Fringe returned Tuesday with an all-new episode, and guess what? We still have a lot of burning questions about Olivia & Co. So we got on the phone with executive producer Jeff Pinkner, who gave us answers that were at times illuminating, frustrating, humorous and, of course, confusing. In the second of two parts (see the first part here), Pinkner holds forth on Peter Bishop's parentage, Walter's reliability and the real Massive Dynamic. Is Peter Bishop really Walter's son?
Pinkner: Yes, although that's a more complicated question. Peter Bishop is the offspring of Walter Bishop. Is Peter Bishop a clone of Walter Bishop?
Pinkner: Here's the truth: In our storytelling, we always come up with a lot of sensational "Oh, sh--!" moments, but if it's not grounded in some kind of emotional revelation or deepening of the story, then we dismiss it. Otherwise it's like whipped cream — it tastes good for a minute, but it's just empty calories. Take Olivia, and the revelations we've had about her stepfather. Since he's out there and she wasn't able to kill him, in her subconscious, every bad guy is her stepfather. It's what drives her and the character. So that's a revelation that informs and deepens her. Will we ever meet Olivia's stepfather?
Pinkner: I think so. At the end of the second episode, Walter asked Olivia to keep something about Peter's medical history secret — what's the secret?
Pinkner: Here's something you have to remember: Walter is crazy, and I think the depth of his craziness we've only begun to tap into. He's manic-depressive, and he has been pretty much in a manic phase since we've met him. We haven't seen the dark side at all yet. He's been on a creative high. His memory is sketchy and unreliable. So we shouldn't necessarily trust what comes out of Walter's mouth?
Pinkner: Correct. So then why is Walter always asking about Peter's health? A lot of people have pointed out that Walter thinks Peter has high blood pressure, which is a condition usually associated with older people?
Pinkner: I think that was just a cover for what he was really checking. Why is it that Walter has always already worked on something related to the case at hand?
Pinkner: That's not going to become a trope. You also have to again remember that Walter's crazy; we may find out that he has worked on none of those things. But he always figures it out...
Pinkner: He happens to be insanely brilliant, though nuts. It may just be that something he discovered or did that drove him crazy. Any plans for Walter to have a love interest?
Pinkner: That's funny. I would hope so. Will we ever meet Peter's mother?
Pinkner: Yes... we may have already met her. Is Walter and Nina's shared past professional or personal?
Pinkner: Both. Was Nina telling the truth when she told us how she lost her arm?
Pinkner: Yes. Most of our characters tell the truth, at least as far as their characters know it. There are no liars on Fringe?
Pinkner: Walter is unreliable. Olivia cons Peter in the pilot. Our characters lie and hide truth when necessary. But we don't want to be in a world when our audience is questioning everything that comes out of any of our characters' mouths. Some readers have mentioned that when you send an email to the Massive Dynamic website, you get a personalized reply? (In one case, a reader sent an email asking where to buy Pearl Jam tickets, as a joke. The response that came back: Not sure, but if you find out, let us know. Dr. Bell is a huge fan. Creepy, right?) Who is sending those emails?
Pinkner: Who does it say is sending them? I believe the customer service department or something.
Pinkner: Yes, it's the customer service department of Massive Dynamic. What's the real question: Is Massive Dynamic a real company? No, the real question is: Who is actually doing it?
Pinkner: Probably a whole host of people in India, just like the customer service department at Staples, I would imagine. OK, fine, is Massive Dynamic a real company?
Pinkner: That's the more important question. Well, obviously it's a real company on the show; whether it's a real company in the world is a question I can't answer.