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'Orphan Black' creators explain Helena's deadly decision

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Steve Wilkie/BBC AMERICA

[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Saturday’s episode of Orphan Black, “Newer Elements of Our Defense.”]

FREEDOM! It was at Helena’s fingertips as she made her daring escape from the Project Castor military compound in Saturday’s episode of Orphan Black. But then something stopped her—a glitching male clone named Parsons being brutally experimented on by the Bad Mother. Instead of making a run for it, Helena paused to stab the suffering clone in the brain to put him out of his misery. But as Orphan Black creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett explain, there may have been a second motive for the act.

We asked the duo about that, as well as Sarah and Mark working both with and against each other, Alison’s awkward reunion with an ex-boyfriend, and Cosima’s current condition. Read on for more!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We see Mark and Sarah alternating between working together and against each other for answers here. Tell me about the dynamics of putting these two characters together.

GRAEME MANSON: Well, they’re kind of like frenemy siblings. It’s a brand new thing. They just discovered that they’re biological siblings, but can they trust each other? They sure don’t. And that’s a pretty interesting dynamic, to throw them together and put them on the road.

These two have a history going back to the first episode of season 2. Is it exciting when you have two characters like this that have certainly interacted a little bit, but now you get to do more of a deep dive with them?

JOHN FAWCETT: Absolutely. If you trace that right back to the beginning of season 2, like you said—Mark showed up in that diner and blew a dude away right in front of Sarah. And then Sarah was kicking Mark in the face there in the bathroom. And it’s interesting because Tatiana and Ari—they don’t get a ton of scenes together, so it was a really cool dynamic to put them together in a place where they don’t’ trust each other, yet they’re forced to work together.

How much did you enjoy grossing us out with that scene of Sarah putting her hand into Mark’s leg to remove the bullet? You have her feeling around in there for a while, and then putting tools in there. Knowing what I know about you and this show, I’m sure you just love messing with people with that. Because you tend to linger on it. That’s not a short scene.

FAWCETT: No, it’s not a short scene. It’s not like it’s a scene you haven’t seen before. You’ve seen it before someplace obviously, but we wanted to do it and we wanted to put our own Orphan Black spin on it, and it’s fun to make people squirm a little bit. I certainly made some heavy recommendations for how that scene should go down, that’s for sure.

MANSON: Yeah, if you’re going to have a scene where a couple of characters need to exchange some important information, you may as well do it with one person’s finger in the other person’s leg.

And what does digging up the remains of Henrik’s son Abel—which had the original Project Leda tissue—mean for our clones? Is this the key to the neurological and perhaps also the respiratory problems that the clones have been experiencing?

MANSON: At this point, it’s certainly the key for the Castor clones. And any key for the Castor clones does hold up hope for Leda as well, as they are biological siblings. So, yeah, it’s important to both of them. Even if scientifically it happens to be a wash for Leda, it’s leverage. Getting their hands on what Castor wants is certainly key.

I want to ask you about this one little scene where we see Cosima telling Alison that Kira’s stem cell treatment is working. What’s going on here with her maybe trying to downplay her condition a bit?

MANSON: I think it’s part of her natural bravery, and that natural reaction that a lot of people have to not play the martyr. It’s interesting, because I think Alison would play the martyr if she had a cold. [Laughs] But also, while Cosima has improved with Kyra’s stem cell treatment, it is not a cure. It is a treatment.  So she’s not out of the woods, but she doesn’t want everyone focusing on her.

What can you say about the introduction of Alison’s former high school boyfriend and future drug lord Jason Kellerman? And he’s played by Justin Chatwin.

FAWCETT: Justin is awesome. We were really fortunate to have him involved in our season, and what’s cool about this is really the set-up to it. That’s what I was so enthusiastic about in this particular episode—the fact that the Hendrixes quickly have gotten themselves into trouble because Ramone is maybe not being as on the up-and-up as he says he was. And they realize quickly that they actually owe money to some kind of big bad, and so they’ve got to go meet the big bad. And there’s a lot of dread going to meet the big bad guy. It’s the whole set-up—it’s the black Humvee, the meeting in the parking lot at night. And then of course you get it and you go, “What the…?!?” And it’s your ex-boyfriend form high-school. That’s the fun of the setup, and it’s very clearly Alison’s world and how things kind of unfurl for Alison.

Helena has a chance to escape from this Castor military compound, yet instead decides to use the time to put one of the male clones, Parsons, out of his misery by stabbing him in the brain. Why?

MANSON: Well, Helena’s a pretty complex character and I think she can look at him in that chair and she can see herself in that same position many times in her life—held prisoner, used and abused for another person’s end. So there is an element of a mercy kill to that. But there’s also an element of destroying whatever data and science that they’re getting from this guy, so she mercy kills the victim and kinda screws over Project Castor in the same blow.

FAWCETT: From a directorial point of view, it was just kind of fun and sick to shoot because we had to make a fake brain and then digitally composite it on Air’s head. It was a fun scene to shoot because you get to drive a scalpel into someone’s exposed brain tissue.

MANSON: And Helena doesn’t have the easiest relationship with her scorpion. It’s an angel and devil on her shoulder, and she’s not always going to play ball with her scorpion.

FAWCETT: It’s true. There’s a lot of things going on in that scene, and I love it. Obviously, I love the horror of it and I love doing that stuff, but it’s a really weird emotional scene as well—from Tat’s performance to the quality of the music and then there are just so many things going on. I think it turned out really well.

Okay, time to tease us up for next week. The preview at the end shows Sarah being brought to this Castor military compound. What can you say about what we are going to see coming up?

FAWCETT: We’re going to see a reunion of Sarah and Helena in episode 5. And how that’s going to go down I don’t really want to spoil, but there’s certainly going to be a lot of complex emotions around these two seeing each other again.

MANSON: I’d also say it’s a complex reunion. Sarah has been on a mission to get to her sister form the beginning of the season. He made that decision early that Helena was worth saving. Now, is Helena going to want to be saved? And what is in store for Sarah in this place as well?

For more ‘Orphan Black’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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