‘Tis better to have been loved and lost your life, than never to have been loved at all.
That twist on Tennyson pretty much sums up how Fringe‘s Georgina Haig feels about Peter and Olivia’s daughter Etta sacrificing her life at the close of the final season’s fourth episode.
“Before she dies, there’s a moment of peace, almost like a relaxation, as she’s thinking about how she has finally been loved – and she doesn’t care that Windmark can see that, so she lets her guard down,” Haig tells TVLine of Etta’s selfless act, dying along with many Observers as she sets off an anti-matter bomb.
“To be loved is the most basic of human needs, after food and shelter,” the Aussie actress continues. “And while she has had support through her life, and she’s had Simon [as a partner], it’s just not the same. She never felt really loved until she reunited with [her parents]. And that’s what makes her death peaceful in a way. She stops fighting [Windmark’s thought-reading ] and let’s that contentment wash over her.”
Haig first guested on Fringe, of course, in Season 4’s Episode 19, “Letters of Transit,” which served as a prequel to the Fox series’ futuristic farewell run. “They said there was the possibility of me recurring if Season 5 happens… so when it [got picked up], everyone was really excited,” she recalls. “I knew that I was coming back but I had no idea in what capacity or what would happen to me.”
Because she had joined the series as a member of the Bishop family, “The cast embraced me completely,” Haig effuses. “John [Noble] took me out for lunch and said, ‘Ask me anything.’ Anna [Torv] went out of her way to make sure I met the crew before we started filming. And Josh [Jackson] made sure that I got out and saw Vancouver.” Likewise, “The fans embraced my character because I was part of that family.”
Haig’s first conversation with show runner Joel Wyman coming into Season 5, however, made clear Etta’s tragic destiny. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so sad!’ And yet it’s so brave of them to put these characters through that trauma in Episode 4, just a third of the way into the story. It’s almost like an inciting incident.”
Make no mistake, though — Haig didn’t let Etta go quietly into the night. “I was like, ‘Joel, how about instead of her dying, she just falls unconscious and is locked into a cupboard, and they find her later…?'” she shares with a laugh. “I didn’t want to die, because it was so awesome being on the show.”
Before meeting her maker, Etta was able to facilitate an awaited and emotional reunion between her mother and Broyles, who obviously missed the team’s old-school Fringe days. The significance of the scene was not lost on the newcomer. “I had watched all of the previous seasons and I definitely knew what all those characters meant to each other, so it was sort of surreal in a way, standing there watching it happen,” she says.
And as for Etta’s grand farewell, the “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” nature of it soothes some of the sting for Haig.
“If you’re going to go, you want a hero’s death,” she notes. Plus, “They explored so much in four episodes with my character, I felt really lucky!”