Fringe Producers talk tonights Episode, Olivia and how the Show could End (Spoiler)
TV Guide did an interview with Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman. There are some spoilers about tonights episode.
Fringe fires up new episodes tonight (Fox, 9/8c) with a high-adrenaline hour mostly set in the alt-verse that features a slew of first-time meetings between characters, as well as a reveal of shapeshifting proportions. On the heels of someless-than-encouraging comments by Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena last week about the show’s future, producers Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman opened up in a frank, and frankly exciting, discussion with TV Guide Magazine about what tonight’s episode sets in motion, and why fans should count on them to do right by them should this be the final season.
TV Guide Magazine: It’s been quite a week…
Pinkner: In the Fringe world?
TV Guide Magazine: In the Fox world.
Pinker: You mean the Kevin Reilly, TCA stuff?
TV Guide Magazine: Yeah.
Pinkner: You wanna know how we took that information? None of it came as a surprise to us. We know our job is to keep the show as creatively exciting as we can make it for them. And as Kevin acknowledged in that panel, creatively, they still love the show. We know what the rest of our season has in store, as do they, and they are very excited about that. Then it comes down to business decisions. Hopefully, it will all work out.
Wyman: When Kevin Reilly says something is gone, he doesn’t mince words. So you should take that for what it is.
TV Guide Magazine: Going back to you knowing how the rest of the season will shake out, you’re gonna share that with me, too, right?
Wyman: No. [Laughs]
Pinker: Ha ha ha ha!
Wyman: We’ll tease some of it for you!
TV Guide Magazine: OK, that works. In November you left us with a pretty disturbing image of Nina drugging Olivia…
Pinker: Yes. But that will not really be attended to in a big way in this week’s episode. The next two episodes, really, are about Peter. Having been turned away by Walter, who refuses to help him find his way home, Peter realizes there is a man who is equally smart who can help him, that being Walternate. So Peter convinces Olivia — who has her own agenda — to allow him and Lincoln to go to the alternate universe to convince Walternate to help him get back to his own timeline. Of course, everybody has their doubts about what kind of guy Walternate is, and certainly his possible participation in the shapeshifters.
TV Guide Magazine: And how does their first meeting go?
Pinkner: Peter comes to find that his expectations of Walternate are not met. It’s a really kind of fun episode that introduces the bad guy of the year. We’ll learn a lot about the shapeshifters, who is behind them, and what the Hell is going on. The first seven episodes where like the first act of the season. Now we really start pursuing this over the next several episodes.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you guys have an idea for another reset timeline should Peter be able to remedy all of this? Or would he return to the timeline he already knows?
Wyman: We don’t want to spoil anything, but as we always say on Fringe, nothing is really as it seems. There’s always a way to handle a problem that may escape normal logic. It may [clue you in] to the possibility of something that you don’t even know you didn’t know.
Pinkner: The show is not going to get more complex. We recognize that we are throwing a lot at our fans — who are brilliant and attentive viewers — to track and pay attention to. We have no intention to make it any more complicated. We’re not trying to let intellect overtake the emotion of the show.
Wyman: When we decided to do what we did last season, some people loved it, some people were like, “Oh my God, what does that mean?” But even after Jeff and I both said several times that Peter was still a huge part of the program, people were still like “Wait, is Peter coming back?” What we’re excited about is that our plan for where we are going with that is coming into effect now. I think people will have a moment of “Ohhhh…I get it.” It will become clear why we did what we did.
TV Guide Magazine: Would you say this next round of episodes are Josh Jackson-heavy?
Pinkner: Not really. They’re sort of team-heavy. They’re not Peter-at-the-expense-of-anyone. He is now in this timeline, interacting with our characters, so it’s very much team-oriented.
TV Guide Magazine: You mentioned the emotion of the show, and in the last episode, there were clearly seeds of an Olivia-Lincoln situation being planted.
Wyman: That’s true. That was our intention. Don’t forget, Peter has his Olivia. So this Olivia is an incredible lure, but also a painful memory of what he’s lost. Lincoln and Olivia are both available, and there is a relationship there that could be possible…but you have to keep watching. We’re glad you picked up on that.
TV Guide Magazine: Well I just imagine the pain it will cause Peter to see something like that develop, knowing his Olivia is somewhere without him.
Wyman: That’s it, right! Then he starts to wonder, “Am I ever going to get home?”
TV Guide Magazine: What kind of cases have you lined up for the second half of the year? Surely Peter can’t be their only concern.
Pinkner: I think, without giving anything away — and again, sorry, sometimes we may hold things too close to the vest — there are absolutely a lot of stand-alone cases. Peter is the “Fringe event” of the moment, but the cases are not all about him. A lot of them are sort of the things we enjoy and do the best. Cases that touch on or refract the themes we’re exploring this season, populated by some of the coolest Fringe victims and bad guys and monsters we’ve done all season.
TV Guide Magazine: With the arrival of tonight’s bad guy, would you say the action is going to be increased?
Wyman: Oh yeah. The action is increased a lot. There’s a lot of what Jeff and I like to call a cascade of reveals coming up. There are going to be some really interesting turns that you won’t see coming, and a lot of that is footed in action. You are going to understand what the rest of the season is going to look like. It will render itself for you as you watch this next batch of episodes.
Pinkner: One of the things we’re having fun with, and we have said this before, is that Season 4 is designed as a love letter to our characters and our show. The idea of having a different timeline? It’s the same world, it’s the same blend, it’s the same Earth as Seasons 1 through 3, it’s just a different timeline and one of the fun things for us is to look at how some familiar faces and cases may be different.
TV Guide Magazine: Like tiny edits. This season is like a second draft.
Wyman: Exactly! [Laughs]
Pinker: Yeah! You get to revisit.
TV Guide Magazine: Should this be your final run, you do have an end game in place, right?
TV Guide Magazine: Now, a lot of shows, as they near their end, start dispensing with beloved characters for dramatic heft.
Pinkner: You know, we’ll just surprise everybody and kill ’em all off in episode 17. [Laughs]
Wyman: No! [Laughs] We said from the beginning that we are telling the story for a reason. Jeff and I believe that we’re telling the story as a metaphor for something we’re trying to say. So it’s not going to change. It didn’t change last year, or the year before when we we’re threatened with cancellation. I think you can attest more than anyone that people have been saying we were going to be canceled ever since they moved us from Tuesday nights. So we have never changed our plan. We want to tell a certain story, and the way we have devised this story is that the end of every season is the end of a chapter.
Pinkner: As for killing off characters, we have before. We killed off Charlie. We killed off Alt-Lincoln. It just so happens that they returned, as we promised they would. But we would never just to clear the decks. We have studiously tried to avoid “holy s–t” moments just because we needed a very special promotable episode. We start at the end of each season and build backwards to see what is going to earn that ending that we want.
TV Guide Magazine: So you are staying the course with what you originally mapped out for the season?
Wyman: One hundred percent. We have a lot of great ideas for another season, but we don’t want to let down our fans. We don’t think this ending will let down our fans. In fact, we think it would be quite sensational and spectacular, and would leave everybody satiated. And that is our biggest goal. We are both huge fans of television and we wouldn’t want to invest all of this time and then get a brushed-under-the-rug type of ending. This is all really, really planned out.