The season finale of Fox's Fringe introduced a parallel universe where the twin towers of the World Trade Center still exist, and the show's producers said today that they've named it "Over There" and that it will be the only alternate dimension the show will explore in the upcoming second season. For now. (Possible spoilers ahead!)
"We have decided that though science acknowledges a multiverse, we're only going to tell a story about two, here and what we're referring to internally as Over There," executive producer Jeff Pinkner said during a press conference today in Pasadena, Calif., at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "They are two versions of reality. It's not time travel."
Pinkner added that the bulk of the show will still takes place in our world, though the characters will know that something else may be happening Over There. "It takes place predominantly over here, but what's happening Over There is impacting what's happening over here," Pinkner said.
Series co-creator, writer and executive producer Roberto Orci added that Over There is meant to fuel the imagination, not stand as an expression of the scientific principles of multiverses. "Thematically, the other universe exists [as] a foil to what might have been different in this universe," Orci said in the press conference. "In this other place, Kennedy lived. It's more wish fulfillment and riffing on our world than 'We have to follow the rules of two universes.'"
The Fringe writers said that they are ahead of their original schedule. Co-creator, writer and executive producer Alex Kurtzman said that fan feedback showed that the audience would be receptive to going Over There after only a year.
"We never intended to reveal the parallel universe until season three," Kurtzman said during the press conference. "It became very clear they were open and ready for more, so it felt like, why stall it? Let's throw down this challenge to ourselves where we have to come up with a way to take the stories even further."
The season premiere, which screened for some press, has one character go in a shocking direction at the end. Without spoiling the premiere, Pinkner explained why the writers chose to change the game so dramatically. "Because it seemed awesome," Pinkner said, without naming the character or the twist.
As for William Bell, the character who was finally revealed in the first-season finale (in the person of Leonard Nimoy), Pinkner said that Nimoy has shot only one episode of season two but that producers plan to write him in whenever Nimoy wants. "Truly, we've made an open invitation," Pinkner said.
Orci added that season two will run more smoothly as the team has figured out how to balance season-long arcs with stand-alone episodes, character stories and overall mythology. "That's been the whole thing from day one," Orci said. "How much can you serialize? How much can you stand alone? You try to modulate. In the first season we had to plan around resetting the series once or twice, doing it around three or four weeks [breaks]. That makes us more flexible."
Moving the production to Vancouver, Canada, from New York gives the Los Angeles-based producers more direct control, they added. "The fact that we're closer than we were from New York is helpful," Orci said. "We can be up there a little more, communicate better. I think we're just a tighter ship this year."
Fringe returns Sept. 17 at 9 p.m. on Fox.