Fringe returns April 1 with an episode that explains the whole shiny-Peter mystery. (Don't worry, Peter isn't Edward Cullen.) We got a chance to talk with John Noble about Walter's dark side, multiverse-crossings, and what's to come. Major spoilers below.
We were on a conference call with Noble just now, and he dropped some pretty major spoilers for the next episode of Fringe, "Peter," as well as the rest of this season — and even what'll happen the show's third season. So this is your last warning — if you hate spoilers, I would stop reading now.
So in next week's all-new episode, we get a series of flashbacks to 1985 — just in time for Hot Tub Time Machine — showing exactly how Walter came to grab the other Peter Bishop from the alternate universe. We'll find out that the story is much more complicated than we actually realized, and Walter didn't actually mean to kidnap his alternate-universe son. There's a final reveal that muddies the waters considerably, and it sets up the next eight episodes of simmering tension, as Peter gets closer to learning the truth about himself.
Noble says he enjoyed portraying the 1985 version of Walter. He drew on material that he had developed about the character since the show's pilot, his sense of "what was this man like before he deteriorated." He had to bring a lot more physicality and energy to the character, and he was helped by the hair and makeup and wardrobe, all of which created a very different look for Walter. Also, the show's DP shot those sequences through special lenses, to make them look more eighties. The show even has a 1980s-style opening sequence, highlighting "science fiction" things that are now reality.
The 1980s Walter "was a determined and brilliant man, he believed he could change things, he believed he could save his son," says Noble.
"It was wonderful to go back and visit the man before he became this damaged creature that we know now," he adds. The past version of Walter "is probably in some ways closer to myself than the Walter we know now [so] it was an easier ride." He also mentioned that in addition to Past Walter and Present Walter, he's also having tremendous fun developing a character he calls "Walternate." In fact, he was just playing Walternate in a scene this morning.
The next eight episodes are "fabulous," says Noble, and they build up to Peter finding out the truth. Olivia is pressuring Walter to tell Peter, and the tension is "strangulating." The musical episode you've heard so much about is Walter grappling with what to do, and what's going to happen.
And when Peter does find out, that sets up the the shape of the last few episodes of the season. Says Noble:
When Peter finds out, he is extremely wounded and outraged and bewildered and humiliated, and all of those things, having just found some trust in his life, and giving himself to these two people, he finds out that he's been duped yet again. Joshua Jackson plays this perfectly, and we see him as this lost man.
Eventually, the relationship between Peter and Walter will be repaired — although it won't be the same afterwards — but this may not happen until sometime in season three. Similarly, the bond between Peter and Olivia will survive. But meanwhile, the sparks will fly after Peter learns the truth, going into the end of the season.
"We literally tumble into these last few episodes, which is the confrontation we've been promised for two years," he adds. "All of the things that people have been asking for, I think we're going to deliver in these final eight" episodes, says Noble.
And it sounds like the season ends with a major twist, since Noble hints that season three will feature "substantial time spent on the other universe. When you get to the finale, you'll see why we have to do that." The show will have "this whole other universe to play with, at least for the first third of the season." I'm suddenly getting visions of the end of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles season two.
One thing that won't be answered in the remaining episodes of season two is the nature of the bond between Nina and Walter, although Noble says it's brought up once or twice. The writers have worked out what it is, but even Noble doesn't know what it is yet.
Noble also came out with a fantastic description of how he sees his character:
Walter is a man that is capable of incredible laser-like thought processes, and yet is incredibly childish and random. Sometimes Walter will hide behind his childishness, sometimes he will substitute rage for a childish episode. He is an incredibly complex character.
He says he's observed these sorts of extremes in other people, and the fun part is making choices as to which way to go in each particular episode. Noble works closely with the writers on this. He also explains that Walter's meant to have a kind of mid-Atlantic accent — sort of a Boston accent, but tempered with a bit of fake English, from years of flying around to conferences and talking to other academics from all over the world.
Fringe returns next Thursday, April 1, and we can't wait!