Fringe's Peter has returned in the flesh — goodbye, blue shiny ball of light — but the universe he lands in is not his own.
After seemingly disappearing into thin air in the Season 3 finale, Peter (Joshua Jackson) returns to a world where no one knows who he is — and he'll try desperately to get back to his own world. Fringe executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman dish on the prodigal son's return, how this Peter is different and whether he'll make it back to the people he knows and loves.
Now that Peter has returned, how does this change the dynamic of the show?
Jeff Pinkner: The dynamic that we saw at the beginning of this season was "absent Peter." Now that he's back, he is being treated like a fringe event. Some of the audience expected that eventually Peter will return and everything will go back to exactly how it was. Well, that's not really fundamentally possible because the truth is, Peter has returned to a world and a timeline that doesn't remember him, that has no knowledge of him. Walter has knowledge of him, of course, until he was 8 years old when he died, but has no knowledge of this man Peter. Peter is returning with full knowledge. So, he's being treated like a fringe event, but one who has insight into the cases that they're working and can possibly help them. Of course, Peter has an emotional connection to both Walter and the Olivia he's left behind. This Walter and this Olivia that he's now interacting with, look just like them and in many ways feel just like them, but aren't them.
What can you tell us about this new Peter?
J.H. Wyman: We kind of compare him to a space traveler who arrives on a planet that's not his own. In order to come to this decision that he made back in his timeline to do what he needed to do and was told the repercussions, his becoming a selfless hero to save other people is a journey. He has a more mature understanding of existence and his place in it. Now that he's here, it takes a lot to freak him out. I mean, he's pretty much seen everything. On an existential level, he's definitely more at peace with himself and realized that he is the star of his own book and that he's a hero on a hero's journey. He's trying to get back to those that he loves but it's done not with a panic. It's done with a sense of: Look, if there's a will there's a way. There's definitely a will. He's going to start trying to get back. But the way that he looks at everything now has changed.
Pinkner: To supplement that, he's grown a lot emotionally from the guy that we met at the beginning of the series.
Will there ever be a moment where Peter will just snap and get frustrated that no one remembers him?
Wyman: It's not that he's numb. He totally has very intense feelings one way or the other about everything. It's safe to say that as he's adjusting he's going to start to find that calmness maybe give way to a little bit of fear of the unknown. Is he ever going to make it back? Is he ever going to see the people that he loves so much. That longing and missing those relationships really starts to take a toll on someone.
Pinkner: He's definitely driven to get back. He just knows that he needs Walter, and Walter is refusing to have anything to do with him.
Is there a chance they could ever return to the original timeline? Or do you feel like you guys really need to earn that?
Pinkner: Well, for Peter, he wants to go to his timeline. It's not a question of will these characters suddenly flip and will this world suddenly become the world he left? He's literally trying to find a way to travel back to the place he left. He's in Oz trying to get back to Kansas. Everybody just looks exactly like they did when he left Kansas. It's just they're living a much different circumstance because he was never a part of it.
Because Peter was never meant to exist, will there be ramifications because of his return?
Wyman: Peter believes that some of the events that our team is currently undergoing or some of the cases that are coming our team's way may be linked specifically to the fact that he's popped back into this timeline where he doesn't belong. There may be universal consequences to it.
Will Olivia and Walter ever trust him again?
Pinkner: Obviously, that's the question. The question is will Peter now be able to gain these people's trust? Will he help them? Will they help him? What's interesting to us and where a lot of the emotional storytelling is coming from is initially Peter wanted nothing to do with these people. When he was pulled in to work for the Fringe division, largely as a means of just providing an anchor for Walter, Peter wanted nothing to do with these people. He eventually came to care for them and eventually came to fall in love with them. There was a journey over three seasons where Peter finally called Walter "Dad," by the end of Season 3. Now that he is back, he's feeling this emotional connection to characters who suddenly don't know him and have no emotional connection to him. So for Peter, everything's been turned on its head. There are two sides to every coin. Peter is sort of living the other side of the coin right now.
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Fringe airs Fridays at 9/8c on Fox.