Thank You, John Noble


Dear John,

Before this summer, the only fan letter I ever wrote was to Andy Hallett from the American series Angel. He was originally a guest star, but he played his part wonderfully and eventually earned a place in the opening credits in the fourth and fifth seasons. A few years after the show ended on a very depressing note, I wondered where he had gone, why I hadn't seen him in anything. It turns out he'd fallen seriously ill and had been taking it easy. That's when I knew I needed to thank Andy and wish him well, but being afraid he might actually read my letter, I hid it away. Sadly, soon after I finally changed my mind about sending it, he passed away at only 33, my age now. I also missed the opportunity with Phil Hartman, John Ritter, and Steve Irwin. Even though I'm sure you'll be around for many, many, many decades, I don't want to regret not thanking you for being such an important part of my favorite show when I had a blip of courage. Your work means too much.
For the longest time, I had thoughts of Fringe racing in my mind, which I took care of by writing down in a huge blog post, still unfinished after eleven months. I'm nervous and excited about the final season and these thoughts became a problem again, keeping me up at night for five days after the premiere. I had to do something, so I started writing a thank you to Joel Wyman. I often overlook writers and producers. Any behind the scenes person is really easy to forget, because they're usually just a name, but the more I saw him on camera or read his tweets the more I could see how he's completely invested. Fringe is obviously more than just a job to him. He loves what he does. That's a special thing. There are so many shows that seem to be missing their soul, their own Joel.
They're also missing their heart, something that can't be convincingly faked. The Fringe cast fits together and plays off of each other so well it's like you were all family waiting to meet. Everyone has done incredible work and completely embodied the characters, but you, sir, were the one who pulled me in and kept my interest in the beginning before chemistry and relationships and story developed. So, when I was done with that first letter, I almost immediately began on this one. It's taken far longer than expected. For some reason I am continually rewriting it, while Joel's came easily, as did another that I banged out in a few hours. I think I'm delaying on purpose, because I'm shy and would love to delete this and pretend it never existed. I can't, though. I would only start all over, so I might as well continue.
When I first heard of Fringe, I was slightly interested because I love the genre, although I wasn't going to bother watching. I already had a full schedule and, as did so many, I thought it sounded like nothing more than an X-Files rehash. (We were all very wonderfully wrong.) After reading more about it, my opinion wasn't changed much. My cousin was a Dawson's Creek fan, so I knew who Josh was, but I couldn't have cared less; I'd never heard of Anna; the rest of the cast wasn't even mentioned; but I was intrigued after finding out who the other familiar face was. Though Dominic Monaghan had already done so with Lost, I was stunned that someone from a blockbuster movie series (and the same one at that!) would get involved with a little sci-fi show on a foreign channel known for quick cancellations. I am still stunned that I had the privilege of watching you every week. And I know now that if Fringe had been on any of the other major networks it would have been gone before the first season started to come together and show us there was more going on than we could have expected or imagined. For this, I am grateful to Fox for the first time in my life.
Grateful because, though there have been a myriad of exceptional series past and present, Fringe is the one that gave me the greatest hope for quality storytelling by being funny, sweet, intelligent, disturbing, poignant, awe-inspiring, surprising, far-reaching, intimate, and many other words I've used over the years. It found a perfect balance, hit all the right notes, and excels at feeling real and deeply human no matter the craziness of the situation, sacrificing neither character for story nor story for character. Every year brought more greatness, complexity, and brilliance. It's a thing of rare beauty.
You've spoken of that beauty a number of times in interviews and the fantastic Noble Intentions videos. While the writing of course is a large part of that, I hope you give yourself enough credit, as you ensure that so many of those scenes are unforgettable. I say this because some people don't like taking credit and they actively avoid praise. I'm one of those people. Not too long ago, I finally watched the commentary for "Over There Part 2," where someone (Joel or Jeff) mentioned that it's amazing how you "convey heartbreak and happiness simultaneously." From the pilot, I've been amazed by that ability. I can't imagine anyone else infusing the role with such unabashed vulnerability, commanding presence, and playfulness. Your immeasurable talent elevates the strangest material to believability and lowered my tolerance for subpar performances. You have made Walter more flesh and blood than any other fictional person I know. There is no denying that you, sir, are one of the all-time great actors. Great really doesn't begin to cover it. Exceptional and extraordinary are more like it. There are very few who can make me forget they're reciting someone else's words.
With everything you've done, all the award-worthy moments, you'd think I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. This was true until the final scene of "Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11," where you didn't even say a word. Just an expression of exhausted defeat, a trembling chin, teary eyes...and your pulse (aww). It's the scene that's affected me the most to this point and that is saying something. It was perfect the way "Only You" was used and the close up of that little dandelion shivering in the wind. I also loved the touch of the seashorse hanging from the rearview, which I only recently rediscovered was Walter's father's nickname. Direction, mood, setting, symbols, music, and emotion came together to be the most powerful and memorable moment I've seen not only in Fringe but in anything. I was completely engaged and blown away by it, so much so that I watched it a couple dozen times before my DVR decided I'd had enough. My opinion did not change after seeing "The Bullet That Saved the World." While that was intense and devastating and masterfully performed by everyone, each with a different reaction, as we all have when a loved one is leaving us, "Transilience" has an edge over it (if I had to rank it) for the burden of failure and self-loathing weighing on Walter's fractured mind being eased by the resilience of a flower. It was uplifting, the way Fringe always strives to be through the challenges and pain. (Edit: Tonight I add "An Origin Story" to the long list of your perfect moments, specifically the speech to Olivia about putting a wall around her heart. I felt every word of it.)
My brother saw only a few seconds and, knowing nothing else of the show, he immediately understood that the dandelion symbolized hope in a ruined world devoid of any. He actually said the other day, "Oh, he's good," referring to you in the "delicious strawberry-flavored death" supermarket scene in Northwest Passage, which makes a fun t-shirt, by the way. Those minutes were the most he's ever paid attention to. When Fringe gets the end it deserves, I might finally be able to convince him to watch. Because he's usually very busy he's picky, impatient, and refuses to get involved in shows that he thinks are ultimately going to be disappointing.
I hope I can eventually change his mind, because I have an overwhelming need to share Fringe; it's the only show I've obsessed over, though I've loved many, and it was frustrating how it was always on the verge of cancellation. In the beginning, the only way to support it was to tell others in my little world to give it a chance. The only ones who took my advice were strangers on the Internet. I eventually decided I'd had enough of uselessly talking to myself and wanted to get my thoughts down in a blog, which I'd been thinking about for years and where, for the most part, I'm still just talking to myself. It felt ridiculous, but I stuck with it because it's sort of therapeutic.
Then I joined Twitter and never shut up again. When I started tweeting to you it was to try to help Miranda Doerfler (@docsaico), a great person just getting her writing career started. I thought there was only a small chance that you would see them. My heart skipped quite a few beats when you responded. Even though you said you don't mind questions, I still have to apologize for the sheer amount of tweets. No one likes to be bugged. You could have blocked me, which was something I assumed would happen when we were constantly asking Sam Neill (@TwoPaddocks) to do the same interview. Instead, he graciously agreed. I remember sitting rapt in the theater at 14 years old seeing Jurassic Park for the first time. I never thought to myself, "One day I will nag the crap out of that man until he talks to me." It's an interesting thing Twitter has done, letting complete strangers have conversations and giving fans the opportunity to tell their favorite actors how they feel.
I feel lucky that Fringe came into my life and that you were a part of it. I try not to cry in front of people over TV, but this show always brings out a flood of emotions. Now that it's the end those emotions are even more heightened. Joel has said he doesn't like to trick the audience and that he loves the characters, which is obvious from the way Fringe has played out so far. I heard that this season is a love letter to the fans. (When hasn't it been?) This gives me great hope for the finale. But he also said he wants this to be an ending, which makes me apprehensive, the way I was after "Over There, Part 1." I was sure Walter was going to be killed off and I barely slept for a week. That had never happened to me before. I didn't know it was possible to be that attached to someone who doesn't exist. I was astounded when the next episode surpassed my expectations and did not adhere to a predictable formula. Now I trust Joel implicitly. I trust that even if some of the characters don't survive, I know it will end like every season has, with something that may hurt but which will make me love Fringe even more than I thought possible.
Fringe helped me through the tough times, made me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry, and was a whole lot of fun and mind-bending ideas. I think of you whenever I see a Red Vine. I can't help but smile sadly at Operation or giggle at a papaya, the friendliest of fruits. A white tulip is now my favorite flower, and I will hold out hope in the sight of a dandelion until my last breath, even if my memories have long since faded. Until then, I hope to see you soon in anything, but if you take a break it's certainly well-earned and deserved. Just know that the fans will never forget you and we'll be on Twitter, whether you just want to talk, share a favorite song, or borrow a cup of sugar. We don't need anything from you. You opened your heart to us completely every week for almost five years. I think that's really all we can ask.
Alrighty, this is now way too long. Be well, good luck, and g'day. And thank you so very, very much.

Erin Bates

P.S. Just a little thing inspired by Fringe: Forgiveness and Hope.


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