FRINGE Producers: Looking Back On Finale And Ahead To Season 4

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.


  1. FinChase says

    Very interesting little interview.

    I guess I fall into the camp of people that is not terribly concerned. I trust the writers/producers enough to believe that they will pull it off. I may not agree with every choice they make, but I know enough about writing to know that it’s much easier to poke holes in someone else’s work than to produce it yourself, so I try to be tolerant. Sure, I have lots of questions, and I hurt my brain sometimes on time paradoxes, but that’s why I love Fringe, because it gives us the scope to wonder.

    It’s going to be a LONG summer, but at least we have season four to look forward to!

    Like: Thumb up 0

    • SF says

      I’m not terribly concerned either, I trust Pinkner and Wyman to take us to interesting places that I couldn’t have imagined, and make it consistent storytelling. So when I read that they were making sure they kept to their rules of time travel and paradoxes, I relaxed. We don’t know what they are yet, and I trust it will be quite a ride to find out what they are. ‘Long Summer’ is right…….I am very eager for S4 to start!

      Like: Thumb up 0

    • runthegamut says

      I agree. The last few episodes have restored my faith. I am reconciled to the Olivia switch and I see that it was necessary for the storyline, so I’m okay with Peter’s disappearance and the time travel. We’ll see where it goes and I trust it will work and be enjoyable along the way.

      Like: Thumb up 0

  2. Filp says

    sic “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”

    SyFy fans just give up on that and expect like 80% drama and 20% fringe … for the LOST followers will be perfect, for the character and performance followers will be fun … but for syfy fans, will like season 3 and half of season 2 = useless.

    Hope, I am wrong.

    Like: Thumb up 0

    • says

      You’re wrong.
      If that woúld be the case (which it isn’t) then goodbye to Syfy viewers and hello to X-Files and Star Trek fans.

      You have to remember that no matter hów the show develops, there will always be a group of people who complain. Well, too bad for them.
      The show went to friday, and Fringe survived.
      The show got bad critics from certain groups (but nót the press) and we got Season 4.

      ‘Fringe’ is here to stay for a while and possibly for a long time.
      The show is unique, the storytelling is compelling and the weirdness is awesome. We have Walter, remember?

      ‘Fringe’ is doing more than good on fridays, it’s going into syndication after S4 and the DVR ratings and dvd/blueraysales are on the rise.
      More important: we have mr. Kevin Reilly on board as a fan.

      So i have to dissapoint al those complainers who come about every week with arguements about ratings, the storyline, what in their option should have happened, and so on. ‘Fringe’ is here to stay.

      Like: Thumb up 0

      • matt says

        just humorously playing devil’s advocate here, but yo also have to remember that no matter how bad a show (or artist) gets (or how far they stray or how much they sell out) there will always be die-hard fans following blindly as well. please don’t try to just dispel the people who had a problem with the finale by lumping them into the complainer category. everyone is entitled to their own opinion and there are obviously plenty of people who are in the frustration/missing season 1 camp. read the comments on the full interview on HitFix.

        having said that, I will certainly be here ’till the end, and have enjoyed the new episodes, but as I said before, so many people, yourself included, had so many good ideas about where the show was going and what was going to happen which I think were better than what actually happened on screen. I also agree with the person who said that all the drama is fine, but it has to have purpose and balance out with the syfy and mythology elements for the show to be truly good. this isn’t a space soap. if I JUST wanted to focus on characters there are other (far less interesting) shows I could be watching.

        however I must say that after reading all the comments my faith in S4 has been grounded, whether I happen to like it later or not is a different story, but I think they will have a very good explanation for everything in the long run if they have kind souls lol

        Like: Thumb up 0

        • matt says

          (and when I say ideas regarding where the show is going, I mean like post Season 1 not just recently or in the future)

          and on another note, no one wants it gone, it being here to stay is great (not to mention there are plenty of bad things which are here to stay in the world so that doesn’t really mean anything), I personally just wish it had maintained a different earlier focus and expanded on that rather than shape shifting everything in our faces at the beginning of S2 lol


          Like: Thumb up 0

  3. says

    If i was September, i would kidnap Peter back to the redverse back in 1985. Convincing Walternate to keep a close eye on his son and then (as adult Peter) go to the lake to wait for Walter to appear.

    Wait… i ám September!

    Like: Thumb up 0

    • Filp says

      Right, this is totally syfy … I bet you want to see baby henry growing and developing his super extra abilities also. incredible.

      Like: Thumb up 0

      • TenisonJr says

        What? In syfy whe can’t have any drama? Any character development? Is syfy just monsters, aliens, biological weapons, crazy scientists and weird science experiences, with simple characters? Is syfy as the first season of the show, where whe didn’t know almost nothing about the characthers but had lots of monsters of the week?

        If it is, then I don’t like syfy.

        Like: Thumb up 0

        • matt says

          no, but SYFY isn’t general hospital with aliens working there either. that doesn’t fly for me as syfy. adding all that stuff you listed to a boring drama wouldn’t make it good syfy would it?

          you need both and they BOTH need to be relevant and compelling or leave it out, just like any other piece of art, the hardest parting is knowing when to stop.

          Like: Thumb up 0

          • matt says

            and yes, S1 is good syfy, you had a healthy balance of both characters/character introductions and syfy elements and also a good helping of sensible mystery (how can people say there was no characterization or anything is S1? how else did we come to know and love these characters?)

            Like: Thumb up 0

            • Filp says

              What I meant is, I feel overloaded of drama these days … and I wont support more drama like we had in the last seasons … just that… I think many people complaint also about all the drama, baby henry, etc … anyway … like Matt said, opinions … and despite all opinions, we are all still here watching and following the show these last years …

              Lets build contructive discussions, nobody says anything abou this, but

              WHAT DO YOU EXPECT OF SEASON 4 ?

              might be interesting hear from everybody.

              Like: Thumb up 0

          • Zhaan says

            I don´t understand why some people regard Syfy as something bad. I am a fan of Science Fiction since i was a child. I spend my life in front of shows like «Twillight Zone», «Star Trek», «Babylon 5» and -recently- «Farscape» and «Paradox». Science Fiction is a form of Art and its not easy to create it, specially in these days.

            Like: Thumb up 0

  4. Celticnorse says

    There seems to be a contingent of folks out there that believe that SciFi and character stories are two distinct things. It’s either a SciFi show purely engaged in the monsters, worm holes etc. or it’s a soap opera because someone has feelings. Lots of references to Lost and BSG because that contingent was so upset about the character elements that they didn’t see germane to the island craziness/cylon war. SciFi is a genre… every genre has characters and if those characters aren’t developed and don’t have emotions and connections the genre suffers. It doesn’t matter if it’s a soap opera, crime show or Fringe.

    I’ve tried to watch CSI and the like. You don’t know anything about these people. You only know what directly applies to the story of the week. They are a dedicated cop with a tuned antenna for BS that can see through the muck and solve the case. The only time the expand the character is when it’s needed for the story of the week. Kidnapping! Suddenly we find out cop #2 has a kid from a divorce. It makes him supper committed to solving this case! Seriously years in we find out this guy that works 90 hours a week has a kid?

    This is what I love about Fringe and Lost and BSG. There is tons of SciFi but it’s wrapped around characters that feel real. That are evolving like real people. That have relationships, get scared, need companionship, are trying to figure out their role in the bigger picture. Just like we all are.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  5. T says

    Season 2 ended with a shocker (which wasn’t that big of a shocker) that involved Olivia/Altlivia. Season 3 then began as a heavily Olivia/Altlivia focused show. Season 3 ended with a shocker that involved Peter. My guess is that season 4 will at least begin as a heavily Peter focused show.

    Like: Thumb up 0

    • Dylan says

      lol different kinds of shocking though.

      season 2; “oh my god, Olivia’s been kidnapped and replaced by the bad olivia!”

      season 3; “oh my god, Peter….doesn’t exist. uh….wha?”

      It’ll be very interesting to see how the premiere goes in September.

      Like: Thumb up 0

      • Tash says

        Season 2 wasnt really a shocker, you could see it coming from the start of the episode
        Season 3 was mkre “wtf?!”

        Like: Thumb up 0

  6. FringeNerd says

    I hope so..and I for one can’t wait til Season 4 starts in September…
    Lots of questions…

    Like: Thumb up 0

  7. says

    I for one am looking forward to exploring The Observers more. Lots of questions, but honestly, nobody does genre tv like Bad Robot. Others have tried and where are they today? The network trusts Fringe: I trust Fringe. Sure I have frustrations, but fans should have frustrations or complaints because fans have high expectations. It seems the producers are well aware of that and keep that in mind as they develop the show.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  8. Dylan says

    IGN season 3 review;

    Fringe remains, without a doubt, the best sci-fi show on TV. There isn’t much sci-fi on these days, so that by itself isn’t a huge accomplishment, but the series still deserves praise for its achievements in a tough TV genre.

    The first eight episodes of Season 3 really hit hard and expanded on many story threads that had been carefully woven together over the span of the series. Much of it focused on Fauxlivia’s agenda, as she posed as Olivia and trapped Peter in a web of deceit. It all came to an incredible finish in “Entrada”, an episode that had many awesome moments, including the heroic death of alternate Broyles. The image of Broyles’ smoking body in that police vehicle with a missing arm and leg still ranks as one of the most stunning moments of the season.

    – FOX
    There was also constant back and forth between universes, as the full story of Walternate and his Fringe division came to light. Stories like “The Plateau” and “Amber 31422” gave us our first deep looks at what things are like on the other side. These stories also revealed the true nature of the people who reside in that screwed up universe. We saw the close bonds and camaraderie between the alternate Fringe team members. We learned that these characters were good people despite the horrible things that had happened in their world.

    We didn’t review those early episodes due to some editorial experiments we were trying out (sorry about that), but if we had, those stories would have scored rather high. The later episodes, however, weren’t quite as fun. It’s probably not a coincidence that after “Entrada”, the ratings (which were relatively low but at least steady), started a continuous decline.

    Don’t get me wrong, the second part of the season still had plenty of good stories (“Immortality” and “Subject 13” were two of the best). The only episode that missed the mark was “6B”, which was a sweet story but had other issues. The problem here is that many of the post-Entrada episodes seemed to slow the fast mythology progression that the early episodes had established. These stories weren’t bad, they just came at a bad time, and many of them used a different pacing that slowed things down further.

    More problems arose in the three-part story that brought William Bell back into the fold. While the episodes themselves were actually fairly good, William Bell’s return was virtually pointless, as he brought no advancement to the mythology and seemed to be nothing more than a gimmick. Still, it was good to have Leonard Nimoy back in “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide”. Although that episode’s animated antics were met with a mixed reception from viewers, you have to give the showrunners credit for trying something new, and executing an ambitious vision.

    Then everything changed with “The Day We Died.”

    The season finale appears to throw the series into “reboot” mode. It began with a jump to a possible future that shows us what’s at stake, then it ends with some crazy time-paradoxes and Peter’s apparent disappearance from the universe/timeline. It is simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking. It could be the beginning of a whole new era of greatness for the show, or the point where the series jumps the proverbial shark. At this point, we just don’t know, but if nothing else, the finale ended the season with things to think about and compelling reasons to tune in for Season 4.

    – FOX
    While the stories themselves may have had highs and not-so-highs, one thing remained constant throughout: the acting. This cast has never turned in a bad performance. It’s a travesty that John Noble hasn’t won an Emmy yet. Joshua Jackson had much more to do in this season, and he responded admirably. With the possible exception of Anna Torv’s William Bell impression (which was more of a problem with the concept itself), the acting every week was pitch perfect, which is really hard to do with a series that has so many varied and fantastical ideas to execute.

    From an artistic point, this season of Fringe was a success. The showrunners picked a direction and executed it as well as anyone could. But from a commercial standpoint, this season didn’t do so well. The ratings are lower than ever. Here’s the big question: Do people really want to see these kinds of stories from Fringe? Fringe’s first season scored consistent good ratings from beginning to end, so the issue may not be the series concept, or its genre. It seems the direction the series has taken for the past two years isn’t desirable for the general sci-fi audience. Although we all wish it were otherwise, television is a business first and an art form second. Fringe will have to balance the two aspects if it wants to survive, but if the series stays the course and still ends in Season 4, its remaining fans may still be satisfied as long as the high quality we saw in this season continues.

    Like: Thumb up 0

    • says

      I can totally agree with the elements of the review as it referred to the pacing of the second half of the season. There were times I was waiting for a big mythology punch to occur in an episode and just didn’t get that payoff. I have started to re-watch the first season this week and I can clearly see the differences, but it is very superficial. I like the way the first season was shot. Visually the 3rd season is different from the first season. I think after season 1 some people thought they had the second coming of X-Files and were ready for a lot of MOTW episodes laced with sexual tension for 6 or 7 years.

      I am glad Fringe went big with the mythology. I wish they could find a way to capture the impact of the first half of the 3rd season and spread it out across 22 episodes. There was no way that Fringe was ever going to be a run-of-the-mill procedural and it may be time to lift that stigma from the series and accept it for what it is.

      The stakes sure are high for Season 4…No pressure guys!

      Like: Thumb up 0

      • says

        S4 will be a re-entry point for new viewers, i’m sure of it. You’ll probably see a few minutes of recap from the first 3 seasons and then we dive into S4, where it will be very easy for new viewers to follow the storyline.

        But until then: be a good Fringie, and lend out your dvd’s. :)

        Like: Thumb up 0

        • Dylan says

          I think that season 3’s premiere, ‘Olivia’, would be a better jumping on point for audiences, rather than the season 4 premiere.

          Season 4 will be too late for some who hasn’t seen Fringe before to jump in – the concepts, the characters, and events referenced will be too much to comprehend, even with a brief recap.

          It’s best to watch it from the beginning, or from ‘Olivia’, for purposes of having investment in the characters and story. Its the investment that truly makes this kind of thing great.

          Plus, now that Fringe has become far more serialized, it will be hard for someone to just jump in (while not quite as hard as, say, jumping into LOST once it became fully serialized – season 4 and beyond, jumping this late into Fringe would likely be a very hard and confusing thing to do).

          I say, if a new audience member doesn’t want to watch from the beginning of the series, watch from ‘Olivia’.

          lol that’s my two cents.

          Like: Thumb up 0

  9. Pat says

    Not gonna lie, I miss the weekly mysteries. When the show started it was more about the division solving odd and impossible cases. Now it would seem they are making problems without any real or belivable science ever. Also it looks like the show is shifting from its original boston center to nyc, which is not good. It makes fringe look like a common fox drama, which it’s not. It’s better than that. The double universe dillema needs to end. It has had it’s time. The show needs to get a new base, a new idea that can host an underlying plot beneath the centric episodes. Then the major plot can emerge in the finale and maybe a couple of episodes per seaon. The rest should revolve around a singular case, trying to catch a killer or stop some human action, i am sick of listening to holes in the universe and quarantinnes. I can only hope that s4 is not like the last half of s3, only about the other universe. We need to move on.

    Like: Thumb up 0

    • Dylan says

      It’s too late for it to do that, though.

      Perhaps in a few years they can do a spinoff lol I wouldn’t mind that.

      Like: Thumb up 0

  10. JS says

    Since everyone is on the subject… I’ll just add my 2 cents, for what it’s worth.

    Season 1 Fringe, for me, felt very honest and (I know it’s a cliché term) gritty. Maybe it had something to do with being shot in NY that first season, but as season 2 went on, it lost some of that bite. In essence, it lost a character. There was real scrappy quality to that first season I enjoyed, and it seemed to have been dancing in and out this past season, “The Firefly” being an example of it coming in once again.

    Looking at the progression of season 3 now, I’m trying to figure out why the first half resonated in me so much. I think it had to do with watching Olivia struggle through such a desperate time…seeing her hanging in there, dangling off the edge of existence. I loved watching her fight to get back home, but unlike Alice or Dorothy, there was a heavy sacrifice that was paid to get there…. The writing felt like a baton being handed off from one episode to the next. The second half of the season felt less fluid for some reason. It might have been a pacing issue, but I did notice some character points seemed a bit too glossed over or forgotten from one episode to the next (e.g. – Peter’s obsessive killing spree on the shape-shifters and Olivia doesn’t seem to have a problem with that?? Yeah, ok, they’re not “people” or whatever, but still); it seemed sacrificed for information about ‘the machine’ or ‘the other side.’

    Other than Walternate, I don’t get a sense that there’s really an opposing character or ‘force’ out there. Or, maybe I should say, I don’t really feel like there’s a character that I don’t trust… Bell was a big mystery in Season 1, as was Nina. Now they both seem to have had good intentions all along. Ok. Cool. But who has filled that gap? Sam Weiss? I suppose… His back-story seemed a bit rushed, which is partly why I don’t buy into it as much as maybe I should. Maybe that was the point. Time will tell, but right now, I’m hoping there’s more to Weiss than what we got at the end of the season.

    All that said, I’m still enjoying the show, and can’t wait for what is next. :)

    Like: Thumb up 0

    • Dylan says

      It’s strange to put it this way, but I almost feel that the execution of Fringe, not the concepts, has dumbed down a bit (as long as you get my meaning, don’t be concerned with the wording).

      It’s almost trying to please every audience member, rather than be true to itself (for example, the polivia thing took up far too much screentime, and was very much at the forefront, than was necessary. It seemed like fanservice).

      I think it’s a bit jarring to have the series still building at this point, given the storyline. I think it’s time it stops trying to build up to things, and starts running towards a conclusion to it all.

      It’s kind of like…LOST. Season 3 was still trying to do what season 1 and 2 did and introduce mystery after mystery and character after character, through flashbacks, and seemed very much to be running in place (and people did start getting tired of it). However, the last three seasons just starts sprinting towards the inevitable conclusion in ‘the end’.

      I suppose I want Fringe to now fully embrace a serialized format, and start running through its plot (character development will follow, as we’re seeing payoff), rather than having these mini arcs (Bell-Olivia) contained within each season.

      That’s what was jarring to me; having this whole “soul magnets” storyline take up so much time and completely distract the characters and attempt to distract the audience from the machine storyline.
      It’s one of the reasons why the three-part finale felt like it came out of nowhere, arriving straight after ‘Lysergic Acid Diethylamide’ (what ‘Over There’ would have felt like if ‘Brown Betty’ been the episode beforehand, and ‘Northwest passage’ had been before ‘Brown Betty’).

      Like: Thumb up 0

  11. Mr.Khrbr says

    pLease heLp me!

    Is Fringe continue without Peter? What happened to Joshua Jackson?

    If you know everything, pLease Send me an e-maiL.

    Like: Thumb up 0

  12. Dylan says

    Is it just me, or does something seem off about Mr.Khrbr’s comment (just above this one)?

    It looks a bit dodgy. Perhaps it would be safer to just remove it…

    Like: Thumb up 0

  13. Danielle says

    Couldn’t have put it better myself:

    JP: 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?

    I’m frustrated-not-in-a-good-way with the ending, but am willing to see where the producers take it. If they tie up the ends and offer good, consistent story development, I think viewers can forgive/accept a lot (unlike a number of other viewers, I liked the Olivia twist at the of S2. At least I understood it). But it’s a lot of pressure for the producers for the early episodes of S4. And other great shows have been undone by poorly explained/resolved season finales, so it could happen, but I am really hoping it doesn’t.

    Like: Thumb up 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *