Fringe

2008, TV Show

Fringe Episode: "What Lies Below"

Season 2, Episode 13
Episode Synopsis: Walter, Broyles and Astrid scramble for answers when Peter and Olivia become trapped in a Boston office building that's been quarantined by the Centers for Disease Control because of a deadly virus.
Original Air Date: Jan 21, 2010
Guest Cast Demore Barnes David Richmond-Peck Natassia Malthe Geoff Pierson Conrad Coates
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Season 2, Episode 13
Subscription | Netflix
Length: 43:46
Aired: 1/21/2010
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Prime and VUDU
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Fringe Episode Recap: "What Lies Below" Season 2, Episode 13

Network TV dramas have a long history of the "quarantine" episode. It's usually in medical dramas like House or ER, but many long-running dramas seem to eventually work it into their episode roster. "What Lies Below" represented Fringe's stab at the "quarantine" episode and considering how often it's been done, it remained a pretty effective hour of television. When the team investigates a death at Vitas Petrol they soon learn it was a contagious pathogen responsible — but not before Olivia and Peter are trapped inside by the quarantine.

I don't consider myself a germaphobe but I am particularly susceptible to getting extremely creeped out when popular fiction tackles the subject of viruses, pathogens and diseases. Wolfgang Petersen's Outbreak freaked me out 15 years ago and I haven't been able to look at a capuchin monkey the same way since. This episode was going to work in giving me the willies just with the subject matter. But the scenes of the victims succumbing to the pathogen were extremely effective, mostly because of the spewing blood, or "spraying" as it was dubbed. The scene where Peter falls in a victim's blood and then proceeds to try to wash himself was also beautifully done; he and Olivia hardly say anything, just share knowing looks as he scrubs himself furiously. That said more than any dialogue.

Walter and Astrid go back to the lab to figure out what kind of pathogen it is they're dealing with while Broyles attempts to deal with the trigger happy CDC agent (hey there, Captain Matthews from Dexter). They all eventually figure out that the virus came from an oil dig and that it's trying to force its hosts to get outside. Part of me wanted to say how illogical and silly this was but the other part remembered the secretary throwing herself out the window and crushing a van and decided I could go with it.

Once Peter and Olivia were locked inside, I assumed Walter would go into his normal panic mode that he always does when Peter is in danger, but I was pleasantly surprised by his reaction. He was upset and wanted to get to work but he didn't become the ball of emotion he so often does in these situations. Even later on in the episode when he can't figure out how to cure Peter, he seems resigned. "I can't let Peter die again, but he will... they all will," he says. There was something terribly sad about how he gives himself over to his son's death so easily, but he has been there before, after all.

One of the reasons I feel this standalone mostly succeeded where many have failed, is that it gave something for the characters to care about. The plot may not have been particularly inventive (understatement) but there were small touches that showed something about the character's internal life. Olivia's reluctance to call Rachel and tell her what's happening; Astrid steadying Walter's hand and taking the vial from him; Broyles telling the CDC agent that the people inside were like family to him; these may not have been giant revelations or game-changing moments but they made the characters feel more alive than they have in many of the standalones this season.

The episode also ended on an extremely high note for me when Astrid questioned Walter on why he said he couldn't let Peter die again. "Some things are meant to be left alone, Agent Farnsworth," he responded, but it seems like that only increased her curiosity. I've been waiting for this part of the Fringe mythology to be brought to the forefront and it looks like it finally may be, which is satisfying on it's own but would be even more satisfying if it was Astrid who did so.

What did you guys think? Did this standalone feel stronger to you? I hope we can get as passionate a conversation going as we did last week, only without most of you screaming for my head... though that's fine too.

Random Thoughts

- I know John Noble gets a ton of credit for his acting (and rightfully so) but, damn, if Anna Torv isn't just as good. She seems to come from the "less is more" school of acting but she can blow me away with just a small reaction.

- "Level 6 eradication" sounds awesome, I want to be a CDC agent just so I can walk around and order level 6 eradications.

- Every TV show/movie that deals with a contagious disease must have a map that illustrates how fast the disease can spread. It's just common sense.

- From Walter's lecture to the schoolchildren at the beginning, "When you open new doors, there's a price to pay." He would know.

- I'm not gonna lie, I'm a little worried about next week's episode dealing with a Nazi from the past killing people of Jewish descent... but I'll hold judgment until then.

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Network TV dramas have a long history of the "quarantine" episode. It's usually in medical dramas like House or ER, but many long-running dramas seem to eventually work it into their episode roster. "What Lies Below" represented Fringe's stab at the "quarantine" episode and considering how often it's been done, it remained a pretty effective hour of television. When the team investigates a death at Vitas Petrol they soon learn it was a contagious pathogen responsible — but not before Olivia and Peter are trapped inside by the quarantine.

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Premiered: September 09, 2008, on FOX
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (5,435 ratings)
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Premise: A drama with sci-fi elements following the FBI probe of mysterious deaths aboard an airplane that landed at Boston's Logan Airport. But the deaths aboard Flight 627 are only the beginning of the story. Executive producers include J.J. Abrams ('Lost') and his 'Mission: Impossible III' co-screenwriters, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

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