The end of days are upon us.
The penultimate episode of Fringe saw Peter (Joshua Jackson) enter the machine, which transported him 15 years into a decimated future. As the very fabric of our universe is being ripped apart, Peter will attempt to prevent this grim future from happening. And along the way, lives will be lost (yes, that was plural!) Executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman answer burning questions about the finale:
How is this flash-forward different from others we've seen on TV before?
J.H. Wyman: The very nature of Fringe is that it's all about choices that we make, so we get to celebrate that authentically. Whatever we see in the future can be adjusted and might be adjusted. We feel like we've actually earned the ability to go backwards and forwards to eliminate and re-contextualize the show for the viewer. There's so much story to tell in the future, in the past, and the present with Fringe. It's kind of like a wheelhouse that we feel comfortable playing in.
Is this a permanent jump or will you decide to jump backwards and forwards next season?
Jeff Pinkner: The ending of the finale sort of answers your question. As the Observers once told us, there are many futures happening simultaneously. Which one will come true is based on, as Joel just said, the choices that we all collectively make. The finale is the future in 2026 that our characters are on a path towards if nothing were to change. By the end of the episode, that change has occurred. So we may continue to tell storytelling that's both in the past, like we've done a couple of times to see Walter's story with Peter, and we may jump to the future again. But it won't be necessarily the same one that we're in in this episode.
The whole season has been building towards the destruction of one universe or the other, but in jumping ahead 15 years, you skipped over that. Will we see what happens or will that be mirrored in the deterioration of our universe in the future?
Wyman: We love to answer questions. There's some great shows that love to ask them and maybe not answer them so quickly. We've always tried to sort of fill in the blanks and get the viewer to feel satisfied that they're watching a story for a reason. We both feel that you'll be satisfied, that you will understand what the future held for each universe and their collective and individual fates.
How have the characters' relationships changed 15 years in the future?
Wyman: Some of them are what you would expect, but some of them are not. We tried to make sure that each one was at least logical, of course, and colorful in its own way; how they grew and what happens to them. But we looked at this as a huge possibility to paint a canvas in the future to allow the viewer to fill in some blanks and take that away with them and go, "Wow, that's really interesting. How did this transpire?"
Thanks to the promos, we've seen glimpses of how bad the future is. Will Peter be able to prevent this future from happening?
Pinkner: It's bad! I think that the question of the episode is: What's to come? And for Peter, Olivia (Anna Torv), Walter (John Noble) and, obviously, the rest of the team — what is their role in trying to prevent what seems to be a pretty awful fate?
What can you tell us about the End-of-Dayers and Walternate's plan to destroy our universe?
Wyman: The concept of End-of-Dayers is an interesting one because it deals with faith and loss of faith. That's kind of a big theme for us; that people are constantly looking for things to believe in. Right now, in society, we feel that there's a breakdown in a lot of different areas in life that people once had great faith in, like politics or religion or whatever. People are looking for something to believe in. So the End-of-Dayers are basically people that have faith, but faith in the end of everything. That it is the end of days that would deliver them into some sort of salvation. It's tough to have faith when the environment is what it is and you're living in conditions that these people are living in. It's pretty dire.
Are the future citizens of the world aware of the cross-universe war?
Pinkner: Yeah. Fifteen years in the future, when the story takes place, everything has become much more public and necessary.
Wyman: Eventually you can't hide it any longer.
We're going to be losing a main character in the finale. What can you tell us about that? Is it permanent?
Wyman: Is this death permanent? You'll see it's not exactly what happens. Maybe the best hint is that there's actually more than one.
Is this a mass casualty situation?
Pinkner: The deaths are actually both in entirely different contexts.
The Fringe finale airs Friday at 9/8c on Fox.