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Fringe Finale Exclusive: WTF Just Happened?! Producers Answer (Some) Burning Questions

[Warning: The following story is chockablock with spoilers from Friday night's Fringe season finale. Watch before you read. Seriously.]

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.”

OK…. What?

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?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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403 Comments
  1. John says:

    loved the last episode…just full of twists and turns that made me want more…there is even references that tie it all the way back to the first episode (the wormholes are through time…and the bus filled with amber…suddenly, that makes sense again!

    it could only been more awesome if Peter had somehow changed the future by using the flying vee…

    (sorry, couldn’t resist the reference)

  2. Acting Crazy says:

    I DVR’d the finale, as I was across country at my grandmother’s funeral, and got home to watch it last night… HOLY MOLY! My brain hurts! I have no idea what to think or where they are going. Which is one of the main reasons I <b.LOVE this show! If John Noble doesn’t get at minimum nominated for a Golden Globe and/or Emmy, then there is not a shred of justice in the world – he has built the best character on television since Gregory House. Isn’t it interesting, both on Fox? Alphabet networks, take notice… Fox knows how to make us shudder with anticipation for more.

  3. Patrick says:

    Not sure about the ending… I don’t really like the question: “How are they bringing Peter back, if they won’t ever know he even existed?” Soul Magnets?
    I’d make it a battle between past and future universes, that don’t run parallel but in front of each other in time. So they have to destroy the future one to create a new and better future… Anything from half-rat-half-boy creatures to cartoons from inception seems possible. That mentioned ratboy episode was really stupid, by the way. But still it’s an awesome show that totally filled the post LOST hole.
    Looking forward to september!!!

  4. Melissa Morris says:

    Reminds me of the “dream scene” in Dallas, where the whole season was just a dream.

  5. Stacey says:

    Initially I had mixed feelings about the finale as it didn’t seem quiet as suspenseful as some other episodes, but the more I think about what happened, the more I think WOW! Great episode and I’m extremely excited about the upcoming S4.

    Now, here’s my theory on Peter not existing. I need to re-watch, but as Peter woke up in the machine, I believe I noticed, in the other universe, a shimmering and faded image of Peter in the machine on the other side. With the shimmering way he disappeared and the comments by The Observers, I think it might be as simple as they meaning Peter did not exist in “our universe.” The Peter we’ve known over the last 3 seasons wasn’t our Peter, but the one from the alternate universe. I think that maybe, the Observers helped save Peter when Walter first brought him over and did not attempt to get him back to his own universe to assist in their fight to ultimately save their universe. The Observers were potentially smart enough to know that the crossing over Walter did, even if he initially intended to return the newly healed Peter to his proper family, would cause the detrimental effects on their home universe. So, I believe they developed a long term plan to assist in getting Peter to play an important role in eventually correcting the unstable nature of their own universe. Once they manipulated the course of actions to stabilize their universe, Peter no long needed to be in our universe and could be sent back to his own, where he ultimately belonged. Probably completely wrong, but can’t wait until S4 beings to find out what happens next.

  6. Michael says:

    I have one statement / question…If peter never existed does that mean that faux Olivia never had peters baby.

    • Steph says:

      Wow… I kind of assumed there was a minimum IQ required to really enjoy Fringe, but I guess I was wrong…

  7. Linda says:

    I’m glad that the two Walters finally got to meet. It will be interesting to see how the two different personalities work together. I’m not sure about Peter. But since consciousness exists after death he’s out there somewhere. Yet another universe? Maybe that is why we all keep watching. We want to question, we want to understand.You want simple brained situations? Watch a sit com. I will stick with Fringe.

  8. DoppelGreg says:

    Peter? Who is this “Peter” you guys keep talking about? I have seen every episode of Fringe since the beginning and I don’t remember any Peter? I have enjoyed watching Walter, Astrid, Broyles, and Olivia solve those weekly mysteries, but this whole “Peter” discussion is freaking me out.

  9. Henrynate says:

    This episode confirms that these guys (not to be read as gender-specific :) are the smartest and best writers on television. I love Fringe and look forward to it every week. Great cast that is probably the MOST underrated in TV. John Noble deserves an Emmy, and it would be a crime against the arts if he doesn’t receive the recognition he so well deserves. And the cast has such fantastic chemistry that you can’t help feeling completely involved in their journey. I wait patiently for September knowing we won’t be let down!

  10. jazgar says:

    I just don’t see how Peter ended up nullifying his own existence. At no point did he travel into the past. Maybe it was the observers’ doing?

    Is it possible that he’ll appear now as just “Peter-nate”? Never abducted to our universe by Walter? If Peter is “restored” from non-existence through some form of time travel, could the late Peter Bishop be restored also? What about Fauxlivia’s baby? Does he no longer exist? My money is with Peter just walking in having grown up over-there and engaged to Fauxlivia – or something. Poor Olivia will be heartbroken, but she won’t know why.

    Was it actually William Bell traveling to the other side that destabilized their universe & not Peter’s abduction at all? Will that take the fun away of watching Walter agonize about all the lives he’s destroyed?

    Will our Fringe Division be formed as a result of the destruction from last season? And when will Lincoln Lee join it?

    Hmmm. Questions. So many questions.

  11. alien says:

    Did the finale sufficiently blow your mind? no very disappointed.

  12. ernie says:

    as for the question, did the season finale blow my mind? no, but it did freak me out somewhat. this is also the reason i am a fringe fan. just as i am still a fan of the x-files. this show will live on with me until i am dead and gone. best show on television. keep it coming.

  13. Dan says:

    Can someone please explain something (please forgive me if somone mentioned this already): WTF was the burial at sea scene all about? We’ve always been led to believe that the world of Peter and Olivia was OUR world, and the Walternate universe with the zeppelins was something very different. The burial scene shows a custom that hasn’t existed in our universe since the Vikings a thousand years ago. It couldn’t have deveoped in just the 15 years that Peter leaped ahead. So is our universe NOT the same as Peter and Olivia’s after all? I’m so wonderfully confused. I love this show.

  14. alienbee says:

    Did you all see, Fringe was #3 for badass women as well! I hope that they leave the Oliva/ Peter relationship in place. Its more real than any on tv. The way they depict the interaction is the way two people launching a relationship actually behave. I appreciate that. So, despite that she’s a cortexifan testee who apparently can move things with her mind and he’s from another universe, Fringe keeps it real with them. and I hope that, at least, doesn’t change!

  15. Mindy says:

    The paradox created here is mind blowing! I hope they have a plan to address this. The finale was great fun, though.

    Um, please Emmy voters, just watch whatever screener of Fringe you get. Please, John Noble deserves to be an Emmy nominee!!

  16. Gwen Davis says:

    I love the show can’t say I thought much of the writing the first half of the show. I followed it but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense so much just interjected without explaining anything. And Peter going to the future should have been the Peter of the past not aged and with memories in tact. That was just stupid writing. Perhaps they have gotten so convoluted like lost did that it quit making sense at all. Really hated and didn’t watch Lost still don’t understand what people saw in such a stupid show. Fringe is a highly intelligent show very heady which I love and have loved up until now, well still love, but have become disappointed in the lack of cohesive logic. The writers know better, and it really isn’t fair to the viewers to make us fall in love with the characters and the direction they are going just to flub it up. And why wasn’t Walter restored, physically and mentally, since he hasn’t spend all that time in the asylum? If you are going to switch things up so drasticly you have to pay attention to all the details not just the ones that work with your plot. Walternate should have no bad feeling towards our world anymore so I’m sorry but the ending to this season was only 50% successful and 50% really lazy. To agree with a comment someone else wrote about John Noble as an actor. Exceptional, best I have ever seen and before lord of the rings I had never set eyes on him before. He is the heart of the show.

    • Traxman says:

      You should not Be Dissing LOST! Other than The X-Files, it was the Most Original, Scripted Show to Ever Be On TV! Simply too Unique to be Dismissed Outright! Shame on U! If you are A JJ Fan You Should stick with Us–This Show is Going to Go Down as Simply ‘The Best Show Ever To Be On TV’ Just Watch–Unless they (Writers–Producers–Etc Really Fumble the Ball) This is going to Be Groundbreaking History Making TV–Take My Word 4 it!

      Cheers T:

  17. Karina says:

    Fringe>LOST…and I LOVED LOST….UGH I can’t even handle that I have to wait until September to see it again!!!

  18. bhb says:

    Peter is still alive but I think he is between dimensions, which is somehow being controlled by the watchers as well as maintaining the memory loss of him over the others. There is always one watcher who goes against what the others deem right.Just a thought!

    Please check out my reply to maxxx date 5/10/11 about wanting to start a campaign to get the actors on SNL & also somehow write in to Emmy nomination board about the unfairness of all shows like Fringe who are classified as SCIFI are not taken seriously by them but reality shows are nominated!!!!!!

  19. carol says:

    Peter can not get out of the series.
    He and Olivia Walter solving cases together are the heart and soul of the show.
    He has to be in every episode.
    The couple Peter and Olivia has to continue.

  20. John says:

    Possibly the “bridge” is a bubble. Everything is as we know it. When they are on the “bridge” they are immune to the outside universes. Peter is the one who keeps the bridge/bubble in place, and the people within the bubble cannot remember him. If that is the case, then the first episodes would be about the people in the room figuring out a plan to heal the universes before they can leave the bridge. They are, to use a child discipline term, “in time out.” Olivia, who can leap between universes is the only one who can join Peter in the middle-zone (no sexual pun intended). This could be a very romantic storyline. In effect, everyone in the room will need to invent Peter, by pulling all the pieces together, in order to bring him back and return to their worlds. The Observers follow Peter like a religious leader. They are also able to exist “midway” between universes.

  21. Pden says:

    Part way through Primeval there was a changed timeline shift – there a particular love interest did not yet exist in the new timeline in the organization.

    I susepct they can bring back Peter’s actor, with quite a bit of Peter mannerisms and character, but he has a different name and reason for interaction with the others (personally a villian might be interesting). What is good is if people remember the old Peter but get to interact with the non-Peter.

    Just saying

  22. Jay says:

    I think M. Night Shyamalan has been the lead writer for the last couple seasons.

    Show started off so strong but the season long alt universe story arc stuff is pretty lame. The show is on Fridays so hopefully it wont be around much longer. Then perhaps we can come up with real sci fi…

  23. Taylor Geary says:

    Just because we love Fringe doesn’t mean we are obliged to like this episode. It was not a good finale and was too much like “Lost” when everyone lost interest. The beginning of this season was amazing, I literally couldn’t stop watching it when Olivia and Foelivia were switched, but Peter and the doomsday machine bored me to death. I’m more interested when there is a weekly case going on amongst the action and long term story lines. Hopefully, next season will get back to its roots and stop pretending to be X-Files.

    • Traxman says:

      Uh No Sorry You are Quite Mistaken! This is Not A Rip Off of The X-Files! It is Very Obviously So Similar to it as A Tribute to Perhaps the Best Show ever to be on The Small Screen (The X-Files)

      Cheers T:

  24. empaty says:

    BTW, who is that peter you all are talking about?

  25. Mark says:

    After we watched this episode, we had DVR’d it, we went back and watched the last few minutes over and over.We came to the conclusion, That Peter will have to shut down the time/space continuum On the past side, while the doppelgangers will have to close down the other side(in the present) J.J.Abrahms,you little Star trek devil You.

  26. Sierra says:

    “she’s beautiful isn’t she?”
    “who?”
    “The slug.”
    This is one of my favorite Fringe moments. Me and my friends laughed over this for a long time

  27. ThinkingKinda says:

    Well, riddle me this…if the machine truly destroyed the other universe; perhaps through some climatic wormhole, would the basic principles on which Fringe is based not suggest that the astral plane on which the adjacent universe existed be erased from existence permanently as well. Furthermore, wouldn’t this erase any problem because the problems in this universe (or the main universe) stem primarily form the retrieval of Walter’s deceased kin from a parallel world, which was wiped off the hypothetical map half a century later. I am merely suggesting that, in accordance with the mainstream model of string theory, Pinkner and Wyman better have thinking caps on because Season 4 Premier better blow my socks off or I’m going to travel back to the first episode and give John Scott a pencil-line mustache.

  28. waitwhat says:

    Peter has to only not exist in the bubble he created out of the two universes. I’m sure once the “bubble” collapses then Peter will cease to not exist (=

    Also, if the machine got to the past by means of time travel, then the machines from both universes have to go back, not just one. It also stands to reason that Walter originally built the machine, hence the connection to Peter and Olivia, though if Walternate built/builds the other machine then there has to be a reason for him to also attune it to Peter, though Fauxlivia, without the aid of the cortexifan treatments as a child would not be able to be Peter’s “crowbar”. And the book “The First People”, was it sent back with the machine, or was it written in this timeline?

  29. Sarmen says:

    For anyone who can’t understand the paradox, you can’t really call yourself a Fringe Fan. If you were a Fringe Fan you will know Walter Lesson 101, open your mind and use your imagination. There are infinite possibilities for the catalyst of the degradation and possibly the destruction of the two Universes.

    Have faith in the writers. The finale IMO was absolutely captivating and brilliant. 10/10.

  30. Kim Snyder says:

    What about Peter’s and Bad Oliva’s baby? What happen to the baby? Fringe you are killing me!! We can’t lose Peter!! IT was a major case of WTH and wow I’m glad I recorded it so I can watch it again cause I think I missed a few things. Those watcher guys are just scary.. its like they set this all up from the beginning..

    • Traxman says:

      Very Good Comment! I Cannot wait til this Show Winds up Hopefully well down the Road! The Biggest Payoff in TV History is going to be When the Observers Role in all this Is Finally Revealed! My Personal 2 cents is that they are 1)Aliens from another Time/Dimension Immortal, etc and thus Tuned in to all Events 2)The First People, who are ‘Pulling all the Strings’ or 3) Some other Wonderful Deal that the Writers are Saving 4 if the Show ever Lags in Ratings?

      Cheers T:

  31. Kay says:

    i was blown away with the end of the season. I couldn’t stop saying WTF and found myself praying Joshua Jackson isn’t leaving the show. Thank You so much for the great news :) He is an awesome actor and great eye candy (i do like the show not just cause of him but it doesn’t hurt).

  32. Hazel says:

    Is other side Olivia going to tell this Olivia that she has a child with Peter? Eventhough Peter never existed? Are the Walters going to work together to get back Peter, since he is the link to both worlds? What did happen to Boyles eye? Are the Observers coming back?

  33. nary says:

    PLEASE DONT TELL ME PETER ISN’T COMING BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!WILL NOT BE THE SAME WITHOUT HIM

  34. Rosie says:

    My first thoughts after the shocking finale was “Oh hell no, they better bring Peter back”

  35. Paula Kate Mez says:

    “I do believe in Peter…I do believe in Peter…I do believe in Peter…Tink, quick sprinkle a little of your fairy dust on Fringe and make him re-appear!
    Seriously…Fringe is the best show on TV.
    I can’t wait till September, but am looking forward to the round table discussions with the family regarding the season finale. We are all blissfully hooked and watch it together.

  36. MMH says:

    I do not understand why everyone is so upset about the show without Peter. It is stated very clearly that Peter is not leaving the show. Also, I do not understand why some people who are commenting are so rude and mean to other peoples comments. I myself Love Fringe, have watched every episode in order from beginnig to final episode and each and every episode was very very good,”this is my opinion, as everyone is entitled to their opinions”, but being mean to other peoples comments is not opinions, it is just other people trying to spread their misery to others.
    Thank you to everyone who takes part in the making of Fringe, great show, very talented actors/actresses, and thank you to all the people behind the scenes for making the best show on TV.

  37. Anis says:

    Loved the episode and can’t wait for the September premiere. I was surprised not see much of the Nina Sharp character in the finale. It does make me wonder if the observers are the related to the first people in some way.

    • JJ says:

      I believe the first people turn out to be Walter and others going back in time to plant the machine. Not sure but thats what i was thinking. Maybe the observers are some kind of alien race watching over us…

  38. BalterWishop says:

    How would the bridge have been created without peter? I mean wasn’t the machine made specifically for peter? And the machine made the bridge between universes right? If they somehow still sent the machine back in time to create a bridge, then that means there was still an impending doomsday they are trying to prevent. I just can’t wait to see how they fit all the missing pieces together for this intricate puzzle.

  39. SteveJ says:

    Love this show

  40. Ben turner says:

    There will NEVER be a better tv series than LOST, However Fringe is great and i have complete faith that it will answer all its questions just like LOST DID. I hope you whingers pay attention this time because YOU DIDNT with LOST. “They didnt answer the questions” WRONG, “They made it up as they went along” WRONG, “They were dead the whole time” WRONG, “The ending wasnt great” WRONG.

  41. Kristina says:

    I just watched the season finale last night and it was mind blowing. Peter never existed? How could that be possible? The only way I can make sense out of Fringe is to conclude that each universe shows how our world would be if we made a different decision and if certain events at the beginning of time never happened or happened differently. So there could be hundreds of different universes – or realities – for each of us and the people we know without being aware of the others. We have so far watched two of Walters universes that have connected by his crossing between them and by awareness of each other start falling apart. Universes where Walter never had a child may not be affected at all unless of course Walter found another reason to cross over. And that is where we are now. Two of Walters Peterless universes that Peter brought together to find a solution for all of Walters universes that are falling apart.
    What ever the solutions are, I hope Fringe will continue until we get the whole story.

  42. Kamo says:

    YOU ARE ALL GOING TO HELL FOR WATCHING THIS MUCH TV… …THAT’S IF YOUR BRAIN DOESN’T TURN INTO MOOSH FIRST!

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