By Jeff Jensen
Updated December 02, 2010 at 07:01 PM EST
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Image Credit: Liane Hentscher/Fox“It’s all kicking into gear,” says Anna Torv about tonight’s pivotal episode of Fringe, entitled “Entrada,” in which the season’s epic tale of conflict between parallel worlds reaches a major turning point. Peter Bishop — shell-shocked by the revelation that he’s been sleeping with the “over there” enemy Olivia Dunham — is roused to mad-as-hell action, while the “over here” Olivia, currently trapped in the alt reality, makes her move to get back home. (To read EW critic/resident Fringe recapper Ken Tucker’s rave review of the episode, click here. And have you seen the movie-style trailer Fox produced to promote the ep? If not, see it here — and begin to dream about the potential for a Fringe feature film in the future.) Prepare for an episode that deviates from the season pattern of one episode largely set “over here” followed by one episode largely set “over there.” Says Torv: “It was the first time we were playing both worlds in the same episode. A lot back and forth, and a lot of let’s-get-cracking momentum.”

Torv has been given the challenge of not just playing two different Olivias this season, but playing one Olivia pretending to be the other Olivia and playing the other Olivia as someone who’s been brainwashed into thinking and acting as someone she’s not. (I would say she’s more than risen to the task — and I hope Emmy voters are taking note.) Torv says the work “has been fun” but that it hasn’t been easy, especially since she’s learning the story and her character(s) arc(s) as the scripts come in. “It’s not always easy to see where they’re pushing things,” she says. “I try not to get too frustrated that we don’t have the time of a feature film to sit down and plot out and plan out every beat of the character,” she says. ”I often rib myself: ‘Ah! I forgot about this! I could have that!’” One of the choices she made last season when the “two Olivias” idea was introduced was to create a different kind of physical demeanor for “over there” Olivia to help distinguish her from “over here” Olivia. Not just adopting a different hair color for Fauxlivia (brunette), but a different way of holding herself — “a different silhouette,” as she puts it. “She’s got a little firefighter, a little military in her.”

In “Entrada,” Peter will confront Fauxlivia about deceiving and seducing him. Assuming that Peter will be reunited with the real Olivia sooner than later, what will be the relationship between the two characters? I told Torv that I like the idea that these past few episodes were designed to basically satisfy the curiosity of what a Peter-Olivia romance would look like, but that their ultimate destiny is to not be together. “I think that would be kinda fun, too,” says Torv, adding that based on where the show is in its production cycle, she doesn’t yet know what lies ahead for the would-be lovers, “so I’m just speculating along with you and everyone else.” She says that from Olivia’s perspective, Peter’s romance with Fauxlivia should have troubling implications. “The thing for Olivia coming back, and learning what happened between Peter and the other Olivia, you’d think she’d have some questions. Who am I? How could you not see who she was or who I am? Does that mean I only exist to you in the external — what I look like? What about my spirit? To have someone fall for someone they only think is you — that’s hauntingly heartbreaking.”

Fringe recently introduced a new mythological idea that portends to open up a new chapter in its saga (Who are “The First People”?) and has now reached a crossroads in the parallel world storyline. Does that mean the show is about to leave the alternate reality concept behind? “I don’t think we’ll be throwing that away — we’ve invested too much in that, and one of our lead characters, Peter, actually comes from the Other side, and much about him remains unresolved,” says Torv. As for what lies ahead [SPOILER WARNING!], Torv hints that there’s more intrigue to come about the doomsday machine that Peter is linked to, and teases that everyone’s favorite band of bald-headed, hot sauce-swilling mimics will be returning to the saga. “I know The Observers pop back up, and we’re still trying to work out their function in the big picture of things. I don’t think we’ve seen much of The Observers ‘over there,’ have we? So I’m interested in seeing how all that interconnects.”

Next week’s episode will be the last Fringe outing of 2010. When the show returns early next year, it will air on Friday night. While the timeslot was the original home of The X-Files back in the day, it hasn’t been too kind to sci-fi series on Fox since the David Duchovny-Gillian Anderson show left the airwaves. (See: Firefly; Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.) Asked how she feels about the move to the so-called “death slot,” Torv pleads ignorance — but expresses confidence that Fringe will be fine. (A sentiment shared by the show’s producers.) ”I’m Australian, you know? I have no preconceived ideas about the network TV landscape in America,” says the 32-year-old Australian actress, for whom Fringe is her first U.S. work. “But I also think we have a solid, supportive fanbase that will continue supporting the show. I’m just excited we still get to make the show.”

Twitter: @EWDocJensen

And make sure to read Ken Tucker’s (@kentucker) recap of “Entrada” here at tomorrow.

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