[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Thursday’s “Human Raw Material” episode of Orphan Black.]
A shocking birth. An even more shocking kiss. The latest installment of Orphan Black was filled with crazy surprises. It also marked the triumphant return of Krystal the clone. We chatted with creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson to get the scoop on all the horror, hilarity, and that unlikely couple.
ENTERTAINMENT WEKELY: Krystal the clone has returned! How much fun is it to bring her back?
JOHN FAWCETT: She makes a great entrance here in this episode. She looks fabulous and is fun to dress and style, that’s for sure. Tatiana really shows comedic chops, and kudos to Kristian Bruun, too, who keeps up with the comedy no matter what clone Tat’s playing.
And Krystal is starting to put things together a bit in terms of the conspiracy, but she’s also a wee bit off in thinking Dyad is putting stem cells in cosmetics and creating eyelid teeth. By the way, where did eyelid teeth come from?
GRAEME MANSON: It was actually in a shopping market magazine, like a tabloid. I believe that there is some stem cell science, cosmetic science, where someone started to grow prehensile or teeth in their eyes.
Sarah looks at Cosima’s flow chart and sees GeneConnextion on there and starts to worry that Felix’s birth sister is not his actual sister so she has Scott run a DNA test on both of them to check for herself. She gets the results and tells Felix that they are actually siblings. First off, is she telling the truth when she says that, because you never know on this show?
MANSON: Well, I guess you never know on this show. I can’t give that away. I like to believe it in this moment, for sure. Getting to that point, we really liked the fact that Sarah’s going off on half-cocked plans like this one. It is very personal and it goes off in her face and this is the toughest point that we’ve seen Felix and Sarah — the most strain that we’ve seen our little adoptive family with Mrs. S there.
FAWCETT: And this was kind of our what we wanted to do. We talked a lot about this doing our version of the family dinner in August: Osage County. We wanted the family dinner that just goes badly, and Sarah is so paranoid because she’s got this thing in her face. She’s got every reason to have trust issues, but she really is like a dog with a bone in the scene and really digs her own grave, and it comes to a heartbreaking conclusion when she discovers that Felix and Adele actually are indeed biological siblings. It’s emotional and she feels horrible about it.
And then, on top of that, food has been thrown. These are also contemporary family issues. You can imagine that this is a very contemporary discovery that would happened in this day and age, a genetic discovery that lands like a bomb in a family. It’s going to happen more and more.
It actually really surprised me the level that you guys took it. We’ve seen it building and we’ve seen Felix be upset at Sarah before, but when he starts calling her an a-hole and he starts throwing food in her face — that’s not even playful upset. That’s just really pissed off.
FAWCETT: Incidentally, we wrote that scene to end in a food fight. Initially the food fight was going to be much bigger, but as it all boils down and you get the wardrobe department in there, and the props department in there, and the hair people in there, and everyone’s like, “Okay so who’s throwing the food? So Felix is going to throw the food at Sarah. Sarah’s going to throw the food. How much food are we throwing? And then exactly what are we throwing?”
And then it was sort of like, maybe Sarah doesn’t need to throw back at Felix. Eventually, it really all boils down to Felix is going to throw a little bit of mashed potatoes at Sarah, and then we have to talk about the consistency of the mashed potatoes. “They’re going to be very dry mashed potatoes to make it easy to reset,” so it was going to be something a lot bigger. And we ended with one bit of food.
MANSON: At the end of the day we had to give up our Animal House.
FAWCETT: We just wanted Animal House. Find John Belushi.
MANSON: I did! We wanted something much bigger.
Who was going to be the zit? Who was going to be the Belushi zit?
MANSON: That would have been Kira.
Let’s get into the opposite end of this, and some really serious stuff here where Cosima infiltrates Brightborn. She ends up in a delivery room and sees the birth of one of these genetically modified babies. We see a baby born with almost a concave face and no nose. John, tell me how you all decided what to make that baby look like and how far to take it, because I know you love your body horror.
FAWCETT: We had done a ton of research on certain genetic abnormalities in children. This was based in complete science. It wasn’t just something we fictionalized and faked, which makes it that much more disturbing. We knew we had to essentially design a prop that reflected this genetic abnormality. I can’t remember the name of the condition right at the moment.
It was all based in research, and then David Wellington, who directed this episode, is very adept with all things medical. He did a lot of work with the actors and our consulting physician and really made the scene incredibly authentic, and that’s a big part of what makes this scene so hard hitting is it feels really real. It feels like you’re in there with them, and then this shocking result. It really, really, rocks Cosima going forward from there.
MANSON: Yeah, we really wanted to put Cosima in a realistic situation, and I’m sure it’s a very resonant scene with a lot of women. It’s not just body horror. This is the kind of territory that we’re interested in treading.
Emotional horror, too. So, Graeme, let’s stick with Cosima and this conversation she has right after with Susan. Susan’s trying to convince her to hand over Kendall. Cosima says she doesn’t want them to make more lab rats. Susan counters that by saying, “Look, we can make a cure for all of them, including you.” Is that pitch going to stick?
MANSON: It’s a two-headed question going forward. Whether or not the pledges stick and whether or not the science is on the level, or disguised as something else — that’s really part of the storytelling that’s left going forward. It’s part of the fun, I guess.
And then we have the final image of Susan and Ira the clone in the pool sucking face. A little bit of an age gap there. Plus, this is creator and creation getting it on, which makes it a bit creepy. What’s the story here?
FAWCETT: Obviously the relationship between Susan and Ira is more complex than we originally thought.
FAWCETT: The first glance at that is yes, a bit creepy. It was practically to tongue kissing. But it offers a lot of very complicated, dramatic possibilities going forward. Those are things that even though it may seem icky on the surface, it makes for a very layered emotional journey for both the characters going forward. So this is kind of the way we like to roll around our offices and on the show.
I feel like we need to give Susan and Ira a couple name. What do we call them: Sura?
MANSON: [Laughs] I hadn’t even thought of that.
You guys have thrown a bunch of different balls up into the air with this episode. What can you tease about what’s coming up next week on Orphan Black?
MANSON: Well, it does feel like the tension and the temperature is rising here through the middle of the season, and we promise you a bang at sort of our mid-season climax next episode.
FAWCETT: Yeah, I mean right now that’s kind of it. We have a three-episode arc coming up that began with episode five. The five, six, seven roller coaster is a giant one for us this season. What doesn’t happen next episode is more the question. This five, six, seven combo is, I would say, some of the strongest stuff that we’ve done, and I’m not just saying that because we’re trying to promote our show. I think it’s actually really strong material and I’m really excited to show it and start hearing some feedback about it.
MANSON: Everybody brought it. Tat’s just magnificent through this three-episode stretch. It goes to deep, dark as well as really emotional, beautiful places as well as some real great comedy with Krystal and Donnie and that stuff. The tonal shifts that Tat pulls off during this little run here is amazing.