There is a universe in which longtime "Fringe" co-showrunners Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman both stick around to see the story through, but we don't live there.
TVGuide.com reports that Pinkner is exiting "Fringe" ahead of the low-rated but critically worshipped sci-fi series' 13-episode final season "to pursue other projects." Though "Fringe" and Pinkner's separation was apparently "an amicable split," it's nevertheless a shocker for longtime fans: Pinkner has been with the show since the beginning, acting as sole showrunner during season one before sharing that title with Wyman from season two onward. Put another way, a final season of "Fringe" without Pinkner is like a final season of "Lost" without Damon Lindelof: a troubling thought to consider, though some may disagree given the latter show's massively divisive ending.
In a statement, "Fringe" creator J.J. Abrams remained optimistic about the show's upcoming swan song. "We're so excited to begin work on a fifth season of 'Fringe' and to be able to deliver the 13 final episodes to our passionate and devoted fans," he said of the news. "For four years, J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner have worked tirelessly as a team to keep all the worlds in order on 'Fringe.' We're thankful for the invaluable contributions Jeff has made to the show and of course wish him well and look forward to working together in the future. J.H. Wyman's importance to 'Fringe' cannot be overstated, however, and I'm thrilled that he will continue as showrunner for the concluding chapters of our story. We can't wait for our fans to see what we have in store for them in the wild conclusion of 'Fringe.'"
"I will be here until the last frame. We always encourage everyone to pursue their creative paths," Wyman said of the news on Twitter. "This goes for Jeff too. My commitment is to Fringe and our incredible fans."
Though Pinkner's exit is a bitter pill to swallow, "Fringe" fans can take comfort in some newly released details about the show's final season. Series lead John Noble, who plays the wonderfully bizarre Doctor Walter Bishop, confirmed in an interview with TV Line that season five would take place during the Observer-controlled future of 2036 first seen in the fan-favorite season four episode "Letters of Transit." References to the past and even "found footage" will fill the gaps between the fourth season finale and the fifth season's future world of 2036, according to Noble.
"Walter, Olivia, Astrid and Peter are insurgents, so we know all the dirty tricks that have been played against us," Noble said of the supposed new time period. "We'll be learning from the past."
Though Noble's comments have not been confirmed by the show's creators, the title of the season five premiere — "Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11," as revealed by Wyman — fits rather comfortably with the actor's vision of the Observer-filled future. If anything will heal the wound of losing Pinkner, it's a full "Fringe" season dedicated to war against those bald, hot sauce-craving creeps.
Tell us what you think of the latest "Fringe" developments in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @roundhoward!