FRINGE: Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman Talk ‘Novation’ and What’s to Come
November 7, 2011 by Marisa Roffman
While FRINGE may have had their official season premiere back in September, in many ways, Friday’s episode felt in many ways like an entirely new beginning (or at the very least, a new arc now that Peter has returned).
To answer some of my burning “Novation” questions, I went to FRINGE executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman to see what they could spill about the hour, plus more of what’s to come…
Peter was fairly isolated from the group in “Novation.” Was that an intentional move on your part to adjust him into this new world slowly, or was that just how the case worked out?
Jeff Pinkner: No, that was absolutely intentional. As we mentioned earlier, Peter is an unknown quality. Peter is a fringe event. And they need to appropriately treat him as such. They’re certainly way — he knows information that as far as they know is impossible. And as you said, Marisa, he’s telling them a story, which while far-fetched, they’ve heard before. Walter, obviously, has a deeply emotional reaction to the fact that this boy is claiming to be the grownup version of his son. And treating him with anything less than delicate kid gloves would have been irresponsible.
It also speaks to [Peter's] condition which is, “Wait a minute, what? [Laughs] I’m being held prisoner?”
Is it a whole new balance for you guys now that he’s back, and yet not entirely back?
JP: We are very, very, very mindful of not purposefully or even unintentionally frustrating the audience. We also know that…look, we love Peter. We love the relationship. We crafted that relationship. We didn’t pull Peter out of the relationship because a) we didn’t enjoy it or b) we didn’t see where it could go forward. We’re as frustrated as everyone. We’re writing this show constantly — and by we, I mean all of us — and we’re making the show from the point of view of fans who want to see our characters be happy. But in order to earn that, we need to go through patches where they aren’t happy. Otherwise, there’s no sunshine without rain, you know? Sometimes it gets boring living in Southern California weather — you take the sun for granted, as crazy as that sounds. That’s why spring is so much more meaningful on the east coast than it is on the west coast because there’s actually a change and rebirth.
So for all of those feelings to have the appropriate degree of satisfaction [for Peter's return], you need to go through some rough places first.
Understandable. Now with the shapeshifter on the run again, how will that impact Peter, given his involvement with tracking her?
J.H. Wyman: That’s definitely part of the developing narrative, that he’s inextricably linked to but that’s just there to — you’re going to really start to understand the larger picture soon enough, and understand how that’s going to impact everybody and what they’re doing there.
Could that have anything to do with the upcoming return of David Robert Jones?
JW: We’ve never really said in what capacity — you know FRINGE. We do things that…I think we’ve said before: if you said to us, “Hey, we heard that there’s going to be a love triangle between Peter and Olivia and some other person,” and people reported that, only FRINGE could twist it so you were kind of right, but you were kind of wrong. It was really between Peter and Olivia and another Olivia, which is a whole other dynamic. We’re allowed to do things that are really weird.
JP: There are pictures of Jared Harris (David Robert Jones) on the set of our show. To what extent and what the character is and who the character is and how the character is, those are things that we don’t want to spoil.
Speaking of those on-set photos, there are also pictures of Orla Brady (Elizabeth) filming an upcoming episode…
JP: I had not seen those pictures.
There were pictures of her with Joshua Jackson (Peter).
Does that mean Peter will be heading to the other side to see if he can find any answers about how to get home from there?
JW: Back and forth is always part of our DNA, you know? We’re over there and we’re over here, the two sides are working together. There’s an opening and not hostility so people are helping over there, people are helping over here. You’re going to find a lot of strange sort of situations where people from over there you would not expect to be over here and people over here you would not expect to be over there and what that means. A lot of our fans are really sort of interested in how we get the doppelganger together and what great things happen when we see the two sides wok together.
So no comment about what Peter and Elizabeth are doing or where they are?
JP: Well, if there are pictures on the internet, there seems to be pictures of the two of them working together. But as far as what the context is, no, we’re really loathe to spoil things.
Fair enough. Now that we know that in this timeline Olivia and Rachel lived with Nina, what can you tease about that dynamic? Will Nina have any conflicts of interest with Olivia and Peter?
JW: That’s really cool. It’s a good question. We find that really delicious that Olivia and Nina have a deeper relationship and we’re going to explore what that is and what that was and how it effects everybody. Because, going back to choices and influence and impact, which I think we now, really, especially this season, we’re really interested in the impact that we all have on each others’ lives and what that influence means. And that’s a metaphor for this season.
So there are going to be certain things that Olivia learned from Nina, certain ways to look at the world, certain ways to handle problems, she learned a lot from her. She can also recognize what Nina is capable of doing something that might be a little on the line of good morality or bad morality or ethics. You’re going to get to see a lot of that. You’re going to get to see a lot of their differing views of the world. There’s a lot of nice surprises coming up for everyone, specifically in regards to that relationship.
Very good to know. We’ve seen a little bit of how Nina and Walter’s relationship has drastically changed in this new timeline. Is her relationship with Broyles also significantly different, because that hasn’t been touched upon yet.
JW: Yeah, we haven’t seen that yet and it’s definitely not the same, but you bring up the more valuable point — Walter and Nina.
You know, what is the interesting thing to us, when Walter perpetrated his crime, his kidnapping [of Peter] all those years ago in the version we know, he was successful. He brought back Peter, he ends up saving him and keeping him. Really, Nina’s action of trying to stop him and causing him to break the vial — it was sort of became academic because he got the boy anyway and he saved him and he brought him back and then our story was born, you know? But if you actually look at it [now], the boy didn’t make it, neither of them did, and now Walter totally holds Nina responsible for that, because if she wouldn’t have interfered, the vial wouldn’t have broken and conceivably, in his mind, “I could have made it there. I could have administered the medicine and I would have him. Or someone could have had him.” So there’s a huge shift in their understanding of each other and their culpability in what has transpired. That’s a really fun one for us.
As far as Broyles, we haven’t — on purpose — investigated his relationship with Nina yet.
There are so many Nina questions out there, and she is one of the most fascinating characters to me partially because we know so little about her.
JW: We figured that Nina is a fascinating character to us and always deserves her due. And having so many cast members, you have to make sure you treat each one with the respect that they deserve. You don’t want to just throw out things and go, “Oh, by the way, this is Nina.” We want to make sure that this season is going to be the season where we really feature her, because Blair [Brown (Nina)] is such a tremendous actress, and we’re so lucky to have her. To give her stuff that will stretch her, to give her something so she is more than just the cloak and dagger head of Massive Dynamic is such a pleasure for us to write.
Anyone else excited to see what’s in store for Nina and Olivia? Or perhaps there is something else you’re looking forward to?
But in case you need yet another reason to look forward to “And Those We’ve Left Behind” — this Friday’s fantastic brand new episode — take a look at the promo Fox just released.
FRINGE: Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman Talk Peter’s Return, William Bell, Ratings and More
FRINGE: Jeff Pinkner and J. H. Wyman on Peter’s Memories and Fate Versus Choice. Plus, ‘Witness the Return’ with a New Promo!
FRINGE: Anna Torv and John Noble Tease ‘Subject 9,’ Massive Dynamic, Nina and…William Bell?!
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