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Cracking the Pattern: Cast and Crew of "Fringe" Tease Second Season Details

What a difference a year makes.

While last year's panel for Fringe at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con was barely half-full, now that Season One has wrapped, Fringe played to a standing-room-only crowd in the cavernous Ballroom 20 this year, something even the cast and crew immediately noticed. "This is much better," said John Noble, who plays the somewhat mad scientist Walter Bishop, "Thank you."

Noble was joined on stage by co-stars Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, and Jasika Nicole, as well as executive producers Jeff Pinkner, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Bryan Burk. The enthusiasm felt by the crowd towards Fringe was more than palpable. "Nobody knew what Fringe was [last year]," said Pinkner, who said that the first season of Fringe was a "like raising a child," with the writers looking to see what worked and what didn't and adapting as a result. "I think the first season was identifying the threshold of these characters," said Pinkner, "[while the second] is about maturation."

Still, the reveal at the end of Season One about the existence of a parallel universe was planned from the start. "We always knew we were going to do the alternate universe, it just happened sooner," said Pinkner. Alex Kurtzman said that the series' writers had originally believed they wouldn't employ that particular twist until later. "We always knew we were going to do the alternate universe idea," he said. "Plan was to introduce it at the end of Season Two or maybe even Season Three.... Either we could hint there was a door and keep hinting there was a door or we could just blow it right down."

As for why the writers sought to include a shot of the World Trade Centers in the Season One finale where Olivia traveled to the parallel universe to meet William Bell, Pinkner said, "We wanted to immediately represent a different reality." And just because the WTC is unscathed, doesn't mean that the White House is in this alternate universe. "The Twin Towers may have been saved, but the White House may not have," suggested Pinkner, referring to the newspaper headline Olivia spied about the Obamas moving into the new White House. (Hmmm...)

As for what to expect next season, Pinkner didn't lay out any specifics but said, "This season is about maturation... about making decisions for yourself. There's a lot at stake." Roberto Orci followed up on that statement, stating that Season Two finds "everyone taking control of their lives and pursuing their own truths. And a war is coming... when you learn things that are unpleasant, you have to take a side."

Intriguing, no?

Here's what we do know about Season Two:
  • Leonard Nimoy will reprise his role as William Bell next season but Nimoy won't be a series regular. "The plan is to have Leonard [Nimoy] on as much as we can," said Orci.
  • Michael Cerveris will be back as the enigmatic Observer. "He will have an increased presence in Season Two," said Pinkner. But one thing is for sure: The Observer is very much NOT an alien as producers said outright that they will not be using aliens in the series.
  • Despite rumors that Kirk Acevedo had been fired from the series, Acevedo--who plays Agent Charlie Francis--will be back for Season Two. Sort of, anyway. "Rumors of Charlie's demise were premature," said Pinkner. "But I do think that Charlie's going to undergo some drastic changes, which hopefully will be surprising and entertaining. And we've already met alternate Charlie as well. He had a scar on his face. Kirk's part of our family."
  • The members of the Fringe Division could meet their parallel universe selves. "I think that is certainly a fun place to go and therefore we should do it," said Pinkner. Anna Torv has her own theory about what parallel universe Olivia would be like: "I can't wait to meet the parallel Olivia. She's going to have a really thick Australian accent, and she'll get to laugh," joked Torv.
  • Sparks could fly between Peter and Olivia this season, though not necessary in a full-blown relationship sense.
  • While David Robert Jones (Jared Harris) was killed in our reality, it doesn't mean that the alternate world's David Robert Jones won't pop up at some point in the future.
  • The self-contained episodic nature of the series won't change, despite the reveal of the alternate reality, with Orci indicating that they would play around with the structure of the procedural format while creating a balance with serialized storytelling.

The premiere of the second season--slated to air on FOX on September 17th--won't be set in the seconds after the first season finale but just what happened between Olivia and Bell will be dealt with throughout the sophomore season.

Much discussion was made of the relationship between Peter Bishop (Jackson) and Walter (Noble). "It's the relationship I hold most precious in the show," said Jackson. "If you strip away the sci-fi-ness of it all, you still have a truthful relationship." He then added: "You butt heads with family and you love them and you want to kill them." (All of which sounds about right for Peter and Walter's father/son dynamic.)

"As an actor, you never want to read the sentence, 'And he looks at Peter's grave,'" said Jackson about learning that Peter was actually from an alternate universe and not the son of this Walter Bishop. "Never a good sign. I had been given a hat tip that something like that was coming so I would not pass out [thinking] I'd been fired at the end of the first season. I love that the audience now knows something that Peter doesn’t."

So did the alternate universe Walter ever try to get his Peter back after Walter kidnapped him? Is the Walter we've been with this whole time not the real Walter? And is that who Walter saw in the mental institution during the series' first season? "Yes, no, and maybe," said Pinker mysteriously.

Full audio for the 2009 Comic-Con Fringe panel can be found below:

Fringe returns for a second season this fall on FOX.

Reporting by Lissette Lira and Mark DiFruscio


Jenni Lou said…
Thanks, Jace! I hadn't come across a comprehensive summary of the Fringe panel yet so this was very much appreciated! :)
Udo said…
Great stuff! I think the show definitely went through some growing pains during the first season but I believe they've found their groove and am looking forward to season two.
Debsa said…
"And we've already met alternate Charlie as well. He had a scar on his face. Kirk's part of our family" I don't quite understand this sentenc... does this mean we have met Charlie with a scar already or we will meet him in Season 2. I believe strongly Kirk added a level of depth to the show that is needed, but looking forward to where they go in Season 2.
Jace Lacob said…

We saw the alternate universe Charlie--the one with the nasty facial scar--in the first season of Fringe. I imagine he'll be back and will play a role in the parallel universe subplot...

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