'Fringe' Stars Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv and John Noble Dissect the Series' Final Season

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Fans of FOX's Fringe got a sneak peek into the fifth and final season of the epic series last season when the nineteenth episode of the year jumped forward in time over two decades to see what became of the world — and the Fringe team — when the Observers took over.

Naturally, though, such a brief look set up a number of questions and new relationship tensions that the series promises to play out in its shortened last run. With only 13 episodes in its last season, Fringe is wasting no time getting to the task at hand: defeating the Observers and taking back the future.

What can fans expect from the show's final season?

On the season premiere, Olivia (Anna Torv) was finally reunited, not only with her team, but also with her family, seeing her daughter Etta for the first time since she was taken from her and Peter (Joshua Jackson) was just a little girl. Though Olivia and Peter -- and Walter and Astrid -- were preserved in amber for the past 20 years, Etta (Georgina Haig) grew up into a strong, self-sufficient woman.

But there isn’t much time to dwell on the oddities that come with working alongside your child that you just want to get to know and catch up on her life. Though Walter had a plan to take down the Observers, it appears lost in the maze that is his mind, starting a new mystery for the Fringe team to unravel.

What does Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble think is most important for you to know about Fringe’s fifth and final season?

Joel [Wyman] has talked a lot about treating this season as sort of a three act show,” Jackson explained the arc of Fringe’s final season when Celebuzz visited Warner Bros.' Vancouver set for the series.

“So one through four is our first act," he continued. "And something big happens at the end of four that launches us into the second piece [and] takes one of our characters in a direction that I think people will be pretty excited about but which is not good for that character. And then what is discovered is the laying in the end game for Fringe.”

To kick things off for the season, then, with that first act, so to speak, we saw Walter (John Noble) brought with him to the future a very special “Thought Unifier” tool in order to extract the various pieces of his plan to triumph over the Observers and reclaim our world from his mind. But after his intense interrogation, he has lost bits of his memories, with no clear indicator on if and when they will (consistently) return. While this is providing emotional character work for Noble himself, he previewed that it also serves as a device to move the plot along.

“I think the fascinating thing about this season as Walter is Walter has set this up by planting a series of clues, and it’s like a treasure hunt, in a way. The genius thing I think the writers have done this year—because we don’t want to do monsters of the week; we wanted something for the fans that was a bit more serial—we have to chase a clue of the week, really. That creates the beginning of the story of each week as we’re going after these really bizarre clues in strange places. Walter being Walter hid some of these things in some really weird, weird, weird places!” Noble laughed.

What is most interesting to Jackson about Fringe’s Season 5 is that in the off-screen hiatus, Peter and Olivia actually managed three happy years as a family with their daughter. A part of him has to wonder how that was ever even possible. But of course, now in 2036, their relationship is much different. When Etta was taken, Peter never stopped looking for her  -- never stopped believing he’d find her again.

“Peter essentially committed the exact same sin his father did [but] what was so dynamic about the thing Walter did was wrong was I think just about any person — not just any parent — can understand why. He lost his child and was given an opportunity to have his child back. He would have to be Jesus to say no… Peter, in much the same fashion pushed everybody in his life away. I think he pushed Olivia away because he just couldn’t accept the idea that he wasn’t going to be able to fix this,” Jackson offered insight.

This tension was thus far part of the off-camera storytelling, but Jackson shared that it would be illuminated as the early episodes in the season unfolded and we saw how Peter and Olivia, as an “established married couple” relate to each other differently than they did when they were the “will they or won’t they” couple.

“Putting the family back together definitely goes towards healing the rift,” he continued. “[Peter and Olivia’s] story is, over the course of this year, putting back together the things that would have been torn apart by having that terrible thing happen to them. And you know, World War III happening in the background!”

Torv added that Fringe’s fifth season will touch on, even if not provide complete closure for, what actually happened when Etta was taken:

“The time for them hasn’t been that long because they were in this frozen state,” she pointed out. “They haven’t really had a chance to properly deal with grieving for their little girl, so they work through that in Peter and Olivia style. It takes them awhile.”

With such a profound common enemy in the Observers, though, Torv promised that despite any new personal complications, the Fringe team will remain a united front. There are certainly new trials and tribulations popping up even where you might not expect (“like what apples are made of in the future,” Torv smirked), but there are also some callback moments and returns to elements of the early part of the series you may have thought was just anecdotal at the time.

“If you’ve been watching [from the beginning], there are some good payoffs. People pop back up and cases and ideas. I’m glad that they did that because I think you want that if you’re invested,” Torv teased.

Fringe airs its fifth and final season on FOX on Friday nights at 9 PM.

How do you want to see the Fringe Team’s story wrap up? Let us know your thoughts and theories in the comments below!

-- Danielle Turchiano

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