Fox's loony creepy funny sci-fi series Fringe returns on Thursday for a second season, and to help unravel the show's increasingly loopy mythology, stars Lance Reddick (FBI agent Philip Broyles) and Blair Brown (Massive Dynamic's Nina Sharp) have a primer for you: Everything you need to know to prepare for season two. (Possible spoilers ahead!)
In the second-season premiere, airing at 9 p.m. ET/PT, FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) finds herself struggling to overcome an accident, a new nemesis emerges, Meghan Markle joins the cast as Junior FBI agent Jessup, and Broyles' fringe division comes under fire. And we learn something surprising about Broyles and Sharp. Oh, and that thing about co-star Kirk Acevedo? Forget what you heard: He'll be back.
To prepare, follow these simple instructions.
1) Forget what you know. "Fringe is two things; it's the name of the type of science that the show deals with, which we call fringe science, which literally makes us kind of on the fringe of what we think is possible or capable of. It's also the name of the investigative unit within the FBI that my character, Philip Broyles, is head of, who investigates these super scientific crimes of terrorism and murder that seem to be linked to something called the Pattern," Reddick says.
Adds Brown: "Imagine the possibilities between the characters, because the stakes are going up and the connections are becoming more intense."
2) Look closely. "I think it's about being watchful. You really need to watch and to imagine the possibilities," Brown says.
"The Pattern seems to be this pattern of events that seem outside the realm of scientific possibility," Reddick says. "And they're either clearly man-made or apparently natural disasters. And they seem to be connected in some way, so there's a whole kind of conspiracy theory that becomes less and less theory and more real as the show progresses, as the series progresses."
3) Consider that there's more than one of everything. "We started to explore that in the second half of last season," Reddick says. "And then we basically nailed it down in the season finale, with Olivia going to another dimension (laughs). And then, you know, we leave on that cliffhanger, and she comes back in the first episode, and then we're off and running talking about what the relationship is between the two dimensions."
4) Look for William Bell. "William Bell [guest star Leonard Nimoy] is the head of, in this world, the biggest multinational corporation in the world," Reddick says. "One of our heroes, the scientific genius on my team, he and William Bell were lab partners and probably would have ended up starting the company together if Walter, John Noble in our cast, ... hadn't had an a lab accident, an experiment, that actually killed somebody and sent him to a mental institution for 17 years."
Reddick reveals that Nimoy doesn't reappear again for at least the first eight episodes, but will show up later in the season.
5) Consider that the Observer is not who you think. "We're shooting an episode right now, ... It's all about the Observer. Finally, yeah, yeah," Reddick says. "This is episode eight, which we actually started shooting on—it's Sunday now [and] we start shooting on Tuesday. And that episode's all about the Observer."
We've heard there's more than one maybe? "Maybe there is [laughs]."
6) Look for the parallels. "The one thing that's always puzzled me about Nina is, whose mother is she?" Brown says. "J.J. Abrams generally writes things generationally. ... Last year I thought, 'Oh, maybe I'm Olivia's mother.' And then I realized in the first season, I said to Peter at the equestrian center, 'You know, you and I used to come here a lot when you were a child.' So what was that? Of course, this all hinges on who are Nina and Bell and Bishop together? What was that triangle? Was it romantic? Was it, you know, how did that work? Did Nina know that Bell had planted that thing in her arm? I didn't even know I had a Kevlar abdomen until late in the season."
There is kind of a generational parallel between Nina and William Bell and Walter, and Walter and Peter and Olivia? "Yeah, exactly, so it's going to be interesting," she says.
7) Go with the flow. "It's about imagining the possibilities and relax and not worry about what you don't know, because that's part of the journey," Brown says. "That's part of what it is. You're not supposed to get it. You're supposed to ponder it. Because every time a question is answered, three more pop up. So that's the beauty of it. I think, particularly as Americans, we want to know, we want to get it right."