Fringe's Joshua Jackson Reveals Peter's Wrong World Dilemma: 'He's Got to Get Out of Dodge!'

If you think that Fox’s Fringe (Fridays at 9/8c) is cribbing from Lost‘s sideways world — that Peter just needs to make Walter, Olivia et al remember him and all will be hunky-dory — think again. As Joshua Jackson affirms in this TVLine Q&A, “Peter is in the wrong place, and he knows it.”

But will Peter ever be able to convince a thoroughly spooked Walter into helping him remedy this worlds-clashed problem of his? Jackson shares much insight on that, as well as teases other Fringe mysteries to come.

TVLINE | Can you start off by assuring your fans that now that you’re back, you will more than make up for missed airtime minutes?
[Laughs] I will be “Where’s Waldo?” in this show from now on. In every frame, I’ll be somewhere. No, that’s a lie but I will be a part of the show from now on. I promise.

TVLINE | In fact, Peter’s a major player now, as a critical resource for this Fringe team.
He’s definitely a resource and in ways that the Fringe team, as constituted now, doesn’t really understand, because he has knowledge of a lot of the cases they’re dealing with. But he is very much the outsider, and the dynamics of the relationships as they existed before are completely nonexistent. In fact, the person who is the most accepting of Peter coming back is the person who knows him the least – Lincoln Lee (played by Seth Gabel). They both essentially become outsiders to this team. Olivia wants nothing to with him, Walter is terrified of him…. It’s a different world.

TVLINE | Will Peter sooner rather than later get out of his Hannibal Lecter-esque confines and go into the field?
Trust me, I spent a lot of time in that box when I first came back. It won’t take too, too long, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Peter is not a part of this world, remember, so they took the time to have him earn his stripes.

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TVLINE | At the end of “Novation,” they teased that Peter was winning over Walter, but it was just a fake-out. What will it take to convince Walter and show him that he is not going nuts?
I already saved two universes for these guys. I don’t know what else I can do for them! [Laughs] I don’t want to tell you what it takes with Walter, because it’s a very specific thing, but in general… Peter doesn’t actually want to be a part of this Fringe team. His motivation here is not to get back to work; he’s got to get out of Dodge! He’s in the wrong place, and he knows it. It’s not like, “Hey guys, I’m back, I just need to remind you who I am, then let’s go save the world again.” As the story goes on, Peter is more and more going to want to get back to where he belongs.

TVLINE | That explains the synopsis for Episode 8, about how Olivia and Lincoln try to help Peter “find his way home.”
And there’s some debate about that – is home here and these people just need to be reminded? Or is home some place else? Peter has not been replaced, but his space in the Fringe Division is now Lincoln’s space, so he doesn’t exist in that world anymore. He doesn’t really add anything.

TVLINE | Why do you think Peter has directed his appeal at Walter? Is he merely being pragmatic, because Walter might be able fix this? Or is it also possibly coming from an emotional place?
I think it’s primarily from an emotional place. You see how Olivia reacts to Peter, so he knows he’d be barking up the wrong tree there. But also as much as Peter was willing to sacrifice himself and go to outlandish lengths for his love of Olivia, a “different” Olivia is sort of like Bolivia for him — he doesn’t have any personal stake with the girl who’s in Season 4. However, his father is still his father, no matter which way you slice it. Peter spent three years making sure that Walter was progressing mentally to be a more stable human being. For Walter to be so cracked, so destroyed by Peter not having been there, touches him on a personal level.

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TVLINE | Last week there was a random “hiccup” moment where Olivia is handed a file by a staffer and they have an exchange of words – twice. Is that a seed of something to come?
Oh, that slip in time? Yeah, the time slips come up again.

TVLINE | Is it related to Peter, or to the new threat to both universes…?
Well, I can’t tell you that those are two different things…..

TVLINE | Gotcha. Because a couple episodes down the line, there’s the teaser, “Olivia suffers from migraines.”
That is related to something else. Olivia’s having a really rough year. [Laughs] But you know what? She’s been having a really rough series, so it’s probably nothing new for her.

TVLINE | Can you say anything about how David Robert Jones returns?
Uh… no. I can say from a personal standpoint that the fact that we’re getting back to David Robert Jones and going back basically into Season 1 to rehash all of that stuff, is super-cool. And [Jared Harris] is a great actor to have on the show. But I don’t want to give away the way [he returns], because if you’ve been watching from the very beginning, it’s a very satisfying reveal.

TVLINE | What’s the coolest thing you’ve been involved in this season to date? Fringe is forever, as the showrunners like to say, “recontextualizing” itself….
Whenever they say they that, I think of Sim City. I literally hear the voice of Sim City saying, “Reticulating splines….” [Laughs] My favorite “recontextualizing” moments are during our winter break cliffhanger episodes, which deal with David Robert Jones and both universes; those I think are the best of the stories I have been involved in since I’ve been back — just because it’s the whole enchilada. It’s all the characters, it’s both sides, it’s deep in mythology, and you learn a little bit about every character. But [because of the World Series preemption] now they won’t be airing until 2012, so….

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TVLINE | Lastly…. Peter is back, the two Olivias now are hanging out together… I believe the French in at least one universe have a term for it….
[Laughs] Actually, Peter does not have very good luck with women. He meets one girl and it’s going pretty well, but it turns out she’s lying to him and she has his baby, so he destroys her universe. He then decides on the other girl but that doesn’t work out, she gets shot in the head and he stops existing…. I think he should hang up his spurs for a while.

TVLINE | Or at least steer clear of anyone who looks like Olivia.
He’s all Olivia’d out. I’m telling you, this is the Year of Peter and Astrid!