With each passing week, Fringe becomes more and more like The X Files. And Alias. Which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if it weren't the more regrettable qualities of these particular shows that it chooses to emulate. 'The No-Brainer' is very much a stand alone episode, taking a side step from the mythology of the Pattern to deliver a kooky story about a highly intelligent computer programmer who has somehow developed the ability to liquefy people's brains by looking at a series of images on their computer screen. Uh huh. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? That's because it is. To this writer's mind, Fringe abandoned all semblance of scientific credibility many, many episodes back so it's not too much to swallow. What I refuse to blindly accept, however, is that virtually no explanation is given as to the how and why. At least in previous instalments, some attempt has been made (often with rather laughable pseudo-science, admittedly) to delineate the way in which the event is actually possible. Here, Bishop mumbles something about computer viruses transferable to humans and that's it. Nothing about the science behind such an idea (although there is a jargon-filled sentence or two thrown in there, just to beguile), nothing about why 'what's that noise?' is even remotely significant, everything just is. And I'm sorry, but I have a hard time buying into what is effectively lazy writing. Things don't get much better elsewhere, unfortunately: while we get a nice cameo from Mary Beth Piel (my fellow Dawson's Creek fans and I were squeeing like crazy), and the scene between she and Walter is nicely done, the other character beats just fall infuriatingly flat. First, the sister. She's still there, hanging around like a bad smell, giving Olivia a chance to sit on a couch, listening to MOR acoustic music and talk about 'her life', and now it looks like she might have designs on Peter (great! Romantic distractions we don't care about!) Then there's Sanford Harris who needs to get off our screens as soon as possible. There he goes again, getting in the way of the progression of the narrative and just generally pissing everyone off. Whomever thought introducing an irritating piss weasel like this into the story was a good idea needs to be forcibly ejected from the world of television pronto. As with 'Bound', I suspect my inherent distaste for these particular elements of the narrative may be clouding my judgement of the whole. 'The No-Brainer' is a decent episode. It coasts along at a fairly stable rate and can be enjoyed at face value as an entertaining piece of dramatic television, provided you don't think about it too much. And look away whenever Michael Gaston's on the screen. Come on Fringe... you can do better than this.
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