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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Episode 14: Immerse in the Multiverse

FROM ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER KIMBERLY ROOTS: Remember when inmate Robert Jones killed his lawyer in a German prison, then stood in the corner and a bright light transported him to Massachusetts? Just in case you don’t, this episode begins with that. Two weeks later, Olivia is discussing the matter with the Bishops at Walter’s lab, and Walter reiterates that the machine he invented—the one that Mitchell Loeb was using to break into a bank in an earlier episode—can transport people through space and time. But he warns that the “disray,” as he calls it, requires time in a compression chamber afterward and leaves the teleportee with some serious, unpleasant side effects. “So you’re saying that Jones, in theory, could’ve zapped himself out of prison?” Olivia asks. Walter says yes.
In a warehouse somewhere, a man helps Jones out of a compression chamber and he asks for a cup of tea. While he sips it with shaking hands, he is assured that the lab has been outfitted to his specifications and that the list he asked for is complete. Elsewhere, the owner of a magazine shop banters with a customer as another customer—wearing latex gloves, it should be noted—picks up a newspaper and leaves a two dollars, walking away quickly. The shop owner, Tom, picks up the money and barely has time to remark on the rare bill before he starts screaming: His eyes seal themselves shut, followed soon after by his mouth. The skin just grows up over everything, creating a rather horrifying mask. General panic ensues.
Charlie and Phillip Broyles learn that Jones had a slush fund. But for what? That’s what Olivia wants to know when Loeb is shipped in on an Army jeep to meet her at a nondescript parking lot. He’s wearing an orange jumpsuit, handcuffs, and leg chains, and he looks less than pleased to see her. She says she knows he helped Jones escape and that they kidnapped her that same night, then threatens him with a transfer order to a state prison if he doesn’t cooperate. Jones, he says, is inconsequential, just “part of the army.” Then he warns her that “what is written will come to pass.” Hmm. Olivia’s cell phone rings and Broyles orders her to meet him and the Bishops at Boston General Hospital.
The magazine shop owner is laid out in an exam room, and Walter theorizes that an altered lipid caused a sealing of all orifices. Olivia jumps to the conclusion that Jones is behind the incident, based on what Loeb implied. Broyles isn’t convinced. She takes Peter aside and tells him that ZFT, one of the sects that’s previously been established as making malarkey for the rest of the world, stands for Zerstorung durch Fortschritte der Technologie, or “Destruction by Advancement of Technology.” And it takes its name from an unpublished, anonymous manuscript that was destroyed 10 years before. She asks Peter to work his backroom connections to find a copy.
Meanwhile, at the FBI, Charlie tells Broyles that they’ve traced Jones to a warehouse in Allston, Massachusetts. But it doesn’t matter because the man himself walks into the building’s lobby and turns himself in, saying he’ll only talk to Olivia … who, at the moment, is helping to raid the warehouse. Everyone’s gone, but she notes the compression chamber and Jones’ sketch of her. As they’re about to leave, another agent finds a two dollar bill in a drawer and soon winds up totally sealed up. Olivia performs an emergency tracheotomy, which helps for a moment. But then the skin just crawls up and over the trach, and the agent suffocates to death.
Now that they know he’s not messing around, the FBI grants Jones’ request to speak to Olivia. She also brings a bunch of things he’s asked for: a wristwatch, a ball point pen, a walkie-talkie, etc. He takes them apart to build another contraption, one to disable the recording equipment that’s capturing the interrogation. Now with a bit of privacy, he gets to the point: A key found on him when he was arrested leads to a lock box at a Salem, Massachusetts, amusement park. He needs her to go there and find what he’s left for her. “I need you to pass a test,” he says, while coughing and twitching a bit. If she doesn’t go, he continues, there’s a bomb that will kill everyone in its vicinity.
Olivia drives to Salem and recovers the box. Back at the lab, Walter reads from the manifesto that Peter recovered: “We think we understand reality, but our universe is one of many." Olivia returns to the lab and reveals that the box holds a series of tests. Jones’ instructions are for her to take the first test and report back to him. Walter notes that the instructions for the tests and the manifesto use similar language. Olivia can’t pass the first test—shutting off all of the bulbs on a light board with her mind—and goes to see Jones, calling him on his mind games. He hits her with a big one when he says she was kidnapped to confirm that she had once been treated with cortexiphan, hence the spinal tap. As they’re arguing, he collapses and is soon wheeled into Walter’s lab. Olivia, on the other hand, goes to Massive Dynamic headquarters when she finds out the company makes cortexiphan, and Nina Sharp tells her about William Bell’s trials of the drug, which was tested on young children to limit the shrinking of their minds. The trials were unsuccessful, and they were disbanded in 1983.
Peter rigs the board to make it look like Olivia can shut off the lights, and she does so while Jones watches. He sends her to the address where the bomb is, but when she, Peter, Charlie, and a team of agents arrive, it’s clear that Jones knew she was faking: The bomb is hooked up to a larger light board, and the only way to disarm it is to shut off all the bulbs with her mind. She concentrates very hard and slowly, the lights blink off one by one, with the last shutting down two seconds before detonation. Peter is amazed, and Olivia doesn’t know how she did it.
She goes to see Jones at the hospital some time later, and he’s literally burst through the wall and escaped to the street outside. “You passed” is written on a nearby wall. Later, Sharp calls Olivia and gives her some news: There was a second cortexiphan trial in Jacksonville, Florida, at a military base. Olivia inwardly freaks: She grew up on a navy base in that same city.
At the lab, Walter again reads the manifesto, which makes even more references to the multiverse. He notices that all of the “y”s in the typewritten manuscript are elevated off the main line. He gets a horrible look on his face and unearths a typewriter from somewhere in the lab. He types the word “ability,” and sure enough: The “y” is up higher than the other characters. Walter wrote the manuscript?!?
THE BOTTOM LINE: Discussions of the multiverse, though fleeting, are all over this episode. ZFT seems to think that the pattern of weird occurrences is leading up to an us-versus-them fight, though who will be on each side is unclear. Also of note: When Olivia tells Robert Jones she can’t disarm the bomb, he tells her she can because he has something she doesn’t yet have: faith.
[Editor's note: Fringe is taking a short break and will return in April.]