This week, our assignment was to watch the two episodes “Ability” and “Inner Child” from Season One of Fringe. (You can read the Television Without Pity Recaps here and here, while the AV Club has their recaps of the episodes here and here. The post dedicated to the Pilot episode is here and the subsequent episode posts are here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

As always, here are the ground rules: nothing that we have seen so far is considered a spoiler, anything that we have not yet seen should be considered a spoiler. Crazy nutbar speculation is *NOT* a spoiler, but confirming or denying said confirmation would be.

Here’s my idea for spoilers: please rot13 them. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them. We good? We good! Everybody who has seen the two episodes, see you after the cut!

Mary, please. Accept my deepest apologies. I’m swamped again and I have to resort to paragraphs rather than paragraphs and paragraphs. Next week I will try to give you the full recap of both episodes you deserve. I’ll do what I can to give a full recap of “Ability” because that episode kicked so much butt that it was obvious that they were out of bubble gum (I apologize for that one but the only other things I could think of involved “Ass-tronauts” and, seriously, we’re not going there quite yet). I will only be able to dedicate a paragraph to “Inner Child”, however.

Ability! We begin by flashing back to Mr. Jones (I shiver with anticipation when I see that we have a Mr. Jones episode) and how he fwashped out of the prison cell and into Little Hill. This time, however, we see the moments following the fwashp… and see that the German Authorities not only yelled at everybody there, they yelled at Olivia too. Mitchell Loeb’s name comes up as the guy who, in the words of Walter, “stole my invention”. Now, *WE* saw the teleportation work, but they have to establish that everybody in the lab knows that it’s a teleportation device too. Walter points out that teleportation has, erm, side effects. We cut in time to see Mr. Jones give an inspirational speech to his team and we also see that Mr. Jones is beginning to notice side effects. If “awesomer” is a side effect, I don’t think my humors could take it.

The “just when you thought it was safe to eat while watching this show” moment is orifices closing. I don’t know what the sound effect for “shudder” is but I’d like to communicate it. “Brrrrrrrrrlmb”? “Hrrrmblblblblbl”? Google isn’t helping me. Anyway, the guy has skin cover his eyes, nostrils, mouth… and we watch him suffocate. Hrrrmblblblblblbl. We see Mitchell Loeb again who isn’t co-operating and we see Walter ask about the stuff that I didn’t mention in my ellipsis a couple of sentences ago. Anyway, we hammer out that this is the work of the ZFT. We also find out that ZFT stands for “Zerstorung durch Fortschritte der Technologie”. This translates to “Careful with that Axe, Eugene” or “Destruction by Advancement of Technology”. We learn that Peter may have a contact and that Walter wants to take some of the trapped gas in the poor orificeless dude’s body and learn what he can from it. Brrrrrrrrrlmb.

We meet Markham, the bookseller. This is the part that interests me: He bets Olivia that he can name something on her nightstand… and he misses. Completely. How much more interesting would Markham have been had he nailed *ONE* book she was reading? “You’re reading… Frog and Toad are Friends? That can’t be right” and having Olivia say “My niece is visiting” or something like that? Heck, have him successfully guess that, for pleasure, she’s reading Germs, Guns, and Steel or something? Stupid writers.

Oh, Mr. Jones just turned himself in? At the FBI building itself? Writers, all is forgiven. He says that he’ll only talk to Olivia. What’s the “shiver with happiness” sound effect? I’m guessing it’s mostly vowels. Anyway, Harris (ugh) says that Olivia doesn’t get to talk to Mr. Jones until there’s proof that he was connected to the orificeless dude. Grah. Anger rising. Anyway, in the car on the way there, we find out that Peter got an English translation of the ZFT and that it’s all about war. I’m pretty sure that we’ll come back to this.

Anyway, while they’re out, we see Harris and Jones get into a staredown. Jones does this “feh” thing and wins the staredown before it starts. He only engages with it because Harris is so dumb that he doesn’t know that he’d lost the moment he touched the doorknob. Anyway, Jones not only beats Harris in the showdown, he gives him a list of things that he’ll need (which includes Harris’s watch). Anyway, cut over to the investigation of the site and we see an agent get all orificeless and Olivia gives him a tracheotomy AND IT DOESN’T WORK!!! We watch the skin close over the tube she inserts. Ew. Oh, my goodness, ew.

Anyway, Harris is cowed and gives his watch as instructed. Olivia goes into the room with Mr. Jones and yells at him about the dead, orificeless, guy. Mr. Jones shrugs and says, paraphrased, “blame Harris”. He then takes all of the stuff out of the bag, takes it apart (“that was a thousand dollar watch”, Harris says, eliciting a cackle), then begins to put it together in a different order and he makes a signal jammer that, presumably, turns off all of the audio and visual stuff in the room. Oh, Mr. Jones. This is why I look forward to your episodes. Anyway, he explains that he’s planning something far, far worse… and he’ll need Olivia’s help to prevent it. Specifically: He needs her to pass a test. He explains that there is a white van that is carrying a bomb that will do the orificeless thing to several hundred people. But first, he needs her to go to an amusement park where he left her a present. On the way there, Olivia slaps Harris (metaphorically) and calls Walter who then talks about reading the ZFT. Walter specifically mentions, and I’m looking at you here Dman, different universes. Anyway, they get the present from the amusement park.

Back in the lab, we open the present. It’s a box with lights. Olivia is supposed to turn the lights off with her psychic powers. This leads to an attempt of a staring contest between Olivia and the box, which leads to being interrupted by a phone call, which leads to another scene with Harris of all people, which brings us back to Olivia talking to Mr. Jones. Mmmmmm. Anyway, she talks to him about the ZFT (and Mr. Jones expresses surprise, which was awesome) and yells at him about the test which inspires Mr. Jones to yell at Olivia about cortexiphan and how *EASY* the test is which leads to a seizure on his part. Let’s take him to the lab! Walter checks him out and, yep, teleportation is a stone cold drag. We’re on the phone talking about cortexiphan and, wouldn’t you know it, the patent belongs to…

Massive Dynamic.

So Olivia and Nina get to talk to each other about cortexiphan (I should probably start capitalizing that) and it comes out that, oh, the tests were only in (not places where Olivia was at that age) and not in Jacksonville, Florida (where Olivia happened to be at that age). Sure.

Olivia, having asked Peter to try to game the light box and make it look like she’s turning lights off, gets a phone call saying “I’ve gamed the light box”. Oh, yeah. *THAT* will work. This isn’t Harris, Olivia. This is Mr. Jones. Anyway, Walter and Mr. Jones meet and Walter adminishes Mr. Jones. Paraphrased, “I hid that crap for a reason, Mr. Jones. Those side effects you’re experiencing Romeo Foxtrot November are, like, reason number 3 on the list.” Mr. Jones says, paraphrased, “Dude, it was totally worth it.”

Anyway, Olivia gets back to the lab, games the box, and after all of the lights turn off, Mr. Jones gives her a street and a floor address. “You’d better hurry”, he says. I suspect that he’s kidding exactly as much as he was when he told Harris “your watch would do”. We get to the address and see Charlie who explains that the bomb squad couldn’t do anything because they’ve never seen anything like this. We see the bomb and it’s the light box again. Man, seriously, my stomach fell when I saw that. So Olivia calls Mr. Jones and tells him that she cheated and Mr. Jones tells her, paraphrased, “Dude. I know. It’s cool. You can turn this one off for real. I have faith in you.” Oh, and that last part? No paraphrase. He said, and I quote, “I have something that you don’t: Faith in you.”


Anyway, Mr. Jones is, as always, right. Or, at least, one hell of a funny guy because Olivia stares at the light box and the lights turn off until they’re all gone with 2 seconds to go. We cut back to the lab where we watch Mr. Jones get the information that the bomb did not, in fact, blow up. “My girl”, he says.


Anyway, at this point, I hope you have your inhaler because we’ve got four awesome things happening in, like, two minutes.

Back at the lab, Astrid and Walter are talking about teleportation and Astrid says something like “too bad that it kills you” and Walter says “Kills you? Oh, it messes you up but it doesn’t kill you”. We see Olivia go to the real hospital where, presumably, Mr. Jones is being held and, of course, his room has a hole in the wall the size of two picture windows. The door has “YOU PASS” written on it. We see Walter noticing that the ‘y’ in the English Translation of the ZFT is kinda hinky and off kilter. We jump to Olivia who gets a phone call from Nina Sharpe who tells her “Oh, yeah, we also did Cortexiphan trials in Jacksonville, Florida”. Then we jump back to Walter, pulling a typewriter out of a closet, sits down to type a word with the letter ‘y’ and, yep, the letter ‘y’ is hinky and off kilter.


Marinate on this for a moment: Ability aired on February 10, 2009. Inner Child aired on April 7, 2009.

That’s almost two months.

Anyway, Inner Child was a “weird thing of the week” show that did two things. It showed us a hairless feral child from the basements of a to-be-demolished building who has some sort of connection with Olivia. Walter figures out that the kid needs CO2 instead of too much oxygen while the guy who looks exactly like the guy who played “Gio” on Ugly Betty (note: *I* didn’t watch Ugly Betty, Maribou watched it. I just happened to walk through the room sometimes when she was watching it) but isn’t him is the evil government guy who wants to take the feral child to “somewhere else” where he can be vivisected or something awful… meanwhile, Olivia is leveraging her connection with the hairless feral child (who is, apparently, ULTRA-psychically sensitive) to help her catch the serial killer she never caught that was mentioned in the first few shows or something. Remember that? Anyway, we see the serial killer who pretends to be pitiful in order to kill women, then remove their tattoos and/or other imperfections, before dressing them up. Creepy. Anyway, we hammer out that Gio and the guy who looks like him are *NOT* the same person, we hammer out that the hairless feral kid must have been down there for 70 years without human contact or real food, and we hammer out that the serial killer is back in action. The rest of the episode is dedicated to Olivia being Olivia, Peter being Peter, Astrid being Astrid, and Walter, God bless him, being Walter. Oh, and the hairless feral kid being the hairless feral kid, I guess. Anyway, everybody works together with the hairless feral (and ULTRA-psychically sensitive) kid to get to where the serial killer is doing his serial killing. Olivia feels great about catching the guy (and closing that particular storyline) and sets the hairless feral kid up to be transferred to somewhere else where we can drive past HOLY CRAP IT’S THE OBSERVER and everybody finally notices that, hey, the observer seems hairless (and feral, now that you mention it) too.

So… what thinks did you thunk?


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. Re: Markham’s bit with Olivia…

    As someone who watched oh so many socially awkward bookstore dudes attempt to charm pretty female customers (or socially awkward bookstore customer dudes attempt to charm pretty female customers, for that matter), I found that bit HI-LARIOUS. If he’d done it right, it wouldn’t have been nearly as good…. way more interesting to have Olivia be above his cold read than the other way around…

  2. Good recap of “Ability”. I remember it now,It’s not the episode I thought it was when we talked about it, and you’re gonna like the episode I was thinking about. 😀

  3. I forgive you.

    I usually have zero issues eating through the gross stuff, but I must admit that the orifices closing was super creepy. Ew is such an understatement when they show the skin closing over the trach tube. I’m sorry you could not find a way to articulate “shudder” to your satisfaction, but I think you did a good job.

    Your paraphrasing is another example of why I adore your recaps so much. I am sure that Mr. Jones did not say “Dude. I know. It’s cool.”, but you made it work. Genius!

    The end of Ability was freaking awesome! I have been trying not to get ahead, which wasn’t a problem because I actually got behind. Then I saw Ability. This is the first episode that made me watch the next 4 episodes.

  4. It is extremely serendipitous that I am watching this as I am watching the current episodes. There are so many references right now to what’s going on right in the part of Season 1 we’re watching.

    I didn’t like the ending of the second one. I was hoping that the new home that she took the kid to was Jones or one of his henchmen and that we would see him being utilized by the enemy. I thought the CIA guy had a point about the danger that kid posed.

    No Harris (in 2nd ep)! Yay!

    Spoiler to anyone who isn’t current:
    Gur eryngvbafuvc orgjrra guvf xvq naq gur Bofreiref vf nccneragyl aba-rkvfgrag, fvapr gur Bofreiref ner sebz gur shgher. Hayrff gurl jrer qebccrq onpx va gvzr, juvpu frrzf hayvxryl. Fb V thrff guvf jnf n gbffnjnl.

  5. Well, I think Ability is my favorite episode now. This was the first where things started to get tied together, and we learn about the interest in Olivia AND what ZFT thinks is going to happen. I am also stoked that it does look like it will go down the alternate dimension route that I was thinking of earlier. I find it amusing that Harris is causing about as many LOL moments for me as Walte, but for completely different reasons. The only complaint is not hearing more about what the teleporter does to you. I hate those cut scene mysteries.

    Inner Child was back to normal. I thought the whole scene with Walter doing the jiggly dance for the kid hilarious. And when did the CIA suddenly become involved in all of this???? All in all this was more the usual fair than is decent, but nothing to write home about. Bring on more Abilities!!!

  6. I had somehow missed that Walter wrote ZFT. But “Ability” was an awesome episode. This is where we get into the really interesting stuff.

    V unq xabja sebz jura V svefg fgnegrq jngpuvat gur fubj gung Jnygre unq rkcrevzragrq ba Byvivn va gur cnfg, ohg qvqa’g xabj jura va gur frevrf vg jnf erirnyrq. V jnf nyzbfg rkcrpgvat vg gb pbzr hc va gur cvybg, whfg orpnhfr vg’f fhpu na vzcbegnag pbaarpgvba, naq V jnf irel rkpvgrq jura V fnj gur fgneg bs gung fgbelyvar jvgu gung rcvfbqr. Vg’f yvxr gurl jenccrq hc gur Wbua Fpbgg cybgguernq fcrpvsvpnyyl fb gurl pbhyq fgneg ba gur erny cybg jvgu guvf rcvfbqr.

    I love Olivia being telekinetic. Love it, love it, love it. I’m a big fan of things with telekinesis and telepathy. If I could have any superpower, those would be the two I’d want.

    I don’t understand about Walter’s “teleportation” device, though. When it was first introduced in “Safe”, he said he had intended to use it to travel through time and space to grab a brilliant scientist from the past who could help cure Peter’s illness. Jr svaq bhg yngre ba gung guvf jnf hagehr; ur ohvyg vg gb tb gb gur nygreangr havirefr gb pher Crgre. Then Jones uses it for pure teleportation (which greatly damages him). Fb, jung vf vg – n gvzr znpuvar, n gryrcbegngvba qrivpr, be n zrnaf sbe geniryyvat orgjrra havirefrf? Ubj pbhyq vg qb nyy guerr, jura gurl’er irel qvssrerag guvatf?

    “Inner Child” was also a lot of fun. I liked how good Olivia was with the kid, and that she managed to keep him away from the CIA. It seemed like a major oversight that, when the kid kept writing but not talking, nobody tried to communicate with him by writing rather than talking to him.

    The Observer connection was fun, even though (season 4 spoiler) jr abj xabj gung gur Bofreiref ner gvzr-geniryyref sebz gur shgher, fb gur xvq jnfa’g bar bs gurz hayrff vg jnf n gnxr-lbhe-puvyq-gb-jbex-qnl tbar ubeevoyl jebat. V’z thrffvat Sevatr unqa’g qrpvqrq ba jung gur Bofreiref jrer lrg ng gung cbvag naq whfg qrpvqrq gb guebj va gur pbaarpgvba sbe vagrerfg. V qba’g guvax gurl unq nyy sbhe frnfbaf cynaarq bhg sebz gur fgneg bs gur fubj.

    • I had somehow missed that Walter wrote ZFT.

      That’s where Walter was checking the typewriter error of ZFT (the lifted “y”) against his own typewriter. Since they are the same, we are left to assume that it was written on his typewriter. By him. Except he doesn’t remember it. If you’re current: V guvax vg vf yngre erirnyrq gung vg jnf jevggra ol Jvyyvnz Oryy, ba Jnygre’f glcrjevgre.

      Fb, jung vf vg – n gvzr znpuvar, n gryrcbegngvba qrivpr, be n zrnaf sbe geniryyvat orgjrra havirefrf? Ubj pbhyq vg qb nyy guerr, jura gurl’er irel qvssrerag guvatf?

      Vs bar unf npprff gb nyy guerr guvatf (gvzr, cynpr, qvzrafvba), vg orpbzrf rnfvre gb nppbzcyvfu vg ng bapr. Ohg vg qbrf vzcyl n qrterr bs npprff (ba gur qvzrafvba sebag) gung gurl unir qvssvphygl npuvrivat rira ba gurve orfg qnlf. Guebjvat fbzrbar bire n jnyy naq cynpvat gurz jurer lbh jnag gurz fgevxrf zr nf cnegvphyneyl uneq. V graq gb ivrj gur gryrcbegngvba nf phg-cnfgr, juvpu gur gvzr, cynpr, qvzrafvba nf orvat yvxr cnfgvat ybpnyyl, ba n argjbex, naq ba fbzr bgure argjbex. Gung ynfg bar, vs lbh pna’g frr jurer lbh’er chggvat vg, vf ernyyl gbhtu. Lbh pna gel naq nffhzr gung vg jvyy ybbx ba guvf argjbex nf vg ybbxf ba gung argjbex, ohg gung’f sne sebz pyrne. Lbh pbhyq or gryrcbegvat gurz vagb nzore, vs lbh qba’g unir n znc bs jurer gur nzore mbarf ner.

      Onpx gb zl pbzchgre nanybtl, va pbzchgref, phg-cnfgr npghnyyl jbexf nf pbcl-cnfgr-qryrgr. Vg gnxrf gur svyr, pbcvrf vg bire gurer, gura qryrgrf gur bevtvany. Fb jura Wbarf gryrcbegrq, ur jnf pbcvrq naq gur bevtvany irefvba bs uvz jnf qryrgrq. Abg bayl vf guvf erirnyrq gb or culfvpnyyl ceboyrzngvp (Wbarf orvat fpneerq, naq yngre erohvyg sebz fpengpu naq vzzbegny) ohg oevatf gb yvtug dhrfgvbaf bs gur fbhy, vs jr unir bar.

      Vg nyfb fgnaqf gb ernfba, vs vg jbexf yvxr V raivfvba vg jbexvat, gung pybavat orpbzrf na vagrezrqvngr fgrc ba gryrcbegngvba. Juvpu cebonoyl zrnaf V nz raivfvbavat vg jebat. Lrg, gur rssrpgf vg unf ba Wbarf qrsvavgryl fhttrfgf gb zr n onq pbcl-cnfgr sbyybjrq ol n qryrgr.

      jr abj xabj gung gur Bofreiref ner gvzr-geniryyref sebz gur shgher, fb gur xvq jnfa’g bar bs gurz hayrff vg jnf n gnxr-lbhe-puvyq-gb-jbex-qnl tbar ubeevoyl jebat. V’z thrffvat Sevatr unqa’g qrpvqrq ba jung gur Bofreiref jrer lrg ng gung cbvag naq whfg qrpvqrq gb guebj va gur pbaarpgvba sbe vagrerfg. V qba’g guvax gurl unq nyy sbhe frnfbaf cynaarq bhg sebz gur fgneg bs gur fubj.

      I think this is exactly right.

      • Advanced physics is generally beyond me, but your explanation of the machine makes a lot of sense – thanks!

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