Does Hallmark make a “sorry I fell in love with your sort-of-evil alternate universe doppelganger while you went through hell” card? We know a guy who could really use one of those.
Only on “Fringe” would a character find himself in such a predicament. When Zap2it recently got the chance to catch up with series star Joshua Jackson (possibly our favorite human on the planet) at a Warner Bros. promo shoot in L.A., we discussed Peter’s very complicated love life with Olivia (Anna Torv) and her alternate-universe self. Though she goes by many names – Fauxlivia and Alt-livia among them – we’ll refer to her for the purposes of this article as Bolivia.
In last week’s episode, Peter activated the device, which gave him some very machine-like qualities — but he remains mired in the very human, very emotional fall-out of his relationship with Bolivia and the implications of Olivia’s return.
Of course, the first question we have to ask Jackson is whether Bolivia may be pregnant, as was suggested in the “Firefly” episode. “You know as well as I do that I can’t tell you that,” he laughs – but he does offer a little bit of a tease. “It’s ‘Fringe.’ They don’t just drop lines like that. I’ve got to really say, Peter, who had the best of intentions – he f***ed up huge. It’s not like he stepped out on his girlfriend. He didn’t know! I know he was supposed to know, but he didn’t know. And now he’s in deep, deep s***. “
If you’re like us, you spent the first third of the season wanting to reach into your television and give Peter a good shake, because, as Jackson says, Peter was supposed to know. Jackson feels our pain. “I wasn’t particularly happy about that, either,” he confesses. “I like to refer to Peter now as the dumbest smart man on the planet, because it wasn’t subtle. He should’ve known.”
It’s a relief to him, now, that Peter is behaving in a mature fashion despite the generally unfair circumstances that have just come crashing down on him.
“They wrote, and hopefully we performed, in a nicely grown-up way, the fall-out of the Peter slept with Bolivia stuff,” he says, noting that it’s one of his favorite things about the upcoming episodes. “You could turn that into straight, hysterical melodrama if you want. And I’ve worked on that show.” (Moment of silence for “Dawson’s Creek,” please.)
“I like the fact that in our world it’s more muted,” Jackson continues. “It’s two grown people who are trying to deal with a circumstance that nobody on the planet has literally ever dealt with. They’ve got to work together every day, so they’re trying to figure out how to be in each others’ company and where their emotions and loyalties lie without turning it into melodrama. I was pretty disappointed in how stupid Peter was earlier in the year, so I like that he’s being a man about this. If we can rescue him from the little head doing the thinking to actually being a grown up again, that would be good.”
The question now remains — is Peter in love with our Olivia, as she is? Is he still hung up on the slightly more footloose Bolivia? “That’s one of the things that plays itself out over the next four or five episodes,” Jackson says. He gives us a little glimpse into the many questions swirling in Peter’s head about his highly unique love triangle situation.
“Was she totally lying to him, or kind of lying to him? Was he feeling genuine emotion for her? And if he was feeling genuine emotion for her, was it just transference from the original Olivia? But not really, because as he told Olivia, in super-awkward fashion, there were things about the new Olivia that he liked, that he assumed were just good things that were coming out because she was in love. I think it’s dramatically really good. He doesn’t know. He hasn’t made up his mind which one he likes more. He knows which one he’s supposed to like more, but he’s still conflicted, a bit.”
There’s also the question of whether Bolivia — who Jackson refers to as an “evil Mata Hari” — is actually in love with Peter, or if she’s still just determined to get him to do Walternate’s biddng.
Throw in the Observers, who have stopped observing and started interfering, and Peter’s life is seemingly being manipulated on all sides. Jackson agrees that we’re clearly building to a hell of a climax at the end of the season.
“The Observers’ motivations remain as murky as ever,” he says. “It seems like the endgame is near. Though not that near, because we got good ratings on Friday.”
Yes – add his to the sigh-of-relief chorus you heard when “Fringe’s” ratings came back excellent for its first two Friday episodes. A Friday time slot is never a good thing in television, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a TV actor who loves his job as much as Jackson does, so he was right there with fingers crossed hoping for the best. Luckily, the true “Fringe” fans pulled through. (And, in case you missed the memo, you can too – “Fringe” Fridays on Fox at 9 pm. EST)
“Our best case scenario was, as the ratings have gone down this year, that we’d boiled it down to the core Fringe fans. And I think that’s what we’ve picked up on Friday,” says Jackson. He laughs that he got a hard time from publicist when, in interviews, he suggested that “Fringe” didn’t need to pick up a slew of new viewers to stay on the air. They just needed their already existing mob of die-hard fans to follow them to Fridays. “And they did. I mean, the rallying cry when out – if you really like this show and want to see more of it, you’re going to have to watch on Friday night.’ And they did. They came with us. Which is incredibly flattering and just generally awesome because it also makes our lives much easier, not having that sword of Damocles, hanging over your head.”
Now, fans can expect the show to bring them even more of what they love most: juicy mythology episodes that really play to the endgame of the show.
“Now I feel like we’re pitching to the home crowd,” Jackson says, talking about “Fringe” fans like they’re old friends. “It feels like we’re making the show for people who are into the show now. We’ve moved away from trying to branch it out and make it easier for people to sort of dip into. Now it’s just red meat for the fans, the purest form of ‘Fringe’ it can be. As all the actors will tell you, we enjoy so much more shooting the mythology episodes than the freak of the week episodes, because it gives you much more interesting stuff to do.”
Of course, interesting could be dangerous. Though Jackson won’t give away too much of what’s coming up on the show, he does acknowledge the ominous feeling that’s been building over the last few episodes. “Obviously there is some horrible thing coming down the pipes,” he says, referring to the fact that it’s now been established that if push comes to shove, Walter will be able to sacrifice his son this time.
Jackson pauses, considers his fate. “All of a sudden I’m thinking maybe there will be a Season 4 but I’ll be dead,” he says. “I only have one character left! Everybdoy else can die once, but me, I’ve only got one left.”