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Two universes collide as season three draws to an end on 'Fringe'

by jmaloni
Fri, May 6th 2011 09:50 am
John Noble stars as Walter Bishop on `Fringe.` (photo ©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. Credit: Smallz and Raskind/FOX)
John Noble stars as Walter Bishop on "Fringe." (photo ©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. Credit: Smallz and Raskind/FOX)

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni


Shocking is nothing new on "Fringe." This is, after all, the show that brought us an alternate universe, two of each main character and regular "X-Files"-like mysteries. But, as season three draws to an end, the men with the weight of two worlds on their shoulders, Peter and Walter Bishop, appear embroiled in completely unexpected situations ... 15 years into the future.

Having activated "The Machine," Peter (Joshua Jackson) had hoped to cure his suddenly deteriorating world. Instead, the doomsday device seems to have catapulted him across time - and possibly into the alternate universe. Once there, he begins to look for members of his fringe science team to find some context for what's happened, and perhaps some way to fix things.

The episode is the third and final part of a season finale John Noble (Walter) calls "an epic trilogy"

"All year we've been heading towards the fact that there seems to be inevitable conflict between the two universes, and we've gotten to know the people on both sides now," he said. "So we now bring it to a conclusion. ... We start to deal with the issue because our Earth starts to deteriorate. Events start to happen here which indicate that our world is degrading."

Throughout the season, each of the lead characters on "Fringe" experienced life-altering moments. Peter born "over there" and brought "over here" to receive life-saving medical attention, had to accept Walter's decision to take him away from his real father, "Walternate." FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) had to reconcile the fact that, while she was imprisoned "over there," her doppelganger, "Bolivia," began a romantic relationship with Peter while "over here."

Walter, meanwhile, has experienced the greatest personal struggles. He's dealt with the ramifications of his decision to take Peter from one world to another. Their crossing over left both universes structurally damaged. Moreover, his opposite, "Walternate," has morphed into a devious secretary of state bent on destroying "over here."

Initially unsure if he was up to the task of foiling "Walternate," Walter has recently come to realize he's up to the challenge.

"The writers said to me at the beginning of the year that Walter's journey is a journey towards redemption. And I understood that. In fact, I had thought from the beginning of season one that that was a sort of great arc," Noble said. "Walter had a really tough season in the sense that he was most of the season alienated from his beloved son. And he found that very difficult because he had become so attached to Peter. And obviously (Jasika Nicole's) Astrid stepped in and helped him out a lot, but he had to battle a lot of it out by himself. 

"So that was a tough 40 days in the desert for Walter, and towards the end of it you'll see that there'll be some resolution between Peter and Walter; a much more grown-up relationship will establish. That same beautiful trust that they had until the end of season two, I think it was, when Peter finally realized that he wasn't the son, that isn't back. (But) there's a different type of respect and love in there now.

"So it's been a huge sort of arc for Walter in terms of spending a lot of the time really very, very lost and having to come to grips with the fact that - and it's been told by (Leonard Nimoy's William) Bell and by (Blair Brown's) Nina, 'You are everything you need to be to do what you have to do.' So he's had to accept himself and his limitations and know that that's perfectly adequate. It's a wonderful journey, actually."

Fortunately for "Fringe" fans, the journey will continue next season. The show, not the ratings juggernaut of some other FOX programs, received an early pickup on the strength of its critical acclaim and diehard followers.

Noble was pleased he was discussing the season finale, and not the series finale.

"I was thinking about that this morning," he said. "I thought about how hard it would be not to have another season, actually. I thought it the other way around, because we've really just finished season three, which was just a whirlwind. I mean, I can hardly remember the last three or four weeks, it was that busy. But I was thinking this morning, 'Imagine if there was no more?' Because we have so many stories to tell, you know, that it would be a strange, empty feeling - that's for me, personally, and certainly judging from when I talk to fans and to journalists.

"And I just, in fact, went across to Paris for the weekend to talk to some fans, and the response across the world, not only in North America, is the same. So there's a great sense of jubilation. And (showrunner) Jeff Pinkner tells me - he was talking to me on the phone last night - that he has so many stories to tell, he could go forever. So there's a real sense of excitement."

Noble thanked fans and TV writers, saying their support is "greatly appreciated."

"Fringe" airs tonight at 9 p.m. on FOX. For more on the show, visit http://www.fox.com/fringe.

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