The Fringe ensemble discuss the end of show in the concluding part of TV Guide’s oral history.
There would, of course, be more death along the way to the finale. But when all is said and done, the producers hope the fans will come away from the finale with a sense of knowing that their favorite characters are still out there in the universe somewhere.
J.H. Wyman: I just wanted to make sure that two very specific criteria were filled: No 1. is that the characters end in a logical conclusion and become self-actualized. If you go back to the first episode, you might say, “Well who are these people?” I mean, Peter, “I hate my father” to “I love my father.” Olivia saying, “I don’t trust people” to “I do, I find strength in vulnerability now.” Walter saying, “I have hubris and I’ve made a mistake” to “Yes, I’ve actually understood that I’m not a god and I have to make amends.” I mean, these characters have come a long way. And No. 2, that I can leave and feel that I’m hopeful that everything happened, maybe not the way that I expected, but definitely the way that makes sense. Hope is very important to me, and I don’t like to say good-byes and I didn’t want to say good-bye, I just wanted to say this is the close of that chapter. I feel like that happened. I wanted to make sure that I gave them their due and I wanted to take care of the audience.
Jackson: I feel like the entire fifth season has been the closing chapter of the Fringe story and that we were able to settle so much of the story along the way. With the finale, to put the finishing touches on Fringe and leave the characters in what feels like the right place, it all feels good right now. I think that Wyman wrote the perfect ending for Peter’s story over all these years. His journey from prodigal son to dedicated father and husband is complete.
Noble: You always hope for certain things to happen, but I read the first half of the finale, and I’m going, “Oh my goodness, this is really good. What’s the second half going to be?” But when I saw the second half, it was just this enormous sigh of respect to start with and then relief because I think that what the writers have done is finished the episode as well as I could have dreamed, to be honest with you, for all characters, for the plot, for the nature of Fringe, the size of Fringe and the scope of it. It’s a huge episode. Joel seems to have grasped all that, which is probably why we were working all night every night. But it’s worth it. It’s brilliant.
Torv: I hope people are satisfied and happy. I think they will be.
Nicole: I wasn’t surprised by the general ending at all, actually. It seemed like there was only one way to end this story properly and beautifully. But there was one shocking moment I had when I read the final script that I did not see coming.
Noble: I was surprised that it worked out as well as I hoped it would. I shouldn’t be surprised really because Joel Wyman is incredibly passionate. He lives and breathes this and he says this is the most important thing in his life that he’s ever done. So you can expect that level of commitment and compassion at this point. I was very happily surprised. There are moments that we’ve earned over five years and the writers have given us the payoffs.
Bryan Burk: I generally feel that this is going to be a satisfying ending, both emotionally and story-wise for fans of the show.
Reilly: I hope the fans love it. I think it’s pretty damn cool.
Roth: I love this ending. It will all come together in a way that I think will be very, very satisfying to the audience. I was extremely happy with the ending. I thought, this is exactly the right way for the show to end.
Noble: The final episode, I can say without reservation, is one of the best pieces of television I’ve ever read. I had to read it before I could say that. But Joel Wyman has pulled out all the stops and created a really masterful finale. It’s written so well. I couldn’t wish for a better ending to our five-year saga.
Although Fringe is not a series like Lost,which had a clear vision of [redacted] at the end, the producers did have some aspects of the finale in mind when they first started.
Abrams: We had some very big ideas and we discussed some things very early on that are in the finale. But you can’t know when you begin a series what’s going to happen one, two, three, four, five years from there.
Roth: To be completely truthful, what J.J. pitched to me at the beginning was very, very different from the conclusion that I think our fans will be very satisfied with, by the way. Because what J.J. did is created a world, he created characters and he created potential for storytelling. Where the story eventually goes to and how it’s eventually unfolded happened over time with the natural evolution of a strong and thoughtful writing staff. It is certainly within the world of what he pitched to me in the beginning, but it also honored the process.
Wyman: At the beginning, nobody really knew what it was. There are so many great writers that came up on our ship and stayed for a while and then added great things and left, because that’s the very nature of our business. Me, J.J., Bob [Orci], Alex [Kurtzman], Jeff, sometimes Akiva, sometimes some writers from our outfit, would sit around and we’d talk about, “Hey, where are we going this year?” because for me, I like to know where I’m going. I need to know what I am trying to say. What are the themes I want to deal with this year and what concerns me right now? And how can I make a metaphor for those things using our characters as instruments to tell that? That’s how it’s always been. So nobody really knew the end because it revealed itself to us throughout the seasons.
Abrams: Anyone who tells you that they know exactly what’s going to happen in every episode is either not telling you the truth or is not open to the better idea because the better idea always comes up as you’re working on the show.
Burke: Decisions that you firmly make at the beginning of a show may very easily change two episodes later. So there are things in the finale that we had discussed early on and the show has gone in the direction that we had talked about and completely in a different direction at times.
Wyman: Up until the very end, the very, very literal end, it didn’t really come together until I think a week before I wrote it. I had a whole bunch of things and I’d change them. It’s been a living breathing organism that’s changed in so many ways.
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