FRINGE’s Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman: ‘Answers Are Coming Very Soon!’ Plus, Teases For the Astrid-Centric Hour, Episode 19, and More

February 2, 2012 by  

FRINGE fans, if you’ve been wondering when the heck answers would be coming, executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman have this to say: “Answers are coming very soon.”

I talked with Pinkner and Wyman earlier this week and they were game to tease this Friday’s big Astrid-centric hour, balancing Peter’s journey with cases and these new characters, alt-Broyles, the status of a few returns, episode 19, a few crazy theories and more…

How are you guys feeling about FRINGE season 4 so far?
J.H. Wyman:
We’re really excited, because we’re at the end of the season [in terms of writing] and we feel really good about where we’ve been and where we’re going. We’re excited. We’ve got a lot of great things coming up that we feel people will be really excited about.

Speaking of exciting, we’re finally getting an Astrid-centric episode! What made the timing right for the hour to happen now?
Jeff Pinkner: I don’t know if it was so much what made the timing right, right now, but it was something that — Jasika [Nicole (Astrid)] is spectacular. She’s a spectacular actor, she has been from day one. The role, as designed, was never meant to carry the show. She was written very much as the support system for Walter. But truly every single thing we give her, she just crushes. And we constantly look for more and more ways to give her more to do. And Joel, I, and [executive producer] Akiva [Goldsman] were sitting around saying, “What do we want to do with this story?” And it was a story about grief and we thought, “Oh, here’s an idea — why don’t we write a story for alt-Astrid and Astrid together?” And, as always, one of the major themes in our show is the dopplegangers and coming face-to-face with another version of yourself. And by design, unlike the other characters, alt-Astrid is not just a matter of choices [in her differences from the original Astrid]. With that character, it’s a matter of chromosomes. So we thought the best way to highlight that was to have alt-Astrid come over and seek out Astrid to see how her life might have gone in a different direction.

In the past, we’ve really seen our characters go Over There, versus the alts coming over here. Does them coming to our side change the power dynamic of these relationships? Or is there really not an issue of an “upper hand” in this case?
JP: It’s not an episode about power and it’s not an episode about upper hands. The two teams are very much working together. But alt-Astrid is taking very much a personal journey of discovery and questioning. That’s playing against the backdrop of the case, but her trip is not case-related.

As a consequence of alt-Astrid coming over here, Fauxlivia follows because she’s come to retrieve her agent and colleague. Which makes for a really fun dynamics in our lab among our characters, because Walter, of course, is no great fan of Fauxlivia, who even in this time[line] spent a few months in his lab posing as Olivia. So I think that, to your question, it’s really not a matter of power games or the two sides working against each other. They’re very much working together.

And how will this big meeting change the two Astrids going forward?
JW: I think emotionally, it’s going to affect Astrid over here because she realizes the situation she’s in in her life is actually really, really good. Jeff and I use it as a mirror to highlight a bit of the theme of what impact do you have on others and what impact do others have on you? I think that basically, her seeing the alternate version of herself and the deviation of that version of fate and destiny really opens up her eyes to how great her own existence is and she’s really appreciative of everything that she’s experiencing. And it’ll be very emotional.

Given how strong of an Astrid episode this is set to be, how much of a struggle is it for you guys to try and balance Peter and his journey back to his timeline versus the need to have standalone, case of the week elements, while also satisfying these other new characters we’ve been introduced to?
JW: When Jeff and I came up with the idea of “mythalones,” it was a big breakthrough for us. You can tell the entire episode thematically through the A-story and the B-story. They have great characters that have a lot of pathos and guest stars that can deepen our own characters through their own interactions. So we really love to tell stories in that manner, so it’s not really a task. We look for great guest stars in great roles that we can bring on so we can highlight our own characters and what they’re going through at that minute.

As far as balance goes, you know, we’re always very careful to make sure we’re tending to everybody’s emotional arc in the best way possible at a paced rate that seems to be logical for the unfolding of their story.
JP: When we expanded the show to include two universes, we’re insanely fortunate that we have great actors, all of whom can carry a story, all of whom we’re interested in telling stories about. If anything, the challenge is to service the stories we want to tell and not get too excited about any person. It’s to constantly remind ourselves and obviously our staff and everybody involved that we can’t get caught up in any one. We’re trying to find the right balance and trying to service all the characters is a very, very, very wonderful problem to have. There’s more stories that we want to tell than we have time for.

This may be FRINGE for Dummies-type question, but as we dive deeper into Peter trying to return to his timeline, does the old timeline co-exist with the new one in different locations like a quasi-universe? Is it actually a location he can go to?
JP: Well, certainly, Peter is under the belief and his drive has been — he is under the belief that his timeline exists and he’s trying to get back to it. Now, the idea of the timeline, it’s not the same as a [new] universe, but it’s sort of synonymous.
JW: In this version of history, he does not exist. Are there are other versions? You’ll have to wait to find out.

So it’s not like technically Olivia and Walter are at the machine, somewhere, in another timeline, wondering where Peter went?
JP: It’s certainly possible. That’s what Peter believes.
JW: It’s possible. You’ll have to wait and see. It will become clear.

It will become clear in upcoming episodes or more towards the end of the season?
JW: I think in upcoming episodes, you’ll start to see the real picture of what happened and how he has to get home.

Will we be seeing any of our original characters in a non-dream capacity before the end of the season?
JP: Peter’s drive is to get back to the timeline that he left. We can tell you with great confidence and assurity and honesty that we will be tracking the story from Peter’s point of view. We’re not going to be flashing to a timeline unless it’s with Peter.

It’s fascinating to go this long without “our” characters. When you guys changed up the format last year and we explored Over There, we still flashed back to see what our guys were up to. It’s been a long drought since we saw most of the characters we spent three years with!
JW: Yeah, like everybody was missing Peter, and then he appeared again. We always had every intention of that, but people were like, “Oh my gosh, where’s Peter?” It’ll have the same — you’re going to understand a lot more in the next couple of episodes that are coming up…Jeff and I have said it before, but we would never, ever, ever want three seasons of a show to not exist anymore. That’s not fair.
JP: We’re fans. And we’re fans not only of our show, but of other shows, and of movies and of books. We understand there is a certain tolerance for frustration — for healthy frustration, for narrative frustration, for watching your characters suffer and not wanting them to suffer. But that’s what makes us, as audiences, feel things. And we also know there’s also a point where you can push that frustration too far and either lose or betray your audience. We promise not to betray our audience and as Joel has said, answers are coming very soon. And not just, “I get it,” but emotional answers.

Very glad to hear that. In terms of a possibly crazy theory, have we already seen alt-Nina on our screens and we don’t know it? Or is that just my hopeful thinking because I don’t want another person to betray Olivia?
JP: It may just be your hopeful thinking. Just stick by it and you’ll find out.

It’s sad, because I do adore this new mother-daughter relationship between her and Olivia and I don’t want Nina to be betraying it. Olivia needs something untainted!
JW: Life is tough! [Laughs] Everyone has motivations for doing things. If you remember way back, Massive Dynamic always used to have teeth in it and Nina used to have teeth in it and you’ll have to see. We’re glad you’re asking these questions because they’re exactly what you should be asking.

Are we going to be learning more about what is driving Nina?
JW: Yes, 100%.

Soon?
JW: Yep, very soon.

Will we also be finding out a little more about alt-Broyles and his shadiness?
JW: You’re going to be finding out more about alt-Broyles, absolutely. Big time.
JP: Within the next couple of episodes, you’re going to be getting a lot of answers and in the episodes following that, you’re going to be getting answers on other topics, all of which you’re hitting on…I guess the overall message here is — and in no way trying to be crass about it — the overall message here is if the audience is patient and hangs through the next few episodes, a lot is going to become clear.

I don’t know how many fan theories you guys get to read, but some people are guessing that we may have a shapeshifter on one of our teams…
JW: [Laughs] We love all those people and their theories. Some of them are a little more colorful than others. Um…we couldn’t say one way or the other.

Was it a theory you were aware was floating around out there?
JW: Yeah.
JP: We see the theories.
JW: We hear.

Speaking of our team being replaced by shapeshifters, now that Kirk Acevedo (Charlie) is no longer committed to PRIME SUSPECT, can we expect Charlie to return?
JP: We have been in contact with Kirk and his representatives, but beyond that, it would be unfair to say. We love Kirk.

And I’m guessing you’d be just as vague about Andre Royo’s Henry?
JW: Yep. We love Kirk, we love [the character of] Henry. We know everybody loves them, too. We’re definitely fans.

Episode 19 should be just around the corner for you guys in terms of writing and production. Is there anything you can tease about what you’ll be doing this season?
JW: We can’t really tell you what it is because we never say what they are, but usually spot 19 is reserved for something that’s a little off the beaten path, that thematically will represent what we’re doing. What sort of speaks to the thematic elements that we’re involved in and the characters are involved in. It will be entertaining for the viewer to say, oh, it’s a little respite from our regular storytelling that goes off into an area that will teach you something new, but isn’t necessarily in the narrative we’ve been following. And I think we can say that this year will be no different. It’s hard [to say more], we can’t spoil that because that’s our little fun time. When the cartoon came on [last season], everyone like, “Oh my God!” We don’t want to reduce that impact.

Hey, as long as you can confirm you’re going to do something for it, that’s a good tease.
JW: Yeah, for sure we are.

And yes, there is more to come with my chat with Pinkner and Wyman, including September’s prediction about Olivia, the Peter-Olivia-Lincoln triangle and more, so make sure to check back next week for that!

Are you excited to hear answers are coming? Excited for the Astrid episode? Have a good theory about episode 19? I want to hear all your comments below!

Related:

FRINGE Exclusive First Look Photo: ‘Making Angels’
FRINGE: Joshua Jackson on Peter’s Reunion With Elizabeth, Olivia’s Fate and More
Jared Harris Talks About His FRINGE Return and the New Season of MAD MEN

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Comments

26 Responses to “FRINGE’s Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman: ‘Answers Are Coming Very Soon!’ Plus, Teases For the Astrid-Centric Hour, Episode 19, and More”

  1. TMB on February 2nd, 2012 11:05 pm

    I can’t wait for #FringeFriday!!!

  2. Donna on February 2nd, 2012 11:06 pm

    Marisa, your interviews with the Fringe showrunners are always the BEST. They give you more hints than anyone else!

  3. Marisa Roffman on February 2nd, 2012 11:26 pm

    Thank you, @Donna!

  4. Dale on February 3rd, 2012 3:17 am

    Fantastic interview, can’t wait for the next. You ask all the right questions. Thanks for asking about Charlie and Henry!!!

  5. Laura008 on February 3rd, 2012 6:29 am

    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! You really ask the right questions! And I´m so happy that there is a chance that we see our beloverd original chracters soon!!! I miss them so much! and I know the majority of the fanbase miss them too!!!!Not that the Newtimeline is all that bad BUT we haven´t seen them for such a long time now and I personally think that the fans frustration at the current moment is huge and that this is about a time we should get to know what really happend when Peter desappeared and where our beloved chracters are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. ollie on February 3rd, 2012 7:10 am

    Great interview Marisa! Have to say, im a little frustrated with them because they went from saying outright that this was not Peter’s Olivia etc in previous interviews to now saying, well, ”Peter thinks” this his not his timeline. Sigh. Following on from Jasika’s very spoiler heavy interview with TV Guide, the way the fanbase is, try as TPTB might, there was no convincing fans that Peter was correct and that his timeline was still out there. The majority of fans had been guessing, for a long time that it was gone (although personally I was still clinging on to the hope that we would return to Blue.) I think the biggest giveaway that Amber was Blue, as Marisa pointed out was that unlike last season, we never went back to see what the Blue characters were up to.

  7. fringeobsessed on February 3rd, 2012 7:30 am

    Marissa,
    Your interview with J&J was awesome!
    I love how you sink your teeth in and don’t let go!
    Can’t wait to read the rest of this interview from you.
    Joel & Jeff are the best storytellers on TV. I love that they are so passionate about Fringe, its story arcs, its characters, and its actors.
    Joel & Jeff, you rock AS USUAL!
    Happy Fringe Friday to all of you!

  8. input on February 3rd, 2012 7:42 am

    Even mr Pinkner forgets the info they give us about Olivia, no wonder it was 10 episodes ago.
    But in the first one of this season, first scene, Olivia and Fauxlivia exchanging documents it is clearly said by them (and also in second epi) that Olivia has been kidnapped for TWO WEEKS, not months, and that Faux/Altlivia took her place , also with Walter.

    May be we will learn finally what happened to Olivia while being kidnapped, and who knows we get some info about Alt Livia as well, the best OverThere character. Hopefully she can make an end to the caricature Poor Walter filled with selfpity and if not that then the I am so to feel sorry for BigChild Walter.

    Olivia and Walter are the one that change in the direction of the original , there is not a physical change.

    So Olivia is only there to be a victim, Nina the active one.
    Why not give that relationship more attention before you go that route?”
    Anna and Blair have scuch a great chemistry, and fabtastic actresses, the last scene of 4.10 can be seen on so many diferent levels, and it is just 2 minutes.
    Why so much time and scenes given in all those seasons to the Bishops and their background?

    I bet we know more about Astrid after tonight then we do about Olivia Dunham, and yet they are now making an episode around the Lincolns.

    No one interested in who the father of Olivia is?
    The mother of Olivia?
    Stepfather and abuse?
    Where is her sister here?
    According to JJ Abrams the premiss of Fringe ws always the coming of age of Olivia Dunham, part of that is actually connecting her with her past, childhood family. We are probably in the last season, or are is that part coming in a comic?

  9. Donna on February 3rd, 2012 12:21 pm

    Guys, I don’t agree there is no blue timeline any more. JP & JW are pretty vague about that, and also, all they said was that we’re not going to be looking in on Blue Walter and Blue Olivia unless Peter is around.

    Olivia is NOT the main character of Fringe, no matter what anybody says… it’s quite clear it’s about three main characters (Olivia, Walter and Peter). So no, we’re probably not going to find out about her father. The stepfather story is over – we saw it in Subject 13 – and we already heard about what happened.

  10. Guest on February 4th, 2012 6:07 am

    Olivia, Walter and Peter are the heart and soul of the show!!!

  11. Siala on February 4th, 2012 6:32 am

    They could have been less informative, but only by not showing up. Here’s a newsflash, Pinkner: if you’d stop yanking us around, and bring Peter back to the real Olivia, and the real Walter, the fans would be ecstatic and you wouldn’t have to beg them to be patient.

  12. deb saine on February 5th, 2012 7:44 pm

    i’m glad you mentioned september – i’ve been wondering about him … wondering, primarily, how he got shot and who shot him … and, will he die like august did?

  13. Mr. Chopper on February 5th, 2012 8:39 pm

    They better answer these questions soon, because the show just keeps dropping in the ratings. As much as I like “Fringe” they might have made a big mistake in dumping the “regular” characters for new versions in an alt. timeline. Maybe for 2 or 3 episodes, but it seems like they are not bringing in any new viewers. Certainly there is a large dvr audience, but that doesn’t count when it comes to ad $$$. Unless WB can find an alt. network for “Fringe” in the near future, or start cutting costs, there may be no Season 5.

  14. Hemo_jr on February 5th, 2012 9:01 pm

    They’d never write it this way, but it’d be cool if Peter was able to open a window on his original timeline and see himself already there and that he had never been missing.

    Peter finds out that he is really an alt-Peter. That the timeline spit in 2026, creating too many Peters trying to go back to too few 2011s. He just happened to be an extra one that was bumped into a timeline empty of Peters becasue he had died in 1985.

  15. Jeff on February 5th, 2012 10:35 pm

    Hemo jr that would be awsome i like that theory bc im not looking forward to bhying a comic everyweek i already gota read bleach lol.

  16. beckstar78 on February 5th, 2012 11:28 pm

    we need some Sam freaking Weiss! if he doesn’t make an appearance before the show ends i will cry.
    also jasika nicole is amazing

  17. Lyla on February 6th, 2012 12:11 am

    Love it, thank you! I’m curious about Nina too, I just hope they give her a proper story behind her shadiness. And different timeline is not too different with different universe? So there are practically 4 universes? Noo… now I’m even more confused!!!! And I miss the Lincolns!

  18. Marisa Roffman on February 6th, 2012 12:34 am

    @Hemo_jr: I think my mind actually aches from that possibility. Wow. That would be a HUGE twist.

  19. Tallulah on February 6th, 2012 8:10 am

    You guys aren’t too bad, but considering everyone else in the fandom whining and bitching – I can’t believe people can read interviews like this and still not have complete and utter faith in what they’re doing.

    It’s so clear that answers are coming, they’re not abandoning the characters we miss, they’re not going to complicate things further.

    Be patient people, God. And enjoy the damn ride in the process.

  20. Dee on February 6th, 2012 9:23 am

    So Fox moves this ridiculously awesome and creative show to Fri from what was an great slot and is now claiming they’re losing money although DVR viewers are rising? DUH! What did you expect for Fridays? #BringFringeBackAnotherSeason. How about it’s former weekday time slot?

  21. Judi on February 6th, 2012 2:01 pm

    I don’t trust NINA! Never did! Nor Broyles. he might be the shape shifter & the logical one!

  22. Judi on February 6th, 2012 2:08 pm

    I also came to believe 2 episodes ago that there are more than just 2 parallel universes or timelines! At least 3 if not 4!! it is obvious!! so now not only are we dealing with parallel universes but also timelines!! Oh my!!!

  23. Judi on February 6th, 2012 2:13 pm

    Have U noticed that The Observers look much older in this timeline?? they do not have such SMOOTH faces & seem to be doing much more than just observing!!!

  24. Paky on February 8th, 2012 7:31 am

    All I have to say is, I want my old Fringe back!! I dont care, if the two worlds are in their death, or Fauxlivia has Peters son, or Walterego is evil, I just want everything in its right place as it was!
    I love Fringe, but this season is killing the love inside me. I wont stop watching it, I cant, but I miss my old Fringe. Its hard to be patient…
    And one more thing.
    >I think Walterego is evil in this timeline, too. He is working with Nina to wake the power up in Olivias mind. But what they want with this, I have no idea.
    >I think the non existence of Peter is somehow because of his son, it would be too long to write here why, but thats what I think.
    >I think THIS IS OUR UNIVERSE, unfortunately.

  25. Donna on February 9th, 2012 12:00 pm

    “No one interested in who the father of Olivia is?
    The mother of Olivia?
    Stepfather and abuse?
    Where is her sister here?
    According to JJ Abrams the premiss of Fringe ws always the coming of age of Olivia Dunham, part of that is actually connecting her with her past, childhood family. We are probably in the last season, or are is that part coming in a comic?”

    The show is NOT just about Olivia. You must be watching a way different show. No, I don’t care about Olivia’s father. And the story about her stepfather is DONE! There’s nothing more to tell! Jeez.

  26. Ray Roberson on February 12th, 2012 2:30 pm

    RE: Peter, Olivia, Walter – What really happened at season’s end

    “Welcome to Westfield” sort of reinforces my thoughts abour the fringe event that happened in the case Olivia referred to. AT the end of that episode, there was a potentially devastating event that was created by the opposite sex survivor of a couple in each universe – each one beliving they were seeing the ghose of their deceased husband/wife. In the end, the event was stopped when the widow realized that the ghost was not her husband. I proposed that some fringe events may have been created by a that very powerful force called “love”.

    Suppose for a moment, that the “merger” of the two universes was not a merger at all. Suppose that Peter and the Machine “severed and grafted” Peter’s original timeline onto another timeline. The essences of Olivia and Walter were grafted into the Olivia and Walter of the alternate timeline. Like William Bell’s essence inhabiting Olivia, the grafting of the Olivia and Walter exxences created an ideal breeding ground for the strong emotional love that Olivia and Walter felt towards Peter, gradually emerging from the dreams and images the new Olivia and Walter experienced prior to the materialization of Peter this season.

    This then brings up the question, “Was September talking about Olivia’ physical death or the death of her essence, old timeline or new timeline version?”

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