Finding themselves in a dystopian future has been a rough transition for Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) on the final season of Fringe. Not only are they coming to terms with the loss of their daughter in the past, which appeared to put a serious strain on the married couple, but now that their family is once again intact — daughter and all — the relationship between parents and child has to be mended as well.
Warner Bros. took Wetpaint to the Vancouver set of Fringe, where he had a chance to talk to star Joshua Jackson about what’s ahead for his unusual onscreen family as the sci-fi show nears its end.
Wetpaint Entertainment: How would you describe the last season of Fringe?
Joshua Jackson: Joel [Wyman, exec proucer] has talked about treating this season as a three-act show. So 1 through 4 were our first act. Then something big happens at the end of 4, which launches us into the second piece. Which takes one of our characters into a direction that people, I think, will probably be pretty excited about but is not good for that character. And then what is discovered in here is the laying-in of the endgame for Fringe. Nebulous enough?
It’s good this year, because we actually as cast members are more aware of what story is. It also makes it easier for us to do the job. If I’m not good in this season, it’s my own damn fault, because I have a much clearer understanding of what is required of the character in each piece of the story.
Having the family back together, will that help Peter and Olivia’s relationship?
You know we’ve been this damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t couple. And for Peter, damned-if-you-do a lot. But in an odd way, this year’s crisis for the family happens off-camera. The romantic and dramatic tension of will-they-or-won’t-they has been resolved. They’re married. They have a child. The loss of the child clearly did something bad to them in the off-camera portion that we don’t get to see between the end of Season 4 and the beginning of Season 5. And so, yes, putting the family back together definitely goes toward healing the rift.
Relationships are tough, and you go through bad phases. And clearly, something traumatic like losing a child puts an unbelievable strain. So their story is, over the course of this year, putting back together the things that would have been torn apart by that incredible... Oh, and World War III happened and all the rest of it.
There seems to be a lot of anger with Olivia and Walter.
Peter essentially committed the exact same sin his father did, which is a totally understandable... I mean, part of what was always so dynamic about the thing that Walter did wrong is, I think, just about any person can understand why. He had lost his child and was given an opportunity to have his child back. You would have to be Jesus to say, “No, actually. That’s wrong.” So everybody gets that. And Peter, I think, in much the same fashion, wasn’t capable of processing that. And you know, I think he pushed everyone in his life away. He pushed Olivia away, I think... Because he just couldn’t accept the idea that he wasn’t going to be able to fix this.
So now that he’s found Etta, what’s his drive?
To not lose his child again. To have his wife and his child in his life. This is a miracle. His child was gone. It was over. There was no reason to go forward. And he wakes up. Literally, you know, a Sleeping Beauty, he gets popped out of it. And here’s his baby. And even though she’s a grown woman, she’s still his baby. And he gets a second chance. Even though the backdrop of it is ugly, I think for him, he’s really happy to be there.
Given the show, are you surprised that Peter and Olivia actually wound up with a good three happy years?
You do wonder, like, what were they doing, these three years? Was she breast-feeding like this? [holds baby with one hand, points pretend gun with the other] But we just sort of gloss over that. If you look back over the course of Fringe, Olivia... She hasn’t had a very good time. So it doesn’t surprise me that, as an extremely focused woman, to come to a place where she could accept this bizarro-world family and trust them — which is not her strong suit — and then allow that trust to grow into love, even through all the trials and tribulations that she and Peter went through, and the outcropping of that to be a child, it doesn’t surprise me that they would have had three good years. Because these are two people who found each other against all odds. And when those things work, they work pretty well. And clearly, these two have to be together. I mean, we’ve thrown everything and the kitchen sink at them and they’ve managed to survive. So no, I think a) she deserves it, but b) it doesn’t surprise me that these two would work. They are oil and vinegar, and that quite often goes well together.
Joel has teased that stuff that appeared earlier in the series, that fans wouldn’t think would be coming back, would return...
This is one of those things you don’t want to tease too much, because maybe everyone would be like, “Eh.” The thing that we reveal in the episode that we’re shooting right now is — if you’re geeked out on the mythology of the show, is going to be one of those like, knock-your-socks-off moments.
So something that seemed incidental is going to come back to be crucial. And ultimately, it gets one of our characters to his or her natural finishing state in a way that is going to make the original intention — or that thing that seemed incidental — seem so f--king cool!