May 13, 2011
04:45 PM ET
'Fringe': Exec producers Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman answer fan questions about the finale -- EXCLUSIVE
by Jeff Jensen
One week after Fringe’s time-traveling, parallel world-bridging, and thoroughly brain melting season 3 finale, fans of the Fox sci-fi series are still steaming with burning questions. Did Peter (Joshua Jackson) erase himself from history? Who took the doomsday machine back into the paleolithic past? And whatever happened to the Blimp Guy that Olivia (Anna Torv) predicted would one day kill her? We culled our message boards for the most frequently-posed inquiries and then presented them to Fringe masterminds Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman. They were kind enough to respond, even if they acknowledged that for now, there’s little they can actually say. After all: There is going to be fourth season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The finale was filled with glimpses of the Fringe future – or possible Fringe future — from a mysterious, maybe tragic event in Detroit to whatever happened Broyles’ eye. How invested should we be in that version of 2026? Should we be keeping these bits in mind moving forward, or were they just fun ways to flesh out the episode’s possible future?
J.H. WYMAN: It’s both. We loved the idea of going into the future and back again, because it allowed us to inform the present of the show with some thematic elements. So if we feel that we need an element of that future to enhance the drama in the present, we’re going to tell that story. Going forward, that glimpse of the future will be part of the tapestry of Fringe, but don’t expect to [go] there a lot. But what we know now — and this is the important part — is that our world is going to break down. That’s what’s waiting for us. I think the fans should be like: “That’s not a future we should be interested in getting to.”
JEFF PINKNER: To further that, one of the things we love to play with is the notion of choice versus fate/synchronicity. Clearly, what Peter did at the end of that episode is that he fundamentally changed the future. Our team is [now] on a separate path. It is unlikely that we’ll get to that specific outcome in 2026. But are events like what happened in Detroit inevitable in any version of the future? TBD.
WYMAN: And we do want people to invest in those questions. We know what happened in Detroit. We know how Broyles lost his eye.
EW:At the end of the finale, we were left to believe that Peter’s consciousness came back to the 2011 present and that he made a different choice than the one that led to the 2026 future. It also appeared that his new choice affected all of history — past, present, and future. He may have even eradicated himself from existence. Can you shed any light on how we should be thinking about the ramifications of all this? Should we be debating tricky concepts like Grandfather Paradox and how they may be relevant to the story?
PINKNER: Absolutely. The most telling part — the most meaningful part — as it relates to Peter is when Walter in the future looked at him and said: “Bringing your consciousness forward in time will have consequences.” And there was a very meaningful, pregnant look between Walter and Peter. Much of the season was about Walter getting comfortable with the notion that he may really have to sacrifice Peter to undo all the damage he has done to the universe. He wasn’t ultimately faced with that choice until 2026. That’s what that choice was supposed to represent.
EW: Is William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) gone for good?
PINKNER: TBD for sure.
WYMAN: For sure.
EW:In the episode “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide,“ our heroes saw a mysterious, menacing man aboard a blimp. Later, Olivia declared that this man would one day kill her. Are we ever going to return to Blimp Guy and that idea?
PINKNER: It’s definitely still in play. Without being too spoilery, there are things you think you have time to explore in any given season, but don’t. But yes, we are very interested in that moment and the implications of that.
WYMAN: A lot of people are wondering: “How did she know he will kill her?” We have an answer for that.
EW: What was the significance of Future Olivia’s fiery water burial?
PINKNER: The idea there was that based on deteriorating conditions of the world at that time, bodies are buried at sea or burned.
EW:The opening credit sequence included a new black and silver color scheme and several new words, like “HOPE” “WATER” and “BIOSUSPENSION.” How were those words pertinent to the season finale?
WYMAN: They weren’t so much pertinent to the finale but for the introduction of the future of the show. In the past, we used words in the credit sequence as signposts for the episode. But this is a new paradigm.
EW:My theory is that those words were clues meant to suggest that next year, Peter will be found in cryogenic suspended animation at the bottom of Reiden Lake near his childhood home.
PINKNER: We can neither confirm nor deny your theories!
EW:Have we seen the last of Sam Weiss?
PINKNER: We’ll see.
EW:Have we seen the last of Moreau, the future terrorist introduced in the finale, played by Brad Dourif?
WYMAN: Brad is such a fantastic actor. We are keeping our options open
EW:Who took the “doomsday machine” back in time?
PINKNER: Either Walter mechanically put the machine through the wormhole or some human being traveled through the wormhole and took it back. Whether or not we’ll follow up on that, we’ll see. Hopefully the notion that came across was that “The First People” included at least Walter, and that he created the machine and sent it through time.
EW:My theory is that a whole army of Peter clones accompanied the machine back through time. That was the significance of Future Peter telling Future Olivia that he was confident they would one day produce a bunch of little Bishops.
PINKNER AND WYMAN: [Laughter.]
EW:One reader writes: “Dear Mr. Pinkner and Mr. Wyman, Please, please, please tell me that Lincoln and Charlie will remain part of the show next season!!”
WYMAN: We love them, too.
EW:Is this the end of the Peter/Olivia romance? Or is that still in play?
PINKNER: Well, at the moment, Peter’s not even in play, so that curtails a relationship. And at the moment there are two Olivias, so it would be interesting to have a love triangle with just two Olivias. It seems a large portion of our fanbase was initially resistant to the idea of a relationship but got on board. We’re still very much interested in exploring it. Hopefully this is a long and unfolding story. We don’t want to shut down any avenues, be it Bell or Lincoln and Charlie or Peter/Olivia.
WYMAN: We think people are invested in the relationship, and we are, too.
PINKNER: We have said from the beginning that Fringe is a family drama masquerading as a science fiction/investigation show. But it’s called Fringe because it’s about three characters that live on the fringe of life and society and have a hard time dealing with their own emotions, but who find each other and find connection with each other. We will remain true to that.
EW:Finally, I have a friend who thinks that season 4 is going to be an elaborate riff on The Dark Tower books by Stephen King. Specifically, does The Waste Lands hold any clues as to how you intend to deal with Peter’s fate, and if so… hello? Are you still there? Well, damn. I guess we ran out of time. Looks like we’ll just have to wait until next season to get that question answered.
Fun and games aside, it’s been a blast bringing you Fringe scoop and the occasional freaky theory this season. Hope to do it again in the fall. Stay freaky, peeps. See you on the fringe… or here: @EWDocJensen