FRINGE’s Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman Tease ‘Subject 13′ and a Big Return
In Friday’s brand new episode of FRINGE, the series once again takes us back to the 80s, where both universes are grappling with the fallout of young Peter’s kidnapping.
Give Me My Remote chatted with FRINGE executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman about the hour, which major character will be making a return soon and why it’s okay to sympathize with the alt-characters…
Will we see another episode like “Entrada” where we flash back and forth between the universes?
J.H. Wyman: You’ll see a couple [episodes] that are back and forth. You’ll see some [set] over there.
Jeff Pinkner: You’re going to see an episode soon that is back and forth between [the] two universes, but in a different way than “Entrada.”
I assume you mean “Subject 13,” the episode that takes place six months after the events of “Peter”?
JP: Yes, that episode will take place in both universes. The consequences from that act, that [Peter] was taken will play out on both sides. And then later in the season, there will be one or more [episodes] that will take place simultaneously in both universes.
Those are hard stories to tell, and we only did it once, because literally the events in the episode — Olivia escaping and Fauxlivia getting outed — played out simultaneously in both universes. It was something we discussed with the network and the studio early on in the season because they wanted us to advance the storylines in those first seven or eight episodes simultaneously and we resisted that. We felt you really needed to live on one side or the other to know, emotionally, what story you were tracking that episode.
That’s understandable. I loved “Entrada,” but it could have been jarring if we were going back and forth like that every week before we had time to really establish what it was like over there.
JW: We feel like now everyone is up to speed, they can actually handle it, you know? They won’t get so confused.
And with “Subject 13,” will it be fully flashback or will we see our current group of characters, either on one side or the other?
JP: It will be a fully flashback episode.
Will we be seeing William Bell in the episode?
JW: Not in that episode, no.
I know Leonard Nimoy (William) was tweeting that the plans for William Bell to return are coming together…
JW: [Laughs] That’s right.
You guys managed to lure him out of retirement?
JP: He certainly lured his fingers out of retirement immediately. [Laughs]
JW: We’re just really so thrilled he was even open to it. He’s so fantastic.
So will fans be seeing him this season?
JP: We will be seeing him, but we’re being a little bit coy about it on purpose because we still want there to be a surprise factor.
JW: Yeah. The character will definitely be integral to a several episode arc.
I don’t want to push you guys too hard for answers, because I want to be surprised, too! Would it be safe to say Peter and Olivia met as children? [Editors note: The interview took place before Fox released the promo which showed their encounter.]
JP: It will be interesting to see whether or not they did. Olivia went through the Jacksonville daycare center. We know she was experimented on by Peter’s dad, so…we’re a little bit loathe to spoil stuff about that episode this far out.
JW: You will understand Walternate in a perspective that I don’t think people have before. And we’re sort of dimensionalizing him in this episode so you can understand what this man’s life was like. So “Peter” gave us Walter’s perspective and [“Subject 13”] will give us Walternate’s, to a certain degree.
Walternate has certainly appeared to be more sympathetic in his recent appearances.
JW: By design. It’s by design. Because it’s sort of funny…as storytellers, we’re always kind of worried that we’re giving people too many pick-up sticks to pick up. You can only pick up so many before you’re like, “I don’t even know which one to focus on.”
We’re trying to be really careful. From the inception of “we’re going to go over there and we’re going to go over here and do two shows about one show,” that was borne from watching the audience slowly get on board with the concept that there is a mythology over there that is very compelling. And we want you guys to be as excited about it as us, so we’re going to slowly feed you enough for you to experience it and start to form bonds with those characters one at a time. And I think we were successful with alt-Broyles. Everyone was tremendously passionate about him when he died and they realized that was interesting.
Fauxlivia is starting to [evolve] whether people know where it’s going or not — or they think they know where it’s going — the goal is to understand that bad people or people who do bad things aren’t all bad. Bad guys don’t think they’re bad guys. Bad guys think they have a rational reason for doing what they’re doing and they’re understandable. So when you start to realize, “Oh my God, there’s her side of the story, too” and if we told you that side of the story, then you’d be like, “Oh, I understand her as a fleshed-out human being who feels and hurts and wants and desires just like everyone else.” She’s just from the wrong side of the tracks.
JP: And Walternate had his son stolen from the other universe. Who is more sympathetic at the end of the day than him?
JW: So we’re trying to dimensionalize everyone’s motivation. And with that, hopefully, what we’re trying to do is get you to invest so by the end of the season you’ll be like, “Oh my God, I know these people.”
JP: And the truth is in the episode “Peter,” when we finally saw what Walter did 28 years ago, obviously borne out of love for his son, he as much as admitted he was willing to play God — risk what he understood to be potentially damaging two universes to save this boy. We can all understand his choice. We would all make the same choice, we don’t have to support it and we’ve been witnessing for three seasons the consequences. Had we played that episode first, Walter’s the big villain [of the show]. But because we know him and we love him and we see the consequences, we understand why he did it, suddenly it becomes an understandable act. And we’re telling a show about science — science is not good or bad. It’s the application of it that is good or bad and our storytelling is the same.
Will we see Alt-Nina this season?
JP: We’ve talked about alt-Nina, we know who alt-Nina is, but as of yet, she isn’t playing a role in the story.
JW: We know very well who she is, Marisa, but we’re not introducing her yet.
Okay, good to know. Our Nina is so complex as it is. Will we be seeing any more of her relationship with Walter and Peter explained in the flashback? Their whole history is a bit of a mystery right now.
JP: That’s a card we’ve yet to uncover.
JW: But it’s definitely part of our long-term concept. We agree with you. Blair [Brown (Nina)]‘s doing such a great job and she’s just so fascinating.
JP: This flashback episode actually takes place in a very narrow window of time, but it’s a significant one for all the characters.
Will Nina be in the flashback at all?
While Nina’s history with the Bishop men may still be a mystery, several other important questions are answered in “Subject 13″…and a few more will be raised.
But maybe you can have some luck getting answers from the FRINGE showrunners. Pinkner and Wyman will be chatting with fans during the eastern airing of “Subject 13,” so make sure to watch FRINGE live and tweet along with them. Follow both Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman to make sure you don’t miss anything!
And of course, after you’re done chatting with them, come back to Give Me My Remote so we can talk about what went down in the hour. (Hint: I’ll be once again begging the Emmy voters to show John Noble some love.)