Tonight, Fox’s science fiction series Fringe resumes its fourth season, which has thrown viewers into a world vastly different from the one to which we’d become accustomed. In this new world, Peter Bishop died as a child and we’ve gotten to see how the lives of the other characters developed without him. Peter did make his way back into existence a few episodes into the season, but now must try to find a way back to the timeline he knows and the people he loves. Don’t worry, there will be a payoff.
TVLine sat down and spoke with executive producers Jeff Pinker and J.H. Wyman about where the rest of this season is heading. For those who have not seen episode 8 (“Back to Where You’ve Never Been”), some of the interview and this article could be considered mildly spoiler-y.
Much of the interview centers on Peter’s attempts to find a way back to his own timeline and the people he loves there. Getting nowhere with Walter, Peter talks “our” Olivia and Lincoln Lee into sneaking him across into the other universe to seek Walternates help. We haven’t had a lot of interaction with the alternate universe and Walternate yet this season, and Wyman says the meeting between Peter and this new Walternate may be a little different from what we expect: “It’s interesting, because it’s changed…. Walternate doesn’t have the same bitterness. He’s sort of allowed to feel a little more, so he’s a very different version of what we’ve seen.” The changes can be largely attributed to the better relationship Walternate has with his wife Elizabeth, who helped him heal after Peter’s death. Elizabeth will also play a large role in helping Peter connect with and get assistance from Walternate.
The EPs also had a little to say about the still unseen villain of the season, who will begin to be hinted at in tonight’s episode. Pinker still isn’t naming names, but says that they were happy to bring back one of their favorite actors who had been on the show before: “But as with many things this season, we’re presenting a fractal of the world we visited before, so our bad guy is someone we’ve met before but because Peter didn’t exist in this world, we meet him in a different context. He hasn’t gone through the same consequences as when we met him before.” We know that David Jones – a significant villain from Fringe’s first season – will be returning in the upcoming episodes, but might Pinker’s comments suggest there’s another overarching villain to the season?
Pinker and Wyman don’t really address TVLine’s questions about what they identify as the biggest complaint lodged against the season thusfar: that “we’re kind of watching a bunch of posers” and, since it is not necessarily a permanent timeline, Peter is “the only character going through any development that will stick”. They reiterate that the Amberverse characters are changing through their interactions with Peter . Pinker and Wyman stay away from giving any hints about how long Fringe will stick with the alternate world and characters, which might be part of why they evade the question. They do express a lot of faith in Fringe fans to stick with the show and hopefully understand or appreciate the choices that have been made this season, though.
While it’s true that a lot of fans have been dissatisfied with the season thusfar, I’m still excited for Fringe‘s return. It’s always interesting to see new facets of characters and the new relationships that can develop when an element or two are shifted. John Noble is always wonderful, but his portrayal of this season’s version of Walter has been particularly heartbreaking. Fringe has never been afraid to play with its universe, both stylistically (Brown Betty, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) and in its plot twists. Sometimes it hits, sometimes it misses – but it’s always interesting.