Friday, January 22, 2010

Fringe “What Lies Below”: The Usual “Virus On The Loose” Story

Photo from Fox

Fringe (Fox) “What Lies Below” had a simple plot: man comes into offices of Vetros Petrol building with strange virus, man dies and while doing so spreads virus, Fringe team called in, more die, building is quarantined. With a company name liked Vetros Petrol, I expected we would see something like the “black oil” life form that was featured in the X-Files, but not in this case. Instead, we got a different virus, but, like the black oil, it was something that had lay dormant deep in the earth’s crust for thousands of years before being dug up.

This become problematic for the Fringe team when Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) becomes infected. While Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is stuck in quarantine with Peter and the rest of the building’s occupants, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) works on the outside with Astrid (Jasika Nicole) to find a cure. When an infected woman smashes through a window from a high floor in an attempt to get out, Walter realizes that the virus is forcing them to get out so it can spread itself. Complicating matters, the CDC believes that this virus can’t be contained and is poised to take extreme measures to contain the virus, including killing everyone in the building.

As Walter and Astrid rush to find a cure, Walter comments to Astrid "I can't let Peter die again.” Of course, Walter finds the cure, and Olivia manages to get the ventilation system turned back on to allow for the release of the cure, just in time to avoid being killed herself. Peter is saved and appears to be recovering. But Astrid waits until the crisis is over to ask Walter what he meant about not letting Peter die "again." Walter’s face turns somewhat stern and cold and he tells her "Some things are meant to be left alone. " When Walter walks off, it is clear that Astrid is starting to put pieces together, and that Peter may not be the person who we think he is – or maybe better described as the person WHEN we think he is.

This episode didn’t have the usual suspense as most Fringe episodes, maybe because the plot was simple and the outcome obvious – Peter would not die. The big dangling issue is: what will Astrid do now that she suspects that Walter is keeping a secret about Peter? Astrid seems the type of person who would not drop the issue, and I suspect that she will continue to watch for signs or clues before she mentions Walter’s odd comments about Peter to anyone else. Despite the predictability, this was a decent episode that continues to set the stage for a big reveal somewhere down the road about Peter, and that could not only spell trouble for Peter, but for Walter as well. It could harm far more people than the virus unleashed in this episode.

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