The third season of Fringe will be like watching two shows at once. Every other week will take place in our universe, and the episodes in between in the alternate universe where Olivia is now stuck. "This is a great experiment—it's like two Fringes," says John Noble, who next season will play both Walter and Walternate. "Walternate appears cold and hard, and that's the way he's going to appear for a while. But we have to humanize him, otherwise he's a two-dimensional character."
Noble thinks we're going to find out what's underneath that exterior soon enough. "We were talking about specifics of how to do it today, and that makes me happy."
But before delving into the inner workings of Walternate, the premiere episode on September 23 promises to answer questions about Olivia's fate in the "wrong" universe. "You'll see a massive episode set in the alternate universe, with our Olivia escaping from the place they put her in," says Noble. "Anna [Torv] does a really amazing job."
As the upcoming season explores if the alternate universe is indeed an evil place, Noble acknowledges that splitting the show in two is an enormous risk. Yet, he's certain that it will pay off. "We took a risk with the flashback episode and that paid off, we took a risk with the musical episode—but this is the biggest," he says. "Everyone wants to have a good guy and a bad guy, and the alternate universe is the bad guy. But we want to get viewers to know the people there and say, 'They're really nice people. No wonder they're angry.' It's almost counterintuitive."