William Bell in amber? Olivia and Peter finally together? The Over Here and Over There universes forever separated? David Robert Jones trying to collapse the two universes together to create a new one? And a mysterious future episode that teases a world where Observers rule the Earth?
It's been one strange and wonderful season of Fox's Fringe, and it's all coming down to the two-part season-four finale that premieres tonight. So do you think those cagey executive producers at Fringe, Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman, might give us a clue about what to expect? Think again.
"We don't want to spoil too much," said Wyman.
What we do know about tonight's episode, "Brave New World, Part 1," based on the TV Guide log-line, is this: "Walter reluctantly revisits his painful past after terrifying cases of spontaneous human combustion. Meanwhile, the future of both universes is at stake when the Fringe team faces David Robert Jones in the mother of all battles."
Trying to get the guys to say anything specific about the finale is like pulling teeth, but here's the tantalizing bits they did give us:
On whether we've seen the last of the Over There altverse
"We sort of have a 'no spoilers' policy because we're just of the mind that the entertainment value of watching the stories unfold is diminished if you already know what's coming. We love all those characters from the Red-verse. The door is closed because of the problems that David Robert Jones is causing. So if our team can somehow dispense with Jones, there's absolutely a possibility of that door being opened again. We can't definitively say anything," said Pinkner.
On David Robert Jones
"What's been fun for us ... is there have been two David Robert Joneses on our show," said Pinkner. "Both largely [are] the same person almost in every way, existing in two different timelines, but even he has a doppelganger because it's so incredibly fun to watch ... and see Jared Harris portray this character that, for all intents and purposes, could be a doppelganger in a much different alternate universe to David Robert Jones. Jared is just spectacular. In the world ... is there another bad guy who is pulling his strings or above him. I think we'd be wrong to say anything other than just David Robert Jones ... he's pretty compelling and he's pretty—nefarious is probably too loaded of a word. He's definitely a suitable opponent for our team. It's taken all of them to deal with him."
What Wyman will say, however, is that: "The ground will shift a little bit and you'll understand him a little bit deeper."
On whether we'll see more of 2035 from the future episode "Letters of Transit," this season or next
"I think it's safe to say you will," said Wyman.
On the possible return of William Bell, who appeared in "Letter of Transit" trapped in amber
"We basically erected a sign outside of Leonard's house which said, 'Please come back to Fringe,' and we are hoping that by season five he says yes," said Pinkner.
And what about that strange future episode where our heroes were encased in amber and Observes ruled the Earth?
"Part of our storytelling has always been revealing and re-contextualizing what you think you know and what you've seen, and putting it into a different mindframe for the viewer. Let's just say that that future is important to our storytelling, but it's not the be-all and end-all. There is a reason," said Wyman.
"Like, somebody asked us a really cool question the other day—How did we decide to do flashbacks or flash-forwards or whatever? For us, we can honestly say there's always a reason. There's always a reason to do it. We're going to go into the past because we have to put you in that headspace so you can understand this ... and figure out where the character is coming from or has been in order for you to get the full experience of what you're watching today in the present," said Wyman.
"That's how we feel about the 'Letters of Transit.' It was for a reason. Nineteen is traditionally the one that we go off the beaten path, and that was no different. It was definitely off the beaten path. Does it have further implications? It does. You're going to definitely need to understand what 'Letters of Transit' is or was in order to fully grasp all ... things we like to tell this year."
On whether a 13-episode finale season will be enough to finish the Fringe story fully
"If we had 22, we could really take advantage of that. But the truth is that we could only operate on what we have. We were hoping at the minimum we would get 13 so we could tell our story and have ways to do that. If it was a 22-episode, we would have found ways to do that, too. I think that Fringe has come such a long way. We were just more concerned that we would have the ability to not have a couple of episodes to wrap something up, but really an arc, like a real final season event," said Wyman.
On how they approached the finale not knowing if there would be a fifth season
"We're always hoping for the best, and you have to plan for the worst. ... You'll see in the finale, it's like okay. I can understand how the show can end, but I'm interested in going further. That's sort of how we approach it, " said Wyman. "We close every single season with a chapter. When Peter disappeared, that could have been an ending. I mean, it would have been, 'Whoa, wait—what is that? What happened?' But it would have been an ending of sorts. Like okay, Peter had to sacrifice himself in order to save his family. Okay, I'm not happy about that, but I understand it. Then you can imagine one day that they would meet again or something like that.
"We finished the season conclusion in a manner that we feel is authentic and real for that season, and then we use that as a push-off point to go and tell another aspect of the story that we hope the people will be interested in," he said.
"When we're thinking about the end of the season we're always thinking about the beginning of the next one and where that's going to take us and what kind of doors it can open. That's basically how it's been since the get-go, and it's no different this year. We definitely know where the series is going to end and how it's going to end and what we're saying with the final season," said Wyman.
On that fifth and final season
"Like I said, we know the end. It's a perfect amount of time to be done right and to be doled out in the right pace. We feel really confident that we can have a satisfying ending for us, but also, of course, for our fans and supporters within the timeframe of 13 episodes. I think that's really what we were hoping for. Fox is so great to deliver and continues to demonstrate their incredible support. So yes, we are very content," said Wyman.
Part one of Fringe's "Brave New World" airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
Will you tune in to see the season-four finale?