Fringe Rewatch: 1.14 Subject Hero


Welcome to our rewatch for episode 14 of Fringe season 1 – “Ability”. Join us as we round up all the light bulbs we can find in preparation for our Cortexiphan Challenge. We also keep an eye out for newly formed perspectives.

We have renamed this episode: Subject Hero. Because isn’t she just.

Newly Observed Perspectives

  • Are we ever going to find out why Jones was in Germany and what “state secrets” he was stealing? I can assume that it was somehow connected to William Bell? Or perhaps he stole some of Robert Bishop’s earlier work to help him with the next part of his mission? I can massage the plot and maybe bend it a bit, but it would be nice if his story had a bit more follow through.
  • Poor Tommy Newsstand. Having your orifices close up on you like that must be terrible. And look at September just gawping at him like a fish. Unlike Peter, Tommy just wasn’t worth intervening over. Spare a thought for Tommy next time you’re in a sulk, Peter.
  • Has Olivia ever looked more soldier-like than in her scene with Mitchell?
  • Looking back at the whole Olivia vs Mitchell animosity. I wonder if in retrospect Olivia has a better appreciation for what he and Jones were trying to do now that she’s in the thick of the conflict? Speaking of Mitch, I wonder what he’s up to these days?
  • Peter and his “weird connections”. Olivia and her puppy dogs eyes. Is there a more perfect couple than this? ;)

  • I would love to know exactly how Peter and Markham met. Aside from reading comics in his alternate universe youth, Peter doesn’t strike me as the bookstore type. Is Peter part of a secret book club that we don’t know about? Did he once desperately put Markham on the hunt to find “Kicking Down Doors for Dummies”?
  • Peter quotes from ZFT:

“The advances of science, which are supposed to expand our understanding of the universe, will, if not carefully controlled, destroy the world as we know it. Our technological ambition, has not only driven us to the brink of catastrophe, the catastrophe has already begun.”

  • Presuming Bell wrote ZFT with the knowledge that Walter essentially triggered the catastrophe, perhaps he should have made room for “human immorality” alongside “the advances of science”. Clearly science is not to blame here – it’s the human application of science, when morally or emotionally impaired, that requires even greater control.
  • The Jones vs Harris scene implies that they weren’t working for the same side, or that agent Harassment was unaware that he was on the same side as Jones. I prefer the former, it makes more sense. Therefore, we can assume that Harris was indeed working for Bell, who charged Harris (and Winters) with activating his ‘children’ so that they could cross universes to free him from his prison (oh, and ready them for the coming war, of course). At least, that’s one possible interpretation. This scenario would also suggest that Nina was clued in on Harris.

  • “Before they must be regarded as soldiers, they must be regarded as recruits. And the expectation must be that the shall be unwilling.” Aside from being the classic ‘hero’ trope, what importance does the reluctance of a chosen one play in the cultivation of a hero? What specific qualities does such unwillingness breed once it has been converted? I just find it interesting that Bell expected his children to initially resist their potential. Was this consideration based on the natural mechanics of their predisposition, or was it something that he taught them? Oh Bellie, if only you were still here to explain yourself.
  • Olivia has powers alright..powers of deception. The rigged box test was another example of her ability to pull out a performance when needed. Even Peter was impressed. This isn’t a criticism as such, I just find it to be an interesting bow to her weaponry – something which might even come in handy over in the old AU. “Walternate, pwease! Pwease can I have a glass of water?” *SMASH!*
  • I still have to admire Olivia’s bravery in the face of catastrophe. What drove her to risk life and limb to diffuse the impossible bomb? It may have been many things – defiance, selflessness, insanity. How about faith? An incredible amount of self belief – Cortexiphan enhanced or innate. I’ve always got the sense that, when it boils down to it, Olivia can do almost anything that she puts her mind to. A hand for Peter too, coming back for his girl (and possibly diffusing the bomb with his mind skills), although allowing Dunham to shield him from the potential blast (I kid).

Possible Answers to Unresolved Questions

  • Why didn’t Bell publish ZFT?
  • Interesting, since Walternate didn’t hang about in publishing his version (even though it was a pack of half-truths). I can only assume that Bell wanted to keep it ‘underground’, as they say. Maybe he thought (like Walternate) that the world wasn’t ready for such truths? Or perhaps he wanted to protect Walter or Peter?
  • If the side-effects of the teleporter were “unadvertised”, how did Jones originally plan on making it safely to the alternate universe?
  • First, let’s just clarify that (as was later implied) the teleporter (or what it did to his molecular structure) would have provided Jones with a better chance of making it to the alternate universe without being ripped apart. Therefore, prior to that, he must have been planning to use Olivia’s ability to travel safely across. Similar to what we eventually see in the season 2 finale with the Cortexiphan kids and Walter. This would at least offer some explanation as to why Jones dropped her like she was hot after this episode.
  • Who fixed Nina’s hand?
  • I want to say Bell (did he chance one more trip?). Alternatively, I’d go for Samuel of Weissington.

Best retrospective performer: Jared Harris

Best retrospective moment: Olivia and/or Peter disarming the bomb with their love minds.

Retrospective episode rating: 8/10

Useful Links

Next rewatch episode – 1.15 “Inner Child” – TBA.

Comments

  1. heythere says

    This was and still is my favorite episode. No other ending can compare to seeing Olivia turn off those lights with her mind.

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  2. Anjali says

    This episode is my second favorite from the season!

    Anna was splendid in this one. So was Jared.
    I hope we get to re-visit Olivia’s abilities in season 3.

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  3. Madison says

    “This isn’t a criticism as such, I just find it to be an interesting bow to her weaponry – something which might even come in handy over in the old AU. “Walternate, pwease! Pwease can I have a glass of water?” *SMASH!*

    This made me laugh, so. hard.

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  4. Alex says

    This is another one of my favourites, Jones is deliciously CREEEEEEEPY : )

    I love the whole cortexiphan subplot of the show, I can’t wait for Olivia to be activated 100% in season 3. This is where it all started though, the first mention of cortexiphan. the look on Liv’s face when Nina tells her there was a trial in Jacksonville was priceless. Also, the “YOu Passed” on the wall gave me chills.

    Good episode! This and Bad Dreams were great season 1 Cortexiphan glimpses

    Other coool moments:
    - Kent getting his face skin-covered
    - Harris getting his precious watch broken : )
    - Peter and Liv talking after the bomb scene

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  5. fedorafadares says

    I would love to know exactly how Peter and Markham met. Aside from reading comics in his alternate universe youth, Peter doesn’t strike me as the bookstore type.

    Remember Peter met Marham when he sold his father’s books in a fit of revenge.

    What did Markham DO with them, however?!!

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  6. Pwnsauce says

    “The unknown truth is that the means to crossover have already been
    discovered — by beings much like us, but whose history is slightly ahead of our own.”
    this was part of the excerpt read by Walter. I wonder if this means that in fact, the ‘Zero Event’ was not actually the beginning, and it was actually the AU that was the first to break the fabric?

    also, anyone notice similarities between the drawing found at the safe house and page 47 from Alias? I just wonder if Olivia, along with Peter, is also engulfed in this prophecy of ‘what is written shall come to pass’

    this episode has always been one of my favorites. 8.5/10

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    • Oscar says

      I wonder, too, if Lake Reiden was really the “Zero Event” that caused ALL the developing of cracks in the structure of AU (and, in a consistently smaller size, in this universe): after all, we know that Rebecca Kibner saw shapeshifters in our universe years before Walter traveled to the other side…

      Besides, I wonder how many ways to travel back and forth the universes exist: 1) opening a portal with Walter “door device” (which, at present, seems the less dangerous for people but the most dangerous for universes); 2) opening a portal – and eventually shifting objects – with the Walter/Bell “triangulation of harmonics” device (which appears a someway different method, and one that looks less dangerous for universes – considering the readiness of Newton & Co. to use it – but more nagging for people); 3) using cortexiphan children’s ability (apparently, a safe option with regard to universes, but a potentially dangerous one for cotexi-people themselves, if not at their top); 4) shapeshifters genetic-mechanical structure (together, I suppose, with some source of energy – but which?), that doesn’t seem to endanger the stability of universes’ fabric; 5?) another unknown way developed by Bell? 6?) a sort of “elastic recall” from AU to people coming from over there, which works like a teleportation (Nortw. Passage)?
      Wow, the fronteer between universes starts looking like a swisscheese…

      Last question: are we really sure that over here Bell was the author of ZFT? After all, we only know that the paper was written with Bell’s typewriter, but that machine was in the lab Bell and Walter shared, and we have no clues that Walter didn’t use it everytime he needed…included once to write ZFT’s manifesto (like Walternate over there). We have only Walter’s assertion that ZFT was written by Bell, BECAUSE the typewriter was Bell’s, but this is a weak assumption – and Walter is a well known liar: through all the episodes we hear him uttering lies, both willingly and unwillingly (when his memory betrays him) – but very often intentionally: pleasant as he may be, he is a deceptive character, too…

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  7. Cherioki says

    Seems like the 2 things needed in activating Olivia’s Powers are a Peter’s touch to her and a scared emotion. Perhaps Peter/Olivia are the next superhero couple. LOL.

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  8. number six says

    Ah, yes! This is more like it. I love this episode and it’s great to see David R. Jones again and everybody was fantastic in it.

    Both Harris and Jones are ZFT. I didn’t suspect they were in cahoots the first time I watched the episode, but now I understand why Harris was so willing to comply with Jones’s demands and didn’t interfere with Olivia’s interrogation as much as I expected.

    I’m intrigued by Jones. He’s had a fixation for Olivia for a while, he orders her abduction to check if she’s a Cortexiphan kid, but as soon as he proves he’s right and utters his “My girl!”, he drops her like a hot potato, forgets she ever existed and goes on to his real objective and obsession: William Bell. What’s up with that? Was he satisfied with the knowledge that he was right? Was he convinced, that she wouldn’t join ZFT?
    I loved how Jones played with our Fringies, when they thought they had tricked him with the light box.

    I usually like Peter’s weird connections, but Markham is by far my favorite. It’s obvious that they are good friends, judging by the way they poke fun at each other.

    “Peter doesn’t strike me as the bookstore type. Is Peter part of a secret book club that we don’t know about?”
    Probably. It was established in the pilot, that his knowledge comes from reading books, not from staying in college. Having in mind that he managed to publish a scientific paper (!!!), was a chemistry professor, and a long etc… he must have done lots of reading, so he probably knows all the bookstores in Boston.

    “Poor Tommy Newsstand. Having your orifices close up on you like that must be terrible. And look at September just gawping at him like a fish. Unlike Peter, Tommy just wasn’t worth intervening over. Spare a thought for Tommy next time you’re in a sulk, Peter. “
    What are you talking about? Obviously, September has his priorities right :-P

    Peter going back to witness Olivia’s superpowers proves that Walter is not the only crazy Bishop.

    8.5/10.

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    • says

      mr.man,

      As far as we know, he tested her to find out whether she had been treated with Cortexiphan. I’d say the bomb was as real as anything else, and that Olivia (and/or Peter) disabled it just in time.

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  9. mlj102 says

    You sure were in a sarcastic mood when you wrote this one — great fun to read!

    Just a couple comments:

    “Therefore, we can assume that Harris was indeed working for Bell, who charged Harris (and Winters) with activating his ‘children’ so that they could cross universes to free him from his prison”

    I like your theory of Harris and Jones not working together, but the one thing that doesn’t seem to fit is that, if Harris were working for Bell, I would expect he would be somewhat… kinder to Olivia. If he were working with Bell, surely he would know of Olivia’s significance and, even if he didn’t like her, he wouldn’t be going out of his way to make an enemy of her or to stand in her way… Nina may not always be forthcoming or helpful, but she doesn’t actively try to prevent Olivia from discovering things…

    “I still have to admire Olivia’s bravery in the face of catastrophe. What drove her to risk life and limb to diffuse the impossible bomb?”

    My guess? A mix of desperation and obligation. Knowing what was at stake, Olivia is not the kind of person to run away and let something like that happen, especially if there is anything she can do about it, no matter how small the chance of success may be. Even if she doesn’t completely believe that she can do anything about it, if there’s the slightest possibility, she has to try. That’s one of the things I love about her character…

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    • says

      “I like your theory of Harris and Jones not working together, but the one thing that doesn’t seem to fit is that, if Harris were working for Bell, I would expect he would be somewhat… kinder to Olivia. If he were working with Bell, surely he would know of Olivia’s significance and, even if he didn’t like her, he wouldn’t be going out of his way to make an enemy of her or to stand in her way… Nina may not always be forthcoming or helpful, but she doesn’t actively try to prevent Olivia from discovering things…”

      Good points mlj,

      That said, we might have to consider the idea that Harris may have let his personal issues with Olivia cloud his task, or that Bell wanted Harris to push Olivia to a certain extent. Then there’s the possibility that Harris didn’t really know who he was working for, at least not specifically. There are several possibilities on both sides, but also several incongruencies.

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  10. QuoteGirl says

    “Peter and his “weird connections”. Olivia and her puppy dogs eyes. Is there a more perfect couple than this? ;)”

    “A hand for Peter too, coming back for his girl…”

    “Olivia and/or Peter disarming the bomb with their love minds.”

    Who are you and what have you done with Roco?!? Three shipping comments in one post? Must be a new record. ;) This one made me laugh so hard, it’s amazing I got through it still breathing. Wow.

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  11. Wyd says

    Really good episode! I actually liked it more the second time.

    Oh, btw, I’ve noticed a little mistake in this page’s title (HTML tag), it says “Fringe Episode 1.15″ while it should be 1.14.

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