It's Fringe time! Get ready for a major reboot on Fox's Fringe as we enter a world where Peter Bishop doesn't exist and two Olivias may have to work together to solve cases when the series premieres its fourth season tonight at 9 p.m. ET.
"Because of the nature of the storytelling, because Peter has disappeared, the season starts fresh," said executive producer Jeff Pinkner. "Really, if you've never seen the show before, this is a great place to dive in, because everything is new. If you have been watching the show, now you're watching with the eye towards everything is new and different and it's making you question or re-imagine what you've seen in the past."
The producers will absolutely be playing with "the consequences of what the season finale promised," said Pinkner. "Peter made a heroic choice to sacrifice himself so that our world would be saved, and more specifically his wife wouldn't end up dying in 2026 at the hands of Walternate. And Walter's season-long journey was the recognition that in order to ultimately right the wrongs that he had created—starting when he broke a universe to steal his son—he may have to give that son back. And now we're going to see how that has affected all of our characters and their world."
"The question of what happened to Peter Bishop is so loaded for us, because what we're really interested in right now thematically is the concept of the impact that you have on other people's lives in this day and age," said executive producer J.H. Wyman. "What do you mean to others? What would happen if you did not exist? What does that mean? That's really a very, very important theme for us this year, to envelop larger themes, which is, life is about choices and the choices that you make. That is your universe. That is your life. So we're going to definitely get into some of that this year."
"The good news is that Anna Torv and Seth Gabel are finally ready to admit that they're both one half of a pair of identical twins," joked Pinkner. "So, now we have their alter egos acting. It's made it much easier for us." Gable will be a series regular this season, as his Lincoln Lee joins the Fringe team.
But what about Peter Bishop? How can Fringe be Fringe without the über-intelligent misfit who became integral to the Fringe team and fell in love with two Olivias?
"Look, Peter is part of the DNA of the show, and we've done some pretty crazy things in the past that people were always like, 'Well, wait a minute. Why are they doing that? What's going on?' I mean hopefully in season four people will trust us enough to realize that we are doing things for a reason. To sort of have Fringe without Peter in some way, shape or form is really not Fringe," said Wyman.
"He's part of the language of our show, and a very big part of it. So there are two things that we want to get across without really ruining anything, and that is, number one, yes, Peter is part of the DNA, and he'll always be that. Number two is that just because he doesn't exist doesn't mean that the three years that we've all invested in and watched does not exist ... It really did happen, and it'll unfold itself for you to understand in what context I'm speaking of," added Wyman. "People shouldn't worry. We love Peter, and we know how much everybody loves Peter. We both can't imagine telling the series and the story without him."
While we'll be seeing less Peter and more Lincoln Lee, Pinkner also teases that there will be plenty of other returning faces this season.
"We hate to spoil things, but there will be characters that you'll be delighted to see again, hopefully, and some that you'll be surprised to see again," said Pinkner.
"And some you may have seen before that come back in a completely different context," added Wyman.
One group we will certainly see again are those bald-headed dudes, the Observers, who seem to exist outside of time and may be the only ones who actually remember that Peter ever existed. "The Observers are a large question, and we feel it's our duty to give some answers and back up everything that you've seen in the past with some concrete facts that you can start to form your opinion. So, you're definitely going to learn a little bit more about them this year, and hopefully will be able to conceptualize them in a way that you'll be happy with and go, 'Oh, that's really interesting,'" said Wyman.
Another other interesting tidbit will involve the logistics of negotiating the Over Here and Over There universes this season that goes beyond the new orange title sequence that opens the show.
"How are these two universes going to work together in order to heal their joint damage, now that they have a means of doing so?" asked Pinkner. "Unlike last year, where we were bouncing back and forth, this year there will definitely be stories where the two universes have to work together. Certainly there's an implication that Walternate, despite all promises to the contrary, is still a bad guy manipulating things behind the scenes. So that's also a story that we're going to be delving in."
"What's really cool about the other side and now our side being together and working together, we get to tell some really great far-out 'myth-alones,' as we call them. Freaks-of-the-week type of things that are integrated into our larger mythology. Really, this year, we feel, more than any other year we have some really mind-blowing, stand-alone stories that just ... we're just enabled to tell these great far-out things because Over There is so messed up and Over Here is a little suspicious as well right now, as you guys will find out. But it just gives us carte blanche to really push our imaginations to the hilt and see some really cool things realized," said Wyman.
Exactly what kind of mind-blowing myth-alones can we expect to see this season? "At the risk of spoiling things, as always, we have a slew of really crazy, hopefully thought-provoking, far-out cases that deal with time travel and out-of-control biology and humans who either, for very understandable and sometimes not-so-understandable reasons, are messing with the rules of nature and the rules of physics," said Pinkner.
"There will be plenty of surprises for both our audience and our characters ... Nothing in Fringe is ever as it seems. We continue to get so much juice out of telling stories with these characters as they exist in both universes," he said. " And as always, we really like to use our stories to delve into these characters and the themes that constantly swirl about the show, of family and your place in the world and whether science is pushing things too far and what it means to be human in the face of science which is potentially pushing the boundaries of reality."
"We have a really strong idea of where the show is going, and we do think from time to time, too, 'Nothing is forever.' We're lucky right now to be able to tell these stories. And who knows if that's going to continue? You never know," said Wyman.
Fringe airs on Fox Fridays at 9 p.m. ET.
Are you ready for a world without Peter?