Fringe wants you to learn a very important lesson: do not click pop up ads! Did you hear that, ye net-savvy people? Don’t do it! Pop up ads apparently aren’t for soccer moms anymore: they’re for everyone! In some cases, you’ll be whisked to a site that wants to sell you amazingly absorbent wash cloths or full-bodied blankets with sleeves. In other cases, your brains might very well ooze out of your nose. And even if you have one of those aforementioned wash cloths, you won’t be in much shape to clean yourself off. But fear not: reading this recap won’t make your brain liquify.

This type of gruesome death wasn’t actually a Pattern of the Week; rather, it was the solitary work of a programmer on a vendetta, using his own special code to cross the movie Scanners with the Room 23 video from Lost via a pop-up message delivered to the hard drives of specific computers. The computers in question belonged to the loved ones of people this programmer, Brian Dempsey, felt wronged him. The son of his former boss, the new husband of his ex-wife, and the niece of the agent investigating his string of murders.

That’s right: it took exactly one week to involve Olivia’s niece in one of her investigations. I previously guessed it would take three episodes, supposing that Fringe wouldn’t dip into that well so soon. And as per usual, I was proven wrong. Ella (or Miss Moppet, as I like to call her) decided to take time out of her busy coloring schedule to learn “What’s That Noise?” That noise, it turns out, was me smacking my head repeatedly at the derivative, clichéd, predictable plot.

Now, need every episode feature The Pattern, Massive Dynamic, or the overall mythology of the show? Course not. A character-centric episode would be welcome, as well as a good ol’-fashioned one-hour fringe science mystery. But this episode featured neither, instead opting for a “I will punish everyone that misunderstood me!” villain we’ve seen a million times. Not every weird thing in the universe has to somehow tie back to Nina Sharpe, but this stand-alone episodes need to be stronger to attract the average viewer.

While not Bishop-centric as a whole, the strongest parts of the episode once again revolved around the Bishop Boys. The B-plot featured Jessica Warren, mother of Walter’s former lab assistant, looking to confront the doctor after his release from the mental ward. Peter stood in her way, discarding letters, intercepting phone calls, and generally blocking her path to his fragile father. However, as Olivia intuited, Walter’s not quite as delicate as Peter feared. It also helped that Jessica sought information about Carla’s life, instead of revenge over her death. In any case, Jessica’s visit sparked not a mental breakdown, but compassion from the last man to see her daughter alive.

It took a few glasses of liquid courage for Peter to finally confess the motivation behind his actions to Olivia: turns out that having Papa Bishop around has grown on the cynical son, and he feared once again not having Walter in his life. It was a scene that easily could have fallen into the same stereotype of the main plot, but Joshua Jackson sold the heck out of it, and in general, the bond between the two characters is strong enough to sustain such a trip down melodrama lane.

Of course, by the end of this confessional scene, Olivia found herself dead in the middle of heated ocular nookie betwixt Peter and her sister, Rachel. (Notice her eyes as she closed the door? She looked like she needed a shower. It was pretty hysterical.) Looks like Fringe introduced this character not only to give a window into Olivia’s softer side, but also to provide romantic competition. Um, yea? Now, I’m a huge Ari Graynor fan, after her turn in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, but I’m not a fan of such an obvious, artificial roadblock impeding the Peter/Olivia chemistry they’ve been slowly building all season long.

Then again, what I want out of an episode of Fringe is not romance, but compelling, semi-gory, and semi-scientifically plausible storylines. OK, non-plausible are fine too, as long as Bishop reacts gleefully in (in)appropriate situations. If Rachel means we see Peter and Olivia working and not ogling, I suppose it’s for the best in the long run. Romance isn’t part of the Pattern (at least until the “love potion” episode I fully expect to see around Valentine’s Day), so it doesn’t have to be part of the show’s pattern, either.

Random thoughts about tonight’s sub-par outing:

  1. They gave Astrid something to do! Hooray! It’s as if they actually listened to me. Which, naturally, they don’t. But let me have my delusion!
  2. Loved the Broyles verbal smackdown on Agent Sexual Harassment. What a useless, unbelievable waste of show time that latter character is. I hate him for all the wrong reasons.
  3. Anvilicious Moment of the Night: Greg playing The Killers just before the killer struck. CLANG!

All in all, this is an episode worth forgetting. While the show’s been on a roll with increasingly strong episodes as the season has progressed, tonight definitely marked a step back. Hopefully next week they can get on the right track again.

Ryan makes sure no pop up ads appear when visiting Boob Tube Dude.

Posted by:Ryan McGee