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."
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[PHOTO CREDIT: FOX]