Anna & John tease ‘Fringe’ family tension in season five (Spoiler)
When LA TV Insider Examiner the set of Fringe in Vancouver last week*, Anna Torv made it no secret that the biggest adjustment for Olivia in the fifth and final season, dealing with a new Observer order and a new time period, was still the fact that her daughter was all grown up and standing in front of her. The time that was stolen from her family as unit will weigh heavily over the three individuals, at least in the early season episodes. But perhaps more importantly, the way Etta (Georgina Haig) grew up and the methods she learned to use to get the job done test their relationship further.
“Olivia doesn’t know this world, and Etta absolutely has more of a handle on what’s going on [and] what the right protocol is or how to do it. So essentially, she really is sort of the one that everybody’s looking to for answers and following. So that sort of provides a little bit of thing too in that like, ‘I can’t have too much an opinion on this because we need you’,” Torv previewed.
As much as Torv believes Olivia “essentially trusts” her daughter– blood really is thicker than water, and Olivia really has come a long way!– differences in techniques come to a head in “In Absentia,” in which Etta believes her mother’s naivety about this new world is being taken advantage of and sets about trying to get information out of someone the only way she was trained on how. It just happens to be a very harsh and violent way. Olivia may not agree with her tactics, but she bites her lip and only says her two cents when her daughter is out of earshot, not willing to step on any toes or risk fracturing an already weird relationship situation. And in the end, it may just prove that a combination of both of their ways– in a new twist on the “good cop/bad cop”– is what this new world truly needs.
Similarly, the relationship between Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia, which has been fractured in the past, is still a ginger one both parties are attempting to navigate now that they have been thrust back together, complicated by the fact that Peter is treating Etta like “Daddy’s little girl,” no matter what she says or does.
“They’ve been frozen in this state, and all of a sudden, they’re dealing with everything. They haven’t really had a chance to properly deal with what it was like to be two parents grieving for a little girl. So they work through that in very Peter and Olivia style…it takes them a while!” Torv laughed.
Walter (John Noble), too, intrinsically trusts Etta right from the jump, despite still struggling with getting to know her as a person. His way of showing affection has always been a little eccentric, but at least he gets her name right! And though Walter and Etta relate to each other with all of the generational gaps any grandfather and granddaughter would, their interactions gradually grow warmer as the episodes go on.
Noble teased a cute scene coming in the middle of the season: “We had to be waiting desperately for something to happen. She said, ‘What would grandfathers and granddaughters do? We’ll play knuckles!’ Like kids do. So in the middle of this tense thing, there’s the grandpa saying, ‘Come on! We’re doing this while we wait.’ It’s just inventing that sort of relationship stuff, making little moments work. A lot of the work for the actors is just to make those moments work, while we’re chasing the plot down. We try really hard. She’s such a sweetheart.”
Perhaps the presence of Etta is also what helps Walter pull out of his mentality of shame and blame, too. He is trying so desperately to recover memories lost in the depths of his mind—to end the Observers’ reign. He has felt responsible for so long, but dwelling on the past or negativity like that never gets anyone anywhere. As Etta unemotionally puts it: this is just life. It is what it is.
“The new world is awfully cruel to him. Just awfully cruel. It’s terrible. But yeah, he’ll get past that. That’s what I’m looking for now, is acceptance of that. To accept what he is. Because until he does, he can’t live on. As we all know, we live with our pasts, you actually can’t live on until you have some sort of acceptance of that. That’s what Walter’s journey absolutely is,” Noble shared of this fifth and final season.