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Fringe: What Lies Below

“Some things are meant to be left alone, Agent Farnsworth.”

A Dutchman and a bike courier walk into an office. “Nice day,” says the courier. The Dutchman responds by dying, spraying blood on kindly and comely office workers. Turns out, it’s a 75,000 year old virus that is, quite possible, responsible for the extinction not just of one Dutchman, but all of the Ice Age animals, too. No joke, that.

Lately, Fringe has upped the ante by putting Peter, then Walter, then Peter (rinse and repeat) in peril. This week, imperiled Peter was overcome with a virus that made us of his in-born trickery to attempt to sneak out of the building to finish the job it failed to do back in the woolly mammoth days.

Walter saved the day with some horseradish and a handy Astrid. Props to Astrid for choosing to stick with Walter: I suspect that the Fringe Division (especially Walter himself) might be her family—the people we turn to when we need someone to turn to. Family is our Theme of the Week, too: Olivia didn’t want to further traumatize her sister with more Fringe-drama, but she was willing to risk her life to save those of Walter, Astrid, and Peter. I was surprised that Peter didn’t “overcome” the virus when he faced down Olivia, but it did make for a nice family gathering at the episode’s end.

The suspense worked for me this week, even though I knew that our major players wouldn’t die. I think it was Giacchino’s score, again: moody, plaintive, but just fast-paced enough that it got my heart racing. That man deserves his Emmy, and many more.

Zero mythology this week, unless you count the revelation that Astrid is willing to die to protect Walter and his often-risky love for his son. Astrid seems to be asking the right questions, but she really got shot down by Walter: he even called her “Agent Farnsworth” instead of some variation of Asterix to tell her not to ask the tough questions about Peter. She may consider him family (and refused to leave him alone), but his first duty is always to Peter. It’s an interesting emotional plot, but I wonder if there’s anyway to incorporate it into the larger narrative. Will she betray him for not loving her? Will he sacrifice her like his lab assistant in days of yore?

The Good:

• Walter: “Now imagine that tonight you look under your bed and lo-and-behold, you find a monster, and you are immediately eaten. Now, if you hadn’t looked for the monster, you wouldn’t have found it, and you would still be happy in your bed instead of being slowly digested in the stomach sac of the creature. But, with any luck, your sisters and your brothers might have heard you scream, and your endeavor would be a lesson for them.” [Note the family thing even here!]

• Walter: “Take me to your centrifuge.”

The Bad:

• Peter looked awful even before he got infected. Is Joshua Jackson not getting enough sleep?

This is Something Else Entirely:

• Dude, that bike messenger was really on the ball.

• The dead Dutchman sprayed blood over a bunch of people, and it took another death for them to start taking contagion precautions?

• Shouldn’t Walter, Astrid, and FBI Guy #3 have been wearing “Level Six” containment suits in the lab? (There is no “Level Six,” that I’m aware of.) And shouldn’t Peter have been quarantined within the quarantine?

• “The virus compelled her to leave the building.”

• No one can reverse-engineer a cure to anything that crazy so quickly, nor can they figure out the ideal delivery method without a single error. Oh, well. Suspension of disbelief is the name of the game.

Yet another strong standalone.

Three out of four jars of horseradish.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. In an interview done while filming this episode, Josh Jackson said he had a very bad case of the flu. He said he had to give himself a vitamin shot just so that he could get the energy up to do filming one day.

    Not sure if he also had it for part of the next episode.

  2. Hi, Josie

    This episode was much, much better than last week's, if you ignore the fact that Walter figured out a cure for a disease that started showing hours earlier. But what I said last week applies here too: a forgettable episode. What else has happened that will affect the overall plot besides Astrid learning something about Peter having died?

    And I don't think it's effective anymore to put our lead trio in deadly peril. I never considered the idea that Peter might die. If it were Astrid or Broyles, there'd be some suspense.

  3. The most interesting part of this standalone is Astrid's loyalty toward Walter, as you pointed out. And that Astrid now knows that Peter died. Walter saved Broyles' life, too.

    This might be a good place to mention that I always enjoy the way Broyles reacts to Walter. Reddick's face is always just perfect; expressionless, but you can see what he's thinking.

  4. Okay. I think the stand alones are finally starting to get to me. I didn't enjoy this one at all. Perhaps because X-Files did the "ancient virus released by core drilling" thing WAY better. Here, it never felt like anyone we cared about was in any real danger (as you all note), and I spent most of the episode hoping it would just end already. At least Walter let slip the fact that Peter had already died to Astrid. Should bear interesting fruit down the line.

    Also, I totally agree with Billie that Lance Reddick rocks. Especially when reacting to Walter!

  5. Does it make me a bad person that the entire time Walter was talking to the kids, all I could think about was the episode of Friends where Phoebe sings to kids about grandparents dying and cows making hamburger?

    Too many of the standalones so far this year have been direct -- we'll be polite and call them homages, not plagiarism -- of X-Files episodes that were done much, much better by Chris Carter & Co. Be careful what you copy...


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