The No-Brainer

Season 1, Episode 12
Aired: January 27th, 2009
Written By: David H. Goodman, Brad Caleb Kane
Directed By: John Polson

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Resources: IMDb | Wikipedia | Transcript
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The No-Brainer

The Glyphs

This episode's glyphs spell: B-I-S-H-O-P

This is the first episode where Walter Bishop really starts to take responsibility for his past actions that have hurt, and even killed, those close to him.

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The Observer

The Observer can be seen on a sidewalk as Olivia drives to rescue Ella.


Timestamp: 19:35

Episode Clues

Previous Episode Clue

At the end of 'Bound' Olivia falls asleep reading a book to Ella entitled "What's that Noise?", referring to the text in the killer program in 'The No-Brainer'.

Previous episode clue

Timestamp: 48:52

Next Episode Clue

The car dealership in 'The No-Brainer' has a sign for leasing a car for $718 a month. The flight that crashed in 'The Transformation' was VertusAir flight number 718.

Next episode clue

Timestamp: 09:49

Items of Interest

  • Walter is visited by Mrs. Warren, mother of Carla Warren, Walter's old lab assistant who died in a lab accident.
  • Peter is starting to enjoy being with Walter.

Fringe Division Case File

U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
121 105th Street • Washington, DC 20735
Phone: (202) 555-2100 • Fax: (202) 555-2101


FRINGE EVENT: A computer program that can kill people through brain liquefaction


AGENTS ASSIGNED: Dunham, Francis


FILE ARCHIVED BY: Diletta Pizzicori

WITNESSES/CONTACTS: Paul Wiles (father), Cynthia Wiles (mother), Luke Dempsey (suspect), Brian Dempsey (suspect; deceased), Miriam Dempsey (mother)

LOCATION: Wiles residence, Springfield, MA; Brighton, MA

VICTIM(S): Gregory Wiles (deceased), Anton [redacted] (deceased), Ella Dunham, Mark Rosenthal


Teenager Gregory Wiles was found dead at his home computer, with his brain matter completely liquefied and his computer's hard drive platters fused. Case was connected to the similar death of a general manager of a local auto dealership, who was found dead by an employee. Computer hard drive also had fused platters. Both computers determined to have downloaded a 657-megabyte file right before they crashed. Consultant Dr. Walter Bishop determined the file was a computer program that can kill people using a complex combination of visual and subsonic aural stimuli, designed to amplify the electrical impulses of the brain, trapping it in an endless loop.
 Agent Dunham's niece was almost a victim of the download, but she was separated from the computer file in time. Ella was able to explain seeing a "weird, glowy hand coming out of the computer."
 Consultant Peter Bishop worked with a private contact to determine the source of the downloaded file was the private dwelling of Brian Dempsey in Brighton. Investigation revealed Paul Wiles was Dempsey's boss who fired him six years ago. Dempsey was hostile. Rosenthal victim was married to Dempsey's ex-wife. Dempsey made a program to inflict pain on those who made him feel pain, and he used his son Luke Dempsey to hide his workshop. Agent Dunham attempted to arrest Brian Dempsey, but suspect fatally shot himself.

Walter's Food

Walter likened neural lipids to bacon grease in his lab notes and was drinking a drink in his lab notes.

Walter's Lab Notes

- Project 1091 - Exploration 1 -

A terrible thought: sitting down to a daily routine that by day's end causes one's brain to melt! For most that terror is merely metaphorical -- but for these poor souls, quite real. Myelin sheathes dripping right off the axons! Neural lipids reduced to bacon grease! It reinforces my dedication to the lost art of flipping through a nicely bound tome. No threat of losing my mind there, unless I have to plow through more nonsense by that peanut-brain Chomsky.

One wonders what they saw in their final moments; sadly, that is knowledge acquired only in death. They came face to face with a real Ghost in the Machine -- a phrase hijacked by Ryle and Koestler for long enough. For what other phantoms might haunt the halls of the cyber realm? What will happen when the silicon pathways we take for ordinary gates of calculation spring to life and feel the same abandonment and pain that course through all sentient beings? That will be a day of reckoning I do not wish to see.

The computers are not alone. I, too, have a ghost in my machine. I envy his ability to walk through walls and take respite in the locked chambers of my memory. The last time I followed him and slipped through the sealed bolts, he left me trapped. I spent what felt like days wandering through the stacks, hearing only echoes of the world outside. I think it was when the orderly hosed me down with cold water that the bolts loosened and I repaired to my safe and familiar neural paths. We all get lost in thought, but rarely so literally. Maybe these victims were lucky, for their pain lasted only an instant. If the computer program had locked them into a continuous loop without cooking their melons, they might have remained trapped forever -- zombies enslaved by a ghost.

That is, of course, the motivating fear [...] insurmountable odds faced by those [...] -- but such will not be my fate if [...] Never! Behind every swinging door [...] into the breaches, dear friends, once [...] Our pattern-seeking minds, searching [...] but not to be found in a college textbook.

Walter's Lab Notes

Connection Chart

A visualization of all the ways this episode connects to other episodes. Scroll down to see the actual connections.

Episode Connections

S1E02 - The Same Old Story

  • WALTER in a car in 'The Same Old Story': "I've never seen a feature like this before. It warms your ass. It's wonderful. Have you tried it?"
      Later that season:
    WALTER at a crime scene at a car dealership in in 'The No-Brainer': "I wonder if they sell cars here with those seats that warm your ass."