Last week's "Fringe" brought the sci-fi drama back from hiatus with a bang, and according to executive producers Jeff Pinkner and Joel Wyman, it only gets better from here.
During our in-depth phone interview, the pair discussed the show's chances of renewal (read the first part of our conversation here) and dropped a few tantalizing hints about what's coming up for the "Fringe" characters. We talked about Peter's incredible journey through multiple universes, Olivia and Lincoln's growing connection, and what the return of David Robert Jones means for our heroes.
Read on, but beware: Spoilers ahead.
I think it's safe to say that most fans are invested in "our" Olivia and Peter and, similarly, Peter and Walter's relationship at the core of the show. Peter's dream sequence in "Back to Where You've Never Been" is heartbreaking, because I think the audience has been missing that dynamic just as much as Peter has. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for those fans, or is Peter being trapped in the wrong place something we should expect for a bit longer?
Jeff Pinkner: Yeah, that dynamic that you mentioned is very much what we're playing. The emotional feeling that it seems like you're having is really sort of like healthy and appropriate. We want the audience, like Peter, to feel this sense of longing and this desire to return -- not in an effort to frustrate the audience, but it shows the weight of those relationships. If it weren't for this feeling of loss, then it's sort of like Peter's existence with those characters would have meant nothing. We're playing that in counterpoint to the relationships he's forming with these characters. The next couple episodes are really sort of important and meaningful along that axis.
Joel Wyman: I'm absolutely thrilled that you said what you did about Peter, and you made that observation that the audience is sort of like with him, because that also was something that's deliberate. We've had times in the show where you're with Walter, and everybody's sort of perpetrating the secret on Peter. [At those times,] everybody seemed to know everything, and Peter was the person who was in the dark. ... This year, we're going in a completely different direction where the audience is more together with Peter's perspective. When Peter is saying this stuff happened, the audience should be saying, "Yes, it did!"
I'm kind of torn, because I'm actually loving the burgeoning chemistry between the yellow universe's Olivia and Lincoln, but only because I don't believe that she's our Olivia. I guess I want her to have her cake and eat it in every timeline!
JW: Oh, great! That's awesome. We're happy to hear that!
JP: So do we! And Peter recognizes that this isn't his Olivia. We're playing the idea that he sort of blesses what he sees as a burgeoning relationship, whether it be romantic or just friendship between Lincoln and Olivia, which only makes it that much harder for him. One of the things that we thought was really kind of exciting and cool is that Peter is longing for a woman, and here is an almost facsimile version of her that he's spending every day with, and yet it's not her, which only makes that longing that much more again.
This week's episode shares somewhat troubling truths about the alt-verse's Broyles, since he seems to be working with David Robert Jones. Is everything as sinister as it appears?
JW: I mean, if we would have told you, "Hey, coming up on 'Fringe' in a couple of weeks, Olivia and Peter are going to be involved in a love triangle," your mind would go to a place where you would probably think there's going to be another element. But because this is "Fringe," we're allowed to make the love triangle consist of two of the same person! So you always get a little leeway to surprise people with some of your choices that seem illogical on the first blush, but once you actually look at them, you realize, of course, this is "Fringe" ... anything can happen.
Maybe, suffice it to say, nothing is ever as it seems. But sometimes, it is as it seems, but with caveats. Without spoiling anything, this portion of the season going forward and this next suite of episodes is going to definitely change the perception of a lot of things that you thought that you knew. We'll open up the doors for possibilities of what's coming down the road. Hopefully, everybody will be as intrigued as we want you to be. There's a lot of great answers coming up. Along with not wanting to pull the old trick where everything disappears and nothing is actually real, another thing that sort of bothers us together as a team [is] when there's so many questions asked, and it seems like the questions are bigger than the answers. You can just keep out-clevering yourself with these questions that really don't have any answers. ... We're fans of answers. We want to reward our viewers with answers. There's a lot of them coming up.
JP: And ... David Robert Jones is back, which is just endlessly entertaining and delightful. Oh my god, he's spectacular. After his character died, Jared [Harris] came to us and was like, "I love this show -- I want to come back." As Joel said, this being "Fringe," we found a really organic way to bring him back. His character's return sort of speaks to the very story we're telling this year, which is how things are similar and yet different in this timeline.
Does the Observer's ominous comment to Olivia at the end of last week's episode tie into the mystery man who Olivia predicted would kill her back in "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide"?
JW: Well, we always try and answer everything. ... Put it this way, he was mentioned for a reason.
Joel, J.J. [Abrams] mentioned at Fox's [Television Critics Association] panel that you're directing an "incredibly romantic" episode. What can you tease about that?
JW: Yes, it's true. I'm in Vancouver now. Can I tease anything? Well, the title is "A Short Story About Love." I mean J.J. was right: It's a romantic episode. We have said all along that love stories are really about the obstacles that people overcome -- at least the good ones, to us anyway. So this is an episode that's going to deal with resolutions in a way that I think will be very satisfying.
What kind of insights into "this" Olivia and her journey can you guys give us, since her past is very different from the Olivia we've come to know and love?
JP: The ones that we mention on the show: She killed her stepfather, who was abusing her mom, which is obviously a very empowering act, but also a very disturbing one for a child. She was also, as we know, a product of the Cortexiphan trials done by Walter, but presumably, when she ran away, she didn't meet a young Peter and therefore didn't turn around and go back.
It seems like Nina might be taking matters into her own hands on that front, dosing her with Cortexiphan ...
JP: It would seem as if Nina is taking matters into her own hands -- you're exactly right. The return of David Robert Jones in the next episode may be very ominous to Olivia as well. Because certainly, in the timeline we previously witnessed, he had a specific agenda regarding Olivia. Presumably, he's a very similar version of the same man, so things are definitely going to start getting hot for our characters. Specific to Olivia, we also know that romantically she's somebody who is a little bit more accessible than our Olivia, yet at the same time has never really found anybody to fulfill that gap in her life.
JW: Yeah, that's an important element. A person who's sort of looking for that kind of connection or feels that that kind of connection is possible, and believes that a profound relationship or love is sort of waiting for them somewhere ... to kind of keep that hope alive is very interesting. Whereas our Olivia has found that, this one hasn't and isn't really sure at this point that it actually exists. There's a difference there. She hasn't really experienced Peter in the way that our Olivia has.
Finally, can you tease anything about other upcoming episodes, to whet fans' appetites a bit?
JP: One of the things that we're finding fun is exploring things that have come before, which are new in this timeline. I think we're going to spend a lot more time with the Observers. I think we're going to potentially revisit some sort of greatest hits of the past. The storytelling, it's just going to get deeper and richer and more tense as the season goes along.
"Fringe" airs Fridays at 9 p.m. EST on Fox.