The No-Brainer

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
Listen: The Fringe Podcast | TFP Rewatch


Olivia Dunham, Walter Bishop and Peter Bishop are called in to investigate the death of a teenager who was found in a pool of "goo." When Walter discovers that the "goo" is brain matter, the trio tries to figure out how the killer can liquefy human brains. As the deaths pile up, the investigation reveals a common thread linking the victims together in an unthinkable manner. Meanwhile, Olivia is horrified when the case places Ella in harm's way.

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This episode's glyphs spell:


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



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

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


  • 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
Fringe Division case file: The No-Brainer


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


A visualization of all the ways this episode connects to other episodes. Scroll down to see the actual connections.
Connection chart: The No-Brainer


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 "The No-Brainer"):
    "I wonder if they sell cars here with those seats that warm your ass."

S5E09 - Black Blotter

  • Olivia (in "The Same Old Story"):
    "I think I know who that woman was... outside."
    "What do you think you know?"
    "That she's the mother of the lab assistant that was killed in the fire here almost twenty years ago."

    In "Black Blotter" Walter is haunted by what happened to Carla Warren.

    Walter (in "Black Blotter"):
    "Carla Warren is here. My old dead lab assistant is here to haunt me. The one that was burned in the fire."
    (Image 1)
Connection: Carla Warren
Image 1
S5E09 - Black Blotter
Carla Warren