac, I was going to argue your point but you are right about the window scenario. That didn't make it bad episode. And what is wrong with what Walter said? I mean, do you work for the CDC or maybe you're a hemotologist and you could have gotten the the proper sample they needed? That's pretty nitpicky.

isgrimner 1/26/2010 6:46:31 AM

I like the show, but this did seem like one of the weaker episodes.  The best part was Walter letting his secret slip and Astrid actually calling him on it later when things seemed to settle down.  Granted you know his secret is a main plot point and eventually will come to the forefront, I just didn't expect it to start to be revealed this soon.   Now if it Walter lies and explaines away or if it gets dropped quickly, then it was a waste to even show it, and only used as a tease to the viewer.



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