Television Tourniquet: We Get Freaky with 'Fringe' -- Episode 12!


Fringe Episode 12
"The No-Brainer"
Written By: David H. Goodman & Brad Caleb Kane
Directed By: John Polson
Original Airdate: January 27, 2009

In This Episode...

A teenage boy, Greg, is playing around on his computer.  A window pops up on his screen, asking, "What's that noise?"  Of course, he clicks on it, and he gets a fuzzy, Blair Witch-style video.  Greg goes into a trance, then a hand reaches out from the computer and grabs him.

When Walter receives the body, his autopsy shows that Greg's brains were literally liquefied.  Olivia gets the call that a second body has been found -- a manager at a car dealership -- killed in the same way.  We see the body this time, with brain goo dripping out his ears, nose, and mouth.  Astrid is trying to get the data off the two victims' hard drives.  It turns out both were fried in the same way.  Peter takes the drives to a "buddy," who figures out that it is some sort of huge, well-programmed and very complex computer program.  He also manages to see where the program is being downloaded currently: Olivia's house.

Olivia and Peter race over there.  Olivia's sister Rachel and niece Ella are staying with her.  The same message pops up while Ella is playing her "Paint the Ponies" game.  She clicks on it, and gets the same strange video playing.  Olivia bursts in just before the hand can grab Ella.  After a few moments in a daze, Ella snaps out of it.

A third victim pops up -- Mark in Illinois -- and a connection is finally made.  The killer is the father of Greg's friend, Luke Dempsey.  It's your typical "my life sucks, I am going to blame everyone else" killing.  Greg's father fired Mr. Dempsey.  Mark in Illinois married Mr. Dempsey's ex-wife.  I never figured out how the car salesman was connected, but it was enough for the team to hunt him down.  Turns out he's some renegade computer programmer who used a sophisticated mix of audio and visual stimuli to essentially put a "virus" into the victim's head and cause a literal meltdown.  The hand reaching from the screen?  Hallucination.

Olivia confronts Mr. Dempsey, who puts a gun to her head and a gun to his own.  He ends up getting sucked into his own computer program, goes into a trance, and shoots himself. (I didn't think that you could have enough control in a trance to shoot yourself, but whatever.)

Dig It or Bury It?

Dig it, definitely.  This was a great episode, besides a few minor logic issues (yes, I know this isn't a show based in "logic").  Like, why didn't Ella die?   And I always feel like Olivia figures out who the killer is based off too little evidence.

But in any case, this was a fun one.  I love the idea of brain ooze, and I love episodes that don't rely on "The Pattern."  Harris was in a few scenes, doing his damnedest to make life hard for Olivia (Broyles jumped to her defense).  I just wanted him to go away -- he's like a whiney, attention-seeking three-year-old who's overdue for naptime.


The beginning has Walter rambling about Darwin, and basically saying that Darwin didn't take his theories far enough.  His first theory as to the brain sludge is a rare STD, and then promptly gives Olivia an awkwardly matter-of-fact safe-sex lecture.

Is it my imagination, or is Walter getting less and less screen time?  I think Astrid was in this episode more than Walter.  I think Astrid is a delight, but she's just not as interesting as Walter. 


Nothing really X-Filesy jumped out at me.  It was more of a Blair Witch/The Ring mash-up with the killer computer video.


A sophisticated computer program that can tune in to the precise audio-visual frequencies of the human brain to make it literally liquefy -- and manages to fry the hard drive so the program is basically untraceable?  Uh uh. I don't buy it for a second.


Next week, some crazy bio-warfare-something-or-other is turning people into monstrous creatures before it kills them.  Sounds promising, but then there's some secret that threatens to tear the team apart.  Or something like that.  The preview started out strong, but I grew less interested as the thirty seconds wore on.