Prepare your red vines and strawberry milkshakes: The Fringe community will unite Friday when the Fox sci-fi series kicks off its fifth and final season.
In its swan song, Fringe will focus on the year 2036, 16 years after the Observers invaded Earth. As seen in last year's Episode 19, Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia's (Anna Torv) daughter Etta (Georgina Haig) tracked down her family in order to release them from amber so they could hopefully save the world. And that will be their mission this year: Rid the world of Observers or perish. Yes, the stakes really are that high, and you'll discover why in Friday's premiere (9/8c, Fox).
The only saving grace? Walter Bishop (John Noble), who may hold the key to taking down the Observers in his addled brain. First though, the gang will team up to track down Olivia, who was MIA in last season's flash-forward. While touching, the family reunion will bring up a lot of painful memories for Olivia, says executive producer J.H. Wyman. To find out why and what else is in store this year, read below:
We've seen in some promos flashbacks to the day the Observers arrived, so is the entire season set in the future?
J.H. Wyman: The structure of this season is going to be very straightforward in that I didn't want to pull any tricks or introduce any new universes or anything crazy. I just really wanted to focus on the emotions of what the characters are going through, and stay very focused on our core relationships because I think we spent the last four years gearing up for this season, and I just was always very concerned that the characters would get their emotional due.
I looked at it like it's a 13-episode feature film where in Fringe's past, you deal with one episode that's about Olivia feeling one way and then the next episode she's feeling a completely different way and it's a little bit more sporadic. I think that's the nature of episodic television. But with this shortened season it allows us to really have a continuity of emotional states so you can feel like you're watching a saga, and that's what I felt that the show deserved. That's the direction that I went in, so week to week it's a continuance of the emotions that you've seen the week before.
What will surprise us about the day that the Fringe team landed in the amber?
Wyman: I think the relationships and the state of them and where they were is going to be the most surprising. That's going to be a very big, emotional key to where we're heading this season.
What can you tell us about Peter and Olivia this season? Fans are so invested in getting a happily-ever-after for them.
Wyman: We've said it a million times, but it's really true that the show is a family drama that is masquerading as a science-fiction show. I think that even the title "Fringe" is very indicative of what we're doing here. These are all desperate characters that are trying so hard to keep the family together, and I think that's really worth writing because it's really hard these days to keep a family together. It's very strange with families where they're devolving and then they're coming back together stronger in different ways, and the traditional family doesn't really look like the traditional family any longer. It just is a testament to how people or human beings will do whatever they can to form those familial bonds.
Life is valued by the connections that we make and that this Fringe division, or this Fringe family is trying very, very hard to combat the monsters, which are essentially metaphors for what people have to go through today to keep their families together on a week-to-week basis. This season will be a natural evolution to have them go through their final paces and into areas and emotions that we fully are with them when they're going through them.
Obviously we're seeing a different side of everyone, but what about Olivia without abilities? How will that change who she is now?
Wyman: She's never really depended on those abilities. Of course, they were utilized when push came to shove. It's funny, it's not that she's going to miss them. For all intents and purposes, she was abused. She was this young child that was put into these trials and basically was very vulnerable, and she has no choice but to push through to the other side. A lot of her life was thrust upon her. She didn't ask for it. In a weird way, this season is very much about that, even though the powers are not really there at this point. It's basically very important because this season is very much about finding strength in your vulnerability, and being able to love things and to accept things and try to understand life in ways that sometimes it doesn't go the way that you want it to, but you have to embrace it and you have to try and change it and make the world you live in not necessarily the one.
There's a large journey for Olivia this season that's all about that. It's all about understanding what had happened to her. There's very interesting things in that for me, like how does that little girl that grew up to be Olivia Dunham, how does she view motherhood? And what was it like when she even thought about having children? I mean, we know very well that it was said that she wasn't sure the world was ready to have children. She is the one who is hesitant, and Peter was the one who said, "No, no, come on. It's our turn to enjoy some of the freedoms we fought so hard to give others and have a child." So there's a lot of really interesting psychological emotional things that goes on with what had happened to her, and that's kind of what I mean by I'm trying to be really honest about this character and where she's been and how she's going to look at the world, and what's presented to her in 2036, and coming face-to-face with this daughter that she lost so many years ago, that is now older. It brings up a lot of the past for her.
Because the stakes are raised in the final season, can you say whether there will be major casualties?
Wyman: There will be death in the final season, but we don't know whose death. Whenever there's a war, there's going to be casualties. I think they are going to be unexpected and I think that that's part of the fun. I wanted to give you a real experience where you feel like, "Wow, I've just been put through the wringer with these people and I love that!" That's what I'm hoping for.
Considering the recent bloody Walter promos, he seems like a likely candidate. He knows how to take down the Observers, but we know he's also damaged going into this season. How will he struggle along his path to save the world?
Wyman: He had a piece of his brain put back in and the reason why he had that brain taken out is because he didn't like who he was becoming and it was very dangerous. He instructed William to take it out, so one would assume that once it gets put back in he is going to start to maybe be conflicted and start to have his brain growing back into ways that maybe we're surprised to see. This is an ongoing source of conflict for Walter, because you understand that he is a great man at the hands of Peter. He loves the man Peter has helped him become and he loathes the man that he used to be, so there's a natural conflict in that. The difficult thing is that he's got to deal with this plan. He's got to save the world, and he needs to have all his capacity and that may mean that extra little shove of intelligence that he's getting from this piece of brain that was put in, but at what cost? What does that mean to Walter? He has to save the world, but he also loves his relationships with people.
Do you think Peter will be a different father than Walter was?
Wyman: I do. I do. I think he'll be a better man than his father.
Are you excited about the final season of Fringe?