Anyone who caught Fringe's final season premiere last Friday already knows that this will be the toughest year yet for the newly outlawed Fringe team. They're stuck in a dystopian 2036, where mysterious bald "Observers" have established a dictatorial rule over humanity, and their biggest asset — Walter's (John Noble) brain — has been effectively blown to smithereens. But the drama isn't strictly contained to physical threats — Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia (Anna Torv) have to deal with the fact that they lost their daughter, Etta (Georgina Haig) back in 2015, which led to the emotional destruction of their marriage. Now Etta is back as a 20-something, and is fighting alongside her confused, preserved-in-amber parents who look more like her college buddies than her mom and dad. It's weird.
There are now only twelve episodes left, meaning it's time for us to start saying goodbye to the characters we've known and loved for the past five years. Of course that means it's time for the actors to say goodbye too, and producer Joel Wyman gave the cast an unusual gift this season, by telling each of them them what their final arc would be. Hollywood.com visited the Vancouver Fringe set with Warner Brothers last week, and we asked Noble, Jackson, Torv, and Jasika Nicole for their thoughts on the final journey.
Torv has always seen the buttoned-up Olivia as an emotionally hardened warrior, and though she's excited about the prospect of seeing Olivia finally relax with her family, she says she wouldn't mind if her journey ended in death. "I don't mind [dying on the show]", she said. "I've never minded that kind of thing, that ultimate sacrifice... I don't know if that's where they'll go. I think some people just carry a little bit more on their shoulders. They just are naturally a little bit more isolated, and essentially loners. I feel that Olivia really is [a loner], despite how much she wants not to be. But maybe that's her ultimate journey — to truly not be the loner that I think she has been."
Torv's on-screen husband agrees. "Olivia -- she’s got some issues," Jackson laughed. "She’s not a happy woman. If Peter’s journey has been learning how to play well with others and be a part of a family, I think Olivia’s journey has been to come to a place of acceptance of herself... to come to a place where she could accept this bizarro-world family and trust them — which is not her strong suit — and then allow that trust to grow into love, even through all the trials and tribulations that she and Peter went through."
Clearly this will take a lot of work, but according to Noble, the rapid pace of Fringe's final season will find some characters going through major changes over the course of 42 minutes. "Because of the nature of the way that this year is constructed, every episode changes the game," Noble said. "We're not going off into the team going into a monster of the week, and coming out the other end, having a cup of tea. [Episode] four, from the story point of view, is huge. But I can't think of one that isn't at this stage. You're seeing characters going through changes during the course of episodes. They're all pretty huge."
Well, color us excited! Noble's Walter has always had the heaviest mental load to carry, since he's the one that jumped into the alternate universe to steal a little boy that wasn't his — opening up a giant can of worms that has led to, among other things, the near destruction of two universes. So for Noble, his final journey is simply one of self-forgiveness. "Walter's [journey] is a massive morality tale, really," Noble said. "He basically broke the laws of God and nature to do what he did."
Unfortunately for Walter, the dystopian backdrop of the final season (as well as the assault on his brain) won't make finding peace with himself particularly easy. "The new world is awfully cruel to him," he said. "Just awfully cruel. It's terrible. But yeah, he'll get past [his misdeeds]. That's what I'm looking for now, is acceptance of that. To accept what he is. Because until he does, he can't live on... That's what Walter's journey absolutely is."
There is a silver lining for Walter — because despite the absolute crappiness of his surroundings, he has one major asset to help him on his quest for self-acceptance: Peter. "I think the end of Peter’s journey, for this story, is going to be to make sure that Walter’s okay," Jackson said. "That’s really the end of Peter’s story. Walter doesn’t function if Peter’s not there. He just can’t go anymore without Peter. So the final accomplishment that Peter has to have is to make sure that this father, this Walter character, is whole — by however we get there by the end of the show."
Heavy stuff! The Fringe team certainly has a lot of world-saving and self-accepting to do before the show's series finale, but for one particularly emotionally stable character, the final odyssey is a bit less daunting: Nicole just wants Walter to learn Astrid's freaking name. Thankfully, the actress has a plan: "Maybe if Astrid gets high with Walter, he will pay her the honor of getting her name correct."
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: FOX]
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Over the next few months, we’ll see new series soar, old series sour, and so much Jersey Shore madness, we’ll want to shower. Let’s face it: The Fall TV season is intimidating. With dozens of new and returning shows hitting our small screens, we know we have some big choices to make. So, to help you determine what to watch, we’re digging deep into the most notable series premiering this season. Where did each show leave off? Where is it headed? And who should you watch it with? Today, we’ll look at the cult favorite Fringe, which, in its final season, will send our beloved heroes to a dystopian future run by mysterious bald guys known as Observers.
Returning Series: Fringe
Premiere Date: Friday, Sept. 28 at 9 p.m. on Fox
Number of Seasons On the Air: This will be Fringe's fifth and (sniff) final season
Cast: The Emmy-deserving John Noble, the fantastic, undeniably versatile Anna Torv (I mean, who can play two unbelievably nuanced versions of the same character, AND Leonard Nimoy?), the show's heart, Joshua Jackson, its unsung hero Jasika Nicole, the underrated bossman Lance Reddick, the mysterious Blair Brown, and newcomer Georgina Haig.
You’d Like It If…: You dig complex sci-fi thrillers with brilliant writing, a superb cast, and one of the most fun fan-bases around. Yeah, we're biased towards this one.
You’d Hate It If…: You left your imagination behind in grade school.
Ratings: Err, not great. By the end of November 2011, Fringe was the Fox's lowest rated program, and its finale only brought in 3.11 million viewers. Having a Friday time-slot is never fun, but Fringe's diehard fans have kept this one going. And Fox and Warner Bros. — thanks, Fox and Warner Bros!
Accolades: They've been nominated for a couple of Creative Emmys, but the show (and the sinfully talented John Noble) has never received too much love from the Academy. But Jon Cryer won for Two and a Half Men last night, so we don't really care what they think. However, Fringe has cleaned up at the Saturn Awards — it won Best Network Television Series in 2012, and Torv, Nimoy, and Noble have all taken home acting statues.
Where Fringe Left Off: Got a sec? Good, because last year's finale was a doozy. After three seasons with an alternative universe arc, our Fringe team was forced to close the gap to said alternate universe to save both worlds from collapsing. William Bell (Nimoy) planned to destroy them anyway, creating a new universe populated only by the creatures he had gathered in his Noah's Ark-esque boat. Olivia's Cortexiphan-enhanced powers saved the day, and Bell just sort of... disappeared. Then, Peter and Olivia learned that they were pregnant. Yay!
Only not really, because a few episodes before we flashed forward to a dystopian 2036, where Peter and Olivia's daughter, Etta (Haig), was fighting off the totalitarian Observers. She recovered Peter, Astrid, and Walter's bodies after they'd been encased in amber for decades, but Olivia was nowhere to be found. Back in modern times, we ended the season with September — our main Observer — telling Walter, "We have to warn the others. They are coming."
Cast In Question: Sorry, fans of Lincoln Lee: Seth Gabel's beloved character decided to cross over to the alternate universe, so we doubt we'll be seeing much of him. We're also not so sure about Nimoy's Bell, though given the fact that he left retirement to return to the show last year (and, that he supposedly did something horrible to Olivia in the time between last spring's finale and this year's 2036 setting), we're going to remain hopeful.
Advice the Show Has Taught Us: Hey, are you thinking of making a portal to another universe to steal a deceased loved one? Well, don't. Just don't. Yes, you'll get them back, but the fallout is just not worth it.
High Point: There have been so many, but season three's magnificent episode "Entrada" — the first episode to take place equally in both universes — is a must-watch for any Fringe newbie. Olivia's return to the prime universe after a gut-wrenching captivity was thrilling, and her Fauxlivia counterpart is delightfully wicked
Low Point: Erasing Peter Bishop from everyone's memory at the end of season three. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the relationships between Peter, Olivia, and Walter are the show's big, beating heart, so making him a stranger so far into the show's run by erasing three years of memories was a huge no-no. It took the entirety of season four to make up for it, and they get points for having Olivia (eventually) remember, but it still smarts that all of those great Peter-Walter bonding moments from seasons one through three no longer exist.
Who To Watch It With: Your fellow nerds, duh!
Who Not to Watch It With: Newbs, because who wants to be bombarded with eight zillion questions about the show's admittedly complex mythology during the final season premiere?
Cast Member to Root For: The entire Fringe team, of course! But we're especially partial to the zany, lovable, somewhat tragic Walter, who is currently one of the most unique characters on television, and — dare we say it — arguably the best television scientist of all time.
Cast Member to Root Against: Any Observer. Screw those guys.
What to Eat While Watching: Any number of Walter's favorite foods: Root beer, blue cotton candy, double-dipped beer-battered onion rings, Red Vines, Devil Dogs, Blueberry pancakes... the list goes on and on. Just be sure to book appointments with your dentist and cardiologist before you watch.
Binge Watching Potential: Start, and you won't stop — one Hollywood.com staffer (cough cough, me) reportedly went through two seasons in a week.
Ways to "Fit In" to the Fringe culture: Start obsessing over Peter Bishop's pea coats. Attend a geeky fan convention. Snag one of those cool Observer hats they gave out during last July's Comic Con.
What You’re Most Likely to Yell at the Screen: "Leave Walter alone!" (See below)
So, Will You Watch It?: The majority of you probably won't, if you're not already a fan. But one day you'll finally listen to that one friend of yours who'd recommended it for years and rent the DVDs, and you'll regret not joining in on the fun during its run. Rent it now! NOW!
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: Fox]
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As the fifth year at Hogwarts begins most of the wizardry world is having a hard time believing Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned further propagated by the Ministry of Magic who refuses to recognize anything evil is brewing and blames all the hullabaloo on Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). The Ministry even interferes with Hogwarts business by making Ministry employee Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor whose outwardly sweet demeanor hides a sadistic streak a mile wide. She thinks the children should only learn about the Dark Arts “theoretically” and tortures all those who disagree. But the Voldemort threat is a reality and Dumbledore has re-formed the Order of the Phoenix a group of witches and wizards that prepares to battle the Dark Lord. Harry is unfortunately being kept in the dark for his protection of course even as his connection to Voldemort grows stronger and he’s royally peeved at being ignored. Urged on by Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) he forms his own order of Hogwarts students called Dumbledore’s Army to teach them what defenses against the Dark Arts he has already learned. Oh yeah Harry also shares his first kiss but make no bones about it—love is the furthest thing on Harry’s mind when the crap hits the fan. War is imminent. Everyone steps up their game in Order of the Phoenix. Radcliffe Watson and Grint have shed their adolescent whininess and aw-shucks goofiness to give their characters the greatest depth so far. They are forced to grow up pretty quickly in Order with little time for any playfulness and the three actors handle the seriousness with aplomb. Of course both Radcliffe and Grint have already ventured out of the Potter world—Radcliffe shed more than just adolescence on stage in a production of Equus while Grint lost his virginity in the indie Driving Lessons--and their extra experience shows in Order. Also good are Matthew Lewis as the usually clumsy Neville Longbottom who shows his mettle in more ways than one and newcomer Evanna Lynch as the slightly off-kilter Luna Lovegood who proves to be a loyal member of Dumbledore’s Army. But the kids have to keep up with the talented adult cast especially Oscar-nominated Staunton (Vera Drake) as Umbridge. The veteran actress’ interpretation of one of J.K. Rowling’s nastiest characters so far in the Potter lore is spot-on down to the pink wool suits and irritating twitter “ahem” she uses when she wants your undivided attention. Helena Bonham Carter also makes an impression however over the top it is as the evil Voldemort follower Bellatrix Lestrange. Does she ever want to look pretty onscreen? Then there’s the laundry list of Brits whose time onscreen may be short but is nonetheless memorable including Alan Rickman as the sneering Prof. Snape; Gambon as the wise but flawed Dumbledore; Gary Oldman as the kindly Sirius Black Harry’s only real family; and of course Fiennes as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. His late-in-the-game appearance once again throws you for a loop. It stands to reason that at five movies in moviegoers would have a favorite Harry Potter flick by now. Those who love those Triwizard Tournament special effects might feel The Goblet of Fire was the best; or Prisoner of Azkaban for its time-bending action. Yet The Order of the Phoenix may be the one movie that speaks directly to the fans of the books. Without as much wide-eyed wonderment or wizardry flash the story is still chockfull of compelling details that are absolutely pivotal to the continuing Harry Potter saga. Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg (Peter Pan) and director David Yates (HBO’s The Girl in the Café) manage to wade through this volume of information and cut successfully to the chase with great effect. Yates who has signed on to do the sixth movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince even shows an affinity for action in the final dramatic confrontation between good witches and wizards and bad ones. But overall Order of the Phoenix may leave audiences not as well-versed in the novels a little itchy for some good old-fashioned wand-waving and Disney special effects. Thing is it’s just going to keep getting darker and darker for Harry and his crew. The days of happy fun playtime are over.