How does one review this mother of an episode? Here’s the Fringebloggers ‘good and bad’ review of episode 1.14 “Ability”
- 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 whole 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..
- 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 mean 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!
Observing 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.