Review

Review

Television Tourniquet: We Get Freaky with 'Fringe' -- Episode 14!

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Fringe Episode 14
"Ability"
Teleplay by: David H. Goodman
Story by: Glen Whitman & Robert Chiappetta
Directed by: Norberto Barba
Original Airdate: 10 February 2009

In This Episode….

This was another dense episode.  Remember creepy Mr. Jones, who was obsessed with Olivia and locked up in a German prison for selling state secrets?  Well, he escaped.  Or as Olivia put it, he "Star Trekked himself out of there."  Yup, he teleported out, using a technology he had stolen from Walter Bishop's partner.  Jones sends himself back to the States, where he must decompress for two weeks (teleportation is apparently a terrible strain on the molecules).

A mystery man buys a newspaper from a vendor with a $2 bill.  That's not the weird part.  The weird part is that, just a couple minutes later, the vendor's face begins to melt.  His eyes seal over, as does his mouth, which eventually suffocates him.  Walter thinks it is some form of biological weaponry that causes the cells to mutate.

Olivia digs up some info on something Jones said once, which he referred to as "ZFT."  Translated from the German title, it is a manifesto called "Destruction by the Advancement of Technology", which claims that the apocalypse will be caused by technology run amuck.  Like all manifestos, the ramblings are crazy and extreme, and speak of armies of unwilling warriors.

Meanwhile, Jones walks into FBI headquarters and turns himself in, but he will only speak to Olivia.  Jones tells her that he has hidden something away in an abandoned carnival.  She retrieves it – a box full of psychic tests.  Jones insists that Olivia must take – and pass – the first test: a board full of tiny light bulbs that Olivia must extinguish using her mind.  If she completes this test, he will give her the location of the biological bomb he has planted in the city.  If that bomb detonates, the entire population will suffer the same melty-faced fate.

By this time, Jones's health has deteriorated significantly.  Walter says that it can really destroy a person.  Olivia is racing against time to finish Jones's silly test: the bomb has a timer on it, as does Jones's health.  She has Peter rig the test so that the bulbs shut off gradually over a few minutes, and puts on a spectacular show for Jones.  He buys it, and gives them the location of the bomb.

The bomb squad can't touch the bomb.  The extremely sophisticated bomb can only be deactivated in one way: by shutting off the two dozen light bulbs implanted in the bomb.  Whoops.  With only two minutes on the clock, Olivia has no other option than to shut off the lights with her mind.

And she succeeds.  Olivia seems to have been tested with a drug as a young child.  This drug would have suppressed a certain brain limiter that develops early on.  This limiter suppresses what is basically the psychic portion of the brain.  It's the double-negative way of saying the drug allows you to tap into natural psychic abilities.

A few ends to tie up: Walter reveals to Astrid that the teleportation machine does something far worse than kill a person.  Olivia gets a hint of that when she goes to see Jones at Boston Hospital.  He is gone, the ward is in a panic, and there is an enormous hole firebombed into Jones' hospital room wall.  Apparently he has turned into King Koopa. 

Dig It or Bury It?

There was much info to take in.  But it was a good episode if you don't mind getting more of those crazy questions that only J.J. Abrams can raise.  We got enough answers (like the drug trial) to prevent it from being a "polar bear on a tropical island" fiasco (yup, still bitter about that one).  I'm really eager to find out what teleportation does to the human body, and even more eager to find out what the hell Walter was up to with that manifesto.

Walter-Babble

Walter's food o' the week: coffee cake.  He was also seen slathering a thick, gooey cream on the lab cow's udders.  Rock on.

Deja-X

After Peter witnesses Olivia shutting off the light bulbs with her brain (her juicy, tender brains…), he is pretty convinced of her psychic ability.  Meanwhile, Olivia is adamant that Jones rigged the lights to shut off on their own.  It was like watching one of those three episodes of X-Files where Mulder was skeptical and Scully was the believer.

Pseudo-Science

I definitely buy the idea that teleportation could mess up your molecular structure so badly that you would get sick, mutate, die, or anything else.  However, I don't buy teleportation to begin with, so I don't know where that leaves me.  I guess the melty-face virus isn't too far off from Ebola, so that is pretty feasible. 

Prophecies?

No new episodes until April, so my biggest prophecy is frustration at the waiting, followed by enough time passing that I have forgotten who Jones is.  But the end of this episode alludes to Walter being the writer – or at least one of the writers – of the ZFT manifesto.  I would like to think that Walter is not evil.  But what if he is indeed evil, and his insanity was covering it up?

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