For "Fringe," the beginning of the end is almost here, but stars Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson are ready to enjoy the ride for this fifth and final season (premieres Fri., Sept. 28, 9 p.m. ET on Fox).
I caught up with Torv and Jackson -- after the whirlwind of their final Comic-Con and the first three days of shooting the final season of "Fringe" -- to find out what they could tease about this season's adventure to the future and who we might see again.
Their answers (while totally tight-lipped and non-spoilery) are juicy little tidbits and puzzles for the hardcore "Fringe" fans to unravel. Who do you think will return for this last season? We assume we'll see more of Henry Ian Cusick's character introduced in Episode 419, "Letters of Transit," but what about older friends?
"There are actually some characters and storylines that were really important in the early DNA of the show that play quite heavily through the final season," Jackson said.
"We always tend to have a cool kind of reboot at the beginning of the season," Torv said. "And this is it. And working with different people, it's like a little injection."
Yep. Awesome. When I said how excited I am for the final season, but also still sad to see it end, Jackson had the perfect analogy to sum up that feeling: "It's like finishing a good book."
Keep reading for more with Torv and Jackson, and for scoop from their final Television Critics Association press tour panel.
You know more about this season going into it than ever before. Does that make it harder to talk about without spoiling?
First and foremost, this is the first year that I think our writers have got it really kind of planned out. They're prepared. So we know a little bit more, which is terrible because I still can't tell you anything. [Laughs.] I know a little bit more than I usually do, and because of that, you kind of start creating your own versions of things because you really want to commit to what you are, in fact, going to be doing.
It's almost harder knowing, isn't it?
It's really funny because for years I've been like, "I wish we had more information. I'd really like to know -- I want to plot this out." And now I'm like, "Huh, it's not so bad just kind of living on the edge." [Laughs.] Don't tell them that though ... they'll stop sending me scripts.
Episode 419, "Letters of Transit," was such an insanely awesome episode, so to hear that Season 5 will pick up where that left off makes me so excited to see what'll happen in the future this season.
I wasn't in 419, so I'm excited to see that world -- we've just started. We always tend to have a cool kind of reboot at the beginning of the season, and this is it. And working with different people, it's like a little injection.
The big question coming out of Comic-Con was will Henry Ian Cusick be coming back for a lot more this season?
I can't say anything! No! But would I like? I'd love for them all to come back in the future. But I don't know. Selfishly -- very selfishly -- I hope that we get one more glimpse of Alternate Olivia, but I'm not in control of that.
She's so fabulous!
I know -- she's so fun. But we said goodbye. And at least she's off happy with Lincoln -- that was kind of sweet. I thought that was a really sweet little twist that they added.
Even if it means no more Seth Gabel.
I know, see?
The goodbyes on this show break your heart! And you all started crying at Comic-Con, which made me tear up.
Jasika does that -- she always gets everybody going.
What ending will you be truly satisfied with? Do you want Olivia and Peter together? Do you want it left open-ended?
I think all of that depends on the lead-up. I'm honestly not putting a whole lot of thought into it because that's kind of not my job at the moment. I want the journey to count, too. That's what my focus is. But everyone's always asked if I want Peter and Olivia together, and it's like, "Of course! Of course! I'm a girl." How they get there is another question, but of course I wish her happiness and peace and all that kind of stuff.
I remember when the show first started, you came out of nowhere. Now you know what a huge commitment series television is.
It's massive! I didn't realize that -- this was the first pilot I ever did in the States, and five years later, you're like, "Oh my gosh!" You sign on and think, "Pilots never get picked up!" We literally started back last week, so I'm not reflective yet, and I'm also not thinking much about the future. But doing series TV again ... after the first year, I would've said, "No -- do I want it to kill me? No!" But now I'm like, "Absolutely." There's so much about television that you kind of grow to understand, and also, having worked with the cast that I'm working with, and being able to watch them and how they do things, you pick things up. It's a different beast, but I understand it so much more now.
Comic-Con turned into a very emotional thing for the whole cast, although you didn't shed any tears.
I felt like an asshole, frankly, because they were all getting so emotional. For me, maybe I'm just wired differently, but I am so overjoyed at the opportunity that we have to finish off this story, in the way that we collectively want to. I've been at this for a long time ...
[Laughs.] "Mighty Ducks" was mentioned on that Comic-Con panel ...
It was, yeah. That's 21 years ago now, which is a long time! I guess I've been at it long enough to know that that's a pretty rare experience to have, so I was enjoying drinking it in as much as possible. You just don't know how many times in your life you're going to get to experience something like that.
Your tweet after the fact more than made up for the lack of tears.
It's genuine. As much as there's love pouring out in this direction, there's just as much love going back. It's rare ... even in the best of times, as an actor, to have the opportunity to sit with the people who are enjoying the thing that you're doing, while you're still doing it, is incredibly rare. And then to have that passionate of a response, it's overwhelming -- in a good way.
When you're at a "Fringe" fan convention in 20 years, we'll have a different conversation then!
Yeah, exactly! [Laughs.] When I'm drinking in the back and chain-smoking Marlboro Reds, then it'll be a different thing. [Laughs.]
Obviously the big question is will Peter and Olivia end up together, but no matter the ending, do you think it's possible to satisfy everyone?
No. There's no way to satisfy everybody. The problem always with an ending is that, for the only time in a TV series, you're deciding for the audience what they're supposed to think, because that's where we're going to leave our story. I don't think it's possible to satisfy everybody, but I hope that it'll be possible to satisfy most people. And for the people that it doesn't satisfy whatever their personal desires are -- like, for instance, I don't think the show will end with Olivia and Astrid getting together, so that group is going to be really bummed out -- but I do think we can, in good conscience, try to make the best finale and the best 13 episodes that we can to try to end the story where we want, then just let the chips fall where they may.
But this year you know more than you ever have.
Yeah, they brought us in, in a really sort of complimentary and heartwarming way, but it allows us as actors to get ahead of the show. So much of the frustration of working in network TV -- and it's not just my show, it's every TV show -- is that everybody from the top down, the first week goes smoothly, then it gets more and more scrambly. That's a difficult situation for the writers, the actors, the directors, the crew, everybody, and this year they've made a really concerted effort to get as ahead as is humanly possible. It gives us a chance for all of us to go out on a high note.
And with only 13 episodes, they can all be really strong. There's no, like, roadtrip episode. [Laughs.]
Exactly. No flashbacks. [Laughs.] I won't admit to it on our show, but it's been rumored that there have been filler episodes on other shows that go for 22 episodes, and with 13 you don't have to do that. We're just three days into the first episode, and we've got four scripts already, which is unheard of in network television. So it's great -- everybody's feeling really confident right now.
We're done with Fauxlivia, we're done with Lincoln Lee ... supposedly. We've said goodbye to so many characters these last four season -- are there any that you'd love to have back for this final season?
There are actually some characters and storylines that were really important in the early DNA of the show that play quite heavily through the final season. [Joel] Wyman's a big softie, so I wouldn't be surprised if you get a satisfactory ending for all of the characters that you've come to know over the course of the four years so far.
Do you have a series finale that you think did it right?
I was a huge "Sopranos" fan, and even though that really pissed people off, I thought that was a great ending. But that's what I mean -- there's no way to have an ending that's satisfactory for everybody.
Just don't cut to black. Please.
That's not our show. [Laughs.]
INTEL FROM THE TCA PANEL
At Monday's Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour "Fringe" panel, executive producer J.H. Wyman didn't spill any specifics on "Fringe's" final season, but he did say that, for him, he wanted the show to remain the twisted family drama it's always been.
"It's 'Father Knows Worst'!" Joshua Jackson joked.
In a more serious mode, Wyman said that he wanted the relationships to be paramount as the show drew to a close.
"We've done so much work to get people involved in the mythology. We've done great things, we've had missteps, but at the root of it all, these people are what the viewers and fans care about," Wyman said. "I think this year, what I'm really after is making sure those relationships pay off. Those relationships are the highlight [of the show].
"When you try to be too clever and go off and do different things, you can hurt yourself, because you're not focusing on what's important," he added. He quoted something "Fringe" writer Akiva Goldsman once told him: "Being clever is not really an emotion."
"And it's true," Wyman said. "We've done so much work to bring up so many possibilities, to have the ending of these characters be beautiful and touching and meaningful. I really want to focus on those things. For me, [the show] is a metaphor about how difficult it is to have a family in this day and age … it takes an extraordinary amount of effort. I want people to watch this program" to identify with that challenge.
As for the ending itself, he said that even his own vision for that is evolving all the time.
"I truly believe that the show has a natural end. It's always like Josh says, 'It's something that we know is right,'" Wyman said. "But how that takes shape is always in flux."
"When I was facing, 'How am I going to write 13 episodes that encapsulate everything [the show has meant to people]? How am I going to move people? How am I going to make them feel four years of their lives was invested wisely? I can only go back to what I, as a TV viewer, would want," Wyman said.
Once the finale has aired, he wants viewers to both have a sense of "hopefulness" and be able to picture the "Fringe" characters in the lives the show left them with.
"Some things [in the final season] may be unexpected, some things may be expected, but I want them to feel like what they got was earned," he said.
"Fringe" Season 5 premieres Fri., Sept. 28, 9 p.m. ET on Fox.