Welcome back to the Fringe Recap! This week’s episode is entitled ‘The No-Brainer’and that is not a misnomer on many levels. We enter Fringe world by stepping into the bedroom of a typical teenager, multitasking away between his cell-phone and computer screen. A pop up appears with a simple question, ‘What’s That Noise? Click me!’As we all know, curiosity kills teenagers — so he clicks and his screen is overrun with images. His mother appears as seems relatively nonplussed when she gets no response from him while he falls deeper into a trace like state. ‘Love, you!’Then, as the young mans mouth falls open, tears drain from his eyes and snot runs out of his nose, a glowing metallic glove thing inches out of the computer and grabs his head. My first thought was, ‘Well, if this was real it would give a whole new meaning to cyber sex!’
Cut to Olivia and Ella, who are playing Operation with Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’playing the in background. Ella gets buzzed on the ‘Brain Freeze’piece. There is a whole exchange with mom Rachel, who obviously knows to check the toothbrush after your kid to make sure it at least got wet. You also have to remind them to use the toothpaste, soap and if it is a girl, wipe front to back. Ah, the joys of motherhood! Anyway, it is nice to see Olivia with a little downtime.
Peter and Walter, on the other hand, are in the lab with Astrid. Walter has decided that Darwin is a moron. Walter disagrees with Darwin’s theory that males try to spread their seed as far and wide as possible, while females are more selective in choosing partners because of their limited number of eggs. Walter believes that females can be just a sexually aggressive as males and that males can be just as dispassionate. Discuss amongst yourselves. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Peter finds a handwritten envelope addressed to Walter Bishop with the mail. He reads it, and then throws it in the trash. Interesting! Astrid recovers the letter later. Olivia calls. She is sending Speedy Delivery with dead body to the lab. Walter reacts to this news like it is a piĂ±ata at a birthday party. Olivia and Charlie head to the dead boy’s house and talk with his parents. Greg was a good kid who didn’t do drugs and talked to his friend Luke on the computer and, as Walter finds when he drills a whole into his cranium, now has split pea soup for a brain. Walter’s first thought is an extremely virulent form of syphilis. You do use condoms don’t you Olivia? It’s like hearing your grandfather talk about what he did with those French women in World War II.
Astrid, who it turns out is a linguistics major with a computer science minor, interrogates the computer hard drive only to find out that it is fused solid. Olivia goes to talk to Luke Dempsey, who looks more that a little spooked; when she gets a call that another body has shown up. Peter, Walter and Olivia rush to a car dealership where our latest victim lies in state. Best part of the episode — Walter rams a large cotton swab in the car dealers’s nose, crunches through the ethmoid bone and swabs the brain goo. Peter cringes, but Walter reminds him that the dead guy can’t feel a thing. Was it really necessary that they show us the liquefied brain/baby vomit all over the guy’s face?
Astrid figures out that the hard drives from both computers are Kentucky fried. Out of nowhere the old rotary phone rings. Peter answers it and lies about the call. He takes the hard drives and takes it to a guy he knows. Peter always seems to know a guy. Astrid is suspicious about the phone call and thinks it is related to the letter he threw away earlier. She shows the letter to Olivia.
Peter’s guy turns out to be Akim, who appears to be a computer technician who at some point in the past lost a bet and a nifty and valuable gold coin to Peter. Peter says that he kept it to remind him never to wager anything he couldn’t live without. Akim’s eyes light up like Christmas morning when Peter offers the coin back in payment for his help with the hard drives. Back at the ranch, Harris is dogging Olivia’s steps, haranguing her the whole way. We are obviously meant to hate this character for not only his bureaucratic double speak, but also his insulting behavior toward Olivia.
Peter and Akim can’t figure out where the computer file came from, but Akim does figure out where it is going — an address in Brighton which just happens to be Olivia’s address. After a couple more completely unnecessary shots of Greg and the used car salesman lying in pools of their own grey matter, Peter calls Olivia and tells her that someone in her apartment is downloading the killer file as they speak. Everyone rushes to Olivia’s place, while Ella plays with her seemingly harmless ‘Paint a Pony’program. Rachel is not picking up her cell. Doesn’t anyone have a house phone anymore? You know, one with the cord that is stuck to the wall in case the power goes out, and actually rings! I guess it is just me.
Anyway, the same pop up appears on Ella’s screen and after she clicks it the notorious glowing hand comes toward her. After Olivia runs in, gun in hand, rather than kicking the laptop across the room, she stops to ask Rachel twenty questions. The program abruptly ends and after repeated calling of her name, Ella’s snaps out of her trace — apparently she didn’t get all the way to the brain goo stage. Peter gives Ella a horsey ride and Rachel blatantly flirts with him. Oh, you are so good with kids, wouldn’t you like to marry me? Or at least give me a turn on that horsey? *sigh* Anyway, Olivia wants to take Ella to see a doctor as soon as possible, which given the whole brain turning to mush thing is a good idea. However, Rachel the wonder mom thinks that Ella is fine. It is perfectly normal for her sister to barge into the door with her gun in her hand and for Ella to sit there glazed over while someone screams her name for 5 minutes. In the end, Olivia wins and Ella get a clean bill of health.
Olivia notices that the camera on her laptop is on. Mr. Brain-o has accessed her laptop and is watching the goings on at Olivia’s apartment. We cut to the dingy warehouse looking place where our perp is watching Olivia watch him and in walks Luke Dempsey. Brain-o turns out to be — drum roll please – Mr. Dempsey. Ok, that was a let down. Why is Mr. Dempsey killing people and why should I care.
Cut to Evanston, Illinois and victim number three. Blonde wife comes home to find day trader husband with melted brain all over his shirt. This brain goo stuff is really getting a little nauseating. Maybe chili was not the right choice for dinner on a Fringe night! *Note to self — be more selective with the menu on Tuesdays!
Back at Harvard, Peter find Jessica Warren, an elderly lady who turns out to be the author of the letter Peter threw away and the mother of the lab tech that Walter was convicted of killing 17 years ago. She wants to talk to Walter, but Peter, thinking she wants to blame him for her daughter’s death, tells her it is too soon and refuses. Olivia confronts Peter about Mrs. Warren and tells him that she thinks Peter is underestimating his father and Peter should let the conversation take place.
Walter and Astrid have figured out that the program that is killing people is like a computer virus that affects people — using images and sound to overload the brain’s circuitry until the whole thing fries. The hand is most likely just a hallucination. Astrid and Olivia finally find the connection between the victims and the Dempseys. Luke Dempsey’s step-father and his best friend have both been turned to brain fricassee. Brain Dempsey has been frying people to get back at the people who hurt him.
Peter rips the rotary phone off the wall when Walter tells him that he overheard Peter and Olivia arguing. Peter tells Walter that they were arguing about spending the FBI money on Celtics tickets. Upset, Walter say, ‘I hope she doesn’t notice the $2000 I spent on baboon seminal fluid. I hope I can recall why I ordered it.’
Charlie and Olivia bring Luke Dempsey in. Harris tries to tell them how to do their job and naturally Luke lawyers up before answering any of their questions; even after they show him pictures of his best friend and step-father covered in brain vomit. At least they are black and white pictures. Charlie and Olivia let Luke go, against Harris’orders, to follow him to his dad. Harris finds out they are gone and orders them to find her GPS. Luke finds his dad and has a tearful argument with his father about why he is killing people. Arguing with crazy people is like eating jello with a fork — it is possible, but it takes far too long and it usually ends up messy.
While following Luke, Peter and Olivia again argue about letting Walter talk to Jessica Warren. Olivia tells Peter to stay in the car/truck/suv — this whole thing is one giant Ford commercial — because if she calls for back-up Harris will find some way to screw her. He doesn’t like it, but he stays for a while anyway. Olivia enters Dempsey’s lair and sets off his proximity detector. Dempsey sends Luke away and gets the drop on Olivia. He is pissed that his son hates him because of her. He puts his gun under his chin while holding Olivia at gun point with her gun. His brain frying program begins to play on all seven of the computer screens around him and even though Olivia tries to stop him, he blows off the top of his head. Peter and Luke come running at the sound of the gunshot, find the dead daddy and then Luke runs out only to be arrested by the FBI. Peter doesn’t understand why Luke would protect a murder. Olivia says, very simply, ‘Because it’s his father.’
Harris enters Broyles’office and it is very refreshing to watch Broyles’testicles descend! Broyles tell Harris that if he doe not back off of Olivia, Harris is going to have to take on him as well. Harris seems to think he is up for the challenge. I hope that Broyles nails him to the wall. Of course, I am supposed to!
Peter allows Jessica Warren to talk to Walter. Walter is noticeably touched by her presence and the memories that follow. All that Mrs. Warren wants is to know what, if anything, Walter remembers about her daughter that she doesn’t already know. When Walter shares that what he remembers most is her smile, Mrs. Warren breaks down and cries. Walter does his level best to reach out her emotionally. This is a big step for Walter and for Peter as well.
In the end, a slightly inebriated Peter rings Olivia’s doorbell and tells her that he was afraid that if Walter talked to Mrs. Warren he might lose him. He didn’t have Walter in his life when he was a boy and it is apparent that he doesn’t want to risk not having him in his life again. Then, Rachel appears in the hallway and once again, makes goo-goo eyes at Peter. If this turns into a love triangle I am really going to vomit!
What Works: I think that the best parts of this episode were the ones in which Peter, who believes he is trying to protect his father, has to come to the realization that he is really trying to protect himself from the prospect of losing Walter again. Peter spent his entire life trying not to have an emotional connection to his father and is just now starting to realize he has needed one all along; even if it takes a little liquid courage to face that fact.
What Didn’t Work: At the beginning of this article I said that this episode was a ‘No-Brainer’on many levels. Maybe it is because I just watched Untraceable the other night, but the parallels between that movie and this episode are worth mention.
- Insane man uses computer programs to kill his victims — all of whom are people who were responsible for hurting him in some way.
- In Untraceable, the son went nuts after his father’s suicide, and in ‘No Brainer’father went nuts, then killed himself.
- The FBI agent’s home computer is breached by a program downloaded by a child in the house giving the killer access. Both of these programs involved horses.
I was really not too impressed by this episode, which seemed more like it was trying to gross the audience out rather than actually make them think. I even preferred last week’s giant cold virus slug to the brain vomit. At least it was an original plot line. Lastly, what was the connection to the general manager of the car dealership? Did he sell Dempsey a car without the ass warmers in the seats?
Well, here is to hoping that next week’s, ‘Transformation’will be more like what I have come to expect from Fringe!