"The No-Brainer" (1.12)

Before I begin discussing this episode, I will warn those who have never seen Fringe but would like to see it not to read any further, as this entry does contain spoilers. Not much about this episode will tell you much about the overall Fringe story, of course, but I like to be courteous, anyway. Aside from the bit about Jessica Warren, the mother of the young woman who was killed in the accident about twenty years ago, Carla Warren, this episode has very little to offer and is pretty much completely and totally “stand-alone,” which is incredibly annoying, especially since it interrupts a nice little arc that the season has going for five prior episodes in a row (“In Which We Meet Mr. Jones,” “The Equation,” “The Dreamscape,” “Safe” and “Bound”). I will admit, though, that the first scene is pretty engrossing, and it definitely caught my attention the first time that I watched the episode. I mean, a very cool-looking three-dimensional hand coming out of a computer screen and killing a teenaged boy by the name of Gregory Wiles is pretty dang interesting if you ask me. I also love how “Spaceman” by the Killers can be heard during this scene, since I love the Killers and I love that song, but Gregory's mother is ridiculously stupid. If you're leaving the house and you check on your son to tell him that you're leaving, you don't leave anyway even though he's staring at his computer screen and not answering you. I mean, I know that he's a teenager and that teenagers tend to be dismissive like that, but I know that I would check to ensure that he is okay. She just comes off as incredibly stupid to me.

As usual, Walter's Walterisms shine like the sunlight in this episode, and, as always, he serves as very satisfying comic relief. When we first see him, he is very excited about his opinion about Darwin, which is an ill opinion, and after relaying his opinion to Peter and Astrid, he is expecting them to be as excited, as well, saying, “Thoughts! Peter?” Very shortly after this, Astrid tells Peter and Walter that Olivia needs them, and as Walter stands up, he can be seen zipping his fly. That makes me wonder why the heck his fly was down in the first place but also makes me wonder whether or not I want to know why. Later in the episode, he tells Olivia that what happened to Gregory could be a result of Syphilis and then says to her, “You do always have your sexual partners wear a condom, I hope.” As I have said before, he is so quick to say whatever it is that's on his mind without first thinking about the consequences, such as who could potentially be offended. He also tells Peter at the automobile retailer that he wonders “if they sell cars here with those seats that warm your ass.” This is a reference to the second episode of the season when, near the beginning of the episode, Walter is “in the car fiddling around with the seat warmer,” where he says to Broyles, “I've never seen a feature like this before. It warms your ass. It's wonderful!” Lastly (and I have to mention this), he says to Peter in regards to Olivia that “I hope she doesn't notice the $2,000 for the baboon seminal fluid I ordered. I hope I can recall why I ordered it.” Indeed, why would Walter need $2,000 worth of baboon seminal fluid?

Anyway, talking a bit about the case (there unfortunately isn't much to say, since, as I said, there is no apparent connection to the mythology whatsoever), when Olivia and Charlie first speak to Gregory's parents, Gregory's mother talks about her son using the present tense, which is interesting. Even though he is dead, the parents seem to be relatively calm, and since the mother speaks of Gregory using the present tense, I think that they are in denial, and it has not yet hit them that their son is gone and that he's never coming back. This is why she speaks of him using the present tense; she has not yet accepted the fact that he is dead. This episode, needless to say, is utterly disgusting, as a lot ofFringe episodes are, as is made evident when we see the second victim, who has liquified brain matter all over his face where it has seemingly dripped out of his cephalic orifices; it's just plain disgusting. I have to say that, near the end of the episode, after Olivia catches Brian Dempsey by freeing Luke (since she knew that he would go directly to his father), Peter comments on how stupid Luke has to be, and Olivia says that it's to be expected, since he is nineteen, and I am utterly offended. Not all nineteen year-olds are stupid, you know. Sure, I have made some really stupid decisions in my life, but in the past year, which has been my nineteenth year, I have made some of the best.

Near the end of the episode, after Brian Dempsey has killed himself and his son is arrested, Peter is in the car with Olivia, ready to leave the scene, and he can't seem to understand the situation. He says, “Why would the kid protect a murderer like that?” since Luke was aware of what his father was doing but lied to the FBI about it. Olivia simply says with a smile, “Because it's his father,” obviously trying to convey a point to Peter and making a rather obvious parallel, which brings me to my next point of interest. Jessica Warren is, as was stated previously, just about the only piece of the mythology that we get in this episode, which isn't much, but I remember when I first saw this episode on television, and it was so exciting to wonder what the letter says and who is really on the phone when Peter answers it near the beginning of the episode, since it was obvious to me that he is lying when he says that it was someone who had the wrong number, as I'm sure that it was to just about everyone. Peter doesn't want Jessica to speak with Walter, though, and just the same as it is made clear in “The Equation” (1.08), it is clear once again that Peter genuinely cares for Walter and doesn't want him to get hurt. He is, of course, missing the larger picture, a picture which Olivia tries to get him to see, which is that he is undermining Walter, believing him to be unprepared for something for which he very well could be prepared, and Olivia ends up being right in her assessment when Jessica and Walter do meet, talking about how much they miss Carla, sharing an embrace (which is so sweet), a scene that is made so much more emotionally intense now that we have finally met Carla in episode 2.15, “Peter" (2.15)

Something that this episode does make me wonder, though, is why Harris is so insistent on holding Olivia back from this case when, since the case doesn't seem to have any ties to ZFT, he doesn't really have any involvement. Obviously, based on what we learn in episode 1.19, “The Road Not Taken,” we know that Harris was a mole working for ZFT, so what advantage does he have here? Was Brian Dempsey working for ZFT, perhaps? Is it an attempt to try stop Olivia from investigating the Pattern, or, since she put him away for molestation charges, is it just power play? It could just be a power play in this case, because as Broyles notices, he definitely has a “personal vendetta,” and it's interesting how in the pilot episode, Broyles torments Olivia because she put Harris away, but now, he is on her side and threatening Harris, telling him that he will risk his career in Olivia's name. Quite some time ago, it was suggested by the Fringe Podcast that Olivia is now like family to him, and sometimes, one sees family members as free reign to pester, but if someone else steps in and tries, that is a “no-no,” invasive of one's own territory, and I agree with this. Broyles seems to have developed a very paternal relationship with Olivia, one that I admire very much. It is a relationship that is made evident throughout season two when, always in regards to Newton, Olivia feels that she has made a bad decision and Broyles consequently comforts her, and I hope to see more of that in the future.

In this episode, we once again see Peter performing the coin trick, the trick that involves rolling a coin across his knuckles. It's odd, because prior to episode 2.15, “Peter,” I never really noticed it before, but it is something that we see Peter doing in a few episodes throughout the first season, and I never thought anything of it before. This is not the only tie-in to “Peter,” though, since, as previously discussed, we meet Jessica Warren in this episode, and in “Peter,” we meet Carla Warren, her daughter. When I first saw “Peter,” I did not realize at first that Carla was the frequently talked about lab assistant who died in the fire, because even though I definitely remembered Jessica, I didn't remember her name, and prior to “Peter,” I'm pretty sure that “The No-Brainer” is the only episode in which Carla's first and last name is mentioned, because even though she is frequently mentioned, her name is not. Anyway, both Olivia and Peter are so good with Ella, and, as I know that I have mentioned before, Olivia forming special bonds with children is something that we see frequently throughout Fringe. Does it simply relate to the fact that she was a child when she was a part of the Cortexiphan trials, or does it show that she has a very prominent maternal side to her, possibly hinting at a future little Olivia or little Peter? I don't know, because there is that look and exchange of greetings shared between Peter and Rachel near the end of the episode, a look and exchange of greetings that is then followed in episode 1.16, “Unleashed,” with Peter telling Olivia that he and Rachel have spending a lot of time together, something that seems to make Rachel jealous.

Obviously, though, during season two, the relationship between Olivia and Peter reaches new heights, and Rachel isn't even part of the equation. In fact, so far (season two, at this point, has aired up to episode 1.17,”White Tulip”), we haven't even seen Rachel save the season premiere (“A New Day in the Old Town”) when Rachel tells Peter that Olivia always liked him. Is the small interaction that we see between Peter and Rachel during season one simply meant to throw us off, to take our minds off the possibility of there being something between Olivia and Peter, or is what Rachel tells Peter in the season two premiere enough to tell Peter that whatever they had can't be pursued? Speaking of Rachel, though, I do wonder if she is a mole, and this is one of those episodes that I recall really making me wonder about that. As I remember the Fringe Podcastmentioning, Rachel seems to try to coach Ella in this episode, trying to convince her that what she is claiming happened did not happen. The only problem, however, as far as this episode is concerned, is that as I mentioned in regards to Harris, this case doesn't seem to have any ties to ZFT, unless Brian Dempsey was ZFT, so why care? Why trouble yourself so much trying to keep Ella quiet? One could say that since she doesn't have any ties to Fringe Division, she is just an ignorant mother who doesn't believe her young daughter's crazy imaginative stories, but I don't think that Rachel is ignorant. Something about her tells me that she may have sinister motives, and hopefully, if that is the case, that story will unfurl soon. Anyway, I give this relatively horrendous episode four beakers of brain goo (a no-brainer, indeed) and advise you to stay on the fringe.

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