[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Saturday’s episode of Orphan Black, “Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate.”]
Holy freaking Christmascakes. How do you follow up on an Orphan Black episode that was filled with so many emotional twists and turns (and one very big character death) that you’re still not over it? In the words of Singin’ in the Rain, “make ’em laugh.” Orphan Black co-creator John Fawcett broke down tonight’s clone-switcharoo, the reveal of Alison’s mother (Sheila McCarthy), and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First of all, thanks for giving us a lighter hour after that gut punch last week. It was much needed after I cried my eyes out.
JOHN FAWCETT: Yeah…you cried a little bit.
Just a little bit. But in many ways, this felt a little like an old school Orphan Black episode, right down to the humor and clone switches and Felix doing what he does best—improvising.
I think it was important for us, knowing how big and emotional episode six was going to be. A lot of our story in season 3 was sort of pushing towards this climax that we wanted to occur, an end of a chapter at the end of episode six. We kind of wanted to just give the audience a breather and change the mood, and really kind of have a chance to be a little bit light and let people laugh…and not have an episode that’s really heavy in story and conspiracy.
Every clone has a different personality, but Cosima and Alison are so fundamentally different that it was fun to see them switch like this. Because Cosima definitely is not on Alison’s level when it comes to knowing how to be a suburban mom.
It’s a fun aspect. That was a little clone switcheroo that we always kind of had in mind, that we wanted to see, that we knew we hadn’t done before. We felt there was a lot of fun and interest to be mined there, because the two girls are so different from each other.
And getting to meet Alison’s mother was a trip. She’s pretty much exactly what we would imagine her mother to be, and it really helped give us some insight into why Alison is the way she is. Her introduction pushed Alison more into the spotlight that way.
I think it was important. We always kind of had intended at some point to show someone’s parents, to show Cosima’s parents or Alison’s mother, because these family connections are important to the show. And I think that Alison’s mom just became, from the beginning of our planning in season 3… we really wanted to see someone’s parents. And so who was it going to be? And it kind of worked out that it was going to be Alison’s mom, because it just fit into our story trajectory for Alison and Donnie so well in regards to the soap store and towards just wanting to get a better sense of who Alison was, and the history of Alison and Donnie to some degree.
We also got the reveal of Donnie’s full name—Donald Francis Chubbs. I think fans will love that.
[laughs] I hope so!
But going back to what you were saying about the story trajectory, Alison standing up to her mother and having that moment where she drops the reveal of her being a clone was so great. And I couldn’t help but think that’s far from the Alison we would’ve seen in season 1, or even season 2. Her journey has been one of the most rewarding ones to watch.
I mean, taking a stand against her mother has always been extremely complicated for Alison. I think that it’s good to sort of have the feeling that her mother’s always expected so much from her, and Alison’s always felt she doesn’t live up to her mother’s expectations…it’s not an uncommon story. But it’s interesting seeing it played here with this particular character, and see where Alison takes it to. This outcome of revealing Cosima to her mother is a way to kind of get her mother to pull her head out of her ass. And it just kind of doesn’t happen. At the end of the day, her mother’s head is where her mother’s head is, and Alison’s never going to be able to change that. And I think that’s kind of what this all comes to: that Allison just realizes that she can’t change her mother. And it’s kind of like a weird coming to terms with herself and with her mother by the end of the episode, and you feel like maybe Alison will be a little more at peace with her mother, to some degree. Because when you’re not like fighting against someone as much, you wind up having a more peaceful relationship. There’s this other aspect of it, which is important thematically…which is you can’t choose your family.
Speaking of family, the scene between Helena and Ms. S. was incredibly well done. It was a smaller moment in the episode, but seeing the two of them come together in that confrontation felt like a big payoff.
It was kind of a fun way to do something emotional. We really wanted Helena to deal with her feelings of betrayal. We just knew we had to do something to kind of still the waters to some degree, but also let Helena be real about the fact that she’s dealing with these feelings of betrayal. She’s sort of dealt with it with Sarah, and now, the real betrayer has walked in the door for her. And where is this all going? And so we always joked and laughed about the idea. We wanted Helena and Mrs. S to just fight it out. It was gonna turn into a fist fight in a bar. [laughs] And we kind of liked that idea! The bigger, goofier version of it was we were going to have people in a big circle, betting money…it was gonna be more like Fight Club, right? But then we were talking to Maria about it and she was like “I can’t punch the girl! She’s pregnant! I can’t actually hit her!” But we loved the idea that it actually would come to blows and we kind of went with this idea, which is a smaller idea, a little less silly but really kind of ends in some strong emotions. And hopefully people believe us that we can move from here.