FRINGE: Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman Tease ‘The Day We Died’
May 6, 2011 by Marisa Roffman
FRINGE fans were thrown for a loop last week when upon Peter’s entry into the doomsday machine, he ended up 15 years in the future. Not quite the universe destruction that had been hinted at, but the future Peter woke up in wasn’t so pretty.
Dying to know what happens next? I chatted with FRINGE executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman about the show’s trip to the future, what it means for season four, why they jumped forward and more…
I think it’s safe to say that the end of “The Last Sam Weiss” — when Peter is transported 15 years into the future — is one of those moments in a show that is actually game-changing.
Jeff Pinkner: If you could allow us to tease for a second, it’s both game-changing watching it and it’s more game-changing when it’s over.
Wow. My friend pointed out to me after last week’s episode that the hour could have very easily have worked as a great season finale, so if you guys had that up your sleeve for the penultimate episode, what the heck do you have planned for us for the finale?
J.H. Wyman: [Laughs] That’s a good position to be in. That’s great.
What can you tease about “The Day We Died”?
JW: Well, we definitely — look, we knew where we were going from the beginning of the season and we had an end in mind that maintained to be our end. Like always, Jeff and I try and recontextualize the end of the season to make it mean something new and make the fans look at the show a different way going into next season. And we feel that’s what we’ve accomplished this year, as well.
JP: I think by way of tease, the notion of jumping forward to the future — I think sometimes, as we’ve always said, our show is a lot about choices and sometimes it’s only by looking back at things from the future can you really tell the consequences certain actions had. And as we said earlier, the point of the episode is to recontextualize everything that’s happened this year. And there are certain events we just wanted to jump past because what’s more interesting is the consequence of those events than the events themselves.
When a science fiction show jumps into the future, the question becomes whether that is the set future or if anything can be done to prevent events from happening. Will that be dealt with in the finale?
JP: That’s absolutely — I think you’re asking the exact right question and that will sort of be the question of the episode: whether or not our characters are successful, that’s the point.
You mentioned jumping forward in time to explore the consequences of events, and it seems like we’ve missed a lot of important things in the meantime — Peter is an agent, Broyles has a freaky weird eye, etc. Will we be getting backstory on some of the more major changes?
JW: There are stories and those things are there for a reason. You know, we know how Broyles got there, we know how Peter got there, we know what they’re referring to in conversations that are kind of vague to the viewer, but specific between themselves. We wanted to use these type of logical and sometimes illogical progressions of characters in the future to expand our audiences’ imagination and allow them to fill in some blanks, you know? “I wonder how that transpired? How did that come about? That’s really interesting.” We always pose questions and we always plant the seed and I think, by now, we try and answer most of them. Maybe someday you’ll understand more.
Well, we have all of season four to find these things out! Will this jump forward in the future alter the way stories are told, much like the flashforward device was introduced in the season three finale of LOST?
JW: I don’t think we’re necessarily introducing a new paradigm.
JP: We’ve told stories out of our timeline before — we’ve gone to the past a couple of times — but as Joel just said, I don’t think we’re introducing literally a new paradigm that we’re going to do frequently. But there are some events in the episode that will dramatically shift the paradigm of the show.
And with the jump forward, I don’t think I spotted Nina or Lincoln in the promos. Are they there in the final hour of the season?
JP: Some of them are, some of them aren’t.
Some of the people I just mentioned in my question or just in general?
JP: It’s both. In the context of the storytelling, you’ll understand — or at least you’ll have the strong ability to surmise — why the characters that are or are not in the episode…why that is.
It almost seems like we’re going back to the beginning in many ways with Walter, locked up and bearded — yet Walternate is still there. Are fans supposed to be confused at this point how they could both be existing in one universe?
JW: I think you will definitely have the answer to that when you watch the show. You will understand conceptually what has happened — why you’re seeing what you’re seeing.
What about Peter and Olivia? In the present they seemed to doing well, with her declaring her love and him embracing his inner Han Solo and didn’t exactly say the words back. But how are they doing in the future?
JP: I don’t think he said the words out loud, but our intent…he was equaling her statement with his eyes and actions in that moment. I know some people read it that [it wasn't reciprocated], but it wasn’t intended that way.
And the future Peter and Olivia?
JP: [Pause] I think, Marisa, [that answer] falls under the category of spoiling one of the cool moments. And not a wildly significant one, but in the context of the episode, you’ll find that out real quickly.
Is Peter aware of Fauxlivia’s kid in the future? You have teased he would find out before the end of the season…
JP: Um…whether or not he’s aware, it probably won’t play a big role in the episode.
Are we going to be spending the bulk of the hour in the future?
JP: Yeah, I think it’s safe to say the majority of the storytelling takes place in the future.
Before I let you go, is there anything else you want to tease for the fans before they watch “The Day We Died”?
JW: We feel it’s set up to — if anyone feels a fraction what you said at the beginning of the call, Marisa, we’ll be happy. If they’re saying, “How could they outdo ['The Last Sam Weiss']?” we’re thrilled with that. We feel anything we give [to spoil] would take away from that experience. [The finale] will definitely change the way you look at the program going forward.
This is it guys…the final episode of season three. Are you ready to have your mind blown?
And if you need a further incentive to watch the episode live tonight, not only do you get the chance to win props if you check into GetGlue, but Pinkner and Wyman will be live tweeting the finale! Make sure to follow @JPFRINGE and @JWFRINGE to see what they have to say about “The Day We Died”!