“Fringe” Moves Into Season Four Tonight – But Will Peter Bishop Come With It?

The “Fringe” faithful certainly remember Peter Bishop. But after his apparent disappearance from the past, present and future, will anyone else?

That’s been the burning question on the minds of fans of Fox’s boundary-pushing sci-fi show event since Peter (Joshua Jackson) sacrificed his very existence to save the universe and the parallel reality he originally hailed from as they began to destroy each other. By the end of the Season Three finale, reality was rewritten and no one recalled that Peter had ever existed – not Olivia, not Walter, and not their alternate counterparts.

But “Fringe” fans needn’t fear – the plot twist was decidedly not a sneaky way to do away with an actor’s who contract was up or who’d gone prima donna – Jackson’s such a “Fringe” fan himself he’ll be penning an upcoming DC comic book tie-in – and the producers promise that there’s more of Peter Bishop’s story to tell, somehow, when the season resumes Sept. 23.

“Peter is part of the DNA of the show,” insists producer J.H. Wyman, “and we’ve done some pretty crazy things in the past that people were always like, “Well, wait a minute – why are they doing that? What’s going on?” Hopefully in Season Four people will trust us enough to realize that we are doing things for a reason. To have ‘Fringe’ without Peter in some way, shape or form is really not ‘Fringe.’”
“Just because he doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that the three years that we’ve all invested in and watched does not exist, it didn’t happen,” adds Wyman. “It really did happen and it’ll unfold itself for you to understand in what context I’m speaking of.”

The series’ stars are intrigued by the possibilities of how the storyline will proceed with Peter’s presence, considering the substantial impact he’s had on their characters.

“I'm really interested to see where Olivia goes having never met Peter, having a look at what kind of influence he's had on her life and which direction she would have gone had he never existed,” says Anna Torv, who plays both Fringe Division Agent Olivia Dunham and her alternate universe persona “Fauxlivia” who had given birth to Peter’s son Henry. “My tendency would be to push it to somewhere that we haven't kind of taken her. And then the whole Fauxlivia [situation]: really, is she going to become this maternal thing? If Henry still does exist? I don't see her really as a mom.”

“It's interesting to think that Peter vanishing, at least temporarily, into another dimension, and what that will do to Walter,” muses star John Noble, who plays Walter Bishop, Peter’s brilliant, eccentric and past-haunted scientist father. “Because Peter is what made Walter sane, ultimately. Or saner, when he came out of the hospital. Now if there wasn't Peter, would he become insane or would he go somewhere else?”

All those possibilities are ripe to be explored, according to Wyman and his follow producer Jeff Pinkner, as the series (created by “Lost” producer J.J. Abrams and “Star Trek” screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) continues its ambitious, reality-bending storytelling.

Among the other elements the show’s die-hard fan base can expect:

--The return of characters from previous seasons: “There will be returning faces,” says Pinker. “We hate to spoil things, but there will be characters that you’ll be delighted to see again hopefully and some that you’ll be surprised to see again.” And possibly in unexpected contexts, the producers add.

--More answers regarding those long-lived, bald-domed Observers who seem to turn up at critical moments. “The Observers are a large questions,” says Wyman, “and we feel it’s our duty to give some answers and back up everything that you’ve seen in the past with some concrete facts that you can start to form your opinion.”

--Agent Lincoln Lee (Seth Gabel) will fill the void left in Fringe Division by the vanished Peter, and provide a crucial story function. “He brings us a certain thematic element that we really need in order to tell the big picture this year,” says Pinkner. “One of the major themes that we’re really interested in getting into this year is sort of like the impact that we have on each others’ lives – what does it mean if life is valued by the connections that we make and we are defined by who we know and who defines us and how we define other people? So having Lincoln come in and have to go into a very strange world and figure out things about existence and that everything that he thought was true is no longer valid, nd how he’s going to start to put back together the psyche that has been fractured by this knowledge that he really shouldn’t have, it’ll really help us in how he connects with people.”

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