On a sunny but freezing Friday afternoon last December, Fringe took a break from studio to film a coda to season five’s opening scenes of Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia (Anna Torv) out for a family picnic with their daughter Etta (Abagayle Hardwick) in 2015. A family picnic that was interrupted by Observageddon, the Observer invasion from the future, and the abduction of little Etta.
This is what POlivia fought to get back to. If time was to be reset, then there must be a different outcome to this idyllic family picnic. One where the Observers never come and our family goes home to their POlivia house and happy life.
But how to film this in December? Very quickly of course. Especially with Joshua Jackson dressed in the same grey t-shirt and beige shorts, Anna Torv in the same long blue shirt and jeans and young Abagayle Hardwick in the same flowered dress as the Stanley Park shoot last summer. In the new coda, the Bishops leave the park together and drive back to their POlivia house in the 3800 block of Lozells Avenue in Burnaby. Once Peter parks their SUV, he and Olivia get out, with Mom carrying the sleepy Etta, and walk inside where Peter checks the mail and opens the envelope from Walter containing the drawing of the white tulip (the same drawing Walter received in the mail in season two symbolizing forgiveness and love and the same drawing raised in tribute by thousands of fans at ComicCon’s final Fringe panel last summer). A perfect ending to five seasons of Fringe.
I missed most of the big exterior of the Bishops arriving home which wasn’t shown on screen but did get there in time to see the scene of them walking in the door from the carport filmed by a camera inside. I knew instantly that this was the final scene of Fringe. How did I get so lucky? A work colleague of Fringe fan Sean Koo happens to live in the neighbourhood and tipped Sean about the shoot at a Christmas party the night before.
Joshua Jackson did come out once to grab a snack from the craft table. And Sean did get quick photos with Anna Torv and then Jackson wearing coats over their summer clothing after filming wrapped and everyone headed back to studio. I hung back but did exchange hellos with showrunner Joel Wyman, who directed the final episode, and watched young Abagayle Hardwick skip by me in little pink uggs to match her dress.
What I didn’t realize until last night’s series finale is that some of the scenes I saw being filmed last July in Stanley Park — of Peter playing with young Etta in the park by twirling her around — were intended for this series finale reboot where Observers don’t invade from the future. I had assumed that, like so many scenes shot on location, these ones hadn’t made the final cut for the premiere. Kudos to Fringe for knowing what they required so far in advance. Only a couple of pickup park scenes had to be shot in cold December and these were filmed at dawn on a roll of turf in The Bridge Studios parking lot on the very last night of shooting. A fan who was there told me she could see bits of the scene through scrims ringing the set. Too funny but it did the job because the result proved seamless. We can imagine our wonderful Fringe family living out their lives connected and graced by love.