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Fringe’s Future: Walternate’s Plan, Olivia as Bell, More

On Friday, I posted Part One of my chat with Fringe showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman. While that conversation focused primarily on the recent news of the show getting renewed for a fourth season, as well as the factors that go into analyzing TV viewership these days, Part Two is more about the show’s current storylines. Read on for hints at what’s to come in the wake of this past Friday’s “Bloodline” episode.

IGN: When you decided Olivia would be taken over by William Bell, did you tell Anna, “We’d like you to act like Leonard Nimoy.” Or was it not quite that specific?

Wyman: Look at what she did with Bell! It’s astounding. And we’ve got to tell you, that’s all her. She interpreted that character the way it was and for us, in our wildest dreams… It’s just transcended all our expectations.

Pinkner: We pitched the idea to her and as Joel said, she sort of took a silent beat and then said, “OK… So what are you guys thinking? Are you thinking that you’ll put his voice in my mouth?” And we said, “No, no, no.” Our premise, always, is keep the show grounded. Play everything as real and as dramatically authentic as possible, from camera lens choices to angles to set design and props and obviously performance, because the crazy only plays if everything else is real. And so we said to her, “No, no, no. He’s inside of you. But it’s his consciousness in your body.” And she said, “Oh, I think I understand. Let me play around with that.” And we’re incredibly fortunate because our cast are actually friends and insanely dedicated to their craft and the show. And she and John [Noble] spent a Saturday practicing and sort of working out the character together because, of course, Walter has a relationship with William. So the two of them worked it up on their own and presented it to us – from her arched eyebrow and the way she carries her body, to the way she controls her voice. And it’s really astounding.

One thing that is important to note is that it delights Leonard to no end! Of all of us, the one who’s the most proud and most impressed is Leonard.

IGN: I liked how he teased it several weeks ago, Tweeting, “Plans developing for a William Bell return to Fringe.”

Pinkner: And by the way, there’s more to come!

IGN: At the end of “Bloodline,” we find out Walternate was behind Fauxlivia’s kidnapping. But, of course, he did end up helping her – what he did saved her and the baby. But because she got away, we don’t know for sure what his full plan was with her.

Wyman: I think there are a lot of risks with that disease and he wasn’t 100-percent sure. So imagine there are some trial drugs on the market out there that really aren’t approved. This was a way for him to actually do it. Because what he can’t have happen is: Number one, if he doesn’t heal her, he can’t have them die because then all is lost. And he knows very well with the condition of that disease that she would terminate the pregnancy – she would have no choice. So the only thing to do is to say, “Look, I hope she lives. I’m sure we’ll get the baby…”

Pinkner: Yeah, he needed the baby’s blood. That was his end game.

Wyman: Right. So it’s like, “We’re going to try this. We’ll do what we can. I have a theory – a hypothesis of what’s going to happen when she carries it to term, with the things that we’re giving her. And if I’m right, we get to save both of them. And if I’m wrong, I get the baby.” So I think there’s a certain amount of cunning in him that would make a sacrifice just to have the baby live, if he had to.

Pinkner: Walternate is very sincere when he says, “No experimentation on children.” He doesn’t have the same moral compass when it comes to adults!

IGN: On one hand, I thought it might have been interesting if Fauxlivia had died in childbirth. But on the other hand, I think we all want to see Olivia and Fauxlivia confront each other again.

Pinkner: It’s too quick to kill her, right?

IGN: [Laughs] Right! So might we see that confrontation sooner than later, perhaps?

Pinkner: Yes.

Wyman: We’re still in the world of augmenting our cast, not diminishing it. There’s stories still to tell.

IGN: What can you say about the final four episodes of Season 3?

Pinkner: The story that set up at the beginning of the year with Olivia being trapped over there and Bolivia on our side comes full circle by the end of the year. Very much, the season was designed as a chapter and it will play out that way. And the very end of the season hopefully will make you sort of revisit and look at everything that’s happened all year through a fresh pair of glasses.

IGN: It’s been such a bold and audacious move to go so many times to the other universe – even just the fact that Joshua Jackson can’t be in those episodes, and he’s one of your leads. Was that something you had any trepidation about or you just thought, “This is the story we’re telling and we’re going to go all the way with it”?

Wyman: When we asked, “How are we going to tell these stories?” there were a whole bunch of things you have to consider when you’re making it. Are we going to have episodes where half is over there and half is over here? Are we going to, full tilt, go over there and then come over here and the red universe and the blue? And we knew right away that was the right decision, the latter, because we could really explore it. And we were really intrigued by the concept of “Over There.” We thought that if we could build a compelling mythology over there as well, by putting one of our main characters there… Which is kind of a little sleight of hand, but it works. People really got on board and we were hoping that they would. Which again is just a testament to our partners at Warner Bros. and FOX, for sure. You tell somebody, “Hey, guess what? We’re going to tell episodes that don’t have one of our main stars in it! None of our cast is going to be who they say they are!” We really got a chance to make two shows about one show and they embraced that. We were just really pleased that the fans got on board with us because it’s really fun for us to write.

IGN: I really like when you can do a callback on the show to something that happened quite a while ago, such as the recent episode about amber in “our” world, which involved a case from very early in the series. Is it exciting for you when you realize you can make that connective tissue?

Pinkner: Oh, yeah. We purposefully plant seeds along the way and sometimes we know exactly how they’re going to pay off. Other times we know that they will pay off, but not necessarily when or how. And we’ve said we sort of want to world-build. It’s a way to make the show feel like it takes place in a world and it’s not just episodic.

Wyman: We have a lot of faith in our fans and the audience that they enjoy that – so the loyal viewer will really enjoy those things. And then the show, the series itself, just gets a little more deeper. It just consistently broadens and everybody goes, “Oh wow, I’m seeing a design here I didn’t really see.” What Jeff said about the chapters is a really good point because that’s part of it. Consistently, at the end of each season, we start a new chapter. And that new chapter should broaden and enlighten, so by the time you get to the next season, you’ll be like, “Oh, wow, I didn’t see that coming and now this is how I’m going to enjoy the show now.” It’s sort of shifting and changing and forever growing. So a lot of those earlier things that we set up, they come into play. Even next season, you’ll learn more things. We’re constantly trying to shift and expand.

IGN: You just started production on the finale. Does knowing you’re renewed in any way change the script or any aspect of what’s going to occur?

Pinkner: Not a word. But to be fair, we wrote the episode, perhaps foolishly, assuming that we would be on for Season 4. We never for one second entertained that it would be the end of the series. So therefore, we didn’t have to change a word!

IGN: For any show with a big overall mythology like this one, the fear for fans is that it’s just suddenly cancelled and you guys didn’t have time to prep for it and give it a proper ending. At this point, you’re going into your fourth year and you know the studio and network support the show. Nothing’s for certain, of course, but do you think when the time comes, you’ll get a head’s up to wrap things up?

Pinkner: We certainly hope so. The studio and the network know that we have an ending and that for a long time we have been building towards an ending. So we anticipate getting to tell the story in the way and the manner that we want to.

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