Spoilers for last night's "Fringe" coming up just as soon as I get my typewriter fixed...
A lot of "Fringe" viewers have been clamoring for fewer Science Crime of the Week stories and more mythology-type arc episodes. "Ability" had mythology to spare, as the mysterious Mr. Jones returned, we found out what Loeb was doing to Olivia when he had her captive and why Jones is so interested in her, Peter obtained a copy of the Jones group's manifesto, and it seems that Walter himself (or someone using Walter's typewriter) wrote the manifesto. Lots of answers, but the typical JJ Abrams show kind, where the answers raise twice as many questions. Walter's memory problems, for instance, could easily lead to a scenario where he wrote the thing and then forgot about it, or it could have been written while he was institutionalized, by someone like Jones who revered Walter's work and decided to pay homage to him by using the great man's own typewriter.
As someone who cares less about the episodic-vs-arc-story ratio than about the show being compelling regardless of what type of story is being shown, I found "Ability" to be solid but not quite as epic as I think it wanted to be.
For one thing, they're still fiddling around with this annoying Agent Harris character. I don't object to the general idea of Olivia running into trouble with her superiors. "X-Files" got a lot of mileage out of Mulder and Scully butting heads with FBI high command. The problem is that Harris is so clearly an idiot, and so clearly motivated by nothing but his grudge against Olivia, that he's just a strawman villain, and a plot device to slow down Olivia's efforts to solve each problem. If they had introduced him as someone competent, with no personal stake in this debate, but who understandably had a hard time wrapping his head around all this science fiction, the character might have worked. This way doesn't, and so he becomes an unnecessary distraction to the other things unfolding.
Still, the orifice-sealing virus was suitably disturbing (especially the second time, when Olivia's tracheotomy failed so horribly), Peter's ever-growing stable of eccentric underworld contacts has proven to be a good direction for the character, and I really enjoy Mr. Jones' very specific requests for equipment. (He reminds me of a character Ben Garant played on "The State," with a name like Saul Bitterman: Miracle Fetishist of the US Navy, who would constantly demand a mix of MacGyver props and sex aids in order to defeat the Nazis.)
Anna Torv's charisma deficit is going to be an ongoing problem, but there are enough interesting pieces around her that an episode like "Ability" makes me feel like "Fringe" is thisclose to figuring out what it can be.
What did everybody else think?