The Ghost Network
Season 1, Episode 3
Air date September 23, 2008
Written by David H. Goodman
Roberto Orci
Directed by Alex Graves
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"The Same Old Story"
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Cast | Transcript

"The Ghost Network" is the third episode of the first season of Fringe.


The Fringe Division is called to investigate when dead bodies of commuters are found frozen inside a bus like insects in amber. Investigation leads to a man who thinks he is being spoken to by the devil, but who is actually sensing transmissions in his head due to his participation in an experiment conducted years earlier by Dr. Bishop.


At St. Anne's Cathedral, Boston, a man, Roy McComb sits in a confessional. He is deeply troubled and speaks in a trembling voice. Roy tells the priest that the devil is speaking to him, sending him visions of horrible events, and that his latest vision involves something terrible happening on a bus.

Evelina on Bus

The passenger whose backpack was stolen by Ziegler.

On a Boston transit bus, a man in a business suit -- Matthew Ziegler -- gets on the bus and blends in with the other passengers. Moments later, he puts on a gas mask and releases a canister filled with smoke. While the other riders panic, Ziegler calmly grabs a backpack belonging to a female passenger. The bus comes to a screeching halt as passengers choke on the white smoke filling the cabin. Ziegler steps off the bus and gets into a waiting car, as behind him everyone on the bus seems to freeze in place.

Roy, unable to finish his confession, runs out of the church, dropping a crumpled drawing of his last vision: a bus full of people, choking and dying as they try to escape.

An official funeral is in progress at Mount Briar Cemetery for John Scott, Olivia Dunham's former partner and secret lover. There is discomfort on the part of some of the attendees because Scott died while apparently committing a crime. The honor guard hands a folded American flag to John's mother, who stares directly at Olivia. After the funeral, Olivia tells Charlie Francis that Scott's mother was staring at her as if she blamed her for John's death. As Olivia and Charlie are talking, Phillip Broyles arrives and asks Olivia to come with him.

Walter Bishop and Peter Bishop are at a roadside diner for breakfast. It seems like a normal moment between father and son until Walter begins to mix his own prescription drug cocktail -- something he whipped up in his lab to counteract the effects of his time spent in the asylum. Peter notices a man at the counter who has been following him and goes over to confront him. The man tells Peter that he was supposed to check in when he got back in town. Peter takes a memory chip from the man's camera and warns him to stay away. When Peter returns to the table, an unconcerned Walter announces that he has decided he would like the pancakes. Almost as an afterthought, he remembers that Olivia called about something happening on a bus.


Dead passengers.

Broyles leads the team to the bus, which sits in a blocked off tunnel. The team sees the bus passengers suspended in a horrific death tableau, frozen within a misty translucent substance. Walter deduces that whatever suffocated them must have been released as a gas before instantly solidifying, encasing all of the passengers.

In what looks like a crypt, Ziegler and another associate empty the contents of the backpack. They are searching for something, but they cannot find it. The associate takes out a strange satellite phone and speaks in Latin. Meanwhile, at his workplace, Roy has another vision. This time, he draws a woman who appears to have blood dripping from her hands.

In the lab, Walter tries to identify the substance from the bus, and Peter tries to help. To Peter's annoyance, the only thing Walter wants is for Peter to play the piano. At a facility set up to examine the bus, Olivia compares a video of the passengers taken by one of the victims and realizes that a backpack belonging to a woman is missing. The woman is identified as an undercover DEA Agent named Evelina Mendoza. Broyles and Olivia meet with her handler, Grant Davidson, who tells them Agent Mendoza had stumbled on something involving "The Pattern". Davidson then asks to identify the body. Olivia accompanies him to the morgue. Having just lost her own partner, she is sensitive to what Davidson is going through and gives him a moment alone with the body.

Back at the laboratory, Walter explains that the solid smoke was a silicon-based aerosol that solidifies when it comes in contact with the nitrogen in the atmosphere. Peter notes that Massive Dynamic manufactures the chemicals used in the solid smoke, but before Olivia can follow this lead, Charlie Francis summons her to Roy's apartment. He tells her that she will want to see what is there.

At Roy's apartment, Charlie shows Olivia a room full of handmade models -- including Flight 627 -- and drawings of Pattern events, all of them gruesome and disturbing. Each of the drawings is dated before its incident took place. It seems that Roy is seeing the future.

In an interrogation room, Roy reluctantly explains that he gets visions in his head, and the only way to block them out is to draw or recreate them. This has been happening for nine months -- about the same time that Broyles says the government became aware of the Pattern. Walter postulates that Roy might be receiving these thoughts from the people planning the attacks, and that he may be psychic. Moreover, Roy might not have any control over this ability, and the people sending the messages may not even know that Roy is receiving them. To prove his theory, Walter asks to examine Roy.

Walter and Peter watch as Roy is placed in an MRI. As the machine whirs to life, Roy begins to scream in pain as ripples shaped like blood vessels form across his skin and face. The high-powered magnets of the machine are pulling something out of Roy's skin.

Roy in MRI

Roy in the MRI.

Realizing that Roy must have metal in his blood, Walter returns to his old files and discovers that Roy was a test subject. Walter was working on a military project to directly send messages into people's brains. To achieve this, Walter injected his subjects with an organic iridium compound that would act as a receiver for messages sent over a secret radio frequency known as "the ghost network".

Walter hypothesizes that Roy is receiving transmissions sent by a group that has discovered and activated the ghost network. The messages are entering Roy's sensory cortex, which explains why Roy is seeing and feeling the messages instead of hearing them. In order for Roy to "hear" the transmissions, Walter will need to shift the iridium compound to Roy's auditory cortex during a minor brain surgery.

Laboratory Door

Olivia at Dr. Bishop's door.

Peter and Olivia recover a neural stimulator that Walter had hidden in the walls of the Bishops' old house before being institutionalized. Walter attaches the device to Roy's head, and Peter shows Roy a series of images to determine where Roy is picking up the ghost signal. As Roy responds, Walter uses the neural-stimulator to shift the signal around Roy's brain. Roy first sees, then tastes, then smells the images until he begins to hear voices that he cannot understand. As Roy repeats the sounds he is hearing, Astrid Farnsworth realizes he is speaking Latin and translates for the group.

An exchange is being set up. The parties are going to meet at South Station bus terminal in an hour. The voice goes on to say that what they wanted "was on her the whole time."

Olivia looks at Roy's last drawing -- the women with bloody hands -- and realizes that what the enemy wanted was actually inside the undercover agent. At the morgue, Davidson removed something from the palm of Agent Mendoza's hand. He was working with the attackers, and is now planning to hand over what he found to the people who attacked the bus.

Olivia, Charlie, and other FBI agents arrive at the bus station. As Astrid interprets what Roy is hearing, Peter relays it to Olivia in real time. Olivia spots Davidson carrying a metal briefcase, but before she can reach him, another man -- Ziegler -- shoots Davidson with a silenced weapon and grabs the case. Charlie and Olivia chase and corner Ziegler, who places the case and his weapons on the ground as ordered. Before the agents can restrain him, Ziegler steps backwards into the path of a bus and dies instantly.

Back at the Boston FBI offices, technicians remove a glass disk from the metal case that Ziegler stole. Broyles shows Olivia the disk. He doesn't know what's on it, but he knows that it is somehow linked to the Pattern. He says he will find out what their friends at the NSA can tell them about it.

Dunham returns to the laboratory just as Astrid is preparing to take Roy home. Peter offers to play something for her on the piano. After they talk, Peter begins playing "Someone to Watch Over Me". Olivia smiles and Walter, with an intrigued look on his face, walks up behind Olivia. It is revealed that the ghost network that Roy was tapping into has been shut down, presumably because whoever was operating it has realized their messages were being intercepted.

Later, Broyles meets Nina Sharp and hands over the glass disk, saying he'd rather not "go through channels." Then the two have a cryptic conversation about what is best for Olivia and her future.

Nina walks into a laboratory at Massive Dynamic and hands the disk to a scientist, saying that they have found another one. The scientist confirms that it is intact, and he should be able to break the encryption that is locking the data on the disk. He gestures to a computer monitor where streams of data are being downloaded. He has been able to stabilize the link to another disk, and has been pulling data off it for the last 72 hours. The top of the data stream is labeled "John Scott", and a progress bar next to the streaming ones and zeros appears to indicate that the task is ten to fifteen percent complete. Nina asks to be informed when the download is finished. Next to the monitor rests the body of John Scott, neural probes snaking back to the monitor.


Allston; Cambridge; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Federal Building; Flight 627; Harvard Laboratory; Magnetic neurostimulator; Mount Briar Cemetery; Prague; St. Anne's Cathedral

Notable Quotes[]

Peter: You brought your own sweetener?
Walter: Don't be ridiculous. My medication.
Peter: You're not on any medication, Walter.
Walter: Of course I am. I've been making it myself in the lab.
Peter: Oh, I wish you were joking.

Peter: He was a sophomore volunteering for psych experiments. Did you ever even bother to explain to him what you were doing?
Walter: Well, it wouldn't have been a very secret experiment if I had!

Olivia: (John) used me, Charlie. And he told me he loved me.
Charlie: I wasn't going to tell you this, but he said he loved me too.

Walter: Are you taking any medications, prescribed or illicit? You can be truthful, I won't judge. In fact, if the answer is "no," I may encourage some drug use.

Broyles: Forgive me, Dr. Bishop. I like to think I have an open mind. but I have a hard time accepting that that man is hearing another person's thoughts.
Walter: Oh yes, so do I. Which is why I would like to prove it.
Peter: And how would you do that?
Walter: Am I required to keep him alive?
Olivia: That would probably be best.

Roy: What the hell was that?
Walter: Oh, that was your body's normal muscle response. It's perfectly natural. You may also experience an involuntary bowel movement.
Peter: Great.

Walter: How was the old house? How was Rufus?
Peter: Well, the house is just like we left it, but we put Rufus to sleep almost 20 years ago, Walter.
Walter: Oh. That's terrible news.


  • In "The Ghost Network", Olivia passes by The Observer at South Station bus terminal while looking for the suspect inside the train.
Voces Video
  • The clue to "The Ghost Network" can be found in the previous episode, "The Same Old Story", on a street sign next to the Massive Dynamic building. A sticker placed over a one-way sign reads "Voces Video", which in Latin translates to "I see voices" -- the problem affecting Roy during this episode.
  • A drawing of a disaster in Roy McComb's apartment is dated 9/15/07. McComb said he had been aware of the disasters for the past nine months. This places the current action in the summer of 2008.
  • Walter's laboratory is room B314.1, a truncation of the value of pi (3.14159...) with a two point shift in the decimal. The glass portion of the door bears the names "Dr. Walter Bishop" and "Dr. William Bell." Bell's name is fainter; it is not possible to determine if Bell's name has been partially obliterated or if the room number and Bishop's name have been restored.
  • This is the first use of Amber in the series.


  • The positions of the "frozen" bus passengers change between the shot of the police officer discovering them and the subsequent scene of the main characters investigating the scene. Most obviously, the dead DEA agent disappears from her frozen position between the two scenes.
  • A computer readout for a DEA employee reads "Drug Enforcement Agency" when in fact "DEA" stands for "Drug Enforcement Administration"
  • Walter requests to hear Bach’s “Mass in A Minor”, but there isn’t one. There is only Mass in B Minor.


  • "Smoke From a Distant Fire" by Sanford and Townsend
  • "Someone To Watch Over Me" on piano by Peter for Olivia