Last season of Fringe rocked fans by essentially removing a central character from the entire history of the show and leaving us to wonder what the series could possibly look like going forward. In July, we sat down with cast and producers of the show at San Diego Comic-Con to get some insight into what to expect from season four.
Any significant reveals or twists for this coming season?
Jeff Pinker: Well, of course, yeah but we can't tell you what they are. We enjoy consequences so we'll have many surprises along the way. I think that, obviously, the big question, the elephant in the room is, "What of Peter?" We ended the season with saying he doesn't exist and the characters don't remember him and yet, we all know Josh is in the show. What of Peter? Will Peter return? How? What will be the consequences of that? We like to set up mysteries but then end them quickly and then play "and then what?" as opposed to hinging everything on an answer that we're pushing far down the line.
J.H. Wyman: We always promise each other that we wouldn't pitch anything unless we had a solution because it's so unfair to everybody. We're trying to keep that real.
So, Josh are you playing a new character this year?
Joshua Jackson: I have no idea. They don't tell me anything.
Do you feel like your Peter has finished out his arc?
JJ: Yeah. I feel like the character progression for the Peter that we introduced in the beginning of the pilot is finished by the end of season three. So, we're sketching either an aftermath, like a postscript for that story or we're having to draw an entirely new—not an entirely new—character. Something new has to come out of it. For Peter, when we introduce him—the guy who cares about nothing, has no roots anywhere and keeps no friends close to himself and lives this nihilistic life where it's all about him—to go forward three years and to have that same guy to conspire with his own father to make himself not exist so that the people that he loves can have a chance to live, that is a very noble sacrifice. And it's not anything that the guy three years ago would have considered doing. To me, that is a period, full stop on Peter. And then we'll have to see. I don't know what they're going to do.
How much do you know of what's in store for your characters this season?
Blair Brown: We don't know a lot. That's actually sort of the beauty or the torment of the way we work. They don't give us a lot of advance notice on things. I think what we know, as the worlds have come together, is that everybody's life is quite different. Not only personally, because of whatever Peter meant to them, but also just the structure of their life. Without Peter, Walter would never have healed, in a way. Walter would have never taken over Massive Dynamic, so that's a big part for me.
Jasika Nicole: Astrid is not the babysitter for Walter this season, which is weird because I love that. But I am excited to see the changes that will happen because of that. Instead, she's actually a bit closer to Olivia because they work more together. That means that Astrid's out in the field, which is a huge thing that I wanted and that other people wanted and I'm really excited about that. I'm really excited to see exactly how important Peter was to these people's lives in all these small, tiny ways.
BB: The curious thing is, now this is a way that people who have never seen the show can start because it's kind of like the whole show has been rebooted, in a sense. For people who have watched it, it's very cool because the layers are there but if you haven't, you can follow this story. It's very clever on their part to do it that way.
So John, you're going to be playing two different Walters with no Peter in either of their lives ever?
John Noble: We don't know that it's not ever. As far as I'm concerned, I think that Peter, as a child, existed. He's still not there in the timeframe that we've covered in our show. But otherwise, why would we have the split in the universes.
What would you like to see happen for your characters?
JJ: Hopefully, I get re-integrated into the show. More than anything.
Seth Gabel: I don't know what's going to happen, so it's just imagining what the season could be about. I kind of imagine the two universes being forced to face one another without Peter to be the cause of peace for them while, simultaneously, we see his struggle to come back to whatever reality it is that we all exist in. There's probably some in between. This is just me imagining.
Lance Reddick: The other thing I really want to know more of this season, I want to know who the Observers are and what dimension they live in and where they're from.
SG: I'd love that to relate to where Peter is. And maybe find a connection between them and our future selves.
LR: Oh, I forgot about the time thing.
SG: If we go forward in time, maybe we can go back in time. You can kind of do anything, which is awesome.
How do you guys approach playing two different character, especially when on is structured as more of an antagonist?
Anna Torv: The first thing you ever get taught, really, is never judge your character and to fight their cause. You're on their side. The alternate Olivia isn't bad at all and Walternate has a completely justifiable reason, in my opinion, for what's he's doing.
John Noble: We knew going in that audiences have come to like us that they would treat enemies as bad people. That's kind of the nature of humanity. We knew that would happen and we kept saying to the writers, "We've gotta humanize these people." Which I think we got towards the end.
AT: The fact that they stuck with it, I thanked them. And that's the studio and the network and the writers not just giving a little taste of this alternate universe. And here we are, we get to the end of season three and we're playing with them still. That's great. That's been interesting for the characters but also, I think for us, as actors, to be able to go to another place and then look in on the show we've been doing and come back to it with a completely different perspective on the characters you've been playing.
Because of the nature of ratings, do you guys have a plan to wrap things up if you were canceled?
JP: We'll sleep.
JHW: A lot of people ask that, if we've adjusted our plan in any way and we really didn't. The network and the studio have been so transparent with us. We have a lot of fans in Fox and Warner Brothers. They were encouraging us to continue. So, we didn't really change our direction at all. But, that said, nothing lasts forever. It's an expensive canvas. If we're not getting enough people, they're not going to let us paint anymore. But as far as we're concerned, the show itself, has a meaning to us that we haven't shared yet and we feel confident that that meaning is going to get across. And that, really, is all we want as success, is to be able to ask questions but give answers and have people feel satisfied. I would want that.
JP: We know where the show ends. We're fans and we know what it's like to invest time in something and then, all of the sudden, "Wait, that's it? That wasn't the creator's intention." We're telling a story that's about characters and we know where we want the characters to end up.
JHW: We get away with a lot of stuff that other shows don't. Science fiction is a really neat way to talk about the human condition. We're always trying to investigate what it's like to be a human right now, in 2011. We give it a lot of thought. It's scary because we do have a lot of seasons in us. But that's okay, if it doesn't happen, then we'll try and finish it and make people satisfied.
Fringe's fourth season premieres Friday 8pm on Fox.