Lance Reddick on Fringe Finale and why Mythology Rules


I don’t know about you, but I’m still decompressing from the Fringe season 2 finale and the 20 hour Lost series finale happening in the same week (thanks fate!). But the fun is just beginning for the UK, who will be able to see what happens to Pete-ah and the gang, beginning this Tuesday on Sky.

In preparation for the event, Lance Reddick has been talking to Digital Spy about what fans can expect in the finale. He throws up (not literally) a few things that I found interesting – head past the jump to check it out.

May contain spoilers for those in the UK who watch at Sky pace.

What can you tell us about the upcoming season finale?
“We figure out that Peter’s disappeared, so we decide to go after him. The first part is pretty much about the decision and the preparation to go after him and the second part is about what ensues and the pursuit and whether or not we get him back. You find out [whether we get him back], however… the season finale is still a huge cliffhanger.”

Were you surprised when you read the finale?
“I was shocked. My jaw hit the ground. I was like, ‘No, no, no, no!’ I was thrilled. I mean, it could take two seasons just to resolve that.”

Do we meet an alternate character for you?
“Yes, you see an alternate Broyles. It’s interesting. Once again I don’t want to say too much. You’ve already seen at the end of this last episode the alternate Walter. [Broyles] is still the head of Fringe division but he’s much more of a footsoldier. I don’t want to say too much about the Fringe over there but… it’s the same, but it’s different. One of the things that Jeff Pinkner (executive producer) said to me on a couple of occasions that even though in the alternate universe the actual state of the world is much worse, the characters actually are not as broken.”

The idea that the people in the alternate universe (AU) are “less broken” than our heroes is interesting, and I think many of us picked up on that during the course of the finale. I remember mentioning how Altlivia seems less empathetic and troubled than our Olivia but that it wouldn’t take much to awaken her to Olivia’s reality, since both appear to be made from same inherent ‘stock’.

I just love the distorted parallels between the two worlds and the characters who occupy them. It’s worth considering why the Doubles are essentially less damaged and what this says about the human condition, if anything? Is it possible that people on the Other Side are desensitized to the extent that they are less brittle? Are they an example of how resilient humans are when faced with extreme circumstances? But at what cost? And where does true strength lie. Does it lie with those on the Other Side who are less damaged, or can our heroes rebuild their broken pieces to form a better human whole?

I just find it fascinating to consider how our heroes and their Doubles have been influenced by their respective environments, and that this, in part, is linked to Walter crossing over to save Peternate. Walter may have shattered a world, but in doing so he’s also helped prepare and shape the occupants of the Other Side. If the whole world is indeed a ‘stage’, then we’ve seen the players respond accordingly.

Enough of my babbling, here’s more from Lance:

There’s been a bit of a debate recently between mythology episodes and ‘monster of the week’ episodes, so which do you prefer?
“Personally, I prefer the mythology episodes. I feel like that’s really where the series lives. I think it’s going to be much more about the mythology [in the third season]. I do think there’ll be some monster of the week stuff, but I think it’s going to be much more about the mythology.”

Many of us have been saying the same thing since the first season – the show lives and breathes in the mythology and the characters’ interactions within it. (I know not everyone agrees with this). It’s really encouraging to hear that they’ll be less MOTW episodes, although I didn’t think there was much chance of us going back after the mythology/mythalone run that we’ve just had.

Is it the case that the alternate characters are bad and the primary characters are good, or is it more complex than that?
“It’s interesting. That’s what I thought before we kind of got over there, but no. It’s much more complicated than that. This is one of those areas where I find Fringe interesting and pretty traditionally sci-fi, in that this is where it becomes kind of veiled sociology and politics. Both versions think that the other people are the bad people.”

Damn straight it’s more complicated than that, because life is more complicated than that. While I often refer to the shape-shifter who took Charlie’s identity as “Evil Charlie”, that’s just a moniker. Good and bad is relative and cannot be apportioned to one side or the other, despite what Walternate said. One of the things that makes this show so great, for me, is that it is very human – and the more fantastical it gets (time-travel, alternate universes, etc), the more human, relatable and moving the show seems to become. And I mean that, I’m not just paying lip-service.

I see the show’s mythology as being a grand platform for discovering and examining these issues of humanity and how well (or badly) we as people deal with situations. You only have to look at some of the show’s core mythology devices to see that they all have something in common. To my mind they all speak of hope. Of redemption, forgiveness, love, happiness, second chances. The list goes on. These are human desires, if not needs, that we all chase at one point or another. And while there is conflict within these themes, that is also true of life. So like Lance says, let’s live and breath where the mythology is at. :)

I’ve done far too much talking – it must be the Lowatus and not having a review and Observations to write for the first time in oh so long. You can read the entire interview with Lance Reddick here, although it does contain spoilers for those in the UK who haven’t seen the finale.

Comments

  1. mlj102 says

    “I’ve done far too much talking – it must be the Lowatus and not having a review and Observations to write for the first time in oh so long.”

    It’s only been a week since you last wrote a review… This is just the beginning. :) I’m not even going to bother looking at how many weeks we have before Fringe returns… it’s too depressing at this point. But, as far as I’m concerned, you can talk as much as you want — it’s always fascinating to read your view of what is said in various interviews. You brought up a lot of neat ideas with this one.

    “Is it possible that people on the Other Side are desensitized to the extent that they are less brittle? Are they an example of how resilient humans are when faced with extreme circumstances? But at what cost? And where does true strength lie.”

    I really like where you’re going with this. It’s a complicated question because, as with so many things, I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. In a lot of ways, we are seeing two different extremes: our side, that has just begun facing all these threats of destruction and, consequently, they’re having a hard time coping with that; and the other side that has seen so much devastating destruction that they’re accustomed to it and, out of necessity, they’ve had to distance themselves and train themselves to not care so much. Both reactions have positive and negative aspects to them. Our side needs to learn to be a bit stronger and to deal with what comes without falling apart. They could use a bit more of that resiliency that the other side has acquired. But over there, they’re almost a bit too removed from the feeling of the situation. They need to have that empathy and that emotional connection, otherwise they’re just going through the motions, and they have little to fight for.

    It reminds me of Grey Matters, when Olivia chose to let Newton go in order to save Walter, and Newton later claimed how that made her weak. And it’s true — her emotional attachment to Walter and Peter caused her to, somewhat irrationally, allow Newton to go free. But does that make her weak? I don’t think so. I think that same emotional investment in people is what gives her something to fight for. Because she cares so much, she will do whatever is necessary to protect those she loves. And that is a great strength. It’s interesting to think what would have happened if alternate Olivia had been in that situation, or something similar. I imagine it would be hard for her to sacrifice someone close to her and someone she cared about, but in a way, I can’t see her choosing to let a dangerous person escape in order to save someone she cares about. She’s more duty bound, more motivated by orders and obligation. I wouldn’t be surprised if she would have just let Walter (or whoever she cared about) die in order to keep her prisoner and complete her mission. And with her strength and her emotional detachment, she likely would have been able to accept that as a necessary sacrifice. But does that make her stronger than Olivia? I don’t think so.

    I really like what Olivia tells Broyles in The Cure: “I am emotional. I do bring it into my work. It’s what motivates me. It helps me to get into the headspace of our victims… See what they’ve seen. Even if I don’t want to, even if it horrifies me. And I think it makes me a better agent.” I think that emotion is essential to the success of any endeavor. And while it can turn into something that does more harm than good if you let it overwhelm you and control you, that same emotion is also a very powerful motivating force. There is something to be said for the type of strength that comes from resiliency and adapting to difficult situations, which often requires you to remove your emotions, but I also think there is a deep strength that comes from those emotional connections and being personally invested in something. As you mentioned, losing that emotional connection in order to develop that resiliency is a high price to pay — and I’m not sure it’s worth it.

    “One of the things that makes this show so great, for me, is that it is very human – and the more fantastical it gets (time-travel, alternate universes, etc), the more human, relatable and moving the show seems to become.”

    In an interview with the producers a few months ago, J. H. Wyman quoted Isaac Asimov and said: “any story that’s about sci-fi is really about the human condition. The more sci-fi they get, the more human it becomes.” I really liked that when I read it and I think it fits with what you’re saying here. It’s strange to think about, but it’s really true that these science fiction stories really do allow a unique focus on humanity and various themes associated with the human condition.

    Now look what you’ve done… You’ve caused me to go and write another novel. :)

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    • says

      mlj,

      I like what you said about the two worlds (or the people in them) essentially needing to develop a piece of what the other has. Neither side is perfect, and both have relative strengths and weaknesses that are in some way predicated on their unique circumstances.

      It’s definitely interesting to examine the two sides from this perspective.

      As you point out, much of what makes Olivia strong is being able to connect emotionally with her surroundings, while Altlivia’s strength is seemingly drawn from detaching her emotion from the job. Both approaches, whether conscious or unconscious, seem to work for them in their respective worlds (will the same apply now that they have switched environments?).

      I’m just scraping the surface here, but I wanted to respond to what I thought was a very interesting comment that you made.

      Thanks for the thought juice. (which is better than it sounds) :)

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  2. kittyofdoom says

    “Personally, I prefer the mythology episodes. I feel like that’s really where the series lives. I think it’s going to be much more about the mythology [in the third season]. I do think there’ll be some monster of the week stuff, but I think it’s going to be much more about the mythology.”

    While I love the mythology episodes, as a fan, I hope that they can successfully marry mythology with a serialized format. Fringe isn’t going to draw more viewers in if they sit down to watch and can’t figure out what the heck is happening. I imagine that for the writers it’s a very tricky balance, advancing both the long-term storyline and an episodic storyline simultaneously, but I’m willing to put up with some monster-of-the-week if it’s going to mean more viewers for Fringe.

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  3. Page 48 says

    Sounds like Lancelot gets it. Mythology is/should be where “Fringe” lives.

    Now, if I was interviewing LR, I would say “Lance my man, why did Broyles send Liv to the storage facility and is there a storage facility in the AU and would Broyles ever consider sending her there, too?”

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      • LMH says

        Oh Broyles, I want to know your secrets. I’m so glad Lance is on this show, it’s such a perfect fit for him.
        To the question from the Pilot of why was Liv sent to the storage facility, they’ll reveal it in the last second of the series. Boom! the end. LOL.
        Yes, that is one question that I hope is explored…when is our Broyles (and Nina’s) backstory going to be fleshed out a little? Think we will be contending first with Sam Weiss and Altivia. Or will we?

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  4. LizW65 says

    Good Lord, I HOPE it doesn’t take them all of two seasons to “out” Alt-Liv! That would really reflect badly on all concerned. (Now that I’ve re-read the interview, he said “resolve”, which doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing–just that it could take two seasons to deal with all the fallout from that particular plot point.)

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  5. mlj102 says

    So the original post here was so good that I didn’t actually read the whole interview with Lance Reddick until now, and I found this part:

    “Well it’s interesting, because they tried to get the cast of Glee to play some singing cadavers [in the musical episode]. But for some reason it didn’t happen.”

    Now that would have been something to see! What a shame that they weren’t able to make that happen. I guess the creators of Glee wouldn’t have been too thrilled to have viewers think certain characters were dead… but I wouldn’t have had any problem with it!

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  6. Merlin says

    Lance Reddick is so Bad-Ass, he doesn’t open a can of whoop-ass, he looks at it and it explodes!

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