Fringe executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman spoke to HitFix about the time-splitting Season 3 finale and the future.
Head past the jump to see what they had to say. (very mild Season 4 spoilers).
HitFix: What have have you thought of the reactions?
JP: We’re pleased. Yeah. I think that we’re very pleased by the reaction. I think that there was a lot of “What the f***?” and frustration at the very ending of the show, which is not surprising when one of the core characters ceases to exist. What did you think?
HitFix: Honestly? For me, the answer is going to be in how well you guys pay it off at the start of next season. If it gets paid off well? It’s all aces. Who knows from there?
JHW: I think that’s always the case with something that’s kinda audacious or risky in any sort of way. People are always going to say, “Well wait a minute. Why did you do that?” And if it becomes evident later that there was a good reason, then you’re right, people are going to say, “Wow. I completely understand why they did that.” Look, it’s our MO. We’ve said it before that we always plot the seasons out a year in advance. We’re not going around willy-nilly. It’s something that we always lay out and we definitely know where we’re going and feel like this is a perfect set-up for Season Four. A lot of the things and a lot of decisions that I think may confuse some people now — other people it didn’t, but some people it did confuse and some for some people they were good questions and for some people they were bad questions — we feel confident that the answers will be revealed in the following season.
HitFix: Obviously you guys aren’t going to tell me specifics, but how would you describe the new structure or chapter this opens up for Season 4?
JP: New structure? Well, “Fringe” is always going to be “Fringe.” If you want to go back to the beginning of Season Two, when Jeff and I had to decide, “Well how are we going to tell the story of Over Here and Over There? Are we going to have flashbacks? Flashforwards? Flashovers, as it were? Or are we going to actually trade off going across one episode after the next or some degree of a pattern like that?” And we felt like it wasn’t honest enough to set up a compelling mythology for Over There if we’re just giving people little bits of an episode. We felt it was too hard for people to get on-board with just seeing half an episode Over There and half an episode Over Here. People would get lost or confused. We said, “Look, we know we have a compelling mythology Over There that we believe in and we want to allow people to experience that in the best possible way.” What that meant to us was being able to tell stories on a thematic level that we weren’t able to tell Over Here. We could learn more about stories and more about the human condition and ask question about existence from Over There, while asking and inviting the audience to become invested in these new ideas. So as that went forward, we were lucky and people really found what we hoped they would, which is that they enjoyed. We’re on a course of expansion. Last year we got the right to say we have two shows about one show, which is true.
So next season, what this allows us to do is it’s going to allow us to pull from other elements as well. We’re going to be able to have people Over Here that are from Over There, we’re going to have people Over There from Over Here. There’s a tremendous amount of drama. The worlds are still breaking down. What happened to Peter Bishop is obviously a question. Will he return? How is he going to return? In what capacity is he going to return? “Fringe” has the ability to not do anything normal. “Fringe” has the ability to take a kidnapping story and turn it into one that happened across universes. Or a pregnancy story and have the birth happen within the span of three hours. It’s safe to say that we just want to have as many options as possible to keep the entertainment coming, to keep the drama flowing and to keep people compelled. So that was our main goal, to be able to, next season, tell even richer stories with people you’re starting to get to know and who you know already.
HitFix: You’ve opened up a lot of storylines, but do you guys feel like you’ve closed off any storylines, per se? I saw a number of people concerned about the many things directly associated with Peter which, in their minds, could no longer exist because Peter “never existed.” Do you feel like there are any hard and fast rules for what doesn’t exist anymore?
JP: One of the notable things about time-travel paradoxes is that there are several ways to attack the time-travel paradox and as long as you remain honest and consistent with the rules that you choose to follow, the rules that you choose to establish, you’re good. So we’ll be very clear with the rules that we are establishing and hopefully we will remain true to those. But people’s concerns for the baby and Walter and Walternate’s history, those answers will become clear. It’s funny, we felt that we reinvented the show and that the network would be more concerned at the end of Season Two going into Season Three, the idea that Olivia was stuck Over There and Bolivia was embedded on our team. That was a huge reimagining of the show in the network’s eyes and they were very nervous, like “How are we going to tell ‘Fringe’ stories after that?” And we did. In fact, we would argue that the show became more compelling and that the storytelling became more rich and we hope to do the same thing this year, going into Season Four. And the network is not nearly as anxious. I think we’ve gained some trust and hopefully the audience will display the same trust.
There are two kinds of television shows: There’s a show that’s about a condition, about a hospital or about a police precinct or about a team of lawyers. And then there are shows about characters or an unfolding story. Ours is the latter and it needs to unfold. It can’t stay still. We couldn’t tell the same kinds of stories we were telling in Season Three forever, just like we couldn’t tell the same kind of stories we were telling in Season Two forever, without it starting to stagnate. So the show is moving forward. It’s the same character. It’s ultimately, hopefully, the same variety of themes that we enjoy exploring so much. And hopefully it will just continue to grow and deepen and to get richer.
You can read the entire interview at HitFix.