Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 12, Season 2, What Lies Below
Posted by Karl Withakay on January 21, 2010
As usual, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.
It’s Late, So Forgive Me If This isn’t Well Proof Read
I was out late seeing my friend’s band perform at a local bar/club.
Scott Will Have A Lot Of Material to Blog About
When in Doubt, Quarantine
Considering the air gaps I saw around the door, Walter and Astrid should have been isolated as a precaution.
Proper Safety Protocol Part I
There is no way that Walter would have been allowed to take samples back to his lab to work on. This was an unknown, fast acting, highly deadly pathogen of unknown transmission method for which no vaccine or other treatment existed. Bio Safety Level 4 biocontainment procedures would be required and no work would be performed outside a BSL-4 lab.
“This level is required for work with dangerous and exotic agents that pose a high individual risk of aerosol-transmitted laboratory infections, agents which cause severe to fatal disease in humans for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other various hemorrhagic diseases. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a Hazmat suit and a self-contained oxygen supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a Level Four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time.”
Proper Safety Protocol Part II
It probably wasn’t such a good idea for Peter to wash the blood off his hands in the sink either.
Also from Wikipedia:
“All air and water service going to and coming from a biosafety level 4 lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.”
Not So Far Fetched
Walter describes a virus that behaves with intelligence to alter the behavior of its victims in order to facilitate its transmission to new hosts. While intelligent viruses are the stuff of comic books, the concept of a pathogen or parasite modifying host behavior to facilitate transmission is not pure fiction. In nature there are numerous examples of this type of phenomenon: Hairworms and grasshoppers, Toxoplsam gondii and mice, Cordyceps fungus and ants are all examples of parasites altering host behaviors to perpetuate their life cycles.
Level Six Eradication?
I couldn’t find anything on a level 6 eradication using google. The closest I got was a reference to level 6 pandemics in a Wikipedia article on pandemics.
Pandemic Infection Simulator
The computer simulation of the virus outbreak reminded me of the uber-cool Zombie Infection Simulator. On a side note, can the deepest depths of Africa and Greenland really be overrun by infection in two weeks as was shown in the simulation?
Has Walter Ever Heard of Aerosol Transmission of Fluids?
Walter takes off his helmet, remarking that it doesn’t matter because the virus isn’t airborne and is transmitted by bodily fluid such as blood and saliva. OK, but early in the episode, he witnessed a victim die and expel a spray of blood colored droplets form their mouth in an aerosol like mist, so maybe short range airborne transmission is a transmission vector. He and Astrid weren’t very careful handling the body either, there was a lot of potential for splash/splatter of fluids.
Quote of the Show
From Walter: “I can’t let Peter die again.” Not that there was any doubt left, but this confirms that this is not the real Harry Kim, I mean Peter Bishop.
Not all glycosides contain sulfur. Ones that do are called thioglycosides. Horseradish contains singirin, which is a sulfur containing glycoside. None of the neuraminidase inhibitors listed on the Wikipedia page contain sulfur, but I suppose their could be a “sulfur based” one.
Fentanyl, Is that Such a Good Idea?
Fentanyl may have been the agent used by Russian authorities to subdue Chechen separatists that took over a crowded theater in 2002. It didn’t work out too well in 2002, and many people were probably killed by the gas. (Similar to tranq darts, which I’ve covered before, anything delivered in such an uncontrolled manner that is capable of acting that fast is going to have a big chance of being lethal) Still, it’s better than just killing everyone in a “level 6 eradication”, I guess.