For “Fringe” fans, it was the most exciting revelation since the alternate universe was introduced: the sci-fi cult favorite will be back for a fifth and final season.
On the heels of that news, PopcornBiz heard from executive producers Jeff Pinkner and Joel “J.H.” Wyman and got the inside story on the two-part Season Four finale, what might be around the corner, and address some lingering questions – which they revealed along with their deep and abiding gratitude to the fans whose support kept the show alive.
“I think it is absolutely fair to say that without the support of the fans and social media there would be no Season Five,” says Pinkner. “It was huge for us,” agrees Wyman. “Honestly, there’s not a moment where I don’t think how lucky we are to have such incredible fans."
Have we witnessed the apparent end of the alt-uni Redverse – and Agent Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel), who stayed behind when the bridge between universes was shut down?
Pinkner: We love all those characters from the Redverse. The door is closed because of the problems that David Robert Jones is causing, so if our team can somehow dispense with Jones, there’s absolutely a possibility of that door being opened again. We can’t definitively say anything. Seth is spectacular and awesome and has been such a phenomenal addition to the cast, but as far as his standing going forward, to say anything about that would also be to reveal things that are coming ahead.
With the actual role of the seemingly deceased William Bell suddenly coming into question – and didn’t we spot him suspended in amber in 2030? – is Leonard Nimoy going to return to the role?
Pinker: We basically erected a sign outside of Leonard’s house which said, “Please come back to 'Fringe,'” and we are hoping that by Season Five he says yes.
Wyman: Like we’ve always said: nobody’s ever really dead on “Fringe.”
Will the show be returning to the future of 2036 depicted in the season’s 19th episode “Letter of Transit?”
Wyman: Yes, I think it’s safe to say you will…It’s hard, because part of our storytelling has always been revealed in re-contextualizing what you think you know and what you’ve seen and putting it into a different mindframe for the viewer. Let’s just say that that future is important to our storytelling, but it’s not the be all and end all; there is a reason… [Episode] Nineteen is traditionally the one that we go off the beaten path, and that was no different. It was definitely off the beaten path. Does it have further implications? It does. You’re going to definitely need to understand what “Letters of Transit” is, or was, in order to fully grasp all the things we like to tell this year.
Was there a much-speculated-about alternate ending shot to close Season Four if it had to serve as a series finale?
Wyman: No, we did not shoot an alternate ending. We thought about it, but we did not… We close every single season with a chapter. When Peter disappeared [at the end of Season Three], that could have been an ending. I mean, it would have been, “Whoa, wait—what is that? What happened?” but it would have been an ending of sorts. Like, “Okay, Peter had to sacrifice himself in order to save his family. Okay, I’m not happy about that but I understand it.” Then you can imagine one day that they would meet again or something like that. So we just finished the conclusion. We finished the season conclusion in a manner that we feel is authentic and real for that season, and then we use that as a push-off point to go and tell another aspect of the story that we hope the people will be interested in.
Is the vision for Season Five pretty clear at this point?
Wyman: Going down the road, the way that we traditionally finish the chapter, close it and then start a new one, we definitely know. When we’re thinking about the end of the season we’re always thinking about the beginning of the next one, and where that’s going to take us and what kind of doors it can open. That’s basically how it’s been since the get-go, and it’s no different this year. We definitely know where the series is going to end and how it’s going to end and what we’re saying with the final season. It’s a perfect amount of time to be done right and to be doled out in the right pace. We feel really confident that we can have a satisfying ending for us but also, of course, for our fans and supporters within the timeframe of 13 episodes. I think that’s really what we were hoping for. Fox is so great to deliver and continues to demonstrate their incredible support. So yes, we are very content.
Was the 13-episode timeframe of the final season actually more welcome than a full order, given that so many endgame plotlines had already been put in motion in Season Four?
Wyman: We’re always hoping for the best, and you have to plan for the worst. A lot of the greatest things that people have loved about the program have come from ideas that we had had that sort of snowballed and became something else and forced us to look at something else in a different way and realize, “Hey, that’s a really cool story stream. We should really give that a ….” That said, and knowing that happens, when you’re telling 13, I’m sure there will be, and there are, things that we’ve discovered where, “That could be really cool.” If we had 22, we could really take advantage of that, but the truth is that we could only operate on what we have. We were hoping at the minimum we would get 13 so we could tell our story and have ways to do that. If it was a 22 episode [season], we would have found ways to do that, too. I think that “Fringe” has come such a long way. We were just more concerned that we would have the ability to not have a couple of episodes to wrap something up but really an arc, like a real final season event.