Thursday, January 21, 2010

From out of the past

Fringe – “What Lies Below”


A deadly virus is loose in a high-rise building and Walter has extra incentive to find a cure fast.

Another tight stand alone episode, this one giving every member of the cast at least one moment to shine. Previous episodes tended to put Olivia (Anna Torv) in the background, but she’s brought out front this time to good effect. There are some good scenes between her and Peter (Joshua Jackson), one that serves to illuminate her character further: even when facing the prospect of death she is still more concerned with protecting those close to her.

This episode at the beginning had the flavor of The X-Files, which is a good thing. But they put their Fringe spin on it quickly enough: the virus, which came from a petroleum drilling sample dated at 75,000 years old, is intelligent (but not a Mensa candidate), much more so than H1N1, and it wants to live.

I liked that the CDC official in charge at the scene (Geoff Pierson) was not the stereotypical blowhard they usually show in such situations. He actually listened to Walter and to Agent Broyles. He was much more believable in his actions, even when he had to order the elimination of those infected in the building to prevent further contamination.

In a surprising move, Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) makes an admission to the CDC official that the members of the Fringe team are like family to him. They are slowly showing other sides to Broyles (including his earlier kiss with Nina Sharp [Blair Brown]), which is a most welcome direction.

At one particularly tense moment, Walter “slips up” and tells Astrid (Jasika Nicole) that he “can’t let Peter die again.” At episode’s end, she asks him about this curious statement but Walter simply tells her there are “things in this world better left alone.” I cannot wait until this information surrounding Peter is finally out in the open, not because I want to see these characters hurt, but because this great group of actors and the writers will do something extraordinary with that revelation.

Well-told stories like this one make me look forward to Thursday nights.

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