Fringe‘s Season 3 finale could have ended with Peter emerging from the Machine, as he and Olivia survey the roomful of doppelgangers he just united. Or, it could have gone a step further and left us with the jarring image of Peter “fizzling” away in the midst of debriefing the Walters on his learning from the future.
But this is Fringe. And the envelope-pushing sci-fier dialed up the WTF to 11 by closing the season with an Observer explaining that no one inside Lady Liberty is batting an eye at Peter’s vanishing because to them — now, having “served his purpose” — he “never existed.”
Speaking with executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman after we previewed the finale, TVLine led with the No. 1 question on our list: Does Joshua Jackson have a Fringe gig come fall? Or should he have been auditioning for pilots? “He’s got a job. He’s still under contract,” Wyman confirms. “We can’t yet reveal what exactly we have in store for him, but he’s definitely not going out for other shows.”
As for those final two scenes, Pinkner said that even the most time paradox-savvy viewers “should be wondering” how it is that Peter vanished from existence, yet said he would be remiss to shed much light on that or what’s in store for Season 4. “The less spoilerage, the better,” he deferred. “The reason to come back and watch is exactly for the questions you’re asking.”
Wyman instead points viewers to this scene: “When Walter in the future says he has figured out a plan to send a message back to the past, he says that bringing Peter’s consciousness forward of course would have consequences.” Or as Future Peter himself remarked when presented with Walter’s plan: “Imagine the repercussions.” Indeed.
But could even the brilliant Walter have surmised that preventing a future doomsday would rob him of being with his son in the past? “One of the things we were playing with this season,” says Pinkner, “is a journey of acceptance for Walter, accepting what the Observers were trying to teach him in ‘Firefly’ – that in order to undo the damage he has done, he may have to be willing to sacrifice Peter.”
To briefly recap the finale episode, before we share more from Wyman and Pinkner: After glimpsing an instant of disorientation, we realize we are observing Peter as he exists in the year 2026, complete with memories of what he made wife (!) Olivia that morning for breakfast. The recovery of a “light bomb” used by a terrorist named Moreau sets in motion a chain of events in which Walter — now “the most reviled” man on the globe, as the deliverer of doomsday — deduces that it is he who will design the Machine and send it into the very distant past via the Central Park wormhole. He hypothesizes that if he can bring Peter’s 2011 consciousness “forward” in time long enough to realize that he must make another choice once in the Machine, both worlds can be saved. Alas, though Walter is spot-on in his assessment, it appears there are in fact “repercussions” to this correction, when Peter fades away from his 2011 existence, never to be remembered.
Now, a few other burning questions the Fringe EPs took on:
If Peter “Never Existed,” Wouldn’t That Mean No Feud Between the Walters, No Machine Activated, No 2026 Doomsday…? | In a word, no. “Walter and [William] Bell were always trying to find a way to cross over, even before the Peter [abduction] incident,” Pinkner reminds. “So things may have happened differently.”
What Was “Lost In Detroit,” As Future Peter Alluded To With Broyles? | “That’s not something the audience needs to understand just yet,” says Wyman. “It’s obviously something heavily emotional between them – that may or may not be the cause of Broyles losing an eye.”
Was Olivia In Fact the “Beloved Character” Spoiled To Be Dying In the Finale? (Or Was It Gene the Cow?) | “In the course of the episode, it was Olivia,” confirms Pinkner, noting that Gene had gone to that great dairy farm in the sky sometime between 2011 and 2026.
Is That It for Big Baddie Moreau? | Sadly, yes. Played by Dune‘s Brad Dourif, Moreau and his End of Dayers threat was simply the Case of the Week for Fringe Team ’26.
Have We Also Seen the Last Of Grown-Up Ella (Boardwalk Empire‘s Emily Meade)? | Yes, says Wyman — “for the time being.”
Did Fox Execs Have As Many Questions About Fringe‘s Latest Freaky Finale As I Did? | “Probably more!” Pinkner says with a laugh. “But everybody is asking the right questions – not questions of confusion but questions of intrigue, of being compelled. We always like it when it’s like that.” Adds Wyman: “We’ve gained a lot of trust over the years [when pitching ideas to the network]. They have now seen the way we operate, how we always have tent posts that we are moving toward and from.”
What did you think, Fringe fans? Did the finale sufficiently blow your mind?