Ability” is the fourteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction drama television series Fringe. The plot follows the Fringe team’s investigation into ZFT and David Robert Jones, who claims that Olivia is a soldier equipped with abilities to fight in an upcoming war between two parallel universes. A skeptical Olivia must discover a way to avoid unleashing an attack that causes fatal accelerated cellular growth in its victims.
The episode’s teleplay was written by co-executive producer David H. Goodman from a story by executive story editors Glen Whitman and Robert Chiappetta. It was directed by Norberto Barba, his only contribution to the series. Jared Harris guest-starred as Jones, alongside actors Clark Middleton, Michael Gaston, Noah Bean, and Chance Kelly.
It first aired in the United States on February 10, 2009 on the Fox network to an estimated 9.83 million viewers, placing second in its timeslot. The episode earned a 4.1/10 ratings share among adults aged 18 to 49, meaning that it was seen by 4.1 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 10 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of broadcast. “Ability” received mixed reviews from television critics.
A newspaper vendor dies by suffocation after receiving a two-dollar bill coated in a chemical substance that causes all his orifices to close up. Walter analyzes the chemical agent and finds that the agent speeds up protein synthesis in scar tissue and accelerates cell growth. Meanwhile, Olivia postulates that the initials “ZFT” may not be of a terrorist organization but of a book, and discovers the German name, “Zerstörung durch Fortschritte der Technologie”, roughly “Destruction by Advancement of Technology”. Peter takes Olivia to a rare book storekeeper, Edward Markham (Clark Middleton) who gets a copy of the ZFT book from another collector. Peter returns with it to Walter’s lab, learning that it is a typewritten manifesto preparing “soldiers” for an upcoming war between two universes.
Concurrently, David Robert Jones (Jared Harris) turns himself in at the FBI headquarters. Suffering from effects of being teleported out of his German prison cell by Walter’s technology, he insists on only speaking to Olivia, warning that she is the only one that can stop a bomb from going off in 36 hours. Sanford Harris (Michael Gaston) instead orders Olivia to join other agents in raiding a warehouse which they believe Jones and his men used. Evidence confirms Jones had been there, but an agent dies from suffocation after finding another two-dollar bill.
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