Review: 2.12 What Lies Below

Welcome to the FB review of the Fringe season 2 episode 12 – “What Lies Below“. In this review I present my honest opinions on both the good and bad aspects of the episode. I also take a look at the answers and unresolved mysteries, before sharing my thoughts on other aspects which may have been overlooked.


  • Family. If last week’s episode illustrated the importance of our Fringies inter-personal relationships, “What Lies Below” was a realisation of their bond. Each one of them had a part to play in ensuring that they all lived to see another day – huge sacrifices were made, the kind you only usually make on instinct, or for loved ones. This bravery was no more so exemplified than by Astrid Farnsworth – a woman who continues to blossom in her quasi role as Lab assistant-stroke-FBI agent-stroke-babysitter. Her faith in Walter’s ability to find a solution was heartening but also crazy – and it’s in those moments of illogical bravery that you find out what a person is made of. Simply put, Astrid is made of awesome. The icing on the cake came with Broyles saying that his team are like family.
  • High stakes, emotion, tension. I was invested as soon as Olivia and Peter were in danger of getting infected by the virus. Sure, I was pretty confident that everything would be OK in the end, but that didn’t matter in this instance, because the journey from A to Z was so good that I was only interested in the story, and not how it was told (in terms of format).
  • Astrid and Walter. I want to single them out because last week I probably did them a bit of an injustice by failing to mention just how good they were together. They’re a bit of an odd-couple, but I think that’s partly what makes them so appealing. I have to take my fedora off to the writers because they’ve addressed a very real concern (which was still a concern at the beginning of this season) and, in recent episodes, they’ve integrated Astrid into the story in a purposeful way. I now fully believe that Astrid is the second best person on the team at speaking ‘Walter’.
  • Subtext. Probably the strongest it’s been in a ‘standalone episode’. Put it this way, there was enough closeness to the main arc to satisfy my serial hunger for an episode.
  • Directing. While this wasn’t the most lavish episode aesthetically speaking, I thought the directors and editors made some fantastic choices which really helped the episode to resonate. I loved the dark edges and apocalyptic undertones that were conveyed through tilted camera positions, uncomfortable close-ups and other thematic decisions.
  • Earlier this season we had the story on the ‘sentient shadow’. I thought the sentient virus story worked a lot better because it was character driven through OUR characters. We’ve seen Peter in peril a few times but never quite like this, and never sick. Seeing him like this created a subliminal connection between my previous knowledge of his sickly childhood and the events playing out in the episode. Joshua Jackson did a good job at playing an ‘evil Peter’, and I love the idea that the virus had a personality of its own – changing who Peter thought he was and how he behaved (again tying into the perception thing). The virus calling on Peter’s famed sleight of hand’ to trick its way around the swab test was an inspired throw-back!


  • I thought it was a bit contrived that they didn’t consider the knockout gas as an option much earlier. I’m not a CDC operative but surely buying some time with nerve gas would be better than the ‘level 6 death slaughter’ McFadden proposed!? But hey, it’s a plot contrivance I can live with.
  • Although this was an emotionally charged episode I felt there were a few missteps along the way. The scene were Peter asked Olivia about Rachel (the second one) was one of them – to me, it came across as trying a bit too hard with the long pauses made me uncomfortable. Which is funny, because I like that the scene was written – it was important in reinforcing Olivia’s role as a protector and was a reference to events from the season premiere, but I felt it could have been executed slightly better. (maybe it’s also because I just don’t buy the idea that Rachel would give two squats about Olivia :) ..Wasn’t she on holiday a few episodes ago?). Anyway, not a major complaint, just one of the few scenes of its type that didn’t quite gel as I thought it should.
  • I thought the episode looked aesthetically bland. Perhaps it’s because it took place mostly inside the same building, but it didn’t feel as vibrant or visually rich as the show can sometimes look (I’m thinking 2.01 and 2.04).
  • This is just a personal thing – I would have liked to have seen more anxiety from Walter when checking to see if Olivia had the virus. His reaction during Peter’s test was heart-breaking, but I would have liked a bit of that during Olivia’s swab test. Granted, Peter is his flesh and blood (kinda), but I still feel that he would have been a  bit more concerned for Olive. Again, nothing major.
  • I’m not going to complain about the lack of serial here because, quite frankly, it doesn’t warrant it. What I would say, as a Nina/mythology/central arc fan, is that the episode still lacked a bit of overarching presence which would have given it a few extra decimal points.


  • Why didn’t the virus spread earlier when Vandenkemp was outside?
  • How did Walter know to associate the virus with Mount Toba?


  • Radjan Vandenkemp was meeting with Vitas Petrol technical engineer, Vincent Ames, to offer him competitor information in the form of a drill core sample stolen from Solum Oil Corporation. Said sample contained a 75,000 year old virus which was released because Vanderkamp failed to keep the sample inside its protective casing.
  • The virus passed through bodily fluids. When faced with containment it leapt from host to host with a view to getting out – causing its victims to act irrationally.
  • Walter realised that sulphur would kill the virus, just as some theorize it did 75,000  years ago when Mount Toba erupted, causing sulphuric ash to rain down around the world.
  • Astrid knows at least some of Walter’s secret about Peter’s death.


  • It was amusing to watch Walter give the children a lesson on the Nao Victoria. This real world tale also serves as a metaphor for the alternate universe and Walter’s abduction of Peter:

“When you open new doors there’s always a price to pay”.

  1. As we’ve suspected, it seems that Walter’s act has not only carried personal consequences, but also a wider impact on the two main worlds of the show. We have the immediate issue of Peter’s abduction, but more and more we’re gaining evidence of viruses, infections and the Blight being a factor (which has surely increased their science and technology, and hence impacted on their timeline). As we’ve long suspected, crossing over to the alternate reality is in many ways mirroring such voyages from our own history.
  2. From this we also get our biggest confirmation yet that Peter was sick after Walter brought him back from the other side – probably due to leaving one world and entering a foreign one.
  • The change in Walter is interesting. He used to be all about the pursuit. Now, we see him providing children (no coincidence there) with cautionary tales on exploration and “monsters”. Very horrifying for a young child to hear (I recall Ella..or was it Olivia..being scared of monsters back in 1.16). Walter has learned his lesson, but is it fair or wise of him to scaremonger future generations like this? Science is responsible for a lot of bad, but also some good. I feel that Walter needs to humanise his message for it to be effective.
  • I love how the badges read ‘science is fun‘, yet Walter’s message was anything but.
  • Why doesn’t Walter carry ID? You’d think he would, considering he’s an FBI consultant. It would help when he gets lost (and yes, Astrid, I noticed. Again? ..Really?). Someone get him a badge! And can someone get Broyles an office because I know that hasn’t been followed up on yet. 😉

  • We saw a little glimmer of past-Walter when he belittled Arnold McFadden before Broyles reminded him that there’s better ways of dealing with people. That was nicely handled by Broyles who has been quietly effective for a good while now. I also like how he initially referred to Walter as a “valuable asset” (which reminded me of his: “there’s only one Walter Bishop” line from Grey Matters) before later including him as part of his family. Broyles has a corporate mindset – he’s in the results business, but he is gradually becoming emotionally attached to his people.
  • I’m curious as to whether the writers planted a subtle political message in this episode regarding the pursuit of oil and the problems governments and corporations have brought about? The virus, corporate cheating and talk of “level 6” makes me think they might have snuck a little message in there? I could be wrong, and I don’t know the writers political stance, but it just made me wonder..
  • At the end of the episode, Walter reiterates his new outlook: “some things should be left alone”. This works on many levels, from looking back at choices made in our own history, to Walter’s decision to grab a replacement Peter from the alternate universe, and of course, his desire for no-one else to find out about Peter – at least for the moment. Will Walter perpetuate his secret, or has Astrid gained his trust enough to be let into the fold? That’s the thing, Walter now has more than Peter’s admiration to lose, he has an entire family.
  • Walter’s dim outlook on his past makes me wonder whether he regrets taking Peter from the alternate universe? If he could go back and undo his action..would he? I guess this is the hardest type of question to answer reasonably because it involves taking away all of the good moments that he and Peter have shared, especially over the past year. Not to mention the fact that Walter probably wouldn’t have the humanity that he has now if his life hadn’t taken the turns that it has. That said, Walter simply HAS to take responsibility soon..and you know, had things turned out differently in this would have been too late. Something has to give!
  • It’s amazing how John Noble can go from bullish to broken in a heartbeat: “I can’t let Peter die again”. I’m not sure that this was a Freudian slip from Walter..he wanted needed to tell someone!

  • I thought the ‘monster of the week’ was one of the best so far because it was entertaining and grounded in a semblance of reality. Granted, it had its holes, but I found the idea fascinating. I mean, a virus with its own personality – that’s akin to the Island as a character!
  • Which brings me to season 1, where we saw A LOT of viral warfare experiments, particularly through ZFT (remember them?). Whether the producers are going for this or not, I believe that this episode provides more clarity on why these groups were running viral experiments. If the other side has “magic mirrors” and hybrid shape-shifters, then I’d imagine that our side will look to imaginative viruses, exploding heads and night-stalking vampires to act as a counteractive wave.
  • I found it interesting that McFadden wasn’t completely callous in his decision to exterminate the contaminated victims. Sure, any form of eradication is evil, but I feel that the writers made an effort to show that, for McFadden, it was a logical decision (and that he wasn’t malevolent like the CIA dude from Earthling). Since this episode draws heavy parallels to the main arc, it reminds me of one of ZFT’s main statements:
“This is not a war of hatred and anger. It is a battle of survival.”

  1. It sounded absurd at first, but I can now see how a war can be perceived as a battle of survival yet not anger or hatred. I don’t agree with the statement in real world terms, mind, but I can understand the mindset they’re playing with.
  • In episodes like this, when even Walter is stumped for an answer, I always think it would be a useful idea for Olivia to ask Nina and Massive Dynamic for assistance. With all their resources it would surely be worth a try? I’m sure Brandon has nothing better to do. Story-wise though, I’m glad they don’t always use this as an out.
  • The Peter/Olivia fight was weird. I’m not sure what to do with that to be honest. Last week I wondered what a bit of conflict between our heroes would do, so I definitely didn’t hate it, but seeing them go at it was..weird (a good weird..I think). Anyway, I wonder if we got another subtle look at Peter’s power at work when he seemingly prevented the virus from killing Olivia? As irrational as the virus made Peter, that was a fairly sound decision.

  • Have I ever said how great Olivia is? No? Well, despite being overshadowed by practically everyone in this episode, she somehow pulled out a ‘don’t forget about me’ gem when she tells Peter not to worry because “you weren’t yourself”. Three little words but what a way to say it! Peter responds:

“lucky for me that you were..”

  1. You could almost see the weight of responsibility fill up her eyes. Which is funny, because Peter ‘Magic Touch’ Bishop was supposed to be the one who she could lean on in times of crisis – and while that still might be the case, at the moment I think Olivia feels very ‘mother hen-like’. That said, I get the feeling that Olivia derives strength through being a protector – which again brings me back to the sense of fate that this story is evoking. Olivia is the way she is largely because of Walter and Bell’s experiments. Be it through science or the cosmic forces of the universe, no-one can deny the symmetry of their coming together. The reason is out there.
  • I love the fact that Astrid knows that something about Peter that he doesn’t. It’s only a matter of time before she learns the whole truth. I think Olivia will be the next one to find out – and if that happens it will make forgiving Walter even harder for Peter.
  • The episode spends a lot of time delivering a grave message on the consequences of “opening doors”. Which only serves to highlight the fact that the team should be focusing on tracking down those pesky shape-shifters! FFS Peter, what happened to being PROACTIVE? 😉 I’ve bided my time with that, waited to see if things would change, but seriously, he really hasn’t delivered on that front, has he.


Every now and then you get an episode that comes out of left field, totally unexpected, and leaves you feeling really satisfied by the 42 minute journey. What Lies Below was one such episode. The best standalone episode of the season so far. Although it should be said that character driven-mythology and main arc should rule, with a sprinkling of standalone episodes of this ilk.

As for the title, What Lies Below is obviously a reference to the virus which was found underground, but for me it also refers to the hidden elements that sometimes reveal themselves on the surface of our characters – whether it’s the bravery of Astrid, or the secrets of Walter. Emphasis should also be given to the word LIES, because just like the virus, Walter’s lie is yearning to break free. It’s time to do the right thing Walter..

Best Moment: The scene which starts with Broyles saying his team is like family to him, which moves to a gun-loading Peter..the soldiers ready to kill…before moving to Olivia racing to the ventilation system..then to Astrid and Walter, before ending back on a poised Peter. The sweeping score throughout this scene was a thing of beauty. And, Astrid helping Walter find an antidote was also very good.

Best Performer: John Noble & Jasika Nicole

If you enjoyed What Lies Below, you’ll like: Bound, The Transformation, Of Human Action

Episode Rating: 9/10


  1. Anjali says

    I thought that Michael Giacchino did a fantastic job with the background score!!!! Fantastic! Especially the scene where Peter wants out and Olivia can’t let him. And the whole arc with Peter in the elevator, CDC guys move in,Olivia down the stairs. Excellent!

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  2. Ashley says

    I believe that Walter connected the virus to Mt. Toba because of the depth of the core sample — he mentioned that the sample must be from about 75,000 years ago when they discovered in the briefcase the depth from which it was extracted.

    Also, no nod in the post to how STRIKINGLY similar this whole episode was to The X-Files’ “black oil”? A black substance that came from underground and acts as a virus…?

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    • says

      Ashley. Oops, my bad, I didn’t clarify.. I was wondering why the ’10 miles deep’ factor caused him to make the specific connection with Mt. Toba? I’m probably missing something, but it seemed like bit of a leap.

      Thanks anyway!

      I think the writers really really like X-Files. At the very least it’s an influence. It doesn’t bother me though, because, for the most part, Fringe has its own story to tell.

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  3. Betynha says

    Great review, great episode! I’m very happy with it!

    And I’m also happy because those beautiful blue lights came back! (L)

    Day by day I love Astrid more!

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  4. says

    This was a solid standalone – and it worked well as a standalone because we saw the people involved. It’s kind of a believable circumstance in that something weird happens and Fringe division gets called in. Much better than “Peter notices a weird pattern – but it’s not “The Pattern.””

    I liked it.

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    • says

      Matthew – I agree with all that. Hopefully the writers/producers can learn from WLB and incorporate more of these elements into future standalone eps.

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  5. Jodie says

    I really liked this episode, but then I always enjoy the episodes that reveal the inner characters the most. Roco, as usual, you did a great review. However, I was intrigued by Olivia’s reaction to the news that Peter was going to be “put down.” I was a little disappointed that you kind of skirted the issue. My reaction was similar to Astrid’s: cold shock. And way to go Astrid for calmly informing Olivia that she had no intention of leaving Peter.

    This episode, for character development, was as good as “No Brainer.” I know, it hasn’t been given much respect. But I saw what Olivia and Peter were capable of in that episode: Peter willing to love and protect Walter even though he knows the really bad things that he’s done; and Olivia as an Earth Mother – strong, loving, wise.

    In this episode, we saw Olivia’s flaws as well as Peter’s. And yes, all you “I obsess about Olivia” fans out there, Olivia does have flaws. This, of course, makes her accessible and human. We need to talk about why the fight happened. I feel that we have been given a glimpse into what is about to happen when it is finally revealed that Peter is from the alternate universe. Olivia’s going to pull a gun on him (figuratively or literally), and Peter is going to shut down emotionally and probably run.

    I’ve really found it interesting how Olivia has responded to Peter’s attempts to reach out to her emotionally. Let’s see: in “Same Old Town,” after Peter mentions that she doesn’t like to receive help, she attempts a joke; in “Dream Logic,” Peter tries to talk about Charlie, she gets up and leaves the room; in “Gray Matter,” when Peter tells her that she isn’t alone, she just stares at him. Now, this is true to form for a woman who says nothing after the love of her like tells her that he loves her. She admits that she’s bad at this. But, has she completely shut down? At the front doors, Peter pleads with her to let him out. This is the virus, but it was also Peter. It was a repeat of the scene upstairs when he asks her to talk with him about feeling frightened. When she’s in the basement, turns around, and finds Peter behind her, she just pulled a gun. I know there wasn’t a lot of time, but I would have tried to calm him. Even in his virus-addled brain, Peter managed not to infect her or hurt her.

    Then there’s Peter’s flaws. As soon as Olivia shut the door on him, he shut down. He was alone, again, with no one to help. I found it interesting that he didn’t try to go to Walter. I know that the virus was compelling him to leave the building, but he seemed lucid enough to me that he should have remembered Walter was still there. The fight between Olivia and Peter was about trust: Olivia doesn’t trust Peter (even after all the times that he’s saved her behind!), and Peter immediately shut down, rejected everyone, and began to work alone.

    If the Fringe unit is going to win this war, every one of them is going to have to work as a team. They do need to be a family. Olivia and Peter are not there yet.

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    • mlj102 says

      Interesting perspective — particularly on Olivia’s character. I have to say, I really hadn’t seen it like that, though I can see where you’re coming from. I must say, however, that I disagree with your conclusion that Olivia doesn’t trust Peter.

      For me, I think it all stems from the fact that Olivia is a strong person. This has been mentioned on numerous occasions by various people who know her. She’s a tough person and, consequently, does not like to be vulnerable and does not feel comfortable relying on others. That is why she is so closed off and doesn’t often reveal how she feels about things. That’s why she retreats whenever things get a little too personal for her (such as all the things you mentioned like when Peter was talking to her about Charlie or when he told her she’s not alone).

      It’s as if she has built these walls up around herself and she very rarely lets someone else see inside those walls. One time I can think of when she let Peter in was in Bad Dreams when she was overwhelmed by everything that was going on. But that was a very rare circumstance and it showed that it really takes something big for her to let her guard down a bit.

      She’s also very selective about who she lets in — who she trusts. It doesn’t help matters any when you consider that those who she has trusted in the past typically betray her or have died (such as John and Charlie). That causes her to close herself up even more and to be reluctant to let anyone else in again. I think that, during the course of this season, we’ve seen her start to open up to Peter more. She may not respond much to his efforts of reaching out to her (such as the moments you mention), but she’s making progress. There are several instances this season where we’ve seen her confide in him, or open up to him about something personal (such as when she told him one of her favorite memories of her mother and how she was concerned about creating special memories with Ella). As for this episode, I fully believe that she would have opened up to him when he was talking to her about calling Rachel and talking to people when you’re scared, if the receptionist had not interrupted them right at that moment.

      Olivia’s the kind of person who needs time to build up trust with another person and to feel comfortable confiding in them. Anna Torv mentioned this in the recent interview regarding Olivia’s Lonely Path when she said that Olivia doesn’t yet have a history with Peter — he’s still relatively new in her life, and so she’s still getting to the point where she can tell him about her personal feelings and let down her guard a little bit. So the fact that she does open up to him as much as she does really says something about how important he is to her. She’s getting there. And I think she trusts him more than anyone else in her life right now.

      Actually, I think Peter has come to be a very important person in her life. It’s more an issue of how much she realizes that, or how much she will admit that. But there are the occasional moments when we get a little glimpse of that. One such moment was in Of Human Action when Peter was kidnapped and she was talking to Walter and Walter mentioned how Peter always helps him, and Olivia responded by saying that he always helps her, too. I think that was a very sincere comment on her part and it was kind of a big deal for her to acknowledge how important Peter is in helping her through things. She may shut down when things get too personal for her, but just having him there is a very steadying influence for her, and she needs that.

      We also saw that in this episode. One of my favorite scenes this episode was when Peter got infected, and seeing how they both reacted to that. I thought Anna Torv absolutely nailed those scenes — her expressions were perfect. You could see this fear and panic in her eyes. And watching her try and calm herself was really big because we could see just how concerned she was. It was as if, at that moment, there was a shift in the entire situation. It was no longer a matter of strangers being infected, with a slight possibility that they might also be infected. But now it was pretty much a given that Peter was infected. She was suddenly faced with the possibility that Peter could die, and that thought definitely did not sit well with her. Yes, she left the building, but she really didn’t have much of a choice, and there wasn’t much she could do in there, anyway. But as soon as they had a plan and there was something that needed to be done, she did not hesitate for even a second before she volunteered to go in the building and get the air circulating again.

      As for pulling her gun on Peter, that really doesn’t strike me as odd. Using a gun is second nature for Olivia — it’s a way for her to take control and to feel safe. Besides, Peter had just come from nowhere and shoved her, posing a threat. If she had just seen him standing a few feet away, and pulled her gun just because she saw him, then that would be one thing. But he had essentially attacked her, which I think was just cause for her to pull her gun out. Throughout the fight scene, I got the impression that she was holding back. She didn’t want to hurt Peter. I think that if it had been any of the other infected people, she would have been much more aggressive, may have even shot them. But given that it was Peter, I don’t think she could bring herself to actually try to hurt him.

      Certainly Olivia has flaws. Like you said, that just makes her human. However, I don’t think she was abandoning Peter or giving up on him. Rather, I felt she was weighing her options, and acknowledging the fact that they did have to contain the situation and, until they had another option, she didn’t have any choice. She was doing the best she could under the situation, but I don’t think she ever gave up on saving him.

      In conclusion, I think that Olivia and Peter are closer to being able to work together as a team and as a family than you give them credit for. Throughout the show, we’ve seen them form a strong relationship, which only gets stronger the more they go through together. Yes, they still have personal secrets or feelings that they keep to themselves. But all the characters do. I think Peter and Olivia have come to rely on each other, they support each other, and they would do anything to protect the other.

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    • says

      Jodie – You’re right, I didn’t put as much focus as I would have liked on the Olivia/Peter side of things. I had plently more to say about it, but I guess I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about several of their moments – particularly the fight scene. I kind of got caught up in Astrid and Walter. Thankfully, you brought it to the table and you’ve raised some very interesting points.

      I agree that their responses in this episode may well foreshadow future events – conflict (more conflict) is surely coming down the pipe, considering we’re into the second half of the season. How these two respond to events, and each other, is going to be crucial for the survival and effectiveness of this team.

      You know, thinking back to the moment when Peter pleaded with Olivia to help him, I remember thinking that she HAS to go back in after him (or at least show more outward emotion) – so it did feel a bit strange to me when she just stood there. That feeling was fleeting though, because after a few seconds I came to the conclusion that her decision made logical sense. Had she somehow managed to get an infected Peter out, she would be neglecting her responsibilities to society. Had she gone straight back in after him, she would be ruining one of their best chances of everyone getting out alive. I guess she had to work on instinct, and at the end of the day she must have gone through all of the risks of the job, especially after losing Charlie and John. Not that it would make losing Peter et al any easier, but I think she’s becoming good at keeping a smidgen of daylight between her emotions and her team.

      I also applaud Astrid – I remember thinking: “doesn’t she have family!??” as she took her helmet off, but I think the situation was a bit different for Olivia, who was already outside. BUT, I’ll say it again..Olivia’s response did surprise me..a little.

      I’m glad that this episode highlighted their flaws – as you mentioned, both Olivia and Peter are fairly closed-off people, even to each other. I’ve touched on this above, but perhaps it’s easier for them that way? They’ve grown so much since they first started at FD, but clearly they still have a long way to go – in some respects they may fear that growing closer will make them weaker (as Newton taunted). Hopefully it will also make them stronger in ways they cannot yet imagine.

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  6. Elaine says

    Jodie, I really enjoyed your post, and I agree with a great deal of what you said regarding the hesitant trust between Olivia and Peter. I commented on another forum a few back that it’s been no coincedence, imo, that Olivia has pulled a gun on Peter several times this season. So, like you, I think she’s bound to shoot Peter some time before the season ends. For her protection or his remains to be seen.

    I get the impression that they’re both waiting for the other to be open with the other; and there are times when they are, but it’s momentary and selective. Neither are really prone to trust, and I think with the strange history and current connection with the job they perform keeps them at arms length emotionally because it’s safer.

    However, I don’t think I’d categorize Olivia leaving Peter in the building as a flaw of her character in comparison being a testament of Astrid’s who refused to leave Walter and Peter. Olivia had no choice, and I think her momentary relieved/happy expression when she turns to wait for Peter to walk out of the building with her just to realize he was infected and she missed the signs showcased that. I think she so much wanted to believe Peter was okay, which is why she didn’t suspect anything until he tried to break out.

    I think the final scene between them sort of brought them both around a bit more and showed that despite it all, they’re going to be there for each other. On some level they realize that they can’t do this alone. Olivia may be more of a holdout, but given what she’s gone through, it makes sense.

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    • says

      I think she so much wanted to believe Peter was okay, which is why she didn’t suspect anything until he tried to break out.

      Yeah, I’d agree with that, Elaine. It’s the only logical way to explain why Olivia thought he’d be OK despite clearly seeing him roll around in a puddle of infected blood.

      I can buy her reaction under that premise.

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      • mlj102 says

        Another explanation for why Olivia believed Peter was okay, despite the fact that he was clearly exposed to the infected man’s blood, is that there was still a lot that they didn’t know or understand about the virus. One of the characters mentioned how, while several people had gotten blood on them, they weren’t showing symptoms yet. So they really had no way of knowing how exactly the virus was transferred from one person to the next. They didn’t know why some people were showing symptoms while others seemed just fine. So even though Peter had come in contact with the blood, there was no guarantee that he was infected. All Olivia knew was that he’d gotten the blood on him — she never saw his nose bleeding, or any of the other symptoms. He appeared completely normal until the point that he freaked out when they stopped him from leaving the building.

        And besides that, she had no reason to suspect anything was wrong from the test. There was no reason to think the results would be inaccurate, and no reason to doubt Peter. From everything they saw, he put the swab in his mouth, they tested it, and it came back as not infected. So despite the overwhelming likelihood that he had been infected, she likely considered it as some sort of miracle that he’d still managed to avoid it.

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        • says

          Good point mlj. I guess I’m so used to Olivia being astute that her lapse in judgement (if you can call it that) was a bit surprising. I guess it’s mostly a story contrivance more than anything, although like you said, there was good enough reason for Olivia to believe that he was OK.

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  7. charliefan19 says

    I liked this one a lot. My favorite scene was when Peter gets infected – the reactions on both their part (especially Olivia’s) were amazing. I could just hear Olivia thinking, “Not Peter too…”

    Interesting…correct me if I’m wrong, but the only people I remember Olivia losing to in hand-to-hand combat are from Over There – Shapeshifter Charlie and Peter. At least Peter did what Shapeshifter Charlie did not – he relieved Olivia of her gun. (but if Shapeshifter Charlie hadn’t bothered to shoot the guy at the end of the alley, he would have just strangled Liv!)

    I’m really intrigued by what cool abilities those from Over There possess. It’s interesting to note that not only did Shapeshifter Charlie and Peter beat Olivia, but they were both SICK when they did it. How powerful would they be if they weren’t suffering from Loss of Mercury or Vein Popping/Blood Spraying Syndrome?

    Thanks for the review, Roco! 😀

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    • says

      I’m really intrigued by what cool abilities those from Over There possess. It’s interesting to note that not only did Shapeshifter Charlie and Peter beat Olivia, but they were both SICK when they did it. How powerful would they be if they weren’t suffering from Loss of Mercury or Vein Popping/Blood Spraying Syndrome?

      Good point, charliefan.

      I’d like to think that the shape-shifters have some extra skillsets tucked up their sleeves (such as speed/strength). It would make the ‘switcheroo plothole’ a bit easier to swallow.

      I think you’re right about Olivia’s hand-to-hand combat record, although that “Ritz” chick from 1.08 gave her a run for her money!

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  8. Elaine says

    mlj102, you captured what I was trying to say last night about Olivia and Peter far better than I. Your comment made me think about something I hadn’t considered before: We know what’s coming down the pike for these characters regarding Peter, and it’s a safe bet the fallout is going to heartbreaking; especially for Peter. That said, it’s going to feel very much like a betrayal to the entire team. If this episode was any indicator, Astrid is going to be there for Walter. Bewildered perhaps, but not judgmental…something he’s going to need very much. Olivia on the other hand might simply feel duped again. First John, then Charlie, now Peter? It seems strange she would react with anger, but it’s quite possible, because of what she’s able to do. But that kind of knowledge will also strips her of the trust she’s built, understanding and friendship she’s come to depend on in a lot of ways. Another devestating personal blow.

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  9. Rich says

    This was a copy of an X-files episode where there were ancient termites/whatever hiding in the thousands of years ago rings of a tree trunk.

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    • WWE Fan from LA says

      No, it wasn’t a copy. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson weren’t in it. And dialogue was different.

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    • mlj102 says

      I have seen several comments where people have mentioned this episode was just a copy of a specific X-Files episode. First was that it was just like the black oil story in X-Files. Someone else mentioned that it was a duplicate of the episode, Ice, where they find some parasite or something deep under the ice. And now this one. Apparently X-Files could also be accused of repeating storylines and copying itself. :)

      I think all it proves is that, no matter how hard they try, whatever story they come up with is going to be similar to a story that has been done before. And that story will be similar to a story that was done even before that. When all is said and done, it’s extremely challenging to come up with an original story anymore. But what matters is if they’re able to take that general concept and make it their own. And I think Fringe was able to do that with this episode.

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  10. annon says

    Elaine, can I just put forward one of my thoughts. I think the fallout is going to be major all around. Olivia will be affected big time but I think Peter moreso. If everybody around him knows and he is the last to find out, then he is going to feel SO betrayed by everybody around him. That’s if they go that route. So, Walter has kept it from him and now Astrid knows. That’s two people in his inner circle. Peter has gone from hot wanting to be apart of it all at the beginning, to wanting to and trusting and befriending these people. This being so hard to do at the start.

    As the writers build up to this big reveal, we as the audience will be so invested in the characters and the rapport they have amongst each other, to see that totally blown away will be so heartbreaking. I think all the characters and the dynamics will be affected by the reveal in such a big way.

    On this episode. I thought it was a good episode. Seemed to use all the dynamics that have been building up this season, which I think made the episode very well balanced. All five characters were used well. Some of the writing was a bit hokey. They so need to tighten up the writing, because I think it would make such a big difference to each episode.

    Loved seeing Peter having to evoke different emotions that we haven’t seen from him so far in the show. He like Olivia, keeps his emotions well hidden most of the time, so it was good to see them. Again, using Walter as the person who finds the cure is getting abit tiresome now, they need to mix that up abit. It’s getting too predictable. At least, now somebody else on the team knows about Peter. I wonder who will next find out? Will Astrid blab?

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  11. theVOID says

    Strong performances + Terrible plot = Disappointment.

    Overall hated it, i’m sick of these stagnant chiche episodes, feel like my TV turns into a time machine linked to 90’s cheese.


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  12. Frobozz says

    Heh, good episode but very X-Files-ish. Borrows a lot from Season 1 “Ice” (the worms from the ice core that made people aggressive) and the later episode with the fungus that would explode from people’s throats. And of course, the black oil! That made me groan a bit. Is Krycheck hiding somewhere in the shadows?

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  13. mlj102 says


    Thanks for your response. My last comment turned out longer than I intended it to be, so I’m glad you read and enjoyed it despite that. I like reading your comments, too.

    It’s interesting to think about how each of the characters are going to react once the truth finally comes out. I think you pretty much nailed Astrid’s reaction – she has a special relationship with Walter. Among other things, that will allow her to see things from his perspective. She’s very supportive of him (as long as he doesn’t bring her any more moths…).

    As for Olivia, it’s a little less clear how she might react. Of course it all depends on how it plays out, but personally, I don’t expect her to get upset at Peter. Yes, he may be from the other side, and he may even choose to go back there (though personally, I don’t see that happening), but I don’t think Olivia would be able to blame him for that. She would be sad, certainly, and lonely, but I don’t think anger or even betrayal would be one of the emotions she would feel. I expect that her anger will be directed more towards Walter. She will see that he’s responsible for things being what they are, and that won’t make her too happy. Especially considering that she still struggles with the knowledge that Walter had experimented on her as a child. I think that still bothers her and has put a bit of a rift between the two of them. In my opinion, that fact will allow her to be able to sympathize with Peter, to relate to him and what he would be feeling. Depending on Peter’s reaction, it could serve to strengthen the relationship between Peter and Olivia, while also causing Olivia to question her loyalties to Walter.


    I don’t think Elaine was suggesting that having the truth come out will be more traumatic for Olivia than it will be for Peter. Certainly Peter is going to be the one most directly affected by that specific development. I think she focused on Olivia in her post because our previous posts had been centered on Olivia and analyzing certain aspects of her character.

    But as far as Peter goes, I completely agree with what you said. It’s going to be devastating for him to find out that Walter has been holding this huge secret for so long. That’s one of the things I loved about Of Human Action — there were a lot of parallels between Walter/Peter and Dr. Carson/Tyler. One such parallel was that both “fathers” weren’t really their fathers and they were, as Tyler put it, lying to them their entire lives.

    Peter has come a long way from the man he was in the Pilot. When we first saw Peter, he was a selfish criminal who never stayed in one place long enough to make any sort of connection with people, and he did not want anything to do with his father. But for whatever reason, he’s taken a chance and has become invested in these people and the work he’s doing. And he has come to truly love and care for his father. It’s going to be a huge betrayal when he learns the truth. He’s taken a chance, and he’s likely going to feel like it backfired on him. I’m thinking similar to what we saw in The Arrival after he’d finally had enough and decided to leave — except 10 times worse because of how close he’s gotten to Walter and the others.

    I think we all know and expect what it’s going to be like with Walter — it’s going to be huge, ugly, heartbreaking, and he’s likely to go back to hating Walter like he did in the beginning. It hurts bad enough when you find out that someone you don’t care for has been lying to you. But when it’s someone you care for very deeply, the betrayal and the hurt goes even deeper.

    However, it’s more uncertain how he will react to the others, specifically to Olivia. Personally, I think he might be upset at first, but unless something big happens first, I don’t think he would be angry at her. What I said above with Olivia applies in the same way here. I think it’s possible that it could serve to strengthen their relationship because he will know that she can, to a certain degree, understand him because of how Walter had experimented on her as a child.

    Assuming the truth comes out in the next few episodes (which is what I think they’re building up to), upcoming events are going to be very crucial in determining how each of the characters will react when the truth comes out. I don’t think there can be any doubt that it’s going to be intense!

    One final thing:

    Many people have been saying that now Astrid “knows” the truth about Peter. I’m just not so sure she’s made it to that conclusion yet. I think she’s definitely suspicious that something isn’t right. She knows Walter is hiding something. But this is Astrid we’re talking about. Yes, she’s smart, and maybe I just have little faith in her because of the fact that she is constantly losing Walter, she can’t follow him without getting caught, and she can’t even put up a fight when people break into the lab. But I’m not convinced that Astrid will be able to put the pieces together. When you think about it, it’s pretty unbelievable to consider that someone you work with actually died when he was little, and his father went to another reality, kidnapped his duplicate, and brought him back here and raised him. I just don’t have that kind of confidence in Astrid’s ability to put the pieces together. Yes, she knows something isn’t right, but I don’t know if she will actually take her suspicions far enough to consider that Walter literally meant that Peter was dead, then even further to figure out that this Peter must actually be from the other side. It will be interesting to see what she does in this next episode.

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  14. Inter-Dimensional Dave says

    Rocco you spoke of how liked the directing in this episode. Specifically, “tilted camera positions and uncomfortable close ups”. I think I see a touch of the JJ Abrams influence here. If you have seen Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboot that came out last spring you’ll notice we were often treated to unfamiliar perspectives and innovative camera angles. Examples of which are the exterior shots of the Enterprise where the camera often rotated to follow the path of a shuttle or others such as a “below street level” shot of crew members walking as they recieve orders from Capatain Pike. Like you,I really enjoy these subtle touches.

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    • says

      I-D Dave – Nice shout. Visually, Trek was pretty impressive. It’s amazing how much the little details outside of the script can elevate an episode (or movie).

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  15. Elaine says

    Or…Astrid may take all these seemingly random comments by Walter and start to investigate into their family history, discovering the truth about Peter on her own. What does one do after uncovering that type of impossible secret?


    Just to clarify, I believe Olivia’s anger won’t be directed at Peter, but at the situation as a whole. On a personal level, she may feel the truth about Peter as another personal betrayal of trust much like she did with John, discovering Walter’s involvement with the cortexiphan trials, not Charlie who tried to kill her, and then wrapping her head around Peter being from an alternate universe, and likely being the person who informs him of this fact. That’s more than any one person should have to contend with. She may very well may try to reach out to Peter and be completely rejected, which is going to hurt, because while she can relate to a degree, he’s likely not going to let her help him in any way. Not for a while, at least.

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  16. FringeFan2009 says

    Wow, lots of great comments here. Thank you Rocco for the awesome review. Again, another good stand-alone episode. As far as it’s similarity to an X-Files episode, heck I love the X-Files, I say copy away!

    Just a couple of things I want mention.

    Peter/Olivia fight scene: I actually thought it was kind of funny that she would choose to take an elevator at a time like that. The stairs are quicker, unless for some reason the building doesn’t let you take the stairs up, only down, which is possible. It was interesting that Olivia even drew the gun on Peter. I found it humorous, because in no point in that scene did I get the inclination that Olivia would actually shoot Peter. I don’t even really think she gave it her all when she was trying to defend herself. I seemed to me that she was kind of in shock of Peter’s actions more than anything else. The Olivia/Charlie fight was a little more believable b/c she was fighting a trained soldier and she actually did put up a fight.

    Peter discovering the truth: I think that the two teams we will probably see will be Olivia/Peter and Walter/Astrid. I think that when they discover the truth, Olivia, although angry at Walter, will put her feelings on the back-burner to support Peter. In situations like this, I would say one must prioritize. The person that got kidnapped from another dimension from his real father, probably get’s priority. As far as the possibility that everyone involved might find out about Peter before he does, there is a possibility, but I think that as soon as Olivia finds out, he will know. Reference to “No Brainer,” Olivia convinces Peter that it is better to know the truth than to live life with matters unresolved. Astrid is probably going to be mad at Walter also, but will ultimately be there for him.

    Olivia/Peter and matters of trust: Contrary to a lot of comments I’ve been seeing, I think that Olivia is pretty open regarding her feelings and emotions, considering the crap that she has been through the last 1 1/2 years. Her (almost fiance) boyfriend betrayed her, died, then sort of redeamed himself. A fellow agent/co-worker kidnaps her, does a spinal tap, and tries to have her killed. Her best friend (Charlie) is died, and a hybrid soldier impersonating him tried to kill her (having to kill someone that looked like Charlie must have been very traumatic). She get’s pulled into another dimension and came back head first through a car window etc. etc. I can go on all day. But the main point I’m trying to make here is that, even though she has experienced all of this, I still think that the motivation behind most of her actions are to protect the people she cares about. She chooses not to tell Rachel in this episode b/c she doesn’t want Rachel to needlessly worry. Between the two, Peter seems to be the one holding out on his emotions more than anything else. He didn’t want to talk about his mother, details of his past. As far as I can remember, the only information we got about Peter, aside from some weird jobs that he has had, is the fact that he owes money to a guy named big Eddie. By the way, what happened to that storyline.

    USG wanting to kill everyone: I find this part of the story to be very unbelievable. The first thing I thought of when they found out about how the virus acts, was to put them to sleep with gas, test them, tie them up and take them to another quarantine facility. You can’t tell me that this is not in some kind of protocol out there for wide spread contagions. Also, I don’t think that the State Dept has the authority to make a decision like that.

    Just one more blub here, after Peter tries to get out and the gaurds pull him back. I’m surprised they didn’t just cuff him in a corner to insure that he didn’t go flying head first out of a window as well.

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  17. M. says

    This is a crazy thought, but if the other side is somewhat ahead (timewise) than us. What would happen if the same virus had arrived at the building? No Peter over there to go in to investigate, meaning no reason for Walter(nate) not be there. It would have gone untreated and could have escaped. Could this be why when Olivia got the glimpse of the other side, that Alter-Charlie told her the city was quarantined? Maybe I’m stretching to connect one line from S1 to an event in S2.

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  18. merlin says

    im sorry ma’am but your friend has the zombie exploding blood plague, and to make matters worse, your comments are way too long. get to the point already.

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