1.14 “Ability” Review – The Good & The Bad


1.14 ABILTY - Review

How does one review this mother of an episode? Here’s the Fringebloggers ‘good and bad’ review of episode 1.14 “Ability

THE GOOD

  • Thick with mythology. Along with the characters, mythology is the thing that invests me to a show like this. It’s what makes the story so rich with meaning and context. The ZFT Bible and it’s revelations about multiverses and parallel realities, not to mention news that Belly dosed children with special ‘abilities’, gives us a greater sense of understanding as to overarching story.
  • Action/Drama/Tension. The episode had bucket-loads of action, drama and tension. The pacing was also brilliant, it rarely lagged. Even the little ‘chat’ between Astrid and Walter towards the end was meaningful and brilliantly shot – I loved the way we only saw their backs as the camera slowly panned closer. Special mention also for the light-bulb/bomb scene. I was so into it I’m not sure who actually turned off those lights; Olivia, Peter or me!? ;)
  • Game-Changer. I knew that a game-changer was coming, I thought it was “Transformation”, however, in retrospect, I jumped the gun. As well as confirming my dimensional/multiple reality theories, the episode managed to change the game to dramatic effect. Suddenly, the scope and depth of the show has increased, and we have a possible clue as to why the Pattern is happening around Olivia – she’s spesh! I’m also pleased that Fringe is journying into relatively new territory, it’s not cliched – it’s not about aliens; -  it’s about US..mankind, or rather multiple instances of ourselves. Just imagine what it would be like to observe another Universe like (or unlike) ours, one which has – by law of averages – taken different paths to form a world similar to our own. It gives a whole new meaning to the world ‘relative’, because it really is. Observers Are Here!

  • You gotta have faith a faith a faitha. I’ve been calling for more faith elements to be incorporated into “Fringe”, and the ZFT doctrine is a fascinating way to incorporate a belief-system into the show, whilst making it useful to the central story-lines. My hope is that we eventually find out more about the ZFT manuscript (which seems likely), and the Observers belief system – if indeed they have one. Maybe, in their ‘Universe’, they are a faithless race? Perhaps their feel for religion is as dulled as their taste of root-beer floats? Oh Observer, what secrets do you hold..?
  • David Jones. From the moment I saw him I knew he’d be great. Mr Jones has added another dimension (no pun intended) to this 1.14 ABILITY - Joneswhole affair, he’s like to Benjamin Linus of “Fringe”, which makes him alright by me. I loved that the first thing he wanted after spending two weeks in a hyperbaric chamber was a cup of tea! The English do love a cuppa. One question though – is David Jones also William Bell from another Universe? It’s looking more and more like it!
  • Pop. Culture References. One of the many things that I love about “Lost” are the references to pop-culture and mythology, often in the form of visual or verbal representations. Fringe is really beginning to dip into that area, and this episode featured 2 or 3 excellent references, such as Charade and The Land of Laughs. These items not only serve as underlying metaphors that enable viewers to broaden our understanding of the themes portrayed in an episode, but they give us an insight into the minds of the writers and help us to  interpret where they are going with certain themes. It certainly adds another layer to an already wonderfully dense series. Please keep it up.
  • Prepared. I fully acknowledged the fact that Olivia went to David Jones’ hideout fully prepared with actual agents and everything! Sadly one of them met a grizzly end, but that’s what happens when you try to steal a $2 bill. I guess he wanted a bit more recognition from Charlie for his efforts with the list? Anyway, go Olivia with her squad! I should also add that it was great seeing the ‘change’ in Olivia after her resolution to the John Scott situation in the previous episode. The writers followed through with that one very well.
  • Freak of the Week. Loved it – they never fail to disappoint with the cool application of the fringe science. Although we didn’t get too see or understand that much about the orifice-less condition, I loved the way in which it was used – from the opening scene with the chipper Thomas Avery going all ‘hear no evil, speak no evil’ as he barged past an old friend of ours, to the stupid agent Kemp who grabbed the £2 bill without gloves.
  • Cliff-Hanger. This episode seemed to have 3 or 4 good points at which it could have ended. They saved the best for last though – seeing Walter get his old typewriter out of storage and type “ABILIT..”, and then pausing, his heart already fearing what would come next, before entering that last elevated “..Y“, was just sensational television. Walter’s reaction was awesome too. Whoever thought of that scene, well, hat’s off to them.
  • ZFT Manuscript. In season 2 of “Lost” there was the blast door map reveal. If you haven’t seen Lost (shame on you!!), trust me, it was an awesome moment. I’d rank the ZFT reveal up there with that. In terms of mythology and intrigue this has to be one of the best additions to the Fringeverse. I’d HATE to get my hands on a copy. I’m “unwilling” you see..

THE BAD

  • Radio Silence. David Jones is brilliant, the only complaint I have about him in this episode was his ‘radio silence’ trick with the walkie-talkie and the watch (etc). It seemed cool at first, but there was nothing stopping Harris or Broyles from marching into the room and putting an end to his antics. The device didn’t lock the doors – it simply downed the coms.
  • Sanford Harris. I’m trying not to hate on Sandford, but this man is annoying. Thank you Jones for destroying his $1000 watch. I 1.14 ABILITY - Agent Harrismean who wears an $1000 watch to work anyways? In truth, this wasn’t his worst episode, and I kinda like how his arrival has re-shaped the relationship between Broyles and Dunham. That said, he has few redeemable qualities and had the nerve to think that he could go brow to brow with Mr. Jones. You fail at life, Harris!
  • Convenience. Whilst I love seeing Peter’s shady connections, and Marcam was a great addition to that aspect, the ease with which the extremely rare and unpublished ZFT manuscript was found seemed a little too convenient to me. I must stress that I loved the bookstore scene and the ZFT book, I want to see more of that stuff, but once in a while the writers will probably have to make sure that one of Peter’s contacts do not come up with the goods – it’s the law of averages, right?
  • Would Olivia really make puppy dog eyes at Peter? I know that she’s liberated now but I don’t think that was entirely necessary – Peter’s already on Team Dunham, he’s t0gether with his father because of YOU, Dunham. If you say jump, he’ll jump. Okay, perhaps not, but Peter isn’t exactly going to refuse such a request, it’s not like he’s turned his back on that world.
  • 7 Week Hiatus. As I write this there’s actually just over 6 weeks until the next episode, but that’s still quite a wait. It’s almost as if we’ve been drugged..given a taste of Cortexiphan, only to leave us wanting more. Dammit, Bad Robot! :D

Observing the Observer

1.14 The Observer

Great to see Michael Cerveris back – those photoshopped images were fun but there’s nothing like the real thing. His appearance reminded me of when he eyeballed Joseph Meegar, in “Power Hungry”, before the electro-man went into hyper-drive on the elevator, and his appearance in “Mr. Jones”, when he watched Olivia touch down in Germany before wandering off to the multiverse.

Episode rating: 10/10 – the best episode of Fringe so far this season, and the joint best episode of television that I have watched this year. “Ability” shares that honor with Lost’s “Jughead”.

“Ability” is the new benchmark, the episode that all future episodes will be judged against..until the next mind-blowing gem.

Peace-out Fringbloggers

Comments

  1. Alexis says

    Yeah, I’m not sure which one of them turn off the lights. Heck, maybe neither of them. But I’m thinking Peter. I mean, when they tried to trick Jones at the lab, Peter was not looking at the lights at all. Hmmm.

    Jones was great. He didn’t have to act like a badass to be great villain. And he may not on the bad side at all.

    And the Observer! Great to see him again. ;-)

    I also agree with the ZFT book. It was way too easy and obvious for Peter’s contacts to find anything/everything they just happen to need. From the telephone tap to the computer download and now this? Come on, that’s too convinient.

    And please can someone kill off Harris? He’s too annoying.

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    • says

      I think that’s an important point re: Jones – he doesn’t appear to be a ‘bad guy’ per se. He’s certainly no saint, but at the very least it seems as though he believes that he is fighting a worthy cause. Looking forward to finding out more about that!

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  2. Page 48 says

    If you like the way the Walter/Astrid chat was shot, how about the silhouette conversation btw. Harris and Olivia in the hallway?

    Speaking of freak of the week, it’s just a shame that the show spent so many weeks pumping little more than that before cracking open the good stuff. For me, “Fringe” has never been about blinding me with science. I tune in for the kind of “plot thickens” stuff we’re getting into now. However, I’m pretty miffed at FOX’s decision to follow a 5 week hiatus with a 7 week hiatus. Is that any way to treat a new series?

    Harris is just too annoying. There has to be a payoff coming soon with this guy. If not, then he’s just a pimple on the butt of the show.

    “X-Files” did a nice job of not going overboard with aliens. Often talked about, not so often seen, the way it should be. BSG is brilliant for bringing off a space show with zero aliens. The fewer aliens, the better. So, congrats have to go out to “Fringe” for not going the alien route.

    Now that Walter is having a ZFT awakening, I hope we see him spend less time carving up cadavers and more time blowing open the parallel universe stuff. Just a personal preference.

    And, I hope we can get thru the rest of the series w/o hearing the words anus and penus in the same sentence again. I felt the cringe reflex kick in simultaneously with Peter’s.

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    • says

      Ah, the silhouette conversation was great, I really like the way they shot that. The episode seemed to give them room to try some new techniques.

      I think you make a good point – whilst I appreciate the science, the most facinating thing for me are the twists and the turns, the building of mystery..and of course, the mythology and characters. That said, I love the fact that the series at least tries to explain the science behind the ‘freak of week’ (well, most weeks).

      Speaking of X-Files, I might watch a couple of old episodes during the hiatus. I’ve been meaning to catch up on BSG, but it just seems impossible at this stage :D

      Oh, I’m with you on the parallel universe preference – although I think the writers might shy away from telling too much of that story that for a while. What with the need to balance the series out with stand-alone episodes as well as heavily serialized ones. I hope I’m wrong though!

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  3. Elliot says

    “Would Olivia really make puppy dog eyes at Peter? ” Well, we’ve discovered the gender/persuasion of Roco.
    Of course she would! She’d have to be dead (and for more than 6 hours) to resist that urge. That man.

    I’m just hoping that the supergirl storyline doesn’t last; it takes away her humanity–it was refreshing to have adults, not superheroes, as protagonists. If she’s a modified, enhanced creation, not a regular human, and the other two characters become her appendages, she may as well get a cape and amazonium cuffs and be done with it.

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    • says

      :D

      Hmm, I’m not sure. I’ll admit that there’s a mutual attraction there, but she’s resisted doing such things prior to this episode – why did she start now? I guess the removal of John from her memory might have something to do with it, but I found it a bit odd.

      I hear what you’re saying – having Olivia as a ‘normal’ FBI agent had it’s appeal, and I LOVED the thought of her leaping across rooftops as being a representation of her humanity. However, personally I also like the idea that she is “special” – I think that this could present her with many difficulties as well as advantages. I agree that they’ll have to be mindful not to undo all of their good work with the character, but for the moment I’m willing to go with Olivia being a “warrior” in waiting.

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  4. says

    How can David Jones be William Bell? Didn’t he say it was an honor to meet Walter? That seemed like a first meeting more than a “nice to see you again”

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    • says

      I’m wondering whether he could be William Bell from a parallel universe? That way, he’d know Walter (through his awarness of ZFT, etc), be honored to meet him (in ‘this’ world), and Walter wouldn’t necessarily know him in this form.

      It’s probably too far out to be the truth, but it sprang to mind.

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  5. Cathy says

    That was a tremendous “Good and Bad”, Roco.
    Obviously blogs like THIS are what will keep me going the next 6 weeks, Thanks!

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  6. MsDee says

    I loved the silouette scene. I also look forward to any scene at Massive Dynamics I cannot get enough of them. If Olivia is special, is her sister also or does the age difference between the two make the opportunity for the younger to be tested and poked impossible. Am I making sense?

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  7. says

    That makes perfect sense MsDee.

    It’s a good question also. Personally I think that Rachel also being ‘special’ is a possibility. Although so far they have been presenting Rachel as very ordinary (in the short amount of screen-time that she’s had) in comparison to Olivia, who seems to be the strong one out of the two. Though Rachel might yet surprise us.

    I’m also wondering about Ella though. I’m wondering whether she’s spent any time away from her mother since her birth. I could see the writers doing something along the lines of having an ‘ability’.

    I guess it depends on how far they want to take the ‘designer baby’ angle.

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  8. Rafael says

    Your website is quite impressive. Has a lot of theories and stuff about Fringe. I like it!

    What does it mean in english “mother of an episode”? Is it a slang for great episode?

    Because indeed the 14th is the better so far… let us hope for another ones.

    Is this fringe´s season over??

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  9. says

    Hey Rafael,

    Thanks for the kind words :-)

    “mother of an episode” means that it was an incredible episode — one of the best so far.

    Fringe’s season isn’t over — it’s currently on hiatus to accomodate for “American Idol” having an extra hour. Fringe will return in a few weeks on April 7th.

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  10. Peanut says

    Mother of an episode, indeed, Roco, & thanks for the review.

    I don’t think that we still have an answer to if Olivia alone turned out the lights on the bomb light panel by herself or if Peter somehow, evidently unknowingly, could have assisted her.

    There really was no reason why the conversation between Jones & Olivia could not have been overheard—she certainly could have related the entire conversation (photographic memory!) after coming out of the interrogation room, or as you say Roco, the agents could have simply entered the unlocked room. I interpreted Jones’s building & using the jamming device as just his way of taunting the FBI suits. Then after she leaves the room, we get to one of my all-time favorite Olivia lines as she tells Broyles & Harris that she’s going out for a massage for two hours (lol).

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