FRINGE: Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman Tease ’6B’ and the Latest Twists in the Love Triangle
Of course, since it’s FRINGE, things have the potential to get a little weird. And there is the little matter of our world falling apart. Hopefully someone gives our team a lot of chocolate to make up for the trauma they might go through.
FRINGE executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman talked with Give Me My Remote about tonight’s episode, “6B,” the latest twists in the Olivia-Peter-Fauxlivia triangle, fan reaction, and balancing the mysteries of the show with the characters’ arcs…
How long had you been planning that Fauxlivia would get pregnant?
J.H. Wyman: Since the beginning.
Jeff Pinkner: Certainly since we imagined the character.
Wow. You guys have been planning this for a while.
JW: Yeah, you know how we do things. What’s fun for Jeff and I to write the show is we get to do things that you see on television from time-to-time or you hear in stories — for instance, infidelity — but we get to do it the FRINGE way where we get to tell the story of a guy having an affair with another version of you. Which is really weird. An insight about this is that this isn’t going to be a normal pregnancy that you see, either. And the pregnancy is [going to evolve] in a FRINGE way that you don’t comprehend yet. It’s not going to be your traditional love triangle, “I’m pregnant and having a baby” story. It’s going to be FRINGE-ified.
JP: Can I ask you a question? What did you think of that twist?
I loved it. When the Observer made the comment to Peter earlier this season about it not being easy to be a father, I sat up on my couch and went “Oh my God.”
JP: It’s funny, because we know the story we’re telling, but we’re also mindful of our audience. A lot of people — there was a lot of backlash against [the Fauxlivia’s pregnancy reveal], like, “Oh God, I can’t believe Fauxlivia is pregnant!” And our interpretation of it is that people desperately want to see Olivia and Peter together. And that Fauxlivia having a baby makes Olivia’s life that much harder and people are angry because of that. Anything that makes Olivia’s life harder, people seem to be angry at. Olivia is a hero, she will conquer all. She’ll deal.
I think a lot of fans might forget how much trauma poor Olivia has already been through. I’m pretty sure she can handle this. She had the John Scott ordeal, she was tested on as a kid…this is just a blip in Olivia’s life dramas.
JP: Yeah. And in order to create the greatest heroine, you want to throw as much potential conflict at her as possible and watch her overcome. We have said that one of the cool things about the culture over there is that we imagine the world during World War II — tough times forges heroic people. It seems like the people over there deal with their condition in a more noble, stiff upper lip, strong backbone kind of way, even finding humor — dark humor — in their situation than we would over here. And we kind of love that about them. Their strength has been forged in the fire and we’ve been creating that for Olivia, backstory-wise, ever since she was a little kid. And in an episode coming up in a couple weeks, we’re going to see even more of that.
I know you mentioned there was some backlash to Fauxlivia’s announcement…were you surprised by that? It was set up where the reveal was sort of a surprise, but at the same time, it was strongly hinted at.
JP: One of the things that we try to do is not surprise [our audience] for surprise’s sake. And if we’re telling stories, both episodically and long term, really, really well, half of the audience should get the satisfaction of saying, “I knew it!” and the other half should be like, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming, but now in retrospect, I should have.” We really try and plant seeds along the way. And then of course things will happen, but we try and plant seeds no one will see coming. We try and be really honest with our storytelling and we feel there is great satisfaction in reasonably being able to imagine where the stories are going because things are planted and set up.
The Peter and Olivia fans have certainly had a reaction to the news…
JW: That’s good because now we know people are engaged in them.
JP: We want people to care.
JW: We want people to care and people shouldn’t be worried, ultimately, because that’s the focal point of our program and always will be. Olivia is such an important character and her point of view is in a large degree why we’re here. We’re just taking some really interesting detours to expand emotionally the characters. They will end up in a place we believe everyone will appreciate and then look back on it and say, “Wow, I understand why they did that.”
JP: Ultimately, we’ve said from the beginning that FRINGE is a family show. [Laughs] It’s masquerading against the backdrop of this crazy science-fiction backdrop where the fates of two universes — at least two universes — are at risk. But ultimately, it’s about how this family — who in their own way are fringe characters themselves or are on the fringe of society for different reasons — have found themselves and how they deal with this larger canvas. And we’re never going to forget that.
And it’s a fascinating balance for shows with a dense mythology to juggle the personal stories. Especially on something like LOST, when people would ask about the love triangle, it felt like some fans got really frustrated because they felt who Kate picked wasn’t the big story — the big story was about the mysteries, etc. So I find it really interesting that FRINGE has woven the love triangle into the central mythology of the show.
JP: You know, it’s funny, speaking with some degree of insiderness with LOST, having helped create some of the canvas of the show and I was involved for a while, one of the goals of the show was never to make the MacGuffins or the mysteries bigger than the characters. And having watched on ALIAS and being involved on ALIAS — there was a period of time where virtue of the storytelling the MacGuffins and the mysteries became bigger than the characters and their journeys and their desires and their story. And that was a problem for the show. With ALIAS we tried to reclaim it by the end.
On LOST, it was always by design and intention to be a character story set against this backdrop of these mysteries. But for some portion of the fans, the mysteries became more intriguing. What’s the answer of the island? The storytellers on the show, I can tell you, [LOST co-creator] Damon [Lindelof] and [executive producer] Carlton [Cuse], while being very attentive to those mysteries, were way more interested [in the characters]; it was a redemptive story! With characters who were lost spiritually. It wasn’t called THE ISLAND, it was called LOST for a reason. And the finale proved that the story they were interested in telling was the emotional redemptive journey these characters were on and the mysteries were intended to support that. But some of the fans became far more concerned with the mysteries and then ended up being frustrated that those mysteries won’t answered when the storytellers constantly said, “It’s not about that for us.” And there are certain mysteries in life you’ll never know the answer to because you can’t know; we’re human beings.
For us, we are very much trying to say the mysteries are the mysteries, we’re going to bring them up all the time and we’ll answer them. We’re trying desperately to keep the balance in the proper proportion. The mystery of the doomsday device — we’ll answer it. We’ll answer it this season so that it’s not the thing that forever people are caring about. And our fans will get frustrated as to what’s happening with the characters and some of the frustration we’re sorry for and some is intentional because when you watch characters you love suffer, it’s frustrating. But in order to see them overcome the struggle and to feel really satisfied with that, you need to watch them go through the struggle.
Right and as of now, the audience knows that Sam has told Nina that whatever version of Olivia Peter loves, that universe will be the one to survive. Putting aside the fact that you’ve warned us we might not be able to trust Sam, will Peter have an option and say “I choose Olivia” or “I choose Fauxlivia”? Or will the choice be whatever his heart wants, whether his brain tells him it’s right or not?
JW: That’s definitely the implication you will have to see [play out]. [Laughs] That’s what the set up is. Who Sam is and the mystery that he is and what his perspective is will become clear this season.
How will Nina handle this new information?
JP: It’s sort of that thing where she can’t really influence [the situation] so much, because any effort to influence it might have the unintended consequence. So it’s sort of the information she has, but she can’t act on, which is frustrating for her.
JW: She’s confident that it will be our Olivia.
She was confident, but viewers know that Olivia now is aware that Peter still has feelings for Fauxlivia.
JW: [Nina] doesn’t really know that aspect…yet. She’s not quite aware of the complications, you’re right.
Nina also isn’t aware of the additional complication of Fauxlivia’s pregnancy. You’ve teased that the baby news will make its way to our side fairly soon. Can you tease when that might be?
JP: Definitely before the end of the season.
Very interesting. So what can you tease about this week’s episode?
JP: This week’s episode is our Valentine’s Day episode. It’s all different versions of a love story.
But a FRINGE love story, I’d imagine.
JW: Very much a FRINGE love story.
JP: There is no other kind.
Which would include Peter and Olivia…what are those crazy kids up to?
JP: [pause] For people who are really concerned that Fauxlivia’s pregnancy is throwing another obstacle between Peter and Olivia, it certainly isn’t yet.
JW: They don’t know [about the pregnancy].
I was sent a Canadian promo which apparently gave away a lot. I’m not sure if you’ve seen it, but there was some kissing going on between the duo.
JP: Interesting. Don’t trust things that come out of Canada. [everyone laughs]
JW: Okay, Jeff, that’s not fair.
JP: I didn’t say it’s a bad thing! I also said don’t trust Sam Weiss!
JW: You know what, though? You know what’s funny?
JW: No, we did not see those promos. But that’s not so much…you know that they’re destined for each other, right?
That seems to be the question of the show right now, isn’t it?
JW: That’s right. So half the thing is are they [destined to be together]? Can you circumvent destiny? Is that part of destiny itself trying to circumvent it? It’s fun to see them relating on a level — and what I hope that people are getting is that every time they come back together, they’re on a whole new plateau of their relationship, like most real relationships are, we think.
JP: The next two episodes are going to tell deep and meaningful sides of the Olivia and Peter story. One in the present and one in the past.