JJ Abrams’ Fringe episode 12 review

The internet is bad for you in ways you wouldn’t imagine, or so Fringe says.

I’m going to be up front about this: there were aspects to this episode of Fringe I didn’t care for, more aspects than possibly any other episode this season.

As we don’t get another one till March, it gave off the distinct aura of a show treading water, when I really wanted it to get up a head of steam!

Another issue I have with No Brainer, is that the basic premise was so fantastical and full of logic holes that I had real difficultly suspending my disbelief. The usual weirdness of the beginning is a young man whose computer is infected by a virus, one that ultimately melts his brain. It’s then a race against time to find the culprit who is liquefying people’s minds, before more people have a nasal discharge they’ll never forget.

As icky as this is, and with the general assertion that TV turns people’s brains to mush, the basis in fact of this appears tenuous at best. But where it really starts to go wrong is when they try to explain the events in the terms of the how it works in relationship with the computer and the Internet, which, to me, was BS of the highest grade. Obviously, the writers know fat-zero about how the Internet works or computers function, which became patently obvious with some of their pseudo-science explanations. The very idea that you can trace the route a file took before it was downloaded onto a PC, after that computer has been trashed and disconnected days later, without the ISP, is like saying you could take an old phone from a museum and reproduce every call it received – it’s ludicrous. I’m happy when Fringe keeps at least one of its feet inside the scientific reality line, but this rubbish just annoyed me.

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My other problem was that, with the exception of a bit of duelling with the vile Sanford Harris character, this story did almost nothing to progress the larger story arc, despite recently having made great efforts to gain some momentum.

After we’ve gone through a by-the-numbers mystery solved case, there is one glimmer of light in this story which they, thankfully, leave to the end, possibly to try and erase what a poor episode precedes it.

There is a minor sub-plot about a woman who wants to talk to Walter who Peter keeps putting off. It’s to do with the death of Walter’s assistant, her daughter, 25 years previously, an event that resulted in Walter being placed in the asylum where we first met him. Olivia suggests they actually meet, and it’s a touching scene that the actress and John Noble bring off quite sensitively, but it points up just how little of Walter we got this week. Before that scene, he has relatively little involvement, other than to provide a wonderful comedic line about having spent $2,000 on baboon semen, but not recalling what he ordered it for.

Fringe can be better than this, and I can only hope it reverts to form in March when it returns with The Transformation.

Check out our review of episode 11 here.

29 January 2009

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