Boston, MA. Bike messenger stops at Vitas Petrol and catches an elevator with an older gentleman who starts sweating and bleeding from his nose. They both get off the elevator and the receptionist tells him he has to sign in, then he passes out and the bike runner tries to give him CPR but he dies. His body then begins shaking and the veins in his face flare up, his mouth opens and sprays what looks like blood into the air and all over the people in the office.
Boston Children’s Science Center. Astrid is looking for Walter. He’s telling a story to some kids about a ship that went around the world and a life lesson about being the first to be eaten by the monster under their beds. They revoke his membership. They get a call and go to meet Olivia and Peter at Vitas Petrol. Detective Castle is investigating it locally and the man, Radjan Vanderkemp. Olivia talks to the witnesses and the receptionist says the man didn’t even look like he knew where he was. A man, Vincent Ames, VP of geo engineering asks if he can leave soon. The receptionist said Mike the courier rode up with him, Mike is in the bathroom with a bloody nose. Broyles catches Walter and Astrid up on the case. They get to the front door as Mike tries to leave, but Walter keeps the door closed, just as Mike’s veins well up and he breathes blood all over the door. Walter says the building must be quarantined just as Peter and Olivia come down to see what happened.
Walter talks to Peter on the phone about who Radjan was or who he was going to see. The sound of CDC vans and trucks arriving drowns out the conversation. Inside, Peter and Olivia tell the crowd they’re under quarantine and they start pointing finger and getting agitated. The airflow is shut down and Olivia splits people into groups of who was closest. Arnold McFadden with the CDC talks to Broyles, orders blood work on the guy in the lobby and blocks off the area. Walter goes into the CDC’s staging area to get samples and is arrested. When Broyles and McFadden arrive, Walter makes a comment about small minded bureaucrats but Broyles secures his release and the CDC field agent allows him to take some samples.
Inside, Olivia and Peter are trying to find information on Vandenkemp. Peter notices everyone’s calling their families and asks if Olivia wants to call her sister. She deflects and moves on to Ames and his cancelled appointments. They’re interrupted by Det. Castle, the receptionist has a bloody nose. Peter has her lay down in a break room to rest. A group approaches begins the panicked mob mentality and Peter calms them down. Olivia pulls Ames aside and says she knows he was going to meet Vandekemp, he confirms saying he had information on a competitor and their oil reserve. Problem is, Vandekemp had no information on him.
A CDC tent city has arisen around the building.
Broyles gives Olivia some info on Vandenkemp: Oil refinery consultant, came through Dubai, stayed at a hotel, no symptoms, no likely information to sell, and no word from Walter.
At the lab, Walter and Astrid discuss the personalities of viruses, trying to find this one. The example is rabies and how it’s “afraid” of water and thus makes its host unable to drink water and also sheds liquid from the body. (Rabies used to be called hydrophobia.) The sample they have is too fragile and wasn’t able to isolate the strain. Walter says at least it’s good news that the virus isn’t airborne.
Olivia says Broyles can’t find what info Vandekemp had. She also tells Peter she wasn’t going to call her sister, she doesn’t want to scare her again. Peter scolds her but stops when the receptionist is walking around in a daze. They lose her in the office until she runs up behind Peter screaming. Peter ducks into a puddle of Vandekemp’s blood. The receptionist runs out through a window and crashes on top of a CDC van. Peter quickly scrubs down but decides to search Vandekemp’s body regardless. He finds car keys to a rental car and gets them to the CDC who finds the car and briefcase in the trunk.
Walter tells Broyles he believes the virus is driving its hosts to be near large amounts of people in open space. It caused the woman to jump outside, the courier to try to leave. CDC agents open the case and find a drill core sample which they take a sample and add it to blood. It looks like a black cloud devouring the blood cells.
The sample was stolen from an oil company. The core sample came from 10 miles down. Walter says it’s likely 75,000 years old and likely what killed the ice age mammals, but he can make a tox-screen, the split the people into groups and begin the procedure. Outside, McFadden says to contact headquarters and request an Level 6 Eradication in case they can’t contain it. The second in command looks frightened as thought Level 6 is the worst there is. Peter is helping distribute the screens and he notices his nose is bleeding. Walter begins on Ames, who is clear but Olivia says they’ll be in touch. Next is Peter and Olivia but he says, “Ladies first.” Olivia isn’t infected. Peter swabs his mouth but turns the swab over before handing it to Walter, which shows him not infected. He escorts the first group downstairs.
In the lobby, suited guards are verifying names and letting people out. They get to Peter who is bleeding from the nose again and they stop him. As he lunges to get outside the veins in his face flare up but he’s pushed back into the building before he can explode. Upstairs, a Vitas employee’s sample turns black and Det. Castle takes him away. Peter desperately wants Olivia to let him out but she doesn’t so he leaves to presumably find another way out.
Det. Castle is cleared as Olivia calls to warn Astrid and Walter that Peter is infected. McFadden tells Broyles that an outbreak in Cambodia killed 7,300 people and that was level 4. This is level six. Olivia says all the screens are done; 11 people infected. McFadden explains to her that the Army will come in and “contain” those testing positive. She says there has to be another way. He shows her a computer model of what happens if just one person gets out. In the model, within two weeks, the world is over run and Madagascar closes its borders.
Walter takes off his gear, says the virus isn’t airborne. She talks to Olivia who tells her the Army going to kill everyone else. Astrid says Walter will figure it out and hangs up on Olivia. They get Vanderkemp on a table in the kitchen and Astrid asks how she can help. Walter says Peter will probably die, again. Astrid reminds him of the story he told the kids at the museum, about Magellan’s trip around the world and how only 18 of 237 people came back, the rest dying of scurvy. Walter tries to sort out what killed the virus 75,000 years ago. He figures it was ash, sulphuric ash from the eruption of Mt. Toba. In other words, sulfur. They raid the fridge and find horseradish. They make a quick test of some diluted liquid and it turns the sample amber. Walter relays the information to Olivia.
She gives the antidote info to McFadden who says the nearest lab and its ability to create a serum is hours away and the glass won’t hold. Peter and the rest are beating against the doors and windows. Broyles suggest pumping a knockout gas in but McFadden says it won’t work with the building’s ventilation system down and he won’t send more of his people in. Olivia volunteers, Broyles says okay and she has 15 minutes.
Olivia races through the building to an elevator to the garage. Peter sees her on the security video feed. Somehow he gets to where she’s going before she does and tackles her. They fight over her gun and he wins, taking her gun and running off. Broyles can’t raise Olivia and Astrid says the air flow isn’t on yet. McFadden won’t give them more time. Olivia makes it to the subsystem room and switches the HVAC power on as the CDC team gases the intake vents. A team of Army rangers comes into the building but everyone is passed out. Walter and the rest administer the anti-toxin. Peter apologizes to Olivia.
Walter goes outside and Astrid follows him and asks what he meant by Peter dying again. He says some things are left alone.
She blinded me, with science!
Walter’s assertion that viruses have a personality is not altogether a wild Fringe Science claim. As previously noted, his example of rabies is on target and that the host’s symptoms can give us the impression the virus is controlling the host. That idea was pushed to the limit in “What Lies Below” as the infected manically strove to be freed of the building in order to infect others. But it’s not the same to want to infect as it is to avoid what can kill you. All viruses want to infect, that’s why they’re called viruses. It’s not called the Influenza Latent Do-Nothing; viruses live to infect. It’s not like the Flu virus makes us avoid Walgreens and doctors offices and mobile vaccination sites.
But the claim that it drives its host to acts of mindless obedience is the Fringe aspect. Sufferers of rabies don’t avoid water, they just can’t swallow. People giving aid to a feverish patient will try to give them water. They sweat. Their jaws lock up. It looks like the virus is avoiding water, but water doesn’t kill it. In this case, it was sulfur that killed it, but it did not try to avoid sulfur. There was a mixed message in the personality trait Walter was giving the viruses that was lost in the last 1/3 of the show.
I’m also not exactly sure how they so quickly extracted a biological compound from a core sample of 10 miles into the Earth’s crust. I also don’t know how 10 miles down equals 75,000 years ago. The Earth’s crust is only 25 miles thick (less than 10 miles in the ocean) so glaciers would have had to cut pretty deep during the ice age to deposit material that far down. But I’m not a geologist.
Walter also invoked the Mt. Toba theory to come to the sulphuric conclusion. Mt. Toba was an Indonesian volcano. Actually, it was a volcanic area under Lake Toba 70-75,000 years ago. Walter’s description of events was pretty accurate though. The world was already in an ice age and the volcanic event was the biggest in the last 25 million years. It plunged the already cold Earth into an even deeper ice age and all but wiped out the mammal population, including humans. But like most things dating very far in our geologic, astronomic or biologic past, it’s debatable as to its authenticity and thus only a theory.
Aside from that, the only other thing of note is the Level 6 Eradication the CDC agent called up. Considering a Level 4 would have been needed to stop 7,300 people from dying, I would have assumed a Level 6 was a nuke from orbit approach and not a send in a couple army soldiers with masks and guns approach. I’m sure it’s not common and not public, but I couldn’t find any information about a level anything eradication. I’m guessing the CDC doesn’t like talking about it.
Astrid loves Walter! She has to. She has a great level of admiration for the man, but there’s a mix of pedagogue and needy patient that she finds attractive. She wants to be the successful student but also the shield and nurse to his recovering mind. It’s cute and sad because of who he is and because she now knows there’s a secret involving Peter. It’s unconventional but sweet. I don’t know if anything will ever happen, but it’s nice to watch.
Finally, can we stop talking about Rachel? She hasn’t been in an episode in a long time and I don’t want to hear about her any more. Charlie dies and we spend maybe 2 seconds remembering him. Rachel leaves Boston and suddenly she’s on everyone’s mind. I realize she’s the only family Olivia has, so why is she being so stingy about the interaction with Rachel? I think something is going on with the two of them, something sinister.
No mention of Massive Dynamic, no mention of the ZFT or the Observers or even Thomas Newton. It’s funny how the TV world forgets things like a dimensional rift that can end life as we know it. If I were Broyles, I’d have stopped this small change virus work, checking on mutants in upstate New York, and build a task force to bring William Bell in and find out what the hell Newton is going to do. It’s time to wrap this charade up, no more monsters of the week.
Three out of five randomly chosen glyphs. Good show overall, but I’m getting annoyed with the procedurals.