Fringe Rewatch: 1.12 Please Don’t Hurt Daddy!


Welcome to the rewatch for Fringe episode 1.12 “The No Brainer”. In this rewatch we scoop up our brains and search for any new perspectives.

We’ve renamed this episode Please Don’t Hurt Daddy! Because, was it really about anything else?

Newly Observed Perspectives

  • R@chel says that Ella reminds her of Olivia. It’s not much, and I don’t hold value in pretty much anything that comes from her mouth, but it’s little things like this that might suggest the writers at least considered the idea of Ella being Olivia’s child at one point.
  • Did Body Shop Dude check out Olivia’s ass? That’s the second that’s happened this season. I always say it’s the important details that matter most.
  • Ah, the classic R@chel cooking a ‘pot of boiling water’ scene (I could be wrong, but I believe it was Page 48 who first came up with that delightful description for what she was actually doing). She gets one point for intuitively taking on board my hint about cooking Olivia a meal (although lets face it, she only did it so she wouldn’t hear Olivia’s phone call). But she loses two points for being a sucky parent. Could she have been any less concerned about Ella? If the Dunhamnator comes bursting through my door waving a gun, hair flailing all over the place, you better believe I’ve got my cape on ready to assist her in like 2 seconds flat. Screw the pasta, Gotham needs saving!
  • Is it just me or was R@chel trying to make Peter her baby daddy after 5 seconds of knowing the guy? And anyway, he might be good at birthday parties, but there’s no guarantee he’ll stay for longer than a few minutes. Ain’t that right, Peter?
  • Oh R@chel: “My sister’s not really the weekend off type. That was always more me.” Your child almost had her brains melted and you’re trying to snare a date with Peter? Really, R@chel..really? Just look at how concerned Olivia is. That alone should have you, at the very least, intrigued.
  • Peter: “It’s amazing isn’t it? All these people and they don’t have a clue how crazy it all really is. The world, everything.” The irony is that Peter himself had no idea just how crazy it really was.
  • Jessica Warren’s arrival is one of the more interesting aspects of this episode – since by extension of her daughter, Carla, she’s connected to two acts which would forever alter Walter. His decision to abduct Peter from the alternate universe, and the lab fire which killed Carla and sent Walter to the asylum.

  • It was interesting to see Peter attempt to shield Walter from the reality of his past. But in doing so he was being incredibly unfair to both Walter and especially Jessica, who must have been desperate for some sort of closure. This is an example of how good intentions can be subjective – benefiting those who they serve most. Peter wanted to protect Walter, but he also wanted to hold on to his father and their newly forming relationship. Self preservation.
  • Olivia’s (I guess we can call it) faith in Walter’s capacity to handle this ghost from his past is another intriguing element. What did Dunham see in Walter that Peter couldn’t? More to the point, why (aside form selfish reasons) was Peter unable to trust his father to cope with Jessica’s arrival? Perhaps there’s such a thing as being too close to someone to see their true capability? This could be argued to be a similar to Walter’s inability to tell Peter the truth about his origins. Placing trust in a person’s human nature can be too much to bear because it means letting go, losing control. In fact all of our heroes really hate losing control of the world around them, yet when they let go and act on impulse we often see their true potential (Olivia crossing universes, Broyles protecting his team, etc)
  • I found it noteworthy that Olivia was able to take the perspective that it must also be hard for Jessica to come back to the place where she lost her daughter. I like that. It’s in-keeping with Olivia’s character. Furthermore, it’s interesting that Peter’s ‘underestimation’ of his father angered Olivia slightly. I’m loathe to place too much value in this of all episodes, but I found that to be an intriguing little aspect that I can’t recall previously picking up on. Olivia is really observant and knows what it’s like to be underestimated, so it’s no wonder that this aspect of Peter’s relationship with his father would bother her.
  • Question for Harris: Were you born an a-hole or is it something that you acquired along the way? I only ask because I’m interested in this whole nature vs nurture thing.
  • Livvy is always good for a comedy moment:

Charlie: “What about Harris?”

Olivia: “..Screw him!”

  • Interesting Peter tidbit: “I don’t underestimate my father, by the way. I understand him, sometimes more than I want to.” Nothing we didn’t already know, but it perhaps informs us of Peter’s later ‘acceptance’ of his father’s actions.
  • You know, although I like the sentiment behind Olivia’s response, the following line from Peter doesn’t half make him seem slow on the uptake:

“I don’t get it, he knew he was killing those people. Why would the kid protect a murderer like that?”

  • It also makes me think of Walternate and Peter’s haste in abandoning him. Olivia’s answer only works on emotional connections. Peter’s bond with Walternate was broken by an act that Walter committed, and yet even once that truth is out in the open, Walter still gets the boy. I really feel sorry for Walternate and I wonder whether he might have suspected that Peter would always choose Walter over him?

Possible Answers to Unresolved Mysteries

  • How did Brian Dempsey know to target Olivia with the virus?
  • Given the state of FBI security, he probably did some digging and found that Olivia was closing in on him. Captain Genius then decided to target someone she cared about, namely Ella. It still doesn’t make much sense, but not much of the plot really came together in a satisfying way.

Best retrospective performer: Anna Torv

Best retrospective moment: Walter and Jessica

Retrospective episode rating: 3/10

Useful Links

Next rewatch episode – 1.13 “The Transformation” – TBA.

Comments

  1. Lala says

    I dunno… I’m still firmly in the “Peter did it” camp when it comes to Carla’s death. I think Peter (probably accidentally) killed her with his “magic touch,” Walter felt guilty (perhaps his experimentation on Peter had a role in it) and either really went mad over it, or took the fall. Any lab fire would have been a cover-up.

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    • Valentina says

      You know i have the same feeling too..i think that Walter at some point suspected that the child he took from the alter universe was special and probably he did some experiments on him to see how much special he was. So i can see Peter kill accidentally Carla and Walter covering the fact..

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      • LizW65 says

        Interesting theory. Personally, I’m of the opinion that it could just as easily have been a deliberate murder–remember, Carla was one of the few people in the know about Peter’s true origins. If she decided some years after the fact to make use of this information (say, to blackmail Walter, Bell, or Nina) one of them may well have decided she was too much of a liability to keep alive.

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  2. QuoteGirl says

    3/10? I think that’s the lowest you’ve given ANY episode. :)

    I remember that the first time I watched this, I was really surprised at Peter’s decision to try and keep Walter in the dark. Sure, he’s warming up to his father, but I still felt like Peter would hold onto some of the resentment of taking care of him at this point. The team’s been together what? A month? Two months? I appreciate how he’s trying to protect him, but protecting people is more of Olivia’s thing, not Peter’s. I don’t even know if what I am saying makes sense, but I just felt like it was a really odd choice characterwise for Peter to do that.

    On the other hand, I was shocked that Olivia was so willing to trust him and his capabilities. Seeing how she treats him after she learns about Cortexiphan and Peter and how his work with William Bell set the basis for many of their problems, I’m honestly surprised. Usually it’s Astrid or someone coming to Walter’s defense, not Olivia. I see that she hates being undermined and feeling insignificant and loves sticking up for those who need it, but… Walter? I guess I’m always surprised when Liv jumps in his defense because of their tenuous history together.

    If any of that makes sense in the slightest way, I consider it a success. Not sure how sane I sound right now…

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    • says

      “I was shocked that Olivia was so willing to trust him and his capabilities. Seeing how she treats him after she learns about Cortexiphan and Peter and how his work with William Bell set the basis for many of their problems, I’m honestly surprised.”

      Good point. It helps illustrate how the dynamic between Olivia and Walter has changed, partly based on her view on what he and Bell did to her. They tampered with her, and now that her eyes are opened to that fact it’s personal and she’s more abrasive towards him.

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  3. SF says

    I think this episode has a big element of the theme of family in it. And it’s interesting that all the families are broken – even the new families are made up from other families. So given that Peter and Walter’s relationship has been broken for 17 years, it makes perfect sense to me that Peter would be very protective of Walter when the one person who would remind Walter of his breakdown, tries to see him. Kind of a no-brainer, IMHO. :-D (sorry, couldn’t resist it, especially as this meaning of the title finally came clear to me last night on this the umpteenth viewing of this awful episode). He wouldn’t want to lose Walter to that madness again. I do think you are right, Roco, when you say that it’s maybe because Peter is too close to see that Walter can handle it, and needs to. Shielding people we love from the truth – how often have we seen this in Fringe, and it always leads to bad things. So even if this is a bad episode (and really the brains leaking and the reason behind, is kind of silly and b-movie gross), the themes in this episode I think are really important.

    “And anyway, he might be good at birthday parties, but there’s no guarantee he’ll stay for longer than a few minutes. Ain’t that right, Peter?”
    I laughed out loud at this, Roco! And i like how you point out how Rachel isn’t paying attention to Ella’s close call, though I can’t make sense of her harping on Ella’s little lie. Oh, by the way, I think her saying Ella is like Olivia is perfectly normal – family tendencies do run through the generations, and sometimes children can resemble the parents’ siblings more than they do the parents. I think Rachel saying that, is acknowledging also the bond Olivia and Ella have – they are very close, and it’s a wonderful relationship on Fringe.

    You didn’t comment on Peter’s apology to Olivia, which no matter how many times I see it, I think is pretty amazing and big of him. It always makes me see how much Peter respects Olivia, and cares for her, that he comes to tell her she was right. Even if they argue, they listen to each other, and if nothing else, this episode shows them working out what they are allowed to say to one another, and working out when they accidentally step over the line. So in the midst of all the malfunctioning relationships around them (does Astrid date? Broyles? does anyone have a life? Never mind almost no one anywhere on Fringe is in a happy one), we see these two forming a healthy relationship – I want to say friendship, but I also think it’s the beginning to something more. I’ve always liked how they listen to one another, discuss their ideas, from the very beginning, and I like how it continues here with them really arguing and working it out.

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    • says

      Good points SF.

      And you’re right to point out the Peter apology. I personally left it out as I wanted to stick to observations that felt newer to me (although I’m sure I’m still covering a lot of aspects that I also mentioned last year). I agree that it showed maturity on his part and I’m sure Olivia appreciated it, once her head stopped spinning over what just happened on the doorstep with sister dearest. ;)

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  4. mlj102 says

    “I always say it’s the important details that matter most.”

    I’m trying to decide if this is what you meant to say… It just seems like a given that the important details are also the ones that matter most. So I guess I would say that, too…

    “Jessica Warren’s arrival is one of the more interesting aspects of this episode – since by extension of her daughter, Carla, she’s connected to two acts which would forever alter Walter. His decision to abduct Peter from the alternate universe, and the lab fire which killed Carla and sent Walter to the asylum.”

    I hadn’t considered that, but it’s definitely a valid observation. Thanks for pointing it out!

    To be honest, I’ve had to give up on following with this rewatch — it has taken too long between episodes, and I really want to finish up through Season 2 before the Season 3 premiere. So I went forward on my own and, consequently, it’s been awhile since I rewatched this one. That said, I can see the flaws in this episode, and I acknowledge that it’s not the greatest episode, but as SF pointed out, the themes in this episode are rather significant. In fact, I find it interesting that for a pretty stand alone episode, there is still quite a lot to consider and discuss. I like considering the themes in this episode, as well as the character actions and motivations. I think this episode goes a long way in developing and strengthening the relationships between the characters (Peter and Walter, Peter and Olivia, etc.) and it also provides further insight into the accident at the lab with Carla. That is another thing I hope they explore further in Season 3 — Just like you could suspect that there was more to the story of how Nina lost her arm, I’m nearly positive that there’s more to the fire in the lab story than some accidental fire that just happened to lead to Carla’s death.

    Anyway, all I’m saying is that, while this may not be an epic episode, I don’t think it’s as bad as you suggest it is…

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    • says

      “That said, I can see the flaws in this episode, and I acknowledge that it’s not the greatest episode, but as SF pointed out, the themes in this episode are rather significant. In fact, I find it interesting that for a pretty stand alone episode, there is still quite a lot to consider and discuss. I like considering the themes in this episode, as well as the character actions and motivations. I think this episode goes a long way in developing and strengthening the relationships between the characters (Peter and Walter, Peter and Olivia, etc.) and it also provides further insight into the accident at the lab with Carla. That is another thing I hope they explore further in Season 3 — Just like you could suspect that there was more to the story of how Nina lost her arm, I’m nearly positive that there’s more to the fire in the lab story than some accidental fire that just happened to lead to Carla’s death.

      Anyway, all I’m saying is that, while this may not be an epic episode, I don’t think it’s as bad as you suggest it is…”

      mlj,

      I agree that the episode held some interesting themes, but for me that’s not enough to make it a good episode. It all has to come together and do something greater. I take the view that almost any episode of any TV show can throw in a few decent themes, but for me, this episode was pretty insufficient – especially on a rewatch.

      Just my opinion though. :)

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  5. number six says

    Walter and Peter were fantastic in this. The worst was the monster of the week, one of the weakest in S1, and Rachel.

    Rachel: I don’t blame her entirely, because she did ask what was wrong, but Olivia didn’t tell her anything. She just treated Rachel like a non-entity, which, thinking about it, she really is. I understand that Olivia can’t talk about the cases with Rachel, but I think Rachel deserved a little something resembling an explanation, her daughter was almost the victim here, for Walter’s sake! Scratch that, someone, whose first instinct is to flirt in the middle of a crisis like this, no matter how sexy the man is, deserves no explanation.

    And then we have Peter and Olivia fighting over what was best for Walter. I found Olivia’s attitude very off-putting. She was too aggressive for a person, that had no say or interest in Walter’s matters. She could have said the same with some modicum of tact. Which makes me think, that her attitude was more about her needing closure from John Scott than anything else… Oh look, what we have next episode! Another little detail I appreciated: She thinks Walter, an insane man, who needs his son to function, can handle a potentially devastating confrontation for the sake of closure. Many months later, she denies the truth and closure to a perfectly healthy man.

    Jessica Warren: I liked her well enough, but if she just wanted to see Walter to talk about how wonderful Carla was and what a beautiful smile she had, she could have told Peter from the beginning. I found her “It’s between me and your father” rather contrived. She must have known, given the state Walter was in, that Peter wouldn’t leave them alone.
    I liked that she had her closure, though. That’s a beautiful scene in the lab with the three of them.

    I loved that Peter needed the help of alcohol to get some courage to apologize to Olivia. That is such a cute scene… Ugh, Rachel! Just go away! Hey, was that jealousy I detected on Olivia? Now I know, what Rachel’s purpose in this story was.

    Astrid, you are a very nosy creature. In the cutest way possible <3

    The Wonderful Bishops made this episode a 6/10.

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    • mlj102 says

      It’s interesting to see your opinion that Olivia was somewhat out of line and “without tact” in the way she addressed the situation with Walter. That was also brought up in last year’s rewatch, and I still don’t get that impression at all when I watch this episode. Here’s a copy of part of my comment from last year:

      “Also, I felt as if Olivia handled the situation very well. To me, she was very respectful when she made the suggestion and when she explained herself. She wasn’t forceful or trying to tell Peter what to do – I think she was just trying to be a good friend and to help Peter to see that maybe there was a better solution to what was going on. It was Peter who got upset and who brought it up the second time and such.”

      In other words, I thought that, while Olivia was fixed in her opinion, she wasn’t overly harsh or insistent with her actions. Yes, she voiced her opinion, but she did so in a careful, thoughtful, respectful way. I also think it’s unfair to say that she has no interest in Walter’s matters. They’ve been a team for at least half a year by this point. It’s important to her because she’s like a leader of the team and she needs to make sure they continue functioning smoothly. She has also come to care about Walter as a person, and to develop a sort of relationship with him, so she would have reason to care and be invested in this particular situation.

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      • number six says

        Interesting that you see it that way, but I don’t share your point of view, above all, after this rewatch. The first time I simply thought she had stepped over the line a bit, but now I could focus a bit more on her and she came off very tactless.

        No doubt she had a right to her opinion and she only voiced it, because Peter asked for it, but the way she went about it was too harsh bordering on disrespectful. I do think it had to to more about her than about the Bishops, though. Her own need for closure with John Scott clouded her reasoning to a certain point.

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  6. LizW65 says

    I’m surprised at the general dislike for this episode. While the villain of the week is kind of pathetic and it doesn’t do much in terms of advancing the show’s mythology, the various relationships are what bring it to life, IMO. I’d give it a 6 or 7/10.

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  7. Elaine says

    I’ve always liked this episode for the themes the writers explored as many of you have already mentioned. I thought the way they fowarded the relationship between Walter and Peter was handled unexpectedly, yet fitting. Most of the season we’ve witnessed Walter’s old work coming to fruition in the most haunting and terrifying ways. This was one of a the few that dealt directly with Walter’s personal past, and I found it interesting that unlike ‘The Arrival’ where Peter’s patience with Walter and his current living situation were at an end, he does everything in his power to shield Walter from further damage…much as Walter in his own bumbling way tried to shield Peter in ‘The Arrival’ from the dangers surrounding that beacon.

    Also, there’s the foward progression of Olivia and Peter’s friendship. I believe I commented on this during the previous re-watch that this may have been their first true argument and test of their friend/partnership. Much like ‘The Arrival’, Peter was looking to put distance between the issue and himself as well as Walter. It’s Olivia who tells him that if he goes, than so does Walter. At the end of both episodes once he actually confronts (or is confronted by) the issue, he finds a reason to view things from a different perspective. For someone as smart as Peter, I’m beginning to think Walter’s comment to him in ‘TSOS’ about losing his imagination carries more weight than just being a transition into their theoretical solution to the case they were working. Which leads me to ask: How well did Walter condition Peter in adjusting to this world after his abduction? We know he conditioned himself not to have that reoccurring nightmare of being kidnapped by Walter…and there is Peter remembering Walter hooking him up to car batteries when he was younger. What else did he do to Peter? Or better yet, what exactly did Walternate do to Peter that gives him the ability to operate a doomsday machine? Where Olivia has no memory of the Cortexiphan trials as a child…she does seem to operate with an imaginative eye when it comes to the cases they investigate. Peter, oddly enough does not…or didn’t up until now. That sort of went off topic. ;-)

    Anyway, despite the rather meh plot line, I did enjoy how the working themes of relationships and family bonds were handled.

    Rating: 7/10

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  8. jophan says

    “It was interesting to see Peter attempt to shield Walter from the reality of his past. But in doing so he was being incredibly unfair to both Walter and especially Jessica, who must have been desperate for some sort of closure. ”

    It comes off as “unfair” only because of the way it worked out. Peter had no indication that Jessica was sentimental rather than vengeful. If she had come in with the intent of accusing Walter, who might have been unable to respond due to his faulty memory, it could have caused the kind of damage he feared. Olivia mostly sees Walter at his best – involved in casework that draws on his logical facilities. Yes, she occasionally sees the off-the-wall stuff, but Peter sees almost all of it. It was only a few weeks before that Walter was spouting about fruit salad to Broyles in the middle of a case, and we saw how terrified he was during the night back at St. Claire’s.

    My opinion is also colored by the fact that I think “closure” is a faulty concept frequently misused by dramatists to produce a sort-of-happy ending. You either learn to cope with a tragedy or you don’t, and those that don’t sometimes seem to confuse closure with achieving vengeance.

    “Jessica Warren’s arrival is one of the more interesting aspects of this episode – since by extension of her daughter, Carla, she’s connected to two acts which would forever alter Walter. His decision to abduct Peter from the alternate universe, and the lab fire which killed Carla and sent Walter to the asylum.”

    Which sets me thinking, what if she was sent, to help stimulate Walter’s memory of those events by bringing Carla back to mind?

    “It also makes me think of Walternate and Peter’s haste in abandoning him. Olivia’s answer only works on emotional connections. Peter’s bond with Walternate was broken by an act that Walter committed, and yet even once that truth is out in the open, Walter still gets the boy.”

    I’d have more sympathy if Walternate had made more than a token effort to reestablish the bond. He should have allowed Peter more time to acclimate, perhaps assigning him to the Fringe team to let him see the damage for himself. In effect, he assigned a suicide mission to a raw recruit. If he’s surprised at desertion in those circumstances, he’s not thinking straight.

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    • says

      “It comes off as “unfair” only because of the way it worked out. Peter had no indication that Jessica was sentimental rather than vengeful. If she had come in with the intent of accusing Walter, who might have been unable to respond due to his faulty memory, it could have caused the kind of damage he feared.”

      Interesting. I don’t doubt that you have a point, but I’d still say it is unfair. Had Jessica been vengeful and angry then I’d say she’d have every right to be. All those years with those questions drilling a hole in her mind must have been awful. And for Walter, facing an angry Jessica might not have been an ideal situation for him (or Peter), but at some point he had to face reality.

      Fairness, in this instance, isn’t just about what’s right for Walter..it’s about Walter facing up to the consequences (good and bad), and it’s about Walter and Jessica both having the opportunity to find some kind of resolution.

      If Walter is to redeem himself or find whatever peace he seeks, there comes a time when he must simply own up to his mistakes and face whatever comes his way. I think Peter has to realize that too. He can still be there for him, but I think it’s wrong to deny a grieving mother the chance to find some peace. We also have to bear in mind that initially Peter denied her out of hand – he didn’t bother to find out what kind of state of mind she was in.

      “I’d have more sympathy if Walternate had made more than a token effort to reestablish the bond. He should have allowed Peter more time to acclimate, perhaps assigning him to the Fringe team to let him see the damage for himself. In effect, he assigned a suicide mission to a raw recruit. If he’s surprised at desertion in those circumstances, he’s not thinking straight.”

      All good points. I don’t deny that Walternate isn’t perfect. But neither is Walter – the guy who stole this man’s son and triggered a chain of broken hearts and vengeful minds.

      We also don’t know for sure that the weapon would kill Peter.

      For me, Peter’s actions make little sense. If I were to try and make sense of them I’d say that he’s acted very poorly by returning (in the way that he did) to the Blue Universe. It will be interesting to see whether or not Walternate feels let down by his former Boy Wonder.

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      • Jophan says

        Oh, I would have no trouble at all if Peter, upon returning, told Broyles to find Walter another babysitter and cut off contact. There’s plenty of justification there. I do think that, given the limited timeframe to make a decision, Walternate’s powerful position, his unfamiliarity with the other side and the restrictions on civilians (e.g., show-mes), returning was the most certain way to avoid being forced to use the device. And, whether we know for certain that it would kill him or not, his last line of the episode indicates that he thinks it would

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  9. Catherine says

    I watched “No Brainer” for the first time this summer. I would not rate this one as low as you did, Roco. Maybe I’m just still too new a fan, ’cause I enjoy them all; however, I’d say “Safe” and that one about the boy who was obsessed with a music composition were among my least favorites. I also couldn’t stand the John Scott in Olivia’s head storyline.

    There was one line in “No Brainer” that made me shout out, “Oh, no they didn’t,” as my son walked into the room. The ex-wife of the killer comes home and calls out to her husband. When he doesn’t answer her, she yells through the house, “Are you alive in there?” And no, he wasn’t. His brains were liquified.

    There were several good character payoffs with the main three: Olivia, Walter, Peter. Peter and Olivia could argue, and Peter (like most smart guys) was willing to say in the end, “I’m sorry. You were right.” :D Even if he did have to down a few to get there. I liked the scene where Peter and Olivia are in separate cars, racing to Olivia’s apartment as the “virus” is about to zap Ella’s brain. Olivia’s love for her neice brings such warmth to her character.

    Peter’s protectiveness towards Walter and his acknowledgement that he needs/ and wants Walter in his life were major developments.

    So, yeah, the “monster” with his virus was not the best “freak of the week”; still, if I wasn’t slow to open an unidentified file before, I am now. :D

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  10. says

    In R@chel’s defense, there’s a list of things that every parent worries about, and “computer program that will make your child’s brain leak out her ears” isn’t on it. Well maybe now it is.

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