Last year, Fringe raised the bar for insane mindgames and unforgettable characterization. So what's next? Will Walter's heart (and brain) get broken again? Will Olivia go through more hell? And what about Walternate? The producers tell us what to expect.
We were lucky enough to get to email some questions to Fringe producers Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman, and here's what they told us, ahead of tonight's new episode. Also, we were on a conference call yesterday with Fringe star John Noble and tonight's guest-star Christopher Lloyd, and Noble told us a few tidbits about Walter's future. Minor spoilers below...
First, here's our exclusive interview with Pinkner and Wyman:
Obviously, we've all gotten really attached to the cast of characters "over there," including Lincoln, Charlie and the autistic version of Astrid. Now that none of our three main characters is there, are we going to see less of that world? Or will we still find ways to look in on them?
We will absolutely still be visiting the alternate world — we love those characters too. One of our goals from the first half of this season was to "earn" the ability to tell stories set exclusively Over There, even after Olivia returned home... And after all, Bolivia's story (and Walternate's) is now inextricably tied to the story going on Over Here.
Dean Norris at Fox told Entertainment Weekly that Fox plans to promote the show to teenage viewers who might be at home on Friday nights, emphasizing the show's horror elements and making it look like "forbidden fruit." Are you going to try and increase the show's horror element as part of this strategy?
Horror has always been one of the arrows in our quiver - and it will continue to be. That said, we won't be changing our story telling to lean more in one direction or the other. Though, some scares on a Friday night do seem to be the perfect way to kick off a weekend.
Are we going to start seeing signs that "our" universe is unstable in the same way that "over there" is unstable?
Absolutely. Back in 1985 Nina warned Walter that his crossing over to the other universe to save Peter would damage both universes. We have seen the accelerated damage that has been going on Over There (Vortexes, Mutant Insects, etc) and now we will start to see that the physical constraints of our side may be beginning to fray as well.
Will Olivia ever get badass superpowers? We've seen hints she can do things with her mind — are we going to see more of that? When will we see this happen?
Superpowers, not so much. Though an ability to "see" and cross over to another universe is an ability that would be pretty damn cool to have, if you ask us.
During the episodes set "over there," we got a lot of hints that Walternate might be more responsible for the devastation to his universe than he's letting on. It seems like right now, "our" Walter is living with almost unimaginable guilt for having wrecked an entire universe. Without giving any huge spoilers, do you think it's possible to spread the blame for the destruction "over there" without letting Walter off the hook, and thus taking away the guilt that makes him so compelling?
Nope. It's pretty much all Walter's fault! Apparently playing God has it's consequences. Walternate has been doing his best to contain the damage to his world - and has had to make some hard choices, namely when/if to amber innocent civilians in order to "plug the dike". But it would be unfair to say he is responsible for exacerbating the damage.
I've read elsewhere that Olivia's evil stepdad will be showing up. Is this for just one episode, or is he going to have an ongoing arc?
We will meet him in an episode later this season - he will largely be used to highlight an emotional trajectory for Olivia. But, in the vein of spoilers, the story is set 25 yrs ago.
Where did the character of Walter come from in the first place? What do you think are the ingredients of a really great mad scientist? Whose idea was it to give him a touch of Timothy Leary along with Frankenstein?
J.J. [Abrams], Bob [Orci] and Alex [Kurtzman] created the character in the pilot. But the character has certainly grown (as was intended) since then. Every great Mad Scientist needs a healthy dose of curiosity, boundless imagination and elevated sense of his own abilities, along with some disregard for the consequences of whatever he may be doing. Walter and Bell were also products of the late 60s, when psychedelics and other drugs were viewed as a very viable tool for mind expansion — so his LSD use, etc was a natural choice.
Do you write quirky moments for John Noble on purpose? Has there ever been a script where you looked at it and thought it needed more ridiculous Walter moments, or do those just naturally find their way into scripts?
Walter is super fun to write for. The "quirky" moments just come naturally.
Similarly, now that Anna Torv has shown what an amazing range she has, do you find yourselves looking for ways to use that, or to work in more intense moments for Olivia? Were you surprised by what Anna Torv was able to bring to her performance as both Olivias this past year?
The fact is, there is nothing we won't throw at Anna. She's simply amazing. We've known from the beginning what a world class actor she is. Ironically, as the show set out, she was playing a character who was unsettled — looking to find her sea legs as she entered this Fringe world that she knew nothing about — working with Walter and Peter, etc — and she got an unfair knock for being unsettled as an actor. But having the opportunity to show off her range, and genius, as Bolivia has really reflected how great her work is as Olivia, and how specific her take on the character is. And, again, small spoiler alert — we're going to be asking her to stretch that range in a fairly insane way in a few upcoming episodes.
For a while there, Akiva Goldsman seemed to be stepping in as a kind of godfather to the show. Is he still involved with it at this point? Will he be doing any more writing or directing?
Akiva remains very much a part of the braintrust of Fringe. He will continue to write, and direct.
And finally, I have to ask — how set in stone is the endgame for this series? If it winds up ending early, are we going to get the ending you'd originally planned? Is there a chance the show could end on a cliffhanger?
We know where the show ends. And we know several of the season-long chapters that will occur along the way. Much of our storytelling has been seeded from very early on. The only real question is how many of these chapters we will be able to explore.
Meanwhile, we were on a call yesterday with John Noble and Christopher Lloyd. And Noble told us that the secret to playing characters from an alternate universe is to remember that they don't think they're from an alternate universe — they think theirs is the real universe, and ours is the alternate. Noble also promised we'd be learning more soon about the Observers trying to repair the damage they did to both universes with their meddling, back in 1985.
And Noble added:
Walter came from a very big fog in the first season and slowly he's put his life back together... We started this season with a great big rift between [Peter and Walter] and [he's starting to mend it]. Walter's become conscious but the major problems he faces, [which] he thinks he's incapable of solving. He keeps saying, "I'm not smart enough to do this any more," and Nina keeps encouraging him... and he finally comes to face up to his limitations, but also his strength, which is more than enough to deal with the problems. It's a wonderful journey for Walter this season and he gets to go through all the stages.
And we asked Noble if we would get to see Walter running Massive Dynamic, and Noble laughed and said, "Can you imagine a world with Walter running Massive Dynamic? I think it's just as well we haven't seen much of it." Luckily, Nina is mostly doing the day-to-day running. And he said he just shot a scene showing what sort of CEO Walter would make.
And we asked if we would be seeing Walternate starting to fall apart in the wake of killing his universe's version of Broyles, and Noble responded:
You won't see him falling apart. [Instead], you will learn more of what made Walternate what he is, and you will see some humanization of the man behind that steel exterior. He has to make some difficult decisions. We've done some terrific things that don't soften him, but help to understand that he is man not a machine I hope that there is a resolution between Walter and Walternate, because I don't see either of them as bad men.
Fringe returns to Fox tonight at 9 PM.