Fringe: “Ability”

Flashback to Mr. David Robert Jones playing Twister with his attorney’s neck, right before teleporting to Boston.

The Germans back at the prison are shocked, or so the subtitles tell us! Nein, it’s nicht possible! How did he just disappear out of his cell?!

Two weeks later, Olivia visits Walter and Peter in the lab, where Walter is greasing up the cow’s udders with an alarming enthusiasm. Olivia knows better than to ask. She reveals that Jones escaped from prison, and wonders if his connection to Loeb might have anything to do with anything. Ah, Loeb! The guy who stole Walter’s idea for a teleportation device. But even if that explains how Mr. Jones just disappeared into the ether, he’ll be suffering for it later. The whole decompression phase is a real pain in the ass. And everywhere else. Stuff gets rearranged, according to Walter.

Cut to a warehouse where a decompression chamber is being opened by henchmen. Henchmen are wonderful to have around. Beyond their ability to decompress you, they can set up a lab to your specifications and everything! Niiiiice. Jones, being British, wants some tea. He’s looking a bit twitchy, however.

Cut to a newsstand, where the proprietor is approached by a mysterious bespectacled guy who pays for his newspaper with a two dollar bill. In no time at all, the newsstand proprietor’s eyes are growing over with skin. Then his nose and mouth crusts over in similar fashion. Bystanders are horrified! Except for The Observer. He’s one calm cookie. But besides him…….


Olivia is hanging around what appears to be a military base. A jeep comes along, bearing Loeb in shackles and an orange jumpsuit. She tells him she knows he had something to do with Mr. Jones’ escape, which took place on that same night that Loeb had Olivia kidnapped. Loeb’s not talking. Not until Olivia shows him a transfer order, which will apparently place him in a prison where particularly bad things happen to good looking, well groomed, white collar men. Loeb’s talking now, but only to tell Olivia that she won’t find Jones, and he’s only a part of the army anyway, and “what’s written will come to pass.” How very Fringe-y of him.

She gets a call from Phillip. There’s weird stuff going down in Boston. No, really.

The team is examining the body of the newsstand guy. Walter has two thoughts. One involves lipids, and something about how that could cause the skin to cover all known openings on the body – this includes the penis and anus, in case anyone was wondering. His second thought is: coffee cake.

Phillip wants to know the connection between this working class stiff, and a creepy mastermind like Jones. Olivia’s on the case!

She pulls Peter aside and relays Loeb’s cryptic talk about “what’s written.” Maybe ZFT isn’t an acronym for their criminal organization? Maybe it’s, like, their Bible? She had someone search through a database of known German documents and publications. Aha! Zerstorung durch Fortschritte der Technologie! It’s so obvious! Turns out it is a self-published anonymous manuscript. The German’s only copy was mysteriously destroyed. Olivia wonders if any of Peter’s weird connections would extend to weird proprietors who deal in weird and obscure manuscripts?

Of course he knows just the guy.

Walter and Astrid are playing autopsy with the eyeless, noseless and mouthless newsstand guy. Walter wants a scalpel. As Walter punctures the face and a foul stench arises, he reminisces a bit more about coffee cake.

Charlie is approached by a young agent, who had the SCC send over records for Jones’ lawyer, who might have been funding ZFT related business for his creepy clients. There’s a list of American businesses in particular. Charlie’s gonna look into it, and he praises the young agent for his good work.

Olivia and Peter are visiting his weird bookshop friend Martin. They make their inquiry about the ZFT manuscript. Martin will try and pull some illicit bookshop strings and make it materialize.

Who knew that the criminal underworld dabbled in……books?

Charlie approaches Phillip. The warehouse leased by Jones’ lawyer had the power turned off for months – till the day of Jones’ escape. Safehouse? Phillip’s on the phone demanding a warrant, when an underling arrives and informs them that David Robert Jones would like to have a word. Indeed, he has strolled right into FBI headquarters with a certain swagger. He’ll only speak with Olivia. You have to admire his panache and confidence.

Cue the DAISY!

Harris, Phillip and Olivia are watching Jones from behind the one way mirror. Besides some weird key in his pocket, Jones had no other identifying information or items of interest on him. Harris can’t help but puff out his chest and do the “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” pompous gasbag thing. Olivia thinks they ought to play Jones’ game, because he’s smart. Crazy maniacal smart. And he probably predicted that someone like Harris would do the whole pompous gasbag thing. Harris resents that. He sends Olivia on a pointless mission to go check out the warehouse that Jones was using as a safehouse, just to show Olivia who’s boss. Olivia and Harris glower at each other some more. Phillip has a headache.

Olivia is en route to the warehouse. She and Peter talk on the phone – he’s got in his hot little hands a copy of the ZFT manuscript, which is something of an awkward diatribe about how science run amuck can result in bad things.

Olivia and Charlie and the gang bust into the warehouse, guns drawn. She finds a sketching of herself rendered by Jones. There’s a decompression chamber thingie just laying around, too. They figure they have the right place.

Harris goes in to interrogate Jones. Jones is not amused by this decidedly less blonde, less cute and less spunky Olivia substitute. The very disappointment of it all sends him into a bit of a coughing fit. Ah, but Harris is good enough to serve as a secretary to take down Jones’ latest weird shopping list, which includes a walkie talkie and a ballpoint pen.

Back at the warehouse, the young agent who did the groundwork and got the address of the warehouse in the first place goes poking around upstairs. In a room, in a desk drawer, is a two dollar bill.

From downstairs, the other agents soon hear his screams. They run upstairs.

The two dollar bill has worked its face-sealing magic once again. The agent is now rendered eyeless, noseless, and mouthless. Olivia calls for a medical kit, and they do a tracheotomy. Only that seals up too. It’s curtains for the eyeless, noseless, mouthless agent.

Back at headquarters, they gear up the surveillance cameras as Olivia goes in to talk to Jones. She hands him the weird items he requested. He goes all MacGuyver on her and creates a device that emits a high pitched squeal which drowns out any electronic eavesdropping devices. He’s sorry about the agent who just died. If she’ll help him, she can avoid further deaths. He wants her to take the key that was in his pocket and go to an amusement park. He’s got a parcel that he needs her to retrieve.

He would reveal more, only he now has to double over in pain. She points out that he needs medical attention. He’s pretty sure that the fallout from his molecular scrambling journey through time and space won’t be cured with conventional medical treatment. But if she’ll just retrieve the package…..

She doesn’t want to play games! Only he does! If she doesn’t do what he says, a white van bearing a bomb that can make skin grow in weird places will detonate in a place that will impact hundreds of people. She has sixteen hours to stop the weird skin-growing bomb thingie.

Harris pulls Olivia out of the room. She charges off to take the key and retrieve the parcel. Meanwhile, she needs them to hunt down any white vans bearing bombs. Or at least any white vans, for now.

Cue the DAISY!

Olivia is driving while talking on the phone with Peter. Peter reveals that this bioweapon is a powder based chemical that triggers rapid-release scar tissue. Don’t worry – Walter’s working on the antidote. It’ll be ready…..eventually. Where would the fun be if there weren’t some suspense and a race against the clock, anyway?

Walter couldn’t help checking out Peter’s fascinating reading material. More crazy diatribe-y stuff.

Olivia finds a box with a bunch of kiddie card games and gadgets inside. She takes it back to the lab. Jones’ note describes it as an evaluation system. She’s not sure what that has to do with preventing a biochemical attack. It doesn’t, points out Peter. The guy is a whack job. Helloooooo?

She turns on a Lite Brite game, the bulbs of which she is apparently supposed to turn off via telekinesis, according to Jones’ kooky instructions. Walter, Peter and Astrid look on.

A shrill sound pieces the silence! Doh – it’s just Olivia’s cell phone! Charlie is calling – they’ve tracked down a white van that was rented in her name. He’s on the case!

Olivia doesn’t want to play mind games, or telekinesis-light bulb games, or any other kind, either. She goes straight back to Jones. He’s bummed she didn’t bring the game along, but impressed she’s trudging through that ZFT document. He brings up that whole involuntary spinal tap thing she went through, during which she was injected with a magical drug! It was all part of the plan! It was a treatment! She disagrees. She thinks this is all a waste of time. He keels over.

They wheel him into Walter’s lab. The EMT guy wants to know what this place is, anyway? A freak show, explains Peter.


Walter says Jones is suffering from fried molecules! Meanwhile, Olivia’s on the phone, finding out that the drug that Jones claims she was treated with is some patented new fangled experimental substance – courtesy of Massive Dynamic, of course. Peter reports that Walter will work on reviving Jones, but in the meantime, Olivia thinks if Peter could just figure out how to rig the funny light box game so that Olivia can “win” the challenge, that would be great……

Meanwhile, Olivia will be paying Nina Sharp a visit. Nina looks up the drug in question in her database. Oh, yes! That drug! The one that, in clinical trials in Ohio, were supposed to soup up the brain to do superhuman things – like perform amazing feats of telekinesis upon lightbulbs. Only it didn’t work.

Olivia debriefs Peter on the phone. He reports that Walter should be able to revive Jones soon, and as luck would have it, Peter has done miraculous things in deconstructing the light box game, so they should be faking Jones out with Olivia’s fake powers of telekinesis in no time!

Jones revives. He is honored to meet Walter, the genius behind the teleportation device. Even crazy Walter says that particular experiment was a little too crazy, and was locked up for a reason. Olivia tells Jones she can pass the test! They wheel it over so that he has a better view. She pretends to turn the lights off with her mind. He gives her the address of the planned attack.

The team hits the building in question and they start evacuating it. They find the bomb. The bomb squad can’t diffuse it because they were too busy staring at it and going, WTF?! It’s a weird panel of lights. Just like the Lite Brite game.

Cue the DAISY.

Olivia calls the lab and has Astrid put Jones on the phone. She’s not amused. She admits she faked the light bulb-telekinesis test in the lab. He knows that, but he’s confident in her ability to do it for real this time. There’s only one way to disable this device! Telekinesis! Like performing telekinesis isn’t hard enough. Doing it under pressure?

She stares at the panel and tries to use Jedi mind control force. Peter thinks she’s nuts. Peter refuses to stick around for this lunacy. He leaves. She stares at the lightbulbs and concentrates really, really hard. Peter’s back, by the way. We knew he would be.

Suddenly the lights start dimming. Whoa! Check out Olivia’s new telekinetic moves! And with only two seconds to spare before detonation. Who’s fancy? Olivia Dunham, that’s who.

Astrid gets the call with the good news. Jones is impressed.

Olivia doesn’t buy it. She thinks Jones programmed the lights to turn off. Peter’s not sure he would have known when she would arrive, if at all. Peter suggests they go drink some hard liquor together, and not think about it anymore. But Olivia wants to go grill Jones.

Astrid and Walter are back at the lab. She hasn’t overlooked the fact that he invented a teleportation machine. He’s the man! Even if the machine does kill you after you use it.

Olivia visits the hospital where Jones has been transferred. Ah, but he’s escaped. Via a giant hole blown right through the wall of his room! He left a note for Olivia before dashing out the door, however. “You passed.”

Walter is reading the weird manuscript some more. He’s intrigued. It’s got a whole weird serial-killer-typewriter vibe going on with the font.

Olivia is home relaxing when she gets a call from Nina. She’s curious about Olivia’s curiosity about that obscure drug. And in case Olivia was wondering, Nina investigated further, and it was also tested in Florida on a military base. Where Olivia grew up as a child.

Walter pulls out his old typewriter. It does a weird thing with its “y”s. Just like in the ZFT manuscript.


Cue the LEAF!

Screw this silly progression of nature symbols. Perhaps the real “pattern” lies in Walter’s snack food cravings? Now, how does coffee cake relate to bio-chemical weaponry…….?

Yes, it was a lot going on. You’ll probably need to watch it again so it can all sink in. And you’re in luck – you can catch this episode right here on Fancast!

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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