Monday, August 26, 2013

Fringe 1x14: "Ability"


I'm back to my recaps! At least for the rest of Fringe.

So remember back when David Robert Jones teleported out of his German prison using Walter's OMGWTF Teleportation Time Machine device? According to Walter, he's probably spent the last several weeks depressurizing since the Teleporter demands a pretty steep physical price.

In the present, a sweet old newspaperman named Thomas Avery is handed a 2-dollar bill by a mysterious stranger with gloves. Not long after, the skin on his face starts growing over his eyes, and he dies a screaming, horrible, horrifying death as his skin seals off his entire face, suffocating him and mentally scarring a buttload of onlookers.

Once Walter examines the body, he determines the man was dosed with something that sent his body's scar-tissue-creating skin cells into overdrive, causing them to mistake every orifice on the body as a wound to be healed over. Yes, including the what-what in the butt-butt.

While trying to find out where Jones is hiding, Olivia researches what his Mad Scientist Terrorist Group, ZFT, actually stands for. Turns out, ZFT is an acronym for "Zerstorung durch Fortschritte der Technologie," which translates to "Destruction by Advanced Technology," the title of a self-published manuscript that disappeared years ago. Peter uses his Underworld Contacts to track down a copy of the manifesto, which insists that there's an alternate universe at war with this one, and that the invasion of these Alternate people with superior technology will be heralded by Mad Science Shenanigans. 

Meanwhile, just as the FBI discovers where Jones has been hiding, the dude turns himself in, on the condition that he only speak with Agent Olivia Dunham. Unfortunately, Agent Rapist orders Olivia to raid Jones' Mad Science Lab instead, where another Extremely Stupid FBI Agent dies after picking up a 2-dollar bill and succumbing to the face-eating skin virus. 

Back at HQ, Olivia's ready to speak to Jones, who is looking decidedly ill - his cells are degenerating thanks to his trip through the Teleportation Device. Jones tells her that he's created a bomb full of the Scary Skin Toxin and that it will go off unless Olivia passes a special test. The test involves a box full of tiny lightbulbs that Olivia needs to turn off using the power of her mind. Jones insists that Olivia can do this, because she was treated with Cortexiphan as a child, something Jones confirmed when he had Olivia kidnapped and spinal-tapped in a previous episode. 

Cortexiphan, as Nina Sharp from Massive Dynamic explains, was a drug that William Bell tested on children decades ago to see if he could expand the potential of their mental powers, but after two years with no success, he halted the testing. Olivia couldn't have been involved, because she'd been living in Jacksonville, Florida at the time. So Olivia has Peter help her cheat on the test by rigging the lightbox to turn off the bulbs on its own. 

Well, the joke's on them when Jones tells them where the bomb is and - it's powered by a box of lightbulbs that Olivia needs to turn off with her mind! Whoops. Miraculously, Olivia manages to turn off the bulbs and stop the bomb just by staring at it, and although she thinks it was just a mind game played by Jones, she eventually gets a call from Nina Sharp who discovered William Bell did perform his Cortexiphan trials in Jacksonville, Florida. Jones deteriorates but manages to escape from the hospital, but not before scrawling 'You Passed' on the wall.

Meanwhile, as Walter reads the ZFT manifesto, he notices that the letter "Y" is out of alignment. When he checks with the typewriter in his lab, he notices that its "Y" is also out of alignment - meaning whoever wrote the ZFT manifesto did it from Walter's lab.

Mad Science:
  • A toxin that creates hyperactivity in the skin cells responsible for scar tissue - causing them to speedily seal off every orifice. 
  • Telekinesis
  • Drug testing on children.
Best Death Scene: I'm going to go with the death of the Stupid FBI Agent Kent. Both orifice-filling deaths are delightfully horrific, but the newspaperman was just such a sweet guy that his death was pretty sad. Idiot FBI Agent Kent, who picks up strange materials with his bare hands, has a much more satisfying death - particularly because even an emergency tracheotomy doesn't work - the skin heals right over the tube!

Mad Science Questions:
  • Walter's typewriter has the same squiggly "y" as the manifesto - did Walter write ZFT?
  • Does this mean Olivia's psychic now? 
  • What's this about Alternate Universe Invaders? Are all the Mad Science Shenanigans attempts by ZFT to defend themselves against these Alternates? 

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