Peter: Test one – of ten, by the way – turn switch on. The recruit sits no more than 24 inches from the device but cannot touch the light board. Recruit focuses on light board. 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.

Oh, Mr. Jones. Crazy, insane, manipulative Mr. Jones. His latest stunt involves giving Olivia a set of tests that can only be completed by using telekinetic abilities. Passing the tests should be impossible for her. After all, there’s no way that she could possess, as Peter sarcastically puts it, “magic powers.” Oh, the irony…

Fringe operates on a simple rule: if a character says that something is too nuts to be possible, it will probably happen. Fringe is about a group of people who investigate the weirdest, strangest, craziest things, and after all that they’ve seen, the natural and the supernatural should be one and the same to them. Compared to the existence of creatures like the Observers, Olivia having telekinetic abilities seems relatively believable. The question, then, isn’t whether or not Olivia could possess such abilities, but rather, how she could have gotten them and why.

Enter Cortexiphan, a drug developed by Massive Dynamic, designed to enhance the cognitive capabilities of young children. Mr. Jones tells Olivia that she was one of the test subjects in a clinical trial for the drug. But upon further research, she discovers that the only trial took place in Ohio, whereas she spent her childhood in Jacksonville, Florida. So Olivia couldn’t possibly have Cortexiphan-induced telekinetic abilities. Jones must just be screwing with her. There. End of story.

But Jones, in case you haven’t already figured it out, has a few screws loose. He insists that Olivia is special, that she is destined to be a soldier in some upcoming “war,” led by a group of people who use the mysterious ZFT as their manifesto. And so we come to Olivia’s first test, which she can’t complete, because as far as she knows, she was never dosed with Cortexiphan. But Olivia needs information from Mr. Jones, so she plays along and fools him into thinking that she had successfully completed the test.

Unfortunately, a second test awaits, this one with a dire consequence for failure. A set of lights, similar to the one in the first test, is rigged to a bomb on the 47th floor of a Boston high-rise. Olivia must turn off the lights telekinetically in order to avert an explosion. She has no choice but to stare them down and try her best to turn them off…somehow.

Peter, ever the skeptic, isn’t so sure that it’ll be possible. As far as he’s concerned, no matter how hard Olivia screws her face in concentration, the bomb’s going to blow. With about a minute left on the bomb’s timer, he starts to go, leaving Olivia alone to deal with the bomb by herself. But as we learned in the past few episodes, Peter genuinely cares about Olivia, and there’s no way he’s going to abandon her to die a violent death all by herself. (Also, there’s no way he’d make it down 47 floors in a minute. Just sayin’.) So he comes back just in time to see something incredible: one by one, the lights go off. Somehow, Olivia did it.

However, Olivia is not so convinced that she did anything at all. She thinks that Jones set it all up as a mind game, just to screw with her head. Peter, on the other hand, sees things differently. It’s true that he’s biased because his attraction for Olivia puts him in awe of everything she can do, but he also makes some practical points. Jones wouldn’t have been able to get the timer right if he didn’t know when Olivia was going to arrive. Jones also had very little reason to target Olivia specifically as opposed to just another FBI agent. But Olivia stubbornly insists that she had nothing to do with the light bulbs going out. How could she have pulled it off without Cortexiphan?

It turns out that she didn’t. Later that night, she receives a phone call from Nina Sharp, confirming that there was indeed a second, smaller Cortexiphan trial. This one took place at a military base in Jacksonville, Florida. Uh oh.

But that’s not even the most shocking thing about “Ability.” In the final few minutes of this episode, Walter is leafing through a copy of ZFT that Peter had managed to obtain, when he notices that wherever the letter “y” was typed, it was slightly offset. Curious, Walter digs up his own typewriter and proceeds to type the word “Ability.” This is what appears on the page:


Is Walter responsible for ZFT? Is he responsible for trying to create a legion of Cortexiphan-dosed child soldiers, including Olivia? And for what purpose? It seems as if Walter has been keeping more secrets that he’s been letting on.

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