Fringe: Musings on Season 3


Hey Fringe fans,Fringe Over There Red

As many of you know, I usually write reviews as new episodes air, and seeing as how we obviously haven’t had any new episodes, this post will be a bit of a departure for me. While most people seem to be as excited about season 3 as I am, I have seen some slightly more negative reactions as we’ve learned more about what to expect in the new season.

Click to visit Fringe on 20th Century Fox Studios!I wanted to write this post partly to explain why I think that the things that we have learned are actually good things, but also to discuss some of the things we’ve learned from the numerous interviews over the last month or so.

To that end, there are most likely going to be some spoilers in this post so if you are trying to remain entirely spoiler-free, you might want to skip this one.

Alternating Episodes

I can’t recall when exactly we learned this, but for some time now it has been common knowledge that in season 3 the episodes will, for the most part, switch back and forth between our universe and the Other Side. This is certainly one thing with which people seem to have an issue, and I think part of that stems from the fact that it means less of “our” team.  That being said, to anyone who has seen Over There parts 1 and 2, it is immediately evident how much time and effort has gone into creating the world of the Other Side, and to not see that built upon would be incredibly frustrating, at least to me. This is probably one of my favourite examples of world-building given that it is so close to our own, and yet unmistakably different.

The Other Side

There is also the fact that alternating episodes allows more justice to be done to each storyline. That is, if the episodes were split between our side and Theirs, we would basically be getting two half-hour episodes, given that, at this moment in time, there cannot be that much cross-over between the two universes. I imagine that there will be some episodes where we’ll see both Universes, but I like that we can look forward to robust stories being told from each side, and, in doing so, get to know the people from the Other Side better.

Quite frankly, along with the switching of the Olivias, I think that this is the best way to accomplish the oft-stated goal of humanizing the people from the Other Side. We have heard from the writers, producers, and actors that one of the major goals this season is to humanize the people on the Other Side, to make their actions justifiable in our (the viewers’) eyes. I’ve heard from some people that that will “never happen”, that there’s no way that they could side with the Others over our characters. And yet I think that this could happen far more easily than you would expect.

Olivia and AltLivia

In an interview with EW, Anna Torv mentions how similar Olivia and AltLivia are, down to the fact that not only did they end up in the same job, but that they have the same partner in Charlie Francis. This brings us to the crux of the issue: those characters on the Other Side really aren’t that different from the characters that we’ve come to know over the last two seasons. No, the Alternates aren’t “our” team, but, for the most part, I think that in some ways they will prove to be incredibly similar. I can genuinely understand how it may come about that us viewers might be torn between the two universes much like Peter himself is.

Speaking of Peter’s dilemma, in an interview with IGN, Josh Jackson discusses that, to him, Peter’s back-and-forth between the two universes felt too rushed; that he’d have rather seen more deliberation on Peter’s part with that decision. In some ways I agree: in the span of three episodes, we saw him choose between first their universe, and then ours. Yet at the same time, I enjoyed the pacing of the storyline, and the fact that we got so much pay-off from the build-up to finally crossing over, while still having so many unanswered questions and issues.

I am also particularly looking forward to seeing how the dynamic between Peter and Walter will progress now that Peter finally knows the truth. In some ways I imagine that it will be almost like a reset back to the beginning, yet at the same time they now have more baggage between them. For the first time in his life, Peter was actually willing to put his trust in other people, and both Walter and Olivia broke that trust. The relationship we saw them building was always rather unusual given that Peter was the one having to look out for his father; but now he has learned that Walter isn’t his father, but he is a man who loved him enough to cross universes for him. Twice. So where do they go from there?

Swapping Olivias

As I’ve mentioned, I think that the fact that our Olivia is stranded on the Other Side is a great way to go about making the characters Over There much more three dimensional than just simple “villains”. In leaving Olivia there, we get to see the Other Side through the eyes of someone with whom we are already familiar, and I think that will go a long way towards making us identify with the Alternates. Not to mention the fact that with AltLivia on our side, the lines become even blurrier, especially as we see more of her interactions with our team.


In many ways I think this is where I’ve seen the biggest negative reaction from people regarding the upcoming season 3, though that might just be because the shippers (i.e. people who want to see a relationship between Peter and Olivia) are simply the most vocal.  I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I tend to vacillate on the issue myself. A lot of the time I love the dynamic between the two as we’ve seen for the majority of the series: more of a familial dynamic which, along with Walter, makes for some wonderful exchanges. And yet after Over There, parts 1 and 2, I found myself leaning more towards the side of a romantic relationship between them, given how well it was written and portrayed, and I liked that it was just a brief interlude in the episode, and not a centerpiece. This somewhat proved to me that they could address the issue of a relationship between Peter and Olivia without detracting from the major plots, which sometimes happens when a romantic relationship is finally realized between leads in a television show.

I guess the major issue here is the matter of a relationship between AltLivia and Peter. And I have to admit that this idea rather frustrates me, but more because it implies that Peter doesn’t realize that AltLivia isn’t our Olivia right off the bat. No matter how good AltLivia is at going undercover, long term impersonation of someone who, for all intents and purposes, she only met very briefly, cannot realistically be maintained. And even if AltLivia can carry off Olivia’s mannerisms, she would have none of Olivia’s knowledge about our side, and how could people not notice that? Needless to say, I look forward to seeing how that storyarc is played out. It also seems as though AltLivia is, in some ways, much more similar to Peter than Olivia is, and perhaps even more compatible, which should certainly make things…interesting.

On the other hand, I really do hope that we begin to see AltLivia softening her position on the people from our side. We know that she has been prejudiced towards them after being warned by Walternate that they are “monsters in our skin”. But I don’t see how she will be able to live amongst them, especially with our team, and not see them for the people they really are. Not to mention the fact that it will certainly blur the lines if AltLivia is becoming sympathetic to our side while Olivia becomes sympathetic to Theirs.

The Promo

Last week we got our first glimpse of season 3 when the first promo was aired, and, as always, it raises numerous questions. Will the shrink convince Olivia that she is delusional? From some of the set photos it certainly seems as though Olivia is working with the alternate Fringe Division, so does that mean that the shrink succeeded? Or does Olivia just fake it? Why would she work with Fringe Division otherwise? And then there’s the fact that it certainly looks as though Olivia escapes from the confines of Walternate’s prison. So how does she escape?

Alternate Fringe Division

One of my hopes for season 3 is that we’ll see Olivia use pyrokinesis. We have known for quite a while that when she was 3 years old and in the Cortexiphan trials, Olivia was so freaked out after seeing the “glimmer” (the sign that something within our universe is from the Other Side) that she caused a massive fire. I really would like to see Olivia escape with the manifestation of this power. As a friend of mine pointed out, she shouldn’t have superpowers, per se, because in some ways this would make things far too easy; if she couldn’t control them, however, it would certainly be intriguing.

The Alternates

Speaking of the Alternate Fringe Division, I am also very much looking forward to learning more about AltBroyles and AltAstrid. We know from Over There that Broyles is still married, and I would like to see some of that relationship. I wonder if part of the reason the Broyles’ are still married on the Other Side has to do with the fact that Fringe Division obviously operates much more publically. If AltBroyles’ work is more tangible to his wife, perhaps she would understand why it is that he, I assume, spends such long hours at his job: apparently for our Broyles his wife couldn’t accept his obsession with his work. But if Alt-Mrs. Broyles sees the results of what her husband is doing and that it is obviously important, perhaps she is more forgiving about his devotion to the job.

AltBroyles and AltAstrid

As for AltAstrid, there were certainly questions following Over There as to what exactly a “Looker” is, and why is AltAstrid one of them? In an interview I helped guest-host with NDB Media back in June, Jasika Nicole revealed that AltAstrid is actually autistic, and that she was raised in something like a group home with other like-children. It seems as though Lookers are able to process mass amounts of data at once, which is why she was called in to help determine whether a quarantine was necessary, but how is she able to do this? It almost sounds savant-like, but the question is whether the children were savants to begin with, or whether they were somehow trained to be. It sounds almost analogous to the children in the Cortexiphan trials on our side. Could Walternate have been behind planning the training which the Lookers were given?

Ultimately, what it comes down to for me is this: the team behind Fringe has given us two seasons worth of a show which I love. So until proven otherwise – and maybe even then – I will trust that they are going to continue to produce a show which is a must-see for me every week. Not to mention that while, yes, there are set photos from the filming of season 3 which have made their way onto the internet, they in no way convey the entirety of the episodes. And how can we jWormholeRiders. Click to visit & follow WHR on Twitter!udge episodes we have yet to even see?

Some of you know that I live in Vancouver, which is where Fringe is filmed, and a couple times I’ve been out to watch them film. I know I’ve said it before, but everyone I’ve met has been incredibly friendly and they always seem happy to chat. It might be helped by the fact that I usually take my dog with me, and who can resist a bulldog, but I’ve never had a negative experience with anyone I’ve met. Oh, and from the small amount I’ve seen, I think season 3 is going to be, well, pretty epic.Click to visit NaddyCat on Twitter

If you ever want to chat Fringe, science, or anything at all, please feel free to email me at the link below, or follow the link in the picture to my Twitter page.

As always, thanks for reading!

Nadine Ramsden


9 thoughts on “Fringe: Musings on Season 3

  1. Hi Cindy,

    Glad you enjoyed the piece! I too am curious about Olivia’s alt-mom.. I’m assuming you heard that Amy Madigan was cast? (I think this was the first place I read it: though they also discuss it in that interview I linked to in the article.
    Based on what Anna Torv had to say about the experience it should be quite something! I can’t wait to see where they take it 🙂

    Thanks again for the comment!

  2. And wow, rereading your article again just re-emphasizes how much you miss and how vastly you misunderstand how the general audience (ie 99% of the 7 million who watch and don’t post about the show) works. The vast majority of people watch for the characters (no matter what version of them), not the mytharc. That’s why networks force the standalone episodes so often. An issue that Lost learned to its regret too, as it saw its 23 million audience witter down to less than 10. That’s not a good thing when you’re already a show that can’t afford to lose viewers, like Fringe is. People have already noticed Josh’s backburn in S2. S3 will only grate them more.

    Stop fooling yourself by thinking the complaints that will roll in after the S3 premiere will be “I want to see the REAL Walter and Olivia” “Why aren’t we seeing more AltBroyles, etc” “Where’s the P/O romance?”. The actual comment from the woodwork is going to be “Where the hell is Peter in all this and why isn’t he on my screen?” And this will be from even NON Peter fans. Most people tuning into the S3 premiere are going to be WTF? after it, and NOT for the reasons the producers are aiming for.

  3. The time and effort for the Other Side has been put with Peter, NOT Olivia. That’s what people are frustrated about. Screw the “people are upset because they won’t see ‘our team'” concept since in reality it’s the lack of *Josh* we’re getting that’s the problem. People would have no problems accepting the Alternate Versions of the story, but people tune in to a show to watch the actors and characters, and 1/3 of the LEAD actors and characters will not be there.

    This is a Walternate/Peter story, not a Walternate/Olivia story. Even JJ Abrams was forced to admit the audience wasn’t attached to Olivia. To hinge half the episodes on her alone – when the story has been about Walter and HIS family – is one of the worst decisions I’ve seen from a show in awhile, and I used to watch Lost.

  4. Hi Nadine,

    One other interesting development discussed at Comic-Con is that on September 23, 2010 Amy Madigan will appear on the opening episode of season three as Olivia’s mother! What revelations will that bring? Cannot wait!

    Best Regards

  5. Hi Nadine,
    This is an insightful piece. I am anxiously awaiting the start of the new season.
    I am even more curious about Olivia’s alt-mother, as I haven’t seen much spoilers of her yet. There isn’t even a character name in IMDB. The suspense is fine now because the wait is almost over. I hope she will have way more storyline than just 4 episodes.

  6. Hi Martisco,

    Great to hear from you! And I’m very glad you enjoyed it !
    I have a feeling that this season is going to offer some very interesting “alternatives” indeed 🙂


  7. Hey Kenn,

    Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said you left a long comment!! Thank you as always for the kind words 🙂

    I thought about including a question about Nina Sharp, but I can’t really see an Alternate playing a huge role seeing as how she’d have never met Bell. That being said, I sure think it would be interesting! And considering how fond our Nina seems of Olivia, I can’t imagine that once she finds out Liv is still on the other side, she won’t do something about it.


  8. You’re awesome, naddy! I agree with pretty much everything you’ve written here. Especially about the P/O shippers being pretty vocal. I don’t necessarily disagree with the concept of P/O, but how do we really know P/O belong together if there’s never any alternative offered? (ie, P/AO) I say we should find out.

  9. Hi Nadine,

    Thank you. You have done something quite outstanding here! In hitting all the major areas of controversy as well as providing focus for season 3, you have helped bring clarity to questions on what is about to come in Fringe and raised even more to consider. Well done!

    Your analysis is very thought provoking and dovetails what many are thinking about after seeing the Comic-con panel as well as the Red Carpet interviews including ones being conducted near where we were (which I did not include or comment on out of respect for those media outlets).

    Now that they and ours are published it is clear that the creators of Fringe have many delightful plot lines to explore as you have so eloquently pointed out.

    My personal and professional analysis is that the Olivia is seeing a shrink after she “kicks some ass” breaking out of the cell! Also that Walternate is indeed responsible for the “lookers” much as Walter was for the Cortexi-kids. How that plays out will make for fascinating story telling.

    One thing I would like to add is how does Nina Sharp fit into season 3? As a main character she must be in for an interesting role. Will she be part of a team that crosses over perhaps to trade Livia for Alt-Livia?

    Lastly, and I am going to go way out on a limb here, I have a feeling that an alliance might develop in season 3 between the two “sides” against an even larger threat yet to be revealed. I may be wrong, but what a setup that would be for a season four!

    Great analysis. Thanks again!

    Best Regards

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