Cordial Deconstruction

Observations from our shared single objective reality in a materialistic, naturalistic, & effectively macro-deterministic universe.

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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 17 Season 4 Everything In its Right Place

Posted by Karl Withakay on April 7, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

What’s With the Cow Clothes?

What was the deal with cow wearing boots and cow sized FBI jacket and ball cap?  At first, I though maybe NerdLee was having a weird dream.

How Badly Did Astrid Screw Up in the Past?


“Not to diminish Agent Farnsworth’s assignment, but liaison duty is more of a formality, part of our mutual cooperation agreement.”

and also Broyles in response to NerdLee after NerdLee explains why he thinks it’s useful for him to do the job:

“You’re more important to me here on this side.”

Here we have more evidence that Astrid is assigned menial and unimportant duties not considered worthy of even relative newcomer agents.

Absolutely No Texting While Driving

…But video playback on the driver’s information console is just fine.

Universal Differences

In the Alterverse, the fictional Gotham City billionaire playboy turned superhero is Mantis instead of Batman.  Does that mean that Mantis exists as some alternate character in the Alterverse?

Also in the Alterverse, it seems that Millard Fillmore is on a fairly high denomination of currency.  Considering that we have already seen that Newt Gingrich is on the hundred, Fillmore seems likely to be on the fifty or perhaps they still issue five hundred dollar bill in the Alterverse.

Foreshadowing or Telegraphing?

I’m not sure how the writers could have made it any more obvious that Captain Lee was going to die and be quasi-replaced by NerdLee (who will probably end up in a relationship with Fauxlivia).  If you hadn’t already figured it out before the conversation between Lee and NerdLee about how irreplaceable Lee was, that conversation should have sealed the deal for you.

Gun Notes

With all the differences between the universes, it’s interesting to note that the tactical team in this episode was carrying the exact same HK MP5 submachine guns equipped with ACOG scopes, tactical lights, and laser sights that the team in our universe used in last week’s episode.  Fauxlivia used some variant of Kalashnikov type rifle to take out the sniper.  Based on the size and shape of the magazine, it was likely chambered in 7.62X51mm /.308 Winchester.

It Didn’t Go Wrong This Time, but…

Isn’t it about time both Fringe teams got together and hammered out a shapeshifter protocol?  You know, with obvious things like never leave a wingman/ team mate, and if a team mate is ever out of sight of another team member, they need to be examined to be sure they weren’t replaced.

Minor Computer Pet Peeve

“If we can hack this mainframe…” Not all big, important , or powerful computers are mainframes.  Mainframe computers are mostly used in large scale business applications, and they aren’t nearly as widely used as they once used to be.

Where is Mentat Astrid’s Mojo?

Shouldn’t Menat Astrid have been able to put together all the pieces and figure out that Colonel Broyles is a shapeshifter by now?


Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 16 Season 4 Nothing As it Seems

Posted by Karl Withakay on March 31, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

Probably Not, But…

Would anybody else not be surprised if Olivia’s shrink turned out to be a doppelganger?

Note: Agent Must be Restricted Exclusively to Fringe Cases

Olivia’s eroding memories of her life from this timeline seriously compromise her value as an FBI agent.  It’s not particularly unlikely that a defense attorney would discover her memory issues during deposition, and use her unreliable memory to get any testimony given by Olivia thrown out of court.

Plot Convenience Theater #1

Was the whole point of the birthday presents was just to give Peter an excuse to hug Walter, thus symbolically and literally embracing this timeline and its inhabitants as his own?

Quote of the Show


“I like porcupines.  It [sic] shows that God has a sense of humor.”

How Many Supervisors’ Dogs Did Astra Back Over Anyway?

I have previously speculated that Astrid must have done something really bad in the past to be relegated to her current assignment, and this episode just reinforces that opinion.  Astrid has several years of seniority in the Fringe division over newcomer NerdLee, but Nerdlee is given temporary lead of the team instead of Astrid while Olivia is away from the team.

Oh Yeah, by the Way, Maybe I Should Have Mentioned Before That There Might Be Another Monster Out There

Peter remembers the details of the case in his timeline down to the flight number, but doesn’t bother to mention that that Marshal had an also infected partner until they are at the TSA, wasting valuable time in tracking down the 2nd dangerous mutant-hybrid porcupine man.  Did it not seem important to mention that little detail back in the lab?

NerdLee, Prototypical Perfect Fit For Fringe Division

NerdLeee waits for about five seconds after knocking on the door before deciding to break in without a warrant.  How many people answer a knock on their door in less than 5 seconds?  Maybe the person was asleep or in the bathroom or basement.  My rec room is in the basement, and it takes me about 25 seconds to get upstairs and answer the door, and that is assuming that I instantly drop whatever I am doing to go answer the door.

Call Einstein, Somebody Broke the Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy

The guy from the plane turned into a giant porcupine man in the TSA bathroom and apparently grew much physically larger in the process without consuming anything to account for the increased mass.

Onion Rings and Cheesecake?

Fat craving, infected NerdLee craves bacon, onion rings and cheesecake, but not peanut butter.  Peanut butter is pretty high in fat, why is he not interested in peanut butter?  If he only craved animal fat, why the desire for onion rings?  Did he only want onion rings if they were fried in animal fat?

Sure Looks Strange to Me

What’s better than a killer mutant-hybrid giant porcupine man?  A flying killer mutant-hybrid giant porcupine man.  However, for a creature of that size and weight it would probably need much larger wings to generate enough lift to fly.  It wasn’t likely built of the lightweight, hollow bone construction that birds have, so the wings would need to proportionally much larger than bird wings are.

Does Walter Still Own Massive Dynamic in this Timeline?

Because he could be rich if he isn’t already.  His ability to simulate the final product of the porcupine man infection from nothing but a blood sample from NerdLee is nothing shot of miraculous.

But It All Looks Cool

The team that went after the second porcupine man was equipped with HK MP5 submachine guns equipped with Trijicon ACOG 4X scopes (which they were not using), visible laser sights, and tactical lights (which they were also not using).  Although the four power magnification ACOG is an excellent combat scope and can be used in close quarters combat, it is not ideal for such short range situations, and a 1X/no magnification red dot sight is much better suited for such close ranges.  Also, if the team was going in dark like they were, it would make more sense to use invisible infra red laser sights and compatible infra red night vision systems.  I’ll give them a pass on the whole laser beams being visible (like a phaser beam) rather than just seeing the end point since that’s typical Hollywood.  I’ll also give them a pass on using laser sights, since this context, where the darkness and wearing of the bulky night vision systems makes sighting through the weapons’ sights problematic, is one of the few situations where laser sights are actually somewhat useful.

Exclusively for the Search Engines

My Google-fu returns no hits on “sleeping Indian defense”.  Admittedly, I did a simple search and didn’t spend any time on variations of the search terms.

Plot Convenience Theater #2

If you want to go in silently, then use earpieces/headsets for your radios; don’t cut yourself off from team communication.  Also, if you’re really concerned about going in silently, silence your cell phone, or there’s no point in going in silently.  Obviously the whole point in turning the radios off was to make it difficult for Olivia and Astrid to relay a critical piece of information to NerdLee.

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 7 Season 4, Wallflower

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 18, 2011

A Gold/Yellow Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

Transfer That Man to the Fringe Division, ASAP!

The officer gets a little spooked, and he discharges the entire magazine of his Beretta 92F with no target in sight and no concern where the bullets might end up.  He’s definitely Fringe material.

Gun Notes

The officer discharged only 4 rounds, which means that starting with one in the chamber, he had only 3 rounds in a 15 round magazine.

Also, the slide did not lock back on the last round like it should have, and the officer pulled the trigger a fifth time on an empty chamber.  Before it was mentioned the he emptied his entire clip (see below on that), I considered the possibility that the fifth round was a dud, and he had not emptied the magazine, but the dialog nixed that possibility.  Perhaps the officer had a low quality magazine with a weak spring and intentionally did not fully load the magazine to prevent over compressing the spring, but if your magazine can’t reliably feed a full load of rounds , it’s a liability and needs to be replaced or resprung.  A weak magazine spring is a common cause of slide lock failures.

Magazine Clippings

A clip is a device (usually a bent strip of metal) that holds rounds of ammunition to facilitate loading certain firearm magazines.  A magazine is a device that holds and feeds ammunition in a gun.  The Beretta 92F has a detachable 15 round box magazine and does not use clips.  Most modern pistols designed after WW I do not use clips at all.

Revisiting White Fright

I’ve covered this before, but despite Walter’s credulity on the subject, fright can not turn hair white.  Hair is not living, and no chemical process in the body can affect its color once it is grown.

Also, I don’t believe fright can make you go albino either.  You can go momentarily pale if the blood flushes from your face, but that’s not the same as loosing your skin pigment, and you really wouldn’t be any paler than your average corpse.  Fright certainly won’t cause your eyes to go red.

If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It

Chromatophores and the animals that have them are pretty cool, but they’re not Harry Potter invisibility cloaks.  They can blend into and with backgrounds, but they cannot become transparent such that you can look right through them.

MayI Please Borrow The Multiverse Manipulator Sometime, Broyles?

Broyles won’t even let Peter walk around in public without an armed escort to limit his interaction with other people.  Does Peter really think they will let him play around with the big, scary machine built to destroy universes?

Quote #1


“Tell Broyles, Science has no price tag!”

Wait, What…?

U-Gene originally had a pigment problem, and was treated with chromatophores that made him able to be invisible by dynamically blending in with the environment around him, but he’s not bending light around him like an invisibility cloak would, so he should be creating shadows.  Also, no explanation was giving as to how these cells could accurately reproduce 3D lifelike images in real time capable of making him not noticeable to people looking in his direction, if not right at him.  That’s some major processing power to do that.

Additionally, if his original problem was a lack of pigment, why wouldn’t stealing other people’s pigment be a workable substitute cure (at least in the Fringaverse) in place of the chromatophores?  Yes it was a genetic deformity so I would expect he would need to constantly replenish his pigment, but I don’t see why it would revert him to his original, pre-cure state and kill him

Was He Being Politically Correct?

Why target Caucasians for acquiring pigment; wouldn’t U-Gene have had to kill fewer people if he went after darker skinned people?

Magic UV Light

That mouse didn’t fluoresce under the UV light, it simply became visible as if a normal light was shining on it.  Apparently the super chromatophores absorb UV light and re-emit it at the exact same wavelength of light that would be normally be reflected by normal cells when regular visible spectrum white light shines on them.  Also, apparently U-Gene’s and the mouse’s hair is made up of these chromatophores as it’s also invisible.  I wonder about the mouse droppings.

Bad Plot Convenience Theater

Olivia’s line about the search taking too long and them needing to split up was entirely contrived to separate her on her own; it made no practical sense.

What’s the hurry?  Isn’t a slow, methodical search better?  Why not at least break up into teams of two?  Isn’t it good to have someone backing you up?  If I ran the Fringe division, I’d have a rule:   Always have a partner, and never leave your wingman under any circumstances.  No teams smaller than two people.

Olivia Dunham, Elite Government Agent

Is anybody keeping count of how many times Olivia has lost or carelessly discharged her firearm over the years?

Quote #2


“Your life is an experiment.  You have to find out where you belong, find your own place in the world.”

Things We have Learned In This Episode

Massive Dynamic used to be called Kelvin Genetics, and it had an insurance subsidiary called Cypronic Inc.

Nina Sharp in this continuity appears to be evil, though there is good reason to believe she may have been evil in the other continuity as well.

Olivia appears to have a pain killer problem, and she has antibiotics (Ampicillin) in her medicine cabinet.

Olivia and NerdLee may be hooking up at some point.  Obviously there’s a mutual interest there, and Peter seems OK with it, believing that this is not his Olivia.

U-Gene was Experiment 69545

I Will Not Be Pushed, Filed, Stamped, Indexed, Briefed, Debriefed or Numbered. My Life is My Own.

Did anybody else get a little “The Prisoner” vibe at the end there for a moment?  (Skip to the 1 min 50 sec mark if you don’t want to watch the whole video.)

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 13, Season 3, Immortality

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 11, 2011

A Red Episode

As always, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

Note:  I may have the occasional error regarding this episode, and I may fail to cover something I otherwise would have, but as I am out of town on vacation, I had to watch the episode live with no ability to pause or replay any scenes, and I can only take notes so fast.  P.S. Greetings from Cape Canveral.

Something For the Search Engines:

“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” –Mark Twain

Helter Skelter Beatles?

I didn’t catch the scientific name of the beetles in the show, but I couldn’t find anything on Skelter Beetles (if that was what they were called, it took a while to get closed captioning going on the hotel TV).  I found longhorn beetles, which have nothing to do with sheep; the name is related to their long antennae.  I wonder if it is supposed to be a nod to the Beatles song Helter Skelter.

I Was Worried There For a Little While…

…that the writers were trying to set the ground work for the split between Frank and Fauxlivia with the interaction between Frank and Mentat Astrid.  While they may still intend something to develop between Frank and Mentat Astrid, I’m glad that they came up with a better (and more plot related) cause for the breakup.

Get Smart is Multi-Universal

Lincoln’s comment that he was a cone of silence when it comes to secrets indicates that the TV show Get Smart must have existed in the Alterverse as well.  It also indicates that the cone of silence in the alterverse version of the show was as equally ineffective as the one in our version of the show was.

Walternate Won’t Do What Walter Once Did.

I thought that maybe Walter and Walternate’s ethics and morals might cross paths headed in different directions, but Walternate stood firm against experimenting on children.  Good for him.

49 and Still Fine

Has Joan Chen aged at all in the last 20+ years?

What’s Your Standard for Off the Wall These Days?


“His research reads a little off the wall.”

How does anything strike anyone in either universe with Fringe knowledge as off the wall?

Humans the Closest Living Relatives of Sheep?

It seems a little bit of a stretch to think humans were the next best hosts for the beetles.  The part about the compatibility being due the similarity of human and sheep DNA really seemed off base.  Cows, goats, gazelles, horses, deer, pigs, hippos, bats, whales, and hedgehogs are all closer relatives of sheep than humans and other primates.

Ever Heard of a Tactical Light?

I know there is some disagreement about the use of tactical lights mounted on hand guns, mostly about muzzle discipline and never pointing a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot, but I’m still surprised that you pretty much never see them used in TV shows.  Instead, it’s always the flashlight in one hand, with the gun in the other hand, resting on the wrist of the hand with the light.  It’s not really good for controlled fire compared to a two handed grip that a tac light allows.

Did You Get the Memo?

The closed captioning referred to Fauxlivia as Bolivia.  We confirmed Fauxlivia two episodes ago.

Frank, Stanton, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist

Good job reading the sonogram, Frank.  I’ll defer to a real MD like Polite Scott, but I would think he should have been able to tell the stomach (or other part of the GI tract) from the uterus, but I’ll defer to someone with better expertise in that area.   I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that telling a 6 week embryo from a beetle larva on a sonogram might not be so simple.  According to Wikipedia, 6 weeks is indeed when a human embryo will start to move.

Not My Area, Again

I’m curios if Scott has anything to say regarding the fall and adrenaline triggering “some kind of morning sickness”.  I figured she just got sick at the thought she had a parasitic insect growing inside her.

Why Didn’t You Say So Sooner?

I’m not sure why the bad guy let everyone think Olivia was the one that was infected for so long.  I guess he was worried they might try to save him, and felt it was better to be safe than to be sorry.

Posted in Fringe, Red Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , | 19 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 12, Season 3, Concentrate and Ask Again

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 5, 2011

A Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

Pure Energy

I’m assuming the book Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care in the William Bell artifact storage room was an intentional nod to Leonard Nimoy’s most famous role as Mr. Spock on Star Trek.

For the Search Engines:

Die Ersten Menchen: Literally translates to “the first people” from German.

From a Mile away…

Who watching the show didn’t know something was going to shoot out of the doll when the ring was pulled?

No Offense, Walter, but is that a Rhetorical Question?


“Why would anyone want to kill a scientist?  What did we ever do?”



Peter Bishop: Fringe CSI Team

Hey Peter, maybe it’s not such a good idea to pull the ring on that doll.  On one hand, it’s going to make the crime scene decontamination/remediation more difficult by spewing extra toxin everwhere, and on the second hand, that might be the last sample of the toxin left you just sprayed all over the room.

Crack Biohazzard Investigation Team

First, it’s interesting that their chemical & biological agent detector makes noises like a Geiger counter.  Second, it’s strange that they declare the site clean and safe after running their detectors through the house.  I guess it never occurred to them that the canisters of toxin they found might be booby trapped.

Service Medals/ Decorations Trivia

The decorations in the case were a USN/USMC Combat Action Ribbon, a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, a Purple Heart, and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Frankly Olivia, I wouldn’t Blame Peter if He Did Like Faulivia Better…

Faulivia is more self confident and no nonsense than Olivia is, especially since Olivia got back.  I wish Olivia would either just get mad at Peter or get over it, but one way or another, just deal with it and move on one way or another.  Frankly Fauxlivia exudes a hotness that Olivia usually lacks.  Olivia did look pretty hot at the museum, though.

HIPPA, Schmippa, Who Cares?


“May I See his medical chart?”

Sure, that won’t constitute any kind of HIPPA violation will it?  We can just hand out confidential medical information to anyone who asks for it, can’t we?

Medical Mumbo Jumbo

Suspect’s wife:

“The doctors said there was something wrong with Aaron, some kind of DNA pathogen that he passed on to our child.”

Pardon me, but WTF is a “DNA pathogen” supposed to be?  Any pathogen other than a prion is going to have DNA, or at least RNA.  It would be only slightly less descriptive to call it a organic or carbon based pathogen.  Is it supposed to mean a pathogen that attacks DNA???

Read What Thoughts?

I question what thoughts the mind reader was supposed to be reading.  The patient had severe brain damage, not locked in syndrome.  I would think he brain was too damaged to process any of the questions that were put to him.  I doubt anything useful could have been gleaned from reading his mind.

What is Walter’s Degree In Again?

Because it’s certainly not biology, physiology, taxonomy or anatomy.


“Jellyfish are one of the few creatures without any bones.”

Lets ignore the various non-animal creatures such as protists and bacteria for now.  Apparently Walter is not aware that 95% of all animal species are invertebrates.  In fact, vertebrates are basically the exceptions.  Technically, it would be more proper to say, “Humans are one of the few creatures to actually have any bones.” than it was to say what Walter said.

Stylish, but Useless

The suppressor (they’re properly called suppressors, not silencers) on Olivia’s gun sure was nice, cute, and concealable in that dress, but it was way too small to be the least bit effective.  Suppressors need sufficient room for an expansion chamber to allow the muzzle gases to slow down to subsonic speed.  That gimmick suppressor would have been useless.

Posted in Blue Episode, Fringe, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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