"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.

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