"Ability" (1.14)

Before I begin discussing this amazingly epic episode, I would like to warn those who have never seen Fringe but would like to see it that they should not read any further, since this blog entry does contain spoilers. This is one of my two favorite season one episodes, the other being "The Road Not Taken" (1.19), and it's honestly difficult for me to choose which I prefer over the other. If I had to choose, though, I might go with "The Road Not Taken," but even so, it would be an incredibly close call, because this episode is beyond epic, and I give it ten rigged light-boxes. The very first scene of the episode takes us back to "Safe" (1.10), which I love. We are reminded of what Jones did to escape from prison, and then, after the intro, we see Olivia show up at the lab, having just found out. During this scene, and even throughout a lot of the episode, she seems uncannily happy, very happy. She smiles a lot more often, especially around Peter, and she just seems generally lighter. This might be because of the ending of the previous episode, "The Transformation" (1.14), since Olivia finally met closure regarding John Scott, closure that she desperately needed. During this scene, Peter says to Olivia, "How come when nobody knows and it doesn't make sense, they come to us?" This is definitely a memorable quote; it is, in fact, in the promo that was aired at the end of "The Transformation." Beyond a memorable quote, however, this episode has so much to offer.

When the team is discussing Walter's teleportation device, Peter says to Olivia that it is meant to travel through time, and that makes no sense to me. If it's meant to travel through time, then why does it teleport people? Perhaps, when Walter created it, his intention was to create a time-traveling device, but he accidentally created a teleportation device, instead. When they soon come to the realization that Jones most likely teleported out of prison, I love Walter's expression. Olivia asks him, "You're saying that Jones, in theory, could have zapped himself out of prison?" Walter hesitates but finally affirms the question. His hesitation, however, says that it is actually a lot more complicated than that but that if he were to go into detail and be more precise, he'd lose her. The Observer is very easy to spot in this episode, as he is seen moving out of the way of the news vendor's panicked attempts to reach for help as all of his orifices begin to seal, and speaking of the sealant, I am really wondering if the sealant is why Loeb attempts to take immunologists out in "Bound" (1.11). It's the only explanation that makes sense to me, seeing how the sealant affects the immune system. Like Broyles says to Olivia in "Safe," they were trying to take out the firefighters before they started the fire, and I am assuming that this is the fire.

Olivia decides to visit Loeb since he and Jones were working together, and Loeb says something extremely memorable to her. First, he tells her that it doesn't matter whether or not she finds Jones, since he is just part of the army. Then, he tells her that "what was written will come to pass" and that nothing she attempts to do will change that. I love this scene and find myself wondering what Loeb is talking about. When he says "what was written," is he referring to what is written in the ZFT Manuscript? Is he referring to the two universes colliding with one another, going to war with only one surviving in the end? In this episode, Walter has his usual "two thoughts" that come to mind, and, as usual, his second thought is completely unfocused and irrelevant. This time, his first thought is that what the team is seeing might be a mutation of some sort, and his second thought is that of coffee cake, "tiny pebbles of cinnamon sugar." A bit later, after Olivia discovers the existence of the ZFT Manuscript, she says to Peter, "I was hoping that you might have one of your weird connections." Peter, either unsure of what she means or feeling judged, says, "Weird connections?" This is where we get some great Oliver dialogue, as Olivia says to him, "They're always a little weird," to which Peter replies, "Well, you're always a little weird." As they seem to do often, they're definitely flirting.

Finally, Peter admits to having a "weird connection," and his connection is most definitely "weird." His connection goes by the name of Edward Markham, a strange little man who sells books as a living, notably books that are very rare and/or collectibles. This seen is classic, as Markham, convinced that she is more than just a friend of Peter's, says to Olivia, "Five dollars I can name at least one item on your nightstand, Olivia Dunham. Don't tell me. You're going to like this. I'm never wrong; it's a gift. Okay, Toni Morrison novel, something by Obama and/or the current issue of Bon Appetit." She doesn't confirm whether or not he is wrong, but she smiles and says that she is reading Advanced Forensic Science and that she keeps it next to her gun, adding emphasis on the word "gun." She soon goes on to say that "Peter says you're good," to which Markham replies, "Well, he also says that you're just a friend." Olivia consequently smiles, which is just great, because she doesn't smile all that often, but as previously mentioned, throughout most of this episode, she seems generally happier than usual, especially when she is around Peter. I really wish that she would have taken him up on his offer of going out after the bomb incident.

The scene in which Jones turns himself in reminds me so much of the film Se7en, and I'm sure that the similarity was intentional. There are a lot of cultural references throughout this series. Also, I said this about the previous episode, "The Transformation," as well, but this episode is very Aliasy. A drawing of Olivia is found, which reminds me so much of Page 47 of the Rambaldi Manuscript, which features a drawing of Sydney. Also, Olivia discovers in this episode that she was a Cortexiphan subject when she was a child, given a drug to enhance her mental capabilities and give her "superhuman" abilities. The Cortexiphan trials in general remind me of Project: Christmas, an effort made by Sydney's father to cultivate spies at a very young age. During the scene in which Jones and Harris are speaking in the interrogation room, I now find myself wondering whether or not Jones knows that Harris is ZFT. If so, do they put on a show in order to avoid being heard? After the FBI agent is killed by the sealant, Jones says to Olivia that he tried to prevent that but that Agent Harris needed to be convinced, and I have no idea what he means by that. Speaking of ZFT, though, I am wondering if ZFT is trying to help prepare this universe for the upcoming war, but if so, why is it killing off people in this world? Are they experiments, to see if their weapons will work against the Other Side? Are they simply seen as unfortunate but necessary casualties?

As I have said before, Jones reminds me so much of Hannibal Lecter, and he is incredibly creepy. He says to Olivia, "Don't worry, Miss Dunham. If I wanted to harm you, I would have long ago." How long has he known her? Has he known her since she was a child? If so, then why wouldn't he have met Walter, since Walter was so heavily involved in the Cortexiphan trials, and speaking of Walter, has he forgotten about the Cortexiphan trials? Why doesn't he share his knowledge of them? He has also kept the existence of the alternate universe a secret from everyone and seems surprised by his "discovery" of it when he reads it from the ZFT Manuscript. Is this just to avoid any suspicion whatsoever, so that Peter will not discover his origins? If no list of Cortexiphan subjects was kept (which we discover in episode 2.16, "Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver."), then how does Jones know that Olivia was a Cortexiphan subject? There are so many questions about ZFT in general that will hopefully be answered eventually, but killing Jones off in the season one finale is the dumbest move that this series has ever made. How did he get out of his hospital room, and why is there a gigantic hole in the wall? We may never know, because his character was killed off in the finale, which, again, was stupid.

Anyway, returning to the creepiness factor that Jones emits, Olivia calls Astrid so that she can talk to Jones, and when Astrid puts him on, Jones says in a whisper, "Hello, you." Then, after Olivia seems to successfully turn the light box off, Jones asks Astrid, "She did it, didn't she?' to which Astrid replies, "It seems she did." Jones then says, "My girl." It is incredibly creepy, but I remember wondering at that point whether or not Jones was possibly Olivia's biological father. Olivia only ever mentions her stepfather but never her biological father, so it's possible that she doesn't even know who he was, so it's plausible. However, it's not likely that if Jones were her biological father, he would have been killed off in the season one finale. When Olivia talks to Harris and begs him to allow her to speak with Jones under his conditions, the two of them are seen as dark, shadowy figures, and I love this; I think that it is so artistic. The two of them don't know that much about each other and are essentially complete strangers, and I think that that is what the shadows are meant to represent.

The scene during which Jones is first brought into the lab is great, because first, Peter says to Walter, "Walter, put the cow away would you?" and then, an unidentified agent asks Peter, "What is this place?" and Peter answers, "It's a freak show." What is the strange PDA device that Nina is seen using to conduct research on Cortexiphan, I wonder? She claims never to have heard of Cortexiphan, which is why she looks it up on her device, but this is definitely a lie. I think that she is well aware of them, and when she says that Bell abandoned the trials in 1983, I think that that is a lie, too, or at least an intentional misleading. I think that Cortexiphan is still being administered to children and that Massive Dynamic is administering it (citing Christopher Penrose and Tyler Carson as evidence), so even if Bell did abandon the trials in 1983, she didn't. There is also our frequent "forty-seven" shout-out in this episode, since the bomb is located at 923 Church Street on the forty-seventh floor, and when the lights arefinally turned off, thereby preventing the bomb from detonating, it isn't until Peter comes back (which I think is so sweet, since he simply couldn't leave her, since he had faith in her), there are some who speculate that either Peter is the one who turned the lights off or the two of them did it together, but I don't think so. I think that Peter is just there as a plot device so that someone would believe her.

I would like to quote exactly what Walter reads from the Manuscript, because I think that it is unbelievably epic, since this is the episode that we learn of the existence of the alternate reality. The Manuscript reads, "We think we understand reality, but our universe is only one of many. The unknown truths of the way to travel between them has already been discovered by beings much like us but whose history is slightly ahead of our own. The negative aspects of such visitations will be irreversible both to our world and to theirs. It will begin with a series of unnatural occurrences, difficult to notice at first but growing, not unlike a cancer, until a simple fact becomes undeniable; only one world will survive, and it will either be us or them." This brings with it so many questions. Obviously, who wrote it? Since Walter realizes that the typewriter in his lab was used to write it, did he write it, or did Bell? If our universe is one of "many," then why is it that only two realities are at war with one another? I am assuming that Walter stealing Peter from the Other Side is what started the war (especially since we now know that Walternate is in charge of the war on the Other Side), but that makes me wonder when the Manuscript was written. It had to have been after 1985.

Near the very end of the episode, Astrid, seemingly proud of him, tells Walter that she hasn't failed to overlook the fact that he actually created a teleportation device. Walter then says that he guesses that he did. Astrid, however, continues, saying that despite the fact that the device kills you, it's pretty cool. Walter seems surprised by this and says, "It does something unthinkable, but it doesn't kill you." It makes me so angry that Astrid doesn't insist on knowing what it does do, then, because I certainly insist on knowing. Jones says in the season one finale that the teleporter may be killing him but in the meantime is making him something special. If Walter says that it doesn't kill you, then why does Jones say that it does, and, as asked previously, if it doesn't kill you, then what does it do? Also near the end of the episode, Nina calls Olivia and tells her that the Cortexiphan trials were also conducted in Jacksonville, Florida, and although she has a very innocent demeanor, it's a show, because she definitely played Olivia the whole time. Right from the start, she knew of the existence of Cortexiphan, and she knew that Olivia was a subject, but Nina did what Nina does best, which is manipulation. She really is, in so many ways, the Ben of Fringe. Anyway, as I said, I think that this episode is monstrously epic and is one of my favorite season one episodes. Stay on the fringe.

"The Transformation" (1.13)

Before I begin discussing this episode of Fringe, I will advise those who have not seen Fringe but would like to see it to not read any further, as this does contain spoilers. "The Transformation" is one of my favorite episodes from season one. I think that the episode brings about a great deal of closure, primarily regarding John Scott and thus Olivia's persistent need to keep returning to the tank, which, by the way, says a handwritten warning (Watch your hands. Heavy Doors. Save your fingers. Close with Care., which I would say Walter most likely wrote) on it, something that I didn't notice the first time that I watched this episode on television. The episode also ties in to episode 1.03, "The Ghost Network," since the glass disk once again makes an appearance. The title of this episode is very fitting, as well, as this episode kind of does "transform" the season into a new season. From this episode onward, season one is much better than it is between the pilot episode and the horrendously disastrous episode 1.12, "The No-Brainer," and based on discussions that I have had with fellowFringe fans, I say that I think that most people would agree with that. In addition, there is much in this episode that must have given Olivers quite a lot to be happy about, and the episode also has a lot of similarities to the TV series that fueled my interest in J.J. Abrams, Alias. There are a great deal of concepts and plot elements in this episode that mirror those of Alias (as well as deliberate shout-outs to the series), and I absolutely love Alias, so I love finding those and making note of them. "The Transformation" simply all-around a decent episode, a severely under-appreciated one, in my opinion, and I give it 9 porcumans.

There are a couple of mirror images of the pilot episode, both of which I think are intentional. The first is that the first scene of this episode begins with and involves an incident on a plane which ends up crashing as a result. During this first scene, there is a man who looks a lot like Miles from LOST, but I can't tell whether or not it's him. Anyway, I'm not really sure what is going on with Marshall Bowman (whose name, by the way, is the first Aliasshout-out in the episode, since it is a combination of the eventually married characters Marshall Flinkman and Carrie Bowman). Does he conduct the test in the bathroom to see if he was infected? Why was he infected? Did the dealers know that he and Daniel Hicks (and probably John Scott, as well) were NSA and were getting too close to catching Conrad? Bowman tells the flight attendants that he doesn't have the time or the permission to explain what's happening to him. I understand why he doesn't have the time, but what does he mean when he says that he doesn't have the permission? Does he not have permission because of his involvement in a Black Ops Division of the NSA? The flight attendants most likely assume that he is on some sort of drugs, just as a side-note, and the main reason that I say that is that the flight attendant calls someone for assistance and says that Bowman wants drugs but "seems to be on something already." I mean, I probably would have assumed that he was on drugs, as well. The second reflection of the pilot episode, anyway, is, of course, Olivia's return to the tank. It's not her first time back in the tank since the pilot episode (that would be episode 1.09, "The Dreamscape"), but I still think that it is a deliberate reflection of the pilot episode.

Speaking of the tank, though, the last time that Olivia spoke to Walter about going back into the tank, he refused, saying that it was too dangerous, so I wonder what convinced him this time to allow her to go back into the tank. We don't see, because the scene cuts from Olivia telling Peter to tell Walter to prep the tank to Olivia actually getting into the tank, so I don't know. During this extended sequence (which reminds me very much of Alias), we, of course, discover that John Scott is not who we have been led to believe, that he was actually a member of a Black Ops Division of the NSA. Now, I have two thoughts regarding this revelation. The first is that in the pilot episode, Scott suffocates Richard Steig to death near the end of the episode, and the second is that, also in the pilot episode, Scott tries to kill Olivia by forcing her vehicle off the road. As far as the first thought is concerned, I have two possible explanations. The first explanation that I have to offer is that perhaps, not even his good intentions, as secret as they may have been, could have stopped him from exacting revenge. The second explanation that I have to offer is that maybe, it was an NSA "mission" to kill him. As far as why he tried to kill Olivia, though, the only explanation of which I can think is that he was being careful, pretending to kill her so as not to blow his cover but intentionally not succeeding. It really annoys me that Olivia doesn't ask him about this, but I can't allow myself to see it as a plot-hole.

After Olivia is pulled out of the tank due to her vitals spiking, she clutches onto Peter and says his name, which I find so adorable. This is definitely a scene for Olivers, as is Peter's consistent concern for Olivia. He doesn't want Olivia to trust what John tells her in her consciousness, because he is afraid that it will get her killed. I think, though, that he also secretly wants Olivia to forget about John and move on so that maybe, there will be a future between the two of them. He says to her, "What if he's still lying to you? Have you considered that?" He is so protective of her, and that is probably the primary reason why I am such an Oliver. Peternever lets Olivia down; he is always there for her, and when (thanks to Astrid convincing her, resulting in Astrid smiling in a suspiciously sinister manner) Olivia decides to trust what Scott tells her in her consciousness, he does not appear to be very happy about it. I really like the relationship between Olivia and Charlie, too, even though I really only see it as a friendship (I was never much of a Cholivia, especially after seeing in episode 1.16, "Unleashed," that Charlie was married). In this episode, it is once again made clear that they have a very trusting relationship with one another. She definitely wouldn't tell just anyone about her shared consciousness with John Scott, but she eventually comes around and tells him, because she knows that she can trust him (Charlie, by the way, is the one who notes that there were 147 passengers on the plane, the number "forty-seven" serving as another shout-out to Alias).

The Alias shout-outs don't stop there, either. Olivia and Peter go undercover in order to apprehend the dealers, using fake names, and Olivia even styles her hair differently than she normally does; this is something that Sydney and Vaughn (or whoever happens to be on the mission with Sydney at the time, but in the later seasons, it is usually Vaughn) do in just about every single episode of Alias. Also, it is agreed that the signal that Olivia will give if she needs the team to storm in is the word "Christmas," and I definitely think that this is an Alias nod, in reference to Project: Christmas, a series of tests conducted on children with a striking similarity to the Cortexiphan trials. I think that those are all of the Alias shout-outs, though, at least all of the ones that I caught, so moving on, I want to talk a little bit about Nina, since she does make an appearance in this episode (I love it when she does). When Broyles and Olivia go to Massive Dynamic so that Olivia can see that Scott is in a suspended state (a first step toward closure to which she finally comes at the very end of the episode), Nina says to Olivia, "For what it's worth, it was not mydecision to keep this from you," putting a little bit of an extra emphasis on the word "my," so I wonder whose decision it was. If Broyles knew about this, which he did, then why didn't he tell Olivia? Perhaps, it was he who decided not to tell Olivia, but why? Anyway, Walter unfortunately doesn't have a whole lot of Walterisms to offer in this episode, but while he's watching Olivia and Charlie interrogate Hicks through the one-way mirror, he says, "This is wonderful, don't you agree? It's just like a good detective movie!" I absolutely love that line.

Broyles tells Olivia near the end of the episode that despite the success of the case, Scott's status as a traitor to his country will remain the same, since there is no proof to indicate otherwise, and that kind of gets me thinking about what Scott says before he dies in the pilot episode. He tells Olivia to "ask yourself why Broyles sent you to the storage facility." Did we ever get a definitive answer as to what Scott meant? I don't think we have, and it makes me suspect Broyles of foul deeds, because what if Broyles somehow knew that sending the two of them to the storage facility would, in the end, blow Scott's cover? What if, for some reason, he was trying to take Scott out? I know that it's far-fetched but it's something to think about, because I still don't know what Scott meant when he said that. Also, Walter says that the drugs that he administered to Hinks cured him, which, as he says, is more than he can say for his own concoction. This makes me wonder if he takes certain drugs in hopes of curing himself of his insanity? I've never heard of drugs curing insanity, especially not the kind that Walter does, but I'm wondering if, in his mind, he'll one day wake up completely cured of what St. Claire's did to him as a result of his recreational drug use (which I suppose isn't really recreational if he does indeed hold this belief). Then, after Olivia asks to go back into the tank one final time so that she can say what she needs to say to John (a request that is, once again, granted), Walter tells Olivia that her mind is finally succeeding in purging itself of Scott, and I wonder how he knows this, what evidence he has. Anyway, the scene between Olivia and Scott near the water is so sad and so sweet, and Olivia needed that closure so that she could move on; we all did. Anyway, stay on the fringe.