Fringe (2008–2013)
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What Lies Below 

After a man spreads a pathogen on the grounds of a company, the Fringe team start an investigation. While stuck inside the quarantine zone, Peter and Olivia try to identify the origin of the pathogen. Outside, Walter tries to find a cure.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Nina Sharp (credit only)
Arnold McFadden
Agent Hubert
Vincent Ames
Jason Bax ...
CDC Suit
Chris Casillan ...
Science Center Worker
Peter Grasso ...
Hazmat in Truck


When a man enters an office in Boston for a meeting, he becomes disoriented and collapses, only to have his veins erupt and spray blood everywhere. Shortly after Olivia and Peter arrive at the scene to investigate the bizarre case, it's discovered that a lethal virus - with deep ties to something very valuable - is spreading, so the CDC moves in to quarantine the building and eradicate the pathogens. Isolated inside with the rest of the exposed office employees, Peter and Olivia face life-threatening circumstances, sending Walter, Broyles and Astrid on a frantic search for a solution to save them. Written by FOX Publicity

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

21 January 2010 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The clips for this episode spell out: WINDOW See more »


Upon the initial victim's collapse, the bike courier immediately begins performing CPR, including attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If he actually knew what he was doing at all - the way he takes charge of the situation suggests that he does - he would know A) to check for open airways, breathing, and a pulse first (ill-looking people collapse often enough while still breathing quite normally - it is referred to as fainting), B) that he should avoid the mouth-to-mouth owing to the blood coming out the victim's nose (risk of self-infection, including HIV), and C) a person trained only in First Aid is not qualified to determine that a victim is dead and is ethically obligated, once he or she begins, to continue with CPR until he or she is unable to or until Emergency Medical Services arrive on the scene. See more »


[first lines]
Bike Courier (Kristian Haas): Whoa, whoa, hold on.
Vandenkemp (Nicholas Von Zill): What floor?
Bike Courier (Kristian Haas): Sixteen.
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Features Forbidden Planet (1956) See more »


End Title Theme (Composed by Michael Giacchino)
Written by Michael Giacchino
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User Reviews

The Black Oil
10 May 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Upon reading the Trivia for this episode, it is shown that there are several remarkable X-Files parallels here. Season 2 was rife with them.

A bike messenger and a Bald Non-Observer man, both enter "Vitas Petroleum," which in itself is an ironic name for the Oil company - Vitas, based on the Latin "Vita" is a Lithuanian name - MY name, meaning "Life." This tickled me, but it also has relevance to the episode at hand. The bald man in fact brings a deadly contagion into the Office.

Meanwhile, Walter is lecturing some children in a Museum - At first it appears that he is doing this with the grace of the institution, but in fact he just walked up and started telling the kids some scary facts about early world exploration. His delivery in this shows that Walter, our Walter, loves children and he was enjoying himself immensely as his mind is childlike in itself: and the kids were not that bothered by his stories. But a Museum Pencil Pusher/Bean-Counter takes offense to Walter's ad hoc teaching methods and they revoke his membership. It is also important to remember what he was talking about: Out of the large crew of Magellan's ship, very few of them made it back home, and in fact it was those survivors that brought back life saving information for the European World.

This episode has two X-Files regulars, Megan Leitch as Elaine, who played Fox Mulder's grown up "Sister" Samantha and Brendan Beiser who was "Agent Pendrell" in several X-Files.

And in fact, this episode deals with Oil, which in The X-Files was a delivery system for an alien intelligence. In this Fringe MOTW Episode the Oil is a delivery system for an intelligent virus. Also, the core sample which the Bald Man Vandenkamp (Nicolas Von Zill) left in his rental car is from an ancient geological era, which was a story element used in at least 2 X- Files, season 1's "Ice" and Season 4's "Gethsemane" - Both which had ice-core samples in which a life form was trapped. So this could in fact be the same X-Files "Black Oil".

Those infected with this permutation of "The Black Oil" have a burning desire to exit the building and breathe on someone - So they can infect more people. This rapidly becomes an untenable situation and to make matters worse, Olivia and Peter become trapped in the building under CDC quarantine.

Walter cannot allow Peter to "Die Again" - Astrid asks him what he means, we as viewers know about Peter's grave, but Walter has not yet told everyone, he fears the consequences. In most of Season 2, Walter holds tightly to this "secret" and the depiction of Walter grieving over telling Peter this fact is one of the better character developments of Walter.

Walter is in fact a year and a half out of St Claire's: That innocence of his that so defined him in Season 1 gives way to his internal conflicts of seasons 2 and 3. It is almost cruel to expect him to have to deal with this so soon after being brought back into the world, and this is just one step for him in his struggle to finally deal with the realities of what he ultimately is responsible for: Shattering two universes.

Walter is not a man who shirks his responsibilities, and that is shown here in the way he puts himself at risk for Peter and Olivia.

Walter's remarkable mind finds a way to defeat this insidiously clever contagion, but can the cure be delivered in time to save all of the people in Vitas Petroleum? Olivia knows a way but she has to deal with an obstacle she does not expect: Peter.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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