Image Credit: Liane Hentscher/FoxWe’ll get to the second part of our fan Q&A with Fringe star Joshua Jackson in just a second, beginning with the question that caused TV’s Peter Bishop to reminisce about throwing up a bit in his mouth. But first, let’s talk about the most troubling element of last week’s installment. No, not the spoiler-averse actor’s curious-in-retrospect response to your speculations about Fauxlivia’s pregnancy – speculation that last week’s episode confirmed as correct. (Clearly, he was trying to protect the big twist.) No, I’m talking about the part where he spelled out what Fringe fans need to do to help insure a fourth season: “The way to save the show is very simple: If you’re a hardcore fan of the show – and in particular, if you’re a hardcore fan of the show with a Nielsen box – you have to give us an hour of your time on Friday night.” Apparently, not everyone got the message. Fringe’s ratings slipped to an alarming low last week – 3.7 million viewers, down 13 percent from the week before (though the show did get a big 57 percent uptick in the demo when the DVR eyeballs were counted.) Still, as Jackson told EW’s James Hibberd today: “I’m a positive person in general, but we really need our Fringe fans to tune in and watch us on Fridays. We did good when we first moved, but last week we did not have a good week, ratings-wise. It is going to take the people that like the show to watch the show and start the campaign and show their support if they want to see us stick around for another season.”
To be fair to Fringe loyalists, “Immortality” was an episode set in the parallel world – and I get the sense from some fans, even true believing die-hards, that while they intellectually appreciate the cleverly-crafted “over there” subplot, they are nonetheless more energized by the drama playing out in the “over here” world, via the characters they know and love best — especially right now, with the alluring mysteries of The First People, The Observers, and Peter’s relationship to the doomsday machine. Maybe last week, some of those fans heard/saw that the episode wasn’t focusing on the part of the show they’re most interested in and decided to take a breather. Also? Valentine’s Day weekend. For some, Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never and the new Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston rom-com Just Go With It — which both opened the same day as Fringe‘s episode — may have seemed like a more romantic way to celebrate the holiday.
Regardless: Take note that tonight’s episode (entitled “6B”; you can find a preview of it here) brings us back “over here.” Regardless, after reading the conclusion of our Josh Jackson Q&A (which was conducted last week), we invite you to use the message boards to tackle a question: If you didn’t watch last week’s episode – why not? Is Fringe failing in the urgency department at the moment? Or is the Friday commitment just too much? Mull your response in the back of your mind as we cede the floor to your questions and Jackson’s answers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Angela asks: “One of the most intriguing elements of Fringe is its penchant for the grotesque and unsettling. What did you think was the creepiest scene or episode so far?”
JOSHUA JACKSON: Two moments for me were particularly disgusting. In the second season, we did a thing where we popped a girl’s eye out of her head. While we were shooting it, it didn’t seem too bad, but on screen, when you see a needle going into a person’s optic nerve? Man, that just got me. And then there was the episode last year where we had these super-sized nematode worms that were growing inside of people and bursting out of all sorts of horrible places. We built this dummy where we had this two and half-foot worm was crawling down the throat. Truly vomit-in-your-mouth disgusting. It was burpable.
CJL2124 asks: “Are you guys planning to do another musical/noir themed episode like last year’s ‘Brown Betty?'”
I don’t think there will be another musical this season, but we will continue to do some out-there stuff. Without giving it away, there will be another genre-bending episode.
Cater asks: “Do you think Sam Weiss – Olivia’s bowling alley Yoda — is one of The First People?”
We haven’t really defined him yet. We still haven’t gotten into where he fits into things and how he’s different from The Observers, if at all.
That does beg a question that many Fringe fans have: What’s your take on The First People?
Here’s my own crackpot theory: Instead of The First People finishing [meaning, their civilization came to an end and the people themselves disappeared/died out], they dispersed their intelligence everywhere. They went into the molecular level. They’re in all of everything, all the time. I also find myself wondering that in Fringe, history is running on cycles of progress, and we’re coming back up on a moment in our current cycle in which they’re able to influence events. Another idea being bandied around the Jackson household: The First People somehow put themselves outside of time – that they have figured out how to step outside our laws of physics.
My theory? The whole nomenclature of “The First People” is a clever misdirect. Yes, there was a group of people who were very advanced who created this “doomsday machine” (if it’s really a “doomsday” machine), who put in motion a plan that is now reaching fruition through Peter. But these people weren’t “The First People” – their ambition was to actually make “The First People.” To cultivate a new kind of human person that represented the fulfillment of human potential, that then could truly call themselves wholly human — ergo, “The First People.” Like, right now, we’re only “The 0.5 People.” But once Peter activates the machine, we get rounded up, and it’s 2001/Starchild city. Bottom line: The First People don’t exist, and they’ve never existed, because we’re evolving into them.
I like that! Because that’s the way I look at the world – a glass half full way. My hope is that when Fringe comes to an end, whenever the show finishes, that we end on a hopeful note. I like that idea of evolution. It does seem we’re at this place where things are progressing at such a rapid pace. I love this idea that in the Fringe world, things run on a cosmic cycle, and that we’re at the cusp of something great, and that all these powers that seem terrifying in the present are leading to something more perfect in the future.
Aimee asks: “How often do you go on the message boards?”
I try not to monitor the message boards too much. There’s a point to which it’s good and there’s a point to which it’s bad. I don’t know how helpful it is for me. I try to stay aware of what people are thinking — be it on the Internet or my friends – because I enjoy theorizing about the show as much as the fans. Even though I work on the show, I’m almost in the dark as everyone else; I’m usually – thought not always — only ever a couple weeks ahead in terms of what we’re working and what you’re seeing. And often, where I think we’re going turns out to be not the case. Each script is a, ‘Holy s—! That’s what we’re doing?! Fascinating!’ experience. If I wasn’t on Fringe, it would be my kind of show. So I try to keep up on what people are thinking — but mostly through friends and family. Because the message boards, there’s a lot of useful feedback, and then there’s a lot of stuff I don’t need to be reading.
Max asks: “Do you think Peter would be on Twitter?”
Only if it served his purposes.
Are you a Twitter guy?
No. You know how in life, when you write an email, you should write it and then wait until the next morning and read it again before sending it? Twitter is the worst possible case scenario. No good can come from Twitter. It’s whatever on your mind at the time, and often that not what you need to be saying.