Season 1 Episode 14


Aired Friday 9:00 PM Feb 10, 2009 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
659 votes

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Episode Summary

The team investigates a bizarre incident where the victim's facial orifices closed over, leaving him a faceless corpse. Meanwhile, Mr. Jones turns himself over to the authorities but refuses to speak unless Olivia passes a very particular test for him.

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  • Ability

    We think we understand the reality around us, but the truth is not always our perception of things is correct.

    "We think we understand reality, but our universe is only one of many. The unknown truth is that the way to travel between them has already been discovered by beings much like us, but whose history is slightly ahead of our own. The negative effects of such visitation will be irreversible both to our world and to theirs. It will begin with a series of unnatural occurrences, difficult to notice at first but growing, not unlike a cancer, until a simple fact becomes undeniable. Only one world will survive."

    This "Ability" was an episode that I enjoyed a lot. Here we are placed following the events of the tenth episode, where the mysterious Mr. Jones (Jared Harris) teleported to a prison in Germany for the U.S.. And despite not having been one episode so consistently cited as the "Safe" or "The Arrival", had enough merit to keep the suspense over the same and gave us some light about the way that we can expect that the series seems to want to take. And I must say that part of the appeal that this episode has awakened me was related to the prospect of this new direction, or rather, the direction may not be new, could be planned from the beginning, but this was the first time I attended a more clearly.

    If we believe in the words read during the episode, which outputs a manifesto found in the end it was written by Walter (John Noble) - revelation already expected, but still provided a very interesting final - our perception of reality does not is the right one. In fact, there are many universes parallel to ours and has even been discovered a way to travel between them, not by us but by beings like us (The Observer is one of the travelers'). Despite these beings live in a parallel universe, its history is a point more advanced than ours. These travel between universes have a negative effect, both for our universe as to theirs, and that, at some point, become irreversible. These effects will begin to notice through a series of unnatural events (The Pattern?), Difficult to notice at first, but will grow progressively until a simple fact becomes undeniable: only one of the universes will continue to exist.

    And I love this idea, this confrontation that lies ahead. Gives greater consistency to the series and turns it into something more than a story of some people who regularly investigate cases involving foreign pseudo-science. I just hope that they in future be able to translate this promise into something more substantial and do not do the same as "The X-Files" did with all the conspiracy involving extraterrestrials.

    However, based on this idea that there are people among us of a parallel universe and that is imminent need to fight for the survival of the world as we know, Mr. Jones and his organization will be preparing an army of people with special abilities that can combat literally the end of the world as we know, the Apocalypse. For this, in 1981, several children injected with a drug called Cortexiphan would prevent the human brain to be limited by external constraints. That is, Dr. Bell, who invented the drug, believed that when the human being is born, your mind has infinite capabilities and, as it gives the growth process, all the forces that is, whether social, physical or intellectual, impose limitations and capabilities diminish brain.

    Supposedly, Olivia (Anna Torv) is one of those children and Mr. Jones is willing to prove it, throwing one of his irreverent attacks, this time using a toxin that causes hyperactivity in the protein responsible for healing. Result: the natural orifices of the human body are covered in minutes, people suffocate and die. After proving what we can do, Mr. Jones placed a higher dose of the toxin with a timer ready to release it over the city, if Olivia can not stop it with the power of your mind. And she can.

    This episode proves once again that "Fringe" can be much more than an "event of the week" and whose mythology can actually make it a number much higher than what is shown here at certain times. For my part, I want this "Fringe." Not the other, full of concepts and ideas made repeated.

    Finally, only a small note: Mark Valley left the show, in fact, already have to work again, so it seems that travel to the tank over.moreless
  • The greatest importance of this episode is it foreshadows the apparent endgame of all the show characters. At least until season 3 finale. *MAJOR SPOILERS*

    I am actually writing this review to point out the brilliance this show was written with. I am currently rewatching the show after the amazing season 3 finale. I just had to check if everything fits. And judging by what I've come to see until now - it does.

    ZFT: "We think we understand reality, but our universe is only one of many. The unknown truth is that the way to travel between them has already been discovered by beings much like us, but whose history is slightly ahead of our own. The negative aspects of such visitation will be irreversible both to our world and to theirs. It will begin with a series of unnatural occurrences, difficult to notice at first... but growing, not unlike a cancer, until a simple fact becomes undeniable. Only one world will survive. And it will either be us or them." See this? When Walter read this, I was quite surprised to hear a storyline for seasons 2 and 3. Brilliant if you agree. Everything's laid out at this early stage of the show. The collision of the two worlds, Walter messing everything by stealing Peter, and the destruction of one world by the Doomsday device. Ability: Olivia showing her power of telekinesis returned as a crucial element of the show in the end of season 3. Again, I must state my excitement these story elements were incorporated into the show way back in season one. Her special connection to Peter, the cortexiphan trials, recruits... Everything is there. What more can I say about this episode. It's the episode that defined the show, the mythology and the storyline.moreless
  • The best episode so far,and most revealing too...

    This might be the beginning of the show,till now it was not started,so far we just have seen fragments and pieces of what science can do,and what we have seen so far was just the introduction for the show...

    now the story gets started and the real deal is now on.

    in this episode we saw what we never thought to see,as the scientific bases are now completely of records and amazingly made for the show

    one thing that is really caught my attention was that drug that Olivia was given when she was a child and of course because her father was a millatery man in that base where Dr.Bell did his tests,so olivia was used like a lab rat there...

    about the book(ZFT) I believe that Walter wrote it in the first place but he did not remember first and in the end of the episode we see him typing and he looks like he have seen a ghost,as we can see there is a sign on every thing every where we look in this episode that is what makes this one so special.

    And when Mr.jones sees Walter he looks so happy as I think he believes in Walter like a prophet of some kind,and he new damn right what he was talking about,he was not crazy in any way.

    Last thing that I wanna say is "I believe the war that the book talks about is not between humans but it is between human and other species in the universe"...moreless
  • Best Episode Yet!

    This episode truly was amazing. While the beginning wasn't as cool as the later scene at the news stand, it was pretty good but the one thing that really blew me away was the way it introduced several new elements while at the same time giving answers (The one I can think of being mainly the revelation of Parallel Universes coming from the answer of what ZFT is).

    The conclusion with the bomb was also very cool. I really liked the bomb kind of hovering on this view of the city (Which made it all the more tense)

    The ending in particular though with the revelation that Walter wrote the book really surprised me (Although quite a few people I know didn't actually understand the implication of the "y")

    Other than that I can't wait to see more!moreless
  • Wow!

    So this episode starts off with Jones escaping, which I was glad to see because we have not had any information on what happened to him after he escapes. As always, there is also a case, and this is something I have come to enjoy. Finally we find out what ZFT stands for, not that big of a secret, but it does help to understand what they are about. I really liked Jones in this episode, he is an evil man, but that ZFT book along with the test Jones gives Olivia, were pretty entertaining to watch. An amazing episode, and one that really makes you want to watch the next episode!moreless
Ben Van Bergen

Ben Van Bergen


Guest Star

Michael Gaston

Michael Gaston

Sanford Harris

Guest Star

Noah Bean

Noah Bean


Guest Star

Darby Totten

Darby Totten

ND Agent #2

Recurring Role

Jared Harris

Jared Harris

David Robert Jones

Recurring Role

Chance Kelly

Chance Kelly

Mitchell Loeb

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Trivia: The glyph cipher spells OLIVIA.

    • Trivia: In the shot of the newsstand, right before Tommie gets the contaminated $2 bill, a yellow evergreen symbol can be seen on the store's awning. This is a clue toward the next episode, "Inner Child."

    • Peter removed the old phone from the Harvard laboratory in "The No-Brainer," but it is seen here in the lab again.

    • Just before Walter is collecting the gas from Tommie, Tommie can be seen breathing and he also moves his head slightly. This should be impossible as he is dead with all of his orifices closed so there's no chance of breathing and no chance of gas escaping to cause his body to move.

    • Trivia: Olivia says she was 3 in 1981, making her 31 years old when this episode premiered.

    • When Walter pulls out the typewriter and begins to type, how could the ribbon still be fresh enough to create characters on paper?

    • Trivia: The Observer can be seen at the newsstand as the first victim passes by.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Markam: Who's this friend?
      Olivia: Olivia Dunham.
      Markam: Five dollars I could name at least one item on your nightstand, Olivia Dunham. Don't tell me. You're gonna like this, I'm never wrong. It's a gift. Okay. Tony Morrison novel, something by Obama and/or the current issue of Bon Appetit.
      Olivia: I'm reading Advanced Forensic Science by Anaman. I keep it next to my gun.
      Markam: I like this one.

    • Peter: (to Olivia) Do you want a drink? Or five? I've seen you with a whiskey bottle.

    • Peter: (reading out instructions) "The recruit sits no more than 24 inches from the device but cannot touch the lightboard. The recruit focuses on the lightboard. The object of the test is to systematically shut down the lights so that ultimately, none are illuminated."
      Olivia: How?
      Peter: Using all your magic powers, I guess.

    • Olivia: What was the other thought?
      Walter: Sorry?
      Olivia: You said two thoughts came to mind.
      Walter: Ah yes. The other was... coffee cake. Tiny pebbles of cinnamon sugar.
      Peter: Once again... my father.

    • Olivia: Is your father about?
      Peter: Right here. Why don't you ask him what he's doing?
      Olivia: I'd rather not.

    • Peter: How come when nobody knows and it doesn't make sense, they come to us?

    • Walter: Two thoughts to come to mind. The first, that this affliction might have been caused by a mutation, changing these lipids to seal any and all orifices. Did they check his anus and penis?
      Peter: You think we could get the answer to that question without me in the room?

    • Olivia: I was hoping you might have one of your... weird connections...
      Peter: Weird connections?
      Olivia: They're always a little weird.
      Peter: Well, you're always a little weird.

    • Markam: Was that really necessary?
      Peter: Well, you know me, Markam. Friend of the people.
      Markam: What about me? Aren't I people?
      Peter: People who shower.

    • Walter: It's.. fascinating, isn't it? I was just reading it whilst sitting on the crapper.
      Peter: Please, no more information than that.

    • (Astrid chokes on gasses emitted from a corpse)
      Walter: Oh dear God that is putrid. On a separate topic, do you like coffee cake?

    • Peter: Walter, put the cow away, would you?
      Paramedic: What is this place?
      Peter: It's a freak show.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      Norway: April 5, 2009 on TVN
      Finland: April 6, 2009 on MTV3
      United Kingdom: April 12, 2009 on Sky1/Sky1 HD
      Germany: June 29, 2009 on ProSieben
      Sweden: July 2, 2009 on Kanal 5
      Belgium: July 16, 2009 on RTBF2
      France: July 29, 2009 on TF1
      Poland: December 18, 2009 on TVN
      Slovakia: January 17, 2010 on Markiza
      Czech Republic: March 26, 2010 on Nova Cinema

    • Number 47: The skin-growth mutation bomb is located on the 47th floor of the building.

    • As of this episode, Mark Valley's name no longer appears in the opening credits.


    • Olivia: The man was clever enough to Star Trek himself out of a maximum security German prison.
      Referencing the 1960s cult series created by Gene Roddenberry and its several spinoffs. The allusion refers to the transporter, a device that the crew use to beam up and down from their ship to the plane's surface. Roddenberry created the concept to avoid the cost of modelwork showing a ship landing and taking off every episode.