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Fringe‘s Executive Producers Talk About Season 3: Part I

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With the new season of Fringe only a day away, anticipation is running high amongst fans. Season two left us with quite the cliffhanger; on the one hand, Peter was coming back to our side, to the joy of Olivia (whom he finally kissed), to Walter (who can finally start building a relationship with his son in the full light of truth) and, of course, to the joy of fans such as Twitter’s @polivia_ftw, @Ocean5oul, and @GeekyKirsty, all of whom joined the post-season two finale party on The Fringe Report to celebrate this great success.

Of course, fans were also gravely concerned about the small matters of Olivia being captured by Walternate, and Altivia returning with our team of heroes back to our side of the universe. Sometimes it takes only one person to ruin the party, so when there are two…

A couple of days ago, executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman once again gave some of us the opportunity to talk to them. They took the time to answer some of our questions, and although we had a lot of fun, methinks they had even more fun fanning the flames of anticipation.

Reader, you have been warned: there are some spoilers coming up!

You’d think, what with all the secrets that were revealed in season two of Fringe, that season three would be relatively tame. If so, you thought wrong. The Fringe team has a lot more up its sleeve to keep us poor fans breathless with anticipation. One of these tricks, rumours of which have been floating around for some time, involves alternating episodes — one will be set in this universe, and the other in the alternate universe.

Jeff Pinkner explains that to tell the full story of Olivia and the rest of the Fringe team, both of which are now in separate universes, it was best to just “dive into them wholeheartedly. So an entire episode will take place over there with the alternate Fringe team and then another episode will take place over here. Rather than trying to tell an episode that takes place in both universes simultaneously within the same episode, we really wanted to thoroughly explore a Fringe case over there and the journey that our heroine is on and then come back over here.”

It’s going to be rather interesting, getting to see our universe through the eyes of Altivia, and finally getting the chance to explore the alternate universe through the eyes of Olivia.

There are various reasons why the Fringe team decided to go with this format. On the one hand, it does help decrease confusion for some of the audience. However, as J.H. Wyman explains, there is also the fact that not spending enough time in each universe by cutting continually from one universe to the other would “short [shrift] some really compelling moments.”

I really love the idea of taking the time to experience each universe. As Fringe has continually demonstrated in the last year, taking the time to savour its various storylines really makes for compelling and engaging storytelling. J.H. Wyman also shares that this was the conclusion of a natural evolution in the storytelling of Fringe.

I have the impression that what this is going to do is to make the concept of alternate universes accessible to a larger audience. Many of my friends have had a hard time following some sci-fi shows for the simple reason that, ironically enough, these shows are anything but simple. Jeff Pinkner spoke about how this was one of the challenges that the Fringe team had, i.e. that “the idea of an alternate universe is both heavy and intellectual” and that presenting it in two clearly separate ways through the alternate versions of the same character would allow the audience to experience, in a way, the concept of alternate universes. Jeff Pinkner and the Fringe team hope that this will allow viewers to experience, which will make them “realize that it’s really emotional and easy to grasp.”

And apparently we are going to have quite some time and plenty of opportunities to explore the alternate universe through Olivia’s eyes, since she is going to be there for a good portion of the season. Egad – it’s going to be rough, watching Altivia spend so much time in Olivia’s shoes.

One of the things that I love about Fringe are the philosophical concepts the show touches upon. Jeff Pinkner explains that while season two was about secrets and catching glimpses of the alternate universe, season three is exploring the alternate universe while going “towards the concept of duality, the concepts of choice, the concepts of who we are as people. What happens when you make a different choice?” For Pinkner believes that seeing the same characters, such as Broyles and Nina, through the eyes of Altivia, is going to allow viewers to get into some very profound questions.

Of course, Altivia swapping places with Olivia is going to give Olivia-Peter shippers quite a run for their money, as this situation provides for “one of the most unique potential love triangles, in that it’s one guy with two different versions of the same girl.”

What of the mysterious William Bell, of whom we saw very little before he died at the end of season two? How the executive producers seemed to have fun with that question during the interview! While Pinkner explains that William Bell has died in the alternate universe, he does reiterate that “we like to say on Fringe that mean nothing.”

By the same token, he does insist that Leonard Nimoy has retired from acting, yet tantalizes us by hinting that if Leonard chooses to come back there is a story in place that we would love to tell. But in his absence, William Bell is “a big part of this world.” He finishes off by reminding us that “in the world of Fringe science death is not the end.”

And just to really let the point sink in, J.H. Wyman does promise us that, while it isn’t clear if William Bell is going to be back in the flesh, we have not “experienced the last of William Bell.”

Fringe returns tomorrow, Thursday, September 23, on FOX. Stay tuned to Blogcritics for more on the interview with Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman!

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