Fans of Fringe [premiering on Fox tonight at 10/9C] are among the fiercest around, hence Fox giving the show a fourth season – even if it’s on Friday nights and faces stiff competition from The CW’s supernatural and NBC’s Grimm. It will take a lot of imagination and vision to face down those odds – especially since they disappeared the show’s male lead, Peter Bishop, in last season’s finale.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to take part in a conference call Q&A with Fringe’s executive producers, Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman, who talked about the upcoming season. They sounded excited by the challenges they face this year, and promised more of the adventurous storytelling for which the show has become known.
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J.H. Wyman: Basically, look, Peter is part of the DNA of the show and we’ve done some pretty crazy things in the past that people were always like, ‘Well, wait a minute. Why are they doing that? What’s going on?’ I mean hopefully in Season 4 people will trust us enough to realize that we are doing things for a reason. To sort of have Fringe without Peter in some way, shape or form is really not Fringe.
So, while we can’t really comment—for those of you who haven’t seen the opening or what’s going on, he’s part of the show. He’s part of the language of our show and a very big part of it. So, there are kind of two things that we want to get across without really ruining anything and that is, number one, yes, Peter is part of the DNA and he’ll always be that. Number two is that just because he doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that the three years that we’ve all invested in and watched does not exist; it didn’t happen. It really did happen and it’ll unfold itself for you to understand in what context I’m speaking of.
But, yes, people shouldn’t worry. We love Peter and we know how much everybody loves Peter. We both can’t imagine telling the series and the story without him.
I was wondering if you had any returning faces that we can expect during the first half of this season.
Jeff Pinkner: Before we get into that, Matt, just to follow-up; I imagine many of you have not seen, but at the end of the call, Josh Governale* from FOX maybe can point out to you guys where to see it. But, fans around the world stunningly sort of put together on their own and totally outside of our purview put together this video piece Where is Peter Bishop?, literally making signs and taking photographs of images around the world sort of like in the “Where is Peter Bishop” campaign. It’s amazing. It’s amazing and a tribute to an entire cast and crew. The whole thing plays as sort of a love letter to the show.
What we would say is the show constantly tries to recontextualize your perception of the story. We introduced Walter Bishop in Season 1 and by the time you get to Season 2 you realize that in many ways he’s the chief architect. Our most sympathetic character is the chief architect of all the trouble in two universes. There’s a version of the narrative where he’s the biggest villain of the entire piece.
So, the idea that Peter is gone, and ultimately he’s not permanently gone, we’ve made it very clear, is an opportunity to sort of recontextualize the story of everything we’ve seen again, which is something that we love to play with.
Okay and then the returning faces?
Pinkner: Yes. The answer is yes, there will be returning faces. We hate to spoil things, but there will be characters that you’ll be delighted to see again hopefully and some that you’ll be surprised to see again.
Wyman: And some you may have seen before that come back in a completely different context.
I just finished watching the first two episodes and one of the first things I noticed was that the open titles this year are a different color. They’re in amber. I was just wondering if you’d care to comment on the significance of that.
Pinkner: There’s always been a significance to the titles. The episodes that take place over a year were always blue and then over that was red. There are a couple of episodes we’ve had that took place in 1985 that had a 1985 style title sequence in them and the one episode that took place largely in the future was black.
It’s funny that you said amber. To us, it’s orange, but amber’s great. The significance of the color is simply just to put out the notion of this is the universe without Peter in it.
Wyman: Yes, this is basically a different chapter.
Okay and maybe just to … that return faces, but through the first two episodes we haven’t seen anything from Massive Dynamic or William Bell. Do you guys have stuff mapped out for them, or is that something that’s part of the past?
Wyman: Oh, no. I mean it’s definitely a large part of the architecture and you definitely will—you’ll see what I mean as episodes roll out. Like I said about Peter, I mean that’s a huge part of the program also we never want to lose.
Pinkner: You may or may not have noticed that the bridge, the space between the two universes, there’s a Massive Dynamic signage all over there because that is now a joint military Massive Dynamic operation to protect that area.
Wyman: Yes, they definitely have the patent on that.
So, as you’ve talked about the fans who put together this great video, the fans within Geek Culture especially have rallied behind the show, is there a particular element you think that really provokes such a rabid following among fans of Comic-Con and the like?
Pinkner: I think they’re just fans of adventurous storytelling and I think that they’re fans as much as the geeks are people that are willing to jump onboard a story and really follow it. And I think surprisingly—not surprisingly, I think that the truth is they’re sort of treated as this outsider element of fandom when the truth is they’re wildly passionate about the stories they like. What sort of separates them is their willingness to sort of really, really invest and make stories an important part of their lives.
We have always said that one of the things that appeals to us about this show is our ability to go deep both with our characters and with our themes. And, as we’ve said often, to us, the best form of like both ongoing television and certainly scientific fiction is when it really speaks about characters and the human condition and what it means to be alive at this moment in history. These are hopefully things, certainly things that we try to touch on and hopefully things that people are appreciating.
We’ve also said that not everybody likes licorice. But, the people that do like licorice tend to really, really like licorice and we’re happy to be making licorice.
Wyman: It’s interesting because science fiction is—like a lot of people in the viewership of the intelligent world, some people just get turned off just by the term ‘science fiction’ and they’re not really willing to invest. Which is peculiar to Jeff and I because all the movies that are so successes right now like Inception and all these great—
Wyman: Yes, I mean all these great science fiction things. I mean in the cinema, people are willing to say, ‘Yes, sign me up. I want to go,’ but on television, I don’t know. I mean there’s still a negative connotation to a lot of viewers.
So, our fans, the ones who are kind of willing to embrace that, this form of storytelling and science fiction type of marker, those are people that are willing to sort of really go out on a limb with us and to really sort of check out some really far out ideas. I think that’s the difference. I think they’re willing to just invest 150% because they’re in with the entire genre.
Absolutely, and another fan favorite are the observers and it looks like we might be getting a lot more observers this season. They’re more involved.
Wyman: Oh, yes. We definitely are. There are a lot of shows that … secrets and stringing people along and using the secrets of the narrative engine to kind of keep people coming back every week and I don’t even know if those programs even have an answer. I don’t know how they build their shows.
But, we’re not really fans of that. We want to give answers and we both would be frustrated if we were watching a show that we’re investing and they weren’t giving us answers. So, we believe that the drama is enough in the program to keep people invested. So, the observers are a large questions and we feel it’s our duty to sort of give some answers and sort of backup everything that you’ve seen in the past with some concrete facts that you can start to form your opinion.
So, you’re definitely going to learn a little bit more about them this year and hopefully will be able to conceptualize them I a way that you’ll be happy with and go, ‘Oh, that’s really interesting.’
So, we’re so excited about the brand new season and what I was really wondering was about the second episode. It’s been teased that we’re going to see these two universes work together on some occasion a little bit. What can you tell us about how often we’re going to see that and what it was like sort of planning out those stories incorporating both worlds?
Pinkner: How often is clearly one of the chief driving conditions of this season is how are these two universes going to work together in order to heal their joint damage now that they have a means of doing so. So, we will definitely be telling stories. Unlike last year where we were bouncing back and forth, this year there will definitely be stories where the two universes have to work together. Certainly there’s an implication that that Walternate, despite to all promises to the contrary, is still a bad guy manipulating things behind the scenes. So, that’s also a story that we’re going to be delving in.
As far as what it’s like to plan out the episodes, certainly there’s some logistical complications because our actors are playing two roles. So, from a production standpoint, the episodes are very complicated, but we love that stuff. Those are the challenges that as hard as they are our crew in Vancouver is just outstanding and with every episode, we get better and more seamless at being able to really have actors interact with themselves.
Wyman: Yes, true because right from the get go when we started to decide how we were going to tell the story of that alternate universe. Is it going to be like a little bit here and a little bit there in one episode, or are we going to actually go over there for a whole episode and so forth?
What we realized is the reason we’re doing is to sort of highlight and contrast our characters that we love with versions of themselves that maybe are not similar to sort of highlight some of the aspects and the individual characteristics of our team. So, this offered us a great opportunity to go further with that, to be able to sort of have them in the same frame and actually watch how any or imagine if the two Olivias are looking at a problem very differently and their solutions are very different. This thought kind of goes back to our major theme, which is like our experiences of who we are.
Pinkner: The good news is that Anna Torv and Seth Gabel are finally ready to admit that they’re both one half of a pair of identical twins. So, now we have their alter egos acting. It’s made it much easier for us.
Awesome and real quick, LSD was one of my favorite episodes of the entire series. Are we going to see something else sort of special in the first part of the season?
Wyman: Well, first of all, thanks a lot because that was … episode because Jeff and I both felt that it was going to be one of the easier episodes to do because there’s animation in it and it proved to not be ….
Pinkner: It almost broke us.
Wyman: It almost broke us. Let’s just say people who do animation I bow down to and I realize how difficult it is. But, thanks for saying that.
No, we always try and do every season one that’s outside the box like Brown Betty. And so, for sure, this year you’re going to see one that definitely is a little off the beaten track as well.
Pinkner: The truth is, again, we like to make it hard on ourselves and to challenge ourselves. During that episode, we literally had little Barbie dolls and little toy cars and we were taking photographs with digital cameras to sort of set the animated … storyboards.
So, you guys talk about trust. If other shows had made a main character disappear and what we know via the Internet and what not nowadays, we would know obviously if the person was coming back or not. With you guys though, obviously the fans and the critics were willing to give you more latitude because I think the paths have always been there. Was does it mean to sort of have that trust from the fans and the critics to do a storyline like this?
Pinkner: Well, obviously, it’s outstanding. Joel earlier was talking about how science fiction seems to play really well in the movies and not so much on TV. One of the things that has occurred to us, obviously unproven, is that there’s always a trust in the television show.
Currently, in the current landscape where you can TiVo shows and sort of watch them at your leisure, what seems to be happening a lot is people are unwilling to invest in new shows right away because they don’t know if they’re going to last and they don’t want to spend their time. So, you let four or five shows pile up on your TiVo in the queue and then you hear the show is good and you’ll check them all out, right?
It seems that with a lot of storytelling like ours, which is about an ongoing journey, it seems sometimes people—again, this is our unproven theory, but it’s our own taste as well. It seems sometimes people are unwilling to invest in the show because they’re afraid it will die, it will get cancelled, it will lose its way and their time will not be rewarded.
Because we’ve always had a plan and because the audience has started to understand our season finales pay off what was said up at the beginning of seasons, over time we’ve developed this trust. Which is obviously paying enormous dividends for us because it’s allowing us to be really adventurous and not worry about constantly within the narrative say to the audience, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Don’t worry,’ because by now, they kind of hopefully have a sense that we know what we’re doing. We know that we have their best interest at heart as well.
Wyman: Yes, you know, Josh, what just sprang to mind is that it was really tough on us when the Kirk Acevedo thing happened. I mean if you remember back, there were stories up that he got fired. There were stories up that he quit and everybody was saying, ‘I can’t believe that he’s gone. He was one of my favorite characters. I’m never watching the show again.’
We knew very well that nobody really dies on Fringe. We knew what our plan was to bring him back in the capacity that he came back and that was part of our storytelling, but we couldn’t really say, ‘Hey, everybody, take it easy. There’s a method here.’
When people saw that—it’s those little incremental moments of trust that, ‘Oh, okay, I get it and I really enjoyed that. I really liked that.’ At the beginning when we introduced Olivia, everybody hated her and they were like, ‘Why are you doing that?’ and ‘Peter should only be with Olivia.’ We knew that every great love story is a very winding road. So, by the end when we realized that Olivia is not as bad as all that and she’s a person or a character as well, people really started to love her and really liked her.
And so, I think those tiny things, like those things that people who are investing and really watching and they feel like, ‘Okay, I’m in good hands. I mean I feel like this narrator behind my back pushing me through this journey and I feel like I can trust them.’ That’s the greatest reward that we could have.
Right. As a follow-up, the idea of having Peter disappear I think is just completely brilliant. I’m wondering though, what was more challenging – coming up with the ways to make him disappear or coming up with a way to bring him back?
Wyman: That’s a good question.
Pinkner: They both had their challenges. I think that figuring out the way to make him disappear was pretty simple. It’s sort of like, ‘Oh, now he’s gone.’ Coming up with the context of his return has been super fun and hopefully the pay off will be really rewarding. We think it is.
And then, as always and as Joel alluded earlier in this phone call, we’re always far more interested in answering questions and then playing the consequences and hopefully the consequences of his return will sort of give us an engine for a good part of the season.
Wyman: Yes, also I mean you will see, again, as they roll out, you’ll understand a little bit more about the reasons why and how we did what we did. So, it will become clear. So, the future of our storytelling sort of dictated how Peter was going to disappear and then come back. So, it’ll put more in context for you as you see more.
I know you can’t talk too much about how Peter’s coming back. I just wanted to know how much of the theory of the multiverse have you guys used in relation to that.
Wyman: Do you mean how much of the hard science theory of the Multiverse?
Pinkner: We both had some knowledge coming into this show. We both educated ourselves about a lot of the scientific theories that are out there because as always, we try to ground our storytelling as much as possible in reality. Specifically where Peter is and what that has to do with the multiverse—
Wyman: We’re focusing on these two.
Pinkner: Yes. We’ve always been focusing on these two universes because it’s enough. It’s already enough for the audience to try to wrap their head around.
Walter has mentioned that there are infinite possibilities out there and the observers have said that there’s constantly infinite possibilities of the future unfolding that are based on whatever choices collectively everybody makes in a moment. But, to try to actually tell stories in several different universes would just be too mind frying.
Wyman: Yes, but like you know how we go backward and forward. We’ll go in the future, we’ll go in the past in order to sort of highlight certain thematic elements that we really want to get across and certain factors of the characters that we can’t get across any other way but for to go forward or to go back.
We look at the multiverse like that as well. It’s an unlimited resource for us that’s sitting there kind of waiting if we really wanted to. The first big battle was to get the viewer onboard with, ‘Wait, what? There’s a whole other universe going on as this is going on and our choices define these universes,’ just to sort of get everybody onboard.
Now, once people are sort of a little bit versed in String Theory 101, they can sort of go with us a little further. It’s a little bit more of a bold adventure.
Pinkner: The truth is there are lots of stories that we’d love to tell. We just don’t have the opportunity to, which is a painfully awkward segue into letting you all know, if you don’t know, that there’s a Fringe comic book that we’ve been publishing past couple of years. What’s exciting about this season’s comic and the one that, I guess, is released today, it’s called Beyond the Fringe, is that Josh Jackson is penning the first couple of issues.
Wyman: ‘What if’ scenarios.
Pinkner: They’re ‘what if’ scenarios and specifically, Josh’s story is a version of what happened at the end of last season when Peter planted the machine in the past in order to sort of like—the time loop that we discussed in last year’s season finale was continued on. Peter taking Walter’s machine from the future and planting it in the deep past and the story that Josh, who himself is a comic book aficionado/geek, wrote sort of delves with that. That’s a version of the story that we would love to tell if only we had time to on the show.
One more quick thing; I just wanted to know what will Lincoln Lee bring to the Fringe team this season?
Pinkner: That’s a really good question because we consider at what part of the tent he’s going to hold up. What he does is he brings us a certain thematic element that we really need in order to tell the big picture this year. Him coming in and being displaced and a lot of the things that his character will be going through are going to be sort of—they’re going to help tell our story here thematically.
One of the major themes that we’re really interested in getting into this year is sort of like the impact that we have on each others’ lives, that what does it mean if life is valued by the connections that we make and we are defined by who we know and who defines us and how we define other people. So, we’re kind of in love with that theme and having this guy sort of come in and have to go into a very strange world and have to sort of figure out things about existence and figure out everything that he thought was true is no longer valid. And how he’s going to start to put back together the psyche that has been sort of fractured by this knowledge that he really shouldn’t have, it’ll really help us in how he sort of connects with people. But, that’s kind of how he—that’s why he’s really important to the program.
So, my question for you guys is what are some of the cases the Fringe teams are going to tackle this season and what are some of the challenges you had in putting those together, those episodes and those stories?
Pinkner: Again, at the risk of spoiling things, as always, we have a slew of really crazy, hopefully thought provoking, far out cases that deal with time travel and out of control biology and humans who either, for very understandable and sometimes not so understandable reasons, are messing with the rules of nature and the rules of physics.
In a really fun way, every episode seems—we’ve never had an episode that didn’t present challenges. And unlike some shows that both Joel and I have been associated in the past where by Season 4 you kind of know what you’re dong, despite the fact that storytelling-wise we have a really good handle on what we’re doing, production-wise is seems to always be we’ll write a script. We’ll give it to our, again, genius, brilliant, adventurous, outstanding production crew and the first look in their eyes is a deer caught in the headlights – “How are we doing to do this one?”
Wyman: We’re always switching the envelope and somehow every week they just impress the heck out of us we’re like, ‘Wow, that was awesome.’
What’s really cool about the other side and now, our side being together and working together, we get to tell some really great far out sort of mytholons as we call them, freaks of the week type of thing that are sort of integrated into our larger mythology. Really, this year, we feel more than any other year we have some really mind blowing, stand-alone stories that just—we’re just enabled to tell these great far out things because over there is so messed up and over here is a little suspicious as well right now as you guys will find out. But, it just gives us carte blanche to really kind of push our imaginations to the hilt and see some really cool things realized.
I’m really excited for the new season. So, you’re testing us a little bit. While I was sitting here on the call, there was an alert that came up about Josh Jackson’s DC Comic. You guys have had a lot of coordination with him from the variant covers around the other side and what not. I was curious if you could talk about are you guys comic book fans? Do you come at this as comic book fans? What has the coordination with DC been like for you?
Pinkner: If it’s not clear just in the nature of the show, we’re both big comic book fans. So, … Goldman, who was obviously a huge contributor to the program, developed a relationship for us, put us in touch with Geoff Johns who’s the president of DC who is both a fan of Fringe and now a friend of ours.
So, the Warner Brothers initially generated the idea of a comic, but as soon as we got Geoff involved in the program and said to him back in Season 2, ‘Hey, how would you feel about making alternate covers of some of the famous issues of comic books,’ he immediately said, ‘Okay, done. I’m going to go to the original artists.’ He got so invested in that project because as you can imagine, somebody who’s the president of DC Comics is himself quite a geek and the opportunity to do something as fun as that for him.
He picked up the ball and ran with that. We ended up having a gallery show of those comic book covers and a fundraiser at a local LA comic book store. There’s always these ‘fringe’ benefits; sorry for the pun. There’s always these fringe benefits of doing a show like this, which is we both get to sort of let our inner passions, our inner geek out and do things which really are fun and … for us like this comic book, which is an opportunity for Josh to explore his storytelling and Berkeley.
So, I’m sure you’re all familiar with Bloom County and Opus, which we love and it’s sort of in the world of those things that you’ve loved before. So, we tell stories in an alternate universe. We totally cold called, cold e-mail, wrote an e-mail to Berkeley Breathed who writes the comic and said, ‘Hey, we have this television show Fringe. Part of it takes place in an alternate universe. Would you consider drawing a comic for us that we could feature? What if Opus were written in an alternate universe? What would that look like?’ He wrote back instantly and said, ‘I would love to.’
The following morning a full script showed up in our e-mail inbox and two weeks later it was on the shelf.
Wyman: Yes, we’re so lucky because what it does is like in a weird way it allows other artists to sort of recontextualize their own work. It’s not only in the comic book medium. As far as music is concerned, the B-52s gave us a song that hadn’t been released.
Pinkner: And will never be released.
Wyman: And will never be released and we got to play it on the other side because they’re like, ‘You know what? That’s really cool. What would the B-52s be like over there?’ And so, we got a lot of support from a lot of artists. So, we’re really, really lucky.
Pinkner: It allows us to be fans.
I was wondering; Fringe has a very rich and heavy mythology and so it can be a bit overwhelming for new viewers to come on. Are you guys doing anything to help get new viewers up to speed or to make it a little more approachable for the fourth season?
Pinkner: We’re actually doing a couple of things. One, our friends and colleagues at FOX have put up a Fringe past, present and future series of sort of like all you need to know or ever needed to know about Fringe, sort of small pieces on the Web, which, again, Josh Governale can point you to should you care to.
But, as this season sort of starts, because of the nature of the storytelling, because Peter has disappeared, the season sort of starts fresh and if you’ve never seen the show before, this is not marketing tool. Really, if you’ve never seen the show before, this is a great place to dive in because everything is new. If you have been watching the show, now you’re watching with the eye towards everything is new and different and it’s making you question or re-imagine what you’ve seen in the past. If you’ve never seen the show before, it’s a great place to dive in.
As a follow-up, so, when you were doing the finale last year, it was getting close and we hadn’t heard of any kind of renewal yet. Did you guys have any plans if it had to become a series finale, or were you just planning on going for it and then if you need to resolve stuff, do that via the comic?
Wyman: Well, I mean we’re in a kind of … position because FOX has been very, very, very up front with us about the plans for the show. They’re incredibly supportive and they always have been. Every time we got moved, every time there was any sort of adjustment, they were very transparent about what their business plan was, which is something that—I know you guys know this, but it’s really incredible and it’s something that you never really get.
So, we were very confident that they were pleased creatively where the show was going. They know that we have incredible rabid fans. So, Kevin Reilly was very happy with where we were at. So, we knew that we were going to be okay.
But that said, we have a really strong idea of where the show is going and we do think from time-to-time too. Nothing is forever and we’re lucky right now to be able to tell these stories and who knows if that’s going to continue. You never know.
One thing that we’re always concerned about is making sure that the fans feel like if that should happen that we could actually give them something that would make them feel like there’s a natural closure, that there’s a natural sort of end to a chapter, maybe not the book. My favorite novels allow me to kind of imagine the characters afterward and what happened and that I’ve witnessed a really great story, the world goes on.
So, we’re always concerned with that because we don’t want people to sort of be invested and then sort of be left like, ‘Oh, my gosh, now I don’t know what every happened.’ So, in our minds, we have something should something drastic and terrible happened, but as of right now, we’re going to continue to tell the story and at the pace and measure that we’re doing it and just sort of considering ourselves lucky as we go.
I’m really relieved to see you guys get renewed and the first couple of episodes are great, some of the best episodes yet. One thing that’s really intriguing me, you kind of touched on this a little earlier is free will where the observers are concerned and that’s something that’s actually kind of made its way into the story before as you know. I’m wondering if this season if we’re going to kind of see the culmination of that.
Pinkner: Well, I’m not sure about culmination because we hope the show goes beyond this season, but certainly the notion of free will versus destiny is interesting. We told an episode last season that took place in 2026 and among other things, in a world of details, Broyles had a milky eye because something had clearly happed; some tragedy, some event had happened that injured him. Now, because of the choice that Peter made we know that that future specifically will not happen. But maybe, inevitably, the same event will end up happening in this future where Broyles ended up getting injured.
So, the notion of fate versus free will, if you try to run away from fate is that going to lead you right to fate’s door itself. The whole … story is something that we’re constantly interested in. And yes, the observers are sort of a Greek chorus to that notion and also themselves meant to observe, but sometimes interfere with fate. So, absolutely, it’s a theme and a story that we will continue, but whether or not it will culminate we will see.
Okay and one issue I have with other stories when they go into alternate universes is sometimes when they resolve that, it turns out that the stakes that took place dramatically wind up coming up empty. Can we expect some continuity when peter reenters the universe, or what are we looking at – a reset?
Pinkner: You can absolutely [expect] continuity.
Wyman: Yes, continuity. Yes, for sure. I touched on earlier, I mean we really want to just assure that we don’t have any intention of just kind of saying, ‘Guess what? It was all a dream. Everything you learned is not real.’ I mean that would suck and that for me and Jeff, if I saw that I’d be livid. So, that’s not what we’re doing. You’re definitely going to get continuity and you’re going to get—
Here’s the interesting thing. The show has played a lot with secrets and sometimes the audience doesn’t know the secret and we play that they do find out with Walter’s secret and then we found out, okay, that everybody else found out. We had the secret against Peter.
What’s interesting for us is like there’s a paradigm shift because now it’s like the audience completely understands what’s happened in the last seasons of the program and they know and so does Peter. So, the fact that everybody is sort of together with him and saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, I want things to go back to normal and Peter’s the stranger in a strange land.’ That’s going to have its value and there’ll be some good rooting interest there because everything you did know is still relevant and is still valuable.
So, that’s how we’re going to integrate this aspect of the storytelling. The audience participation is paramount.
In an interview in May, Joel, you said, ‘We’re constantly going back to the seeds that were laid and make our viewers see those things in a new light.’ So, if Season 3 pointed back to Season 1, is it fair to say that we should be studying up on our Season 2 episodes?
Pinkner: That’s a good question. I mean it’s like yes, and that’s a very accurate quote. I know I said that and I believe it 100%. I think that everything that you’ve seen, it’s fair to say that all the shows in Season 3 and maybe even in Season 2 and 1, but mostly 2 and 3 I think will definitely—it’ll be valuable to brush up. I think that if you don’t brush up that’s okay too; it’ll still make sense, but I think that the fun for the viewer will definitely be like, “Oh, my gosh. I saw that case.”
For instance, imagine there’s a case that happens and you’ve seen it and you’re like, ‘Of course, I know how it ends,’ and it doesn’t end that way. It ends in a completely different way and that has repercussions to something else and so on and so on. So, that is the journey that we really want the fans to go on because ultimately it’ll reveal itself as that is actually the thematic point that we’re trying to make this season.
Wyman: But, by no means comparing ourselves to J.K. Rowling who I think we both consider just an utter genius.
Pinkner: I’ve never read her work, but I understand she’s quite a writer; when you’re reading the couple books of … and you realize that are there things that literally were setup in the first couple of books.
Now look, if you didn’t remember, it’s fine, but when you realize it, you just realize she built a world. In that same way, hopefully we have and are continuing to build a world and as Joel said, do you really need to brush up? No, of course not. We’re not trying to alienate anybody, but when you see these things and they always play as little Easter eggs, not hidden, but sort of like—and you all may know. There’s Easter eggs in every show. Every episode has a little hint of what the next one will be about. The observers are in every episode whether mentioned or not.
These are things that we do because, again, we’re fans of this kind of storytelling. We’re fans of the little hidden things in the margins metaphorically, that if you realize that they’re there, it just makes a little bit more poppy, a little bit more fun.
Okay. Well, very good. Well, we did try to brush up on all our episodes. I don’t know if you saw that we did a full 65-episode review and that took a lot of time and we loved that and that got us fresh. So hopefully, we’ll be paying attention and be able to see what you’re doing with the continuity. Can I just ask a quick follow-up?
Pinkner: Of course.
Chilton: …13 you showed a young Olivia reading a book, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin and there’s a little bit of a reference there. I know Akiva likes that book a lot and from what I understand I think he’s still making the movie out of it. I just wondered; will we see any more references to that book or anything pointing back to that book in Season 4?
Pinkner: There may not be references to that book specifically and yes, everything you’ve mentioned about it is accurate and the themes of that book and the notion of hope and your ability to sort of affect your world is very much one of the themes that are at the center of our storytelling. But, there are always little—we are writers. The production takes great pains to make sure that the set design is all very carefully controlled.
Should you care to, there’s always little hints and teases and shout outs to things that we love and things that are important to the show floating about.
Chilton: Great. Very good. We’ve talked about a couple, but we have more to go. I love that you make us read. That’s one thing about Fringe that’s so wonderful. The show is great and you point to certain books like Childhood’s End and things like that and you make us read and I really love that.
Pinkner: We’re thankful that you noticed.
*J. Governale: Thank you, everyone, for your time and as a reminder, the Fringe recap videos, the series of 12 videos recapping Fringe up through Season 3, teeing up Season 4 are available on the FOX Broadcasting YouTube channel and the viral user-generated video titled Where is Peter Bishop is also on YouTube.
Photos by Andrew Matusik/courtesy Fox Television