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Fringe: Ability

“What was written, will come to pass.”

Our theme of the week is texts. We had a newsstand owner/victim and an uber-useful bookseller—one of my favorite type-characters. We also had the meta-text, if an episode-long allusion to Alias counts as being meta-textual. And if you think I’m overreaching, I refer you to the floor the bomb was on, and the destined female spy whose parents subjected her to childhood tests.

We even get our own page 47—except our great Text of Infinite Mystery is a German manuscript called ZFT (Zerstorung durch Fortschritte, a string of letter that is brought to you by my TiVo). It translates to “Destruction by Advancement of Technology,” which sounds so profoundly German that I wonder if it actually exists deep in the desk-recesses of some octogenarian Frankfurt School holdover who worries what the Russian are up to when he’s not adjusting his droopy mismatched argyle socks.

Turns out Walter wrote it on the very typewriter still in his lab. So the German title was a bit of a red herring, but who cares? Besides, the letter Z is scary, so it added to the ambiance. (We’re fully submerged in mythology, which makes me quite happy and less picky.)

I’m also impressed by the payoff of the past three episodes, as much as I disliked the most recent one. The horrors of Walter’s lab, to which everyone alluded rather ceaselessly, seemed to have been more-or-less neatly tied up when he apologized to his dead assistant’s mother—but a real terror from the past has emerged in the form of a group of zealots apparently inspired by his forgotten manifesto. Olivia’s spinal tap was explained and made relevant. Even her attitude seemed sunnier, and her lines funnier, now that she’s gotten over that whole John Scott fiasco. Last week's promised transformation really did its job.

The Good:

• Any use of the word salacious is a good thing, right?

• “The man was clever enough to Star Trek himself out of a German prison.” That’s a Buffy line waiting to happen. If Buffy were still, you know, happening.

• Sanford Harris: “Where are you going?”
Olivia: “To get a massage…I’ll tell you when I get back.” In the real world, sarcasm often doesn’t work.

The Bad:

• Maybe it’s the extra-long episodes and shorter commercial breaks, but some scenes feel unnecessary. Or maybe just dull.

• I should probably say something about the requisite gross-out, but I can’t think of anything besides: suffocated by my own skin is now number three on my list of Ways I Don’t Want To Die.

Falls Under the Category of What the Hell?:

• “…the way to travel between them has already been discovered by beings who are much like us...” Are we talking about time-traveling aliens? I think I like time-traveling bunnies better.

• Radiant PDAs. Seems a bit unnecessary, unless you want to save money on night-lights.

• Olivia and Sanford Harris unnecessarily back-lit into silhouette.

Spot the Observer: at the newsstand.

Three out of four Rambaldis.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Hi Josie,

    When you said spot the observer at the newsstand I had to go back and rewatch that part again, expecting to see someone random guy or maybe a cameo appearance. I didn't realise you meant see "The Observer" at the newsstand...lol. Good to see that guy again.

    And this is the first episode I've watched in a while that didn't have me looking at my watch. It's amazing how much better the episodes are when they're story arc episodes.

    More of these please.

  2. Sorry Paul!

    I read somewhere that The Observer pops up in every episode, and now I'm on a mission to track him down and compile a list of sightings. This is my first one, so any help (from anyone reading this...hello?) will result in me shouting "Thank You!" at my laptop.

  3. i think you need this:

  4. Ucman, thank you! My idea for a list seems a bit silly now that someone's gone all sophisticated with the video...But it looks like the video only covers the first half of the season, so I might keep searching for him in more recent episodes.

  5. I completely missed the Observer. But finally! a good arc episode. I just wish I hadn't watched it right before bed. Yech.

  6. A special mention for Walter's urge for food in crazy and smelly situations.


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