Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman have their say on Fringe Season 4 finale — and Season 5 — in a new round of interviews.
TV Line interview quotables:
The “button” for this finale, the final moment, was one of the quieter ones the series has had to date. Is that a trade-off you made by revealing what you did in Episode 19?
Exactly. It was quiet. Whereas the seasons that came before, it was always such an accelerated, “Let’s jam you to watch next season!” thing, this was more of an emotional crescendo. Traditionally we end the seasons with chapters, and this was a gentle closing of the chapter.
But as much as may have been revealed in 19, is it safe to say we don’t have a true grasp for all that’s coming?
September [in the final scene] was referring to the Observers [coming], to the events of 419. But going forward, it’s a who, what, where, when and why, for sure. It’s also a crescendo of everything that has come before it. Season 5 is designed to be very important, a huge payoff for loyal fans. They will feel like, “Because I invested in every single episode, and I have so many questions, I want these questions answered. And I want everything to be made sense of, but taken on a journey that just can’t be stopped. I want it to end in a place where I feel like everybody kind of belongs where they are and got what they’ve earned.” There will be a sense of satisfaction for those long-term viewers that go, “Wow, I really feel good. I feel OK about what has transpired, what I have watched. But I also can imagine life after that for our main characters.” So that’s what Season 5 is — and it’s a big responsibility! [Laughs]
Along those lines, are you and Jeff pretty excited to have that final season order, to march toward the finish line you’ve always had in your head?
Oh my god…. Look, if not for you guys [in the press] and the fans, there’s no way we’d still be here — so a big thank you for that, for caring enough to recognize that we’re trying really hard here. We’re always amazed that [Fox] went forward with this, because it’s no secret the ratings were what they were. But we stuck to this point of view that we’re never going to change the storytelling based on anybody’s input. This is going to be a story we tell 100-percent from our hearts, authentically, good or bad — and if we’re fortunate enough to get where we want to go, that’s a small miracle. So when got the 13[-episode final season order] – which we knew about maybe an hour before everybody else – it was like, “Finally, I get some canvas to finish this picture.” And truthfully, I was more relieved for the fans.
I, as I know you do, think the world of John Noble. For years he’s be an outstanding ambassador for your show. But he did tell us a few weeks ago that something a little bit extra or different had been shot in case this was the series finale. I know you rebuffed that idea when I asked you about it last week, but can you then clarify what John might have been speaking about?
I think we’re talking about two different things. These guys [on our cast] are doing their best given what they know, since traditionally we’re very secretive. We had talked about a couple of ideas, Jeff and I – “Well, maybe we could take it this way, or take it another way” — but we still wanted to be true to the main idea. So there was a thought there that maybe we should do a whole different thing if we get picked up or if we don’t. We felt, ultimately, that we weren’t going to film anything that we thought would be completely different. We talked about it, and there was something shot that we used in a different context that nobody could have possibly imagined. So that’s where the confusion lies with John. We just basically said, “Know what? We found a way to cover both angles, and we’re OK with it.”
You can read more at TV Line.
“They are coming!” Can we assume that the “they” is the Observers, and you’re lining up with what we saw in 2036?
J.H. Wyman: Yes.
Are you going to stay in the current timeline, or will we see some flashing forward and backward next season?
Wyman: Well, let’s say that basically 2036 is extremely important to Season 5. It’s crucial, but having said that, everything that you have seen in Fringe from Season 1 all the way to 4 is really, really, really, really important to what’s going on in Season 5, and 2036 is part of that. It’s a 13-episode sprint; there’s no filler episodes. It answers some very bold questions. It culminates with a very satisfying type of crescendo that really is so important for the fans, that’s the biggest thing. That’s the only thing that’s really important is to make sure that they feel absolutely satiated.
Because Olivia did technically die in the finale, does this mean that was the moment September had envisioned? And, will she always heal rapidly and now never die?
Wyman: At the end of every season, we close a chapter, and you’ve heard us say that before, but this chapter being closed is a gentle closing for a reason. We wanted to allow the characters to be in the emotions that they fought for and deserved and allow them to experience a little bit of peace and understand where they are.
Jeff Pinkner: Part of the answer to your question is yes, Olivia healed because of all the cortexiphan. At the end of Season 4, as Walter said on the screen, because of the wildly activated cortexiphan in her body, this experiment to heal her brain tissue would work. Because that’s not constantly the case, because that’s just a fleeting condition, absolutely, she could be killed.
Wyman: They don’t know if anything is over. So they’ve been given that warning. I think that it’s best to have the audience not know either and be with them in that trepidation of going forward, going, “Well, maybe.” That’s more like real life, isn’t it?
Especially because the Man X who was supposed to kill her — as we saw in last season’s trippy animation episode — wasn’t very obvious.
Wyman: Basically, when Walter was going through the Nanites. From that episode when she was in William’s head, she said, “I know that’s the man who’s going to kill me.” She had a feeling that when she was in William Bell’s head, that there was a man and it manifested itself as a character in William Bell’s head in the comic that they’re experiencing and it had that emblem on it.
Then, ultimately, in this episode, you saw in the in the Nanites they had the emblem on it. When Walter recognized that that was William Bell’s creation by that mark, because that was the mark that William used to mark things with. So really, in a sense, it was William Bell who killed Olivia. You could argue, saying when she came out of William Bell’s head, she said, “That’s the man who’s going to kill me,” it was actually William Bell.
Now that Olivia is pregnant, will she worry about putting herself in the line of fire, or will Peter be worrying about her?
Wyman: You’ll probably understand that a lot more when you see Season 5, without spoiling stuff. That’s not something that’s going to be examined in the way you just laid it out. But keep in mind that in Fringe, when we say, “There’s going to be a love triangle,” it’s a weird show, so you can have a love triangle with two people, like two Olivias in the love triangle. So we can do some pretty freaky things, but it’s not going to be big issue.
You can read more at TV Guide.
How soon do you need to get back to writing Season 5?
Wyman: Fast. We’re just so lucky to get the chance to tell the next chapter. Everyone from the crew to the actors, just everyone who works on the show, are blown away that No. 1: We’re still here. It’s no secret the show has had some struggles with ratings. But the love we’ve seen for “Fringe” from Fox and Warner Brothers, but more from the fans and the media. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. We’re also blown away that we get to finish the story in a way that it deserves and that the fans will appreciate. For lack of a better way to say it, it’s one time where the good guys won. The fans of science fiction and the critical darlings that don’t get the highest ratings, they have shows they love that never saw the light of day, or if they got a little more time, they would have had a chance. This is one of the times where the network stuck with the show, and it needs to be applauded. We’re just amazed and pleased and incredibly grateful.
Each time the show supposedly got closer to getting canceled, you got more daring and inventive.
Wyman: We can honestly say we never changed the story based on any information other than our own personal taste. That’s a bit of a victory. There were times we were unsure. For example, when we went to the other side. We were taking characters everyone had grown to love, and we said “hold that now while we go over here to a whole new version of the characters.” Would people even go for that? Is it not some form of suicide? Common knowledge would probably say yes, but we went to the creative place to make the decision. We know we cannot do these characters justice unless we actually do go over there. Fully go over there. Commit. We found the alternate characters very compelling and necessary to get some of the thematic things we were trying to say out. That was our criteria. For every single decision-making process, we asked, what do we feel? What’s the right thing to do? That’s definitely something we’re both very proud of. Some people may have liked some of the story turns we came up with, some may not, but the truth is they were ours. They were never dictated by “you guys are getting canceled!” The network was very transparent with us. And fair. First we moved to Thursdays and then to Fridays, but they always told us why. Telling us what their strategy was and what they expected from us. Every time we moved, someone said we were getting canceled, and we were like, “But wait, we were supposed to get canceled two years ago. Weren’t we?” But we held on. And it was our journey.
You can read more at LA Times