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'Fringe': Quite an 'Ability'

February 11, 2009 | 10:01 am

114_ability_158 Why is it that whenever "Fringe" really starts to get good, it takes a break?

Last time, "Safe" led us into winter break (I don't think we're allowed to call it Christmas vacation anymore). Now, "Ability" acts like another chapter break as "American Idol" swoops in to swipe sweeps. Both hinge on our own little Hannibal Lecter, Dr. David Robert Jones. Though he pulls more of a John Doe this week. You know John Doe -- Kevin Spacey's character in Se7en. Yeah, I didn't remember his name either. But, like John Doe, David Robert Jones surrenders himself to the authorities but only as part of his master plan.

When we last saw Jones, he snapped his lawyer's neck and teleported from a German prison to Little Hill. Now, many people would make a joke here, but one of my best friends is a lawyer, so bad Dr. Jones! Apparently, after having all your molecules disintegrated and then re-integrated, you need to spend a couple weeks in a decompression tank. Though we all know that Dr. Jones spent the time since we last saw him captaining a tug boat with a curiously elderly 16-year-old kid.

Dr. Jones manages to take the creepiness of a sociopath by creating a chemical that makes a person's skin close off all orifices and mix it with the creepiness of a weird, unmarried uncle by distributing it on $2 bills. Jones gets himself arrested so he can tell Olivia he will spread his seal-up gas unless she can turn off lights with her mind. "Ability" manages to expand on the "Fringe" universe. The shadowy organization ZFT is revealed following the predictions of a document whose title, translated, is "Destruction by Advancement of Science." Olivia finds out that she may have been the subject of Massive Dynamics founder William Bell and his "mind-expanding" drug. And literally the universe expands with the introduction of the multiverse. Parallel universes with more advanced beings. DC Comics delved into this concept and had to have a "Crisis on Infinite Earths" to clean it all up. We'll see how "Fringe" tackles this realm.

"Ability" managed to have a couple good twists to it, but I'm wondering if there might be some twists upon those twists (I hope you've watched it before reading this because I'm about to go spoilerific).

Olivia WAS given Cortexifan - Olivia was certain she didn't receive William Bell's drug created to preserve children's limitless potential, which fades as we grow older, but in a last minutes phone she finds out that it was tested on that military base where she lived as a kid. What's the possible twist on the twist? Maybe Nina Sharp wasn't lying and the drug really doesn't work. Maybe Olivia didn't turn those lights off with her mind. Maybe the just want her to believe she can.

"Destruction by Advancement of Science" was written on Walter's typewriter - While reading the doomsday-by-technology document (fortunately not on the toilet as he was earlier), Walter realizes that the letter "y" is raised and tests his own typewriter to find the same occurrence. What's the possible twist on the twist? Maybe someone else used the typewriter. I mean, many other people had access to his lab. Even William Bell.

David Robert Jones wasn't dying from the teleportation - That was probably my favorite twist. I thought we were just going to see the gruesome way the teleporter would eventually kill Dr. Jones, but Walter explains that it doesn't kill. "It does something unthinkable, but it doesn't kill you." Next thing you know, there's a big hole in Dr. Jones' hospital room. What's the twist on the twist? Heck, your guess is as good as mine. I just can't wait for April to find out. Though I'm sure, in the meanwhile, I'll be able to entertain myself with "Watchmen." I did enjoy seeing the trailer during one of "Fringe's" short commercial breaks.

Oh, and don't forget:

Spot the Observer - Did you see him? He was more visible than he'd been in a while, coming right at the camera, which took the point of view of the film-connoisseur newsstand operator as he struggled against his mouth and eyes closing. My knee-jerk reaction to this week's episode is that the Observer is one of these beings from the parallel universe, but there still might be a few twists yet to come.

--Andrew Hanson

Photo: Fox

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