'Orphan Black' creators answer burning questions about the season finale
[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Saturday’s season 2 finale of Orphan Black.]
Wait…male clones?!? What the %&#*?!? That may have summed up your feelings at the conclusion of Saturday’s Orphan Black season 2 finale as we learned the military had their own clone operation named Project Castor consisting completely of dudes, and that Mark the Prolethean was one such clone. The twist is sure to send shock waves through the show when it returns for season 3. But that wasn’t the only bombshell dropped. Turns out Paul has been a double agent all along, Cosima is still sick, Helena is being airmailed to God knows where, and Rachel can only cry one of her eyes out to mourn the loss of her father after being on the receiving end of a pencil shot out of a fire extinguisher. We checked in with creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on all of that, as well as what may just be the craziest Orphan Black scene ever: Code Name — Clone Dance Party. (Click through both pages to read the entire interview, and also make sure to read our season 2 finale Q&A with star Tatiana Maslany.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with the big twist at the very end. Tell me how and when you came upon the decision to add a group of male clones, one of which we have already met as Mark the Prolethean?
JOHN FAWCETT: The genesis for that was between season 1 and 2. There had been a lot of discussion about introducing male clones in season 2, and honestly the decision to have Mark be the male clone was something that we arrived at kind of as we were getting into the beginning of season 2, once we had started shooting and we had Ari in as Mark. What’s interesting about this is that Ari Millen is a really talented guy and he’s someone that we had brought in as this new Prolethean character, and we had planned to kill him in episode 6. And after he did some significantly great work for us in the early get-going of the season we started to focus our eyes on him as very strong potential for our male clone, and that’s kind of how that happened.
EW: When did you let Ari know he was going to be playing multiple clones and what was his reaction to that news?
FAWCETT: We didn’t tell him until the season finale.
GRAEME MANSON: Yeah, I phoned him before we started rolling on episode 210 and I said, “Are you sitting down?
FAWCETT: We let him know just before we put out scripts for episode 210. Graeme called him, which was a big surprise to him. We were keeping that under wraps to everyone.
MANSON: But it’s important to note that he won the role, because we really liked what he was doing. We like him, we like the dimension that he brought to the Mark character, and it made a lot of sense to us story-wise because the end looped back to the beginning again, and we like that sort of structure.
EW: When you say you were originally going to kill him in 206, had you figured out how he was going to die? Was Helena going to kill him?
FAWCETT: Actually, it was going to be Paul, We had the scenes with Paul and Mark at the bar together while Helena is dancing with Jesse and the continuation of the two handlers was going to be a clash of two killers against each other outside of Duncan’s house, and Paul was going to kill Mark. That was up in the original boards and the plans for episode 6 at the beginning of the season, and then Ari kept doing these great scenes and we just couldn’t kill him.
EW: Okay, as if a scene with three clones is not complicated enough, you guys have to go ahead and do a scene with four clones in it, and have it be a dance party of all things. How complicated was that to film?
MANSON: It was complicated to film but it was also a long run to get the concept through at the networks because it was going to take us extra time so it involved extra investment. I knew that John really wanted to do a four clone scene and we had been looking for what we could do. We had “Clone Dance Party” up on the board very early.
FAWCETT: Yeah, we had this recipe card pinned to the board at the beginning of season 2 and all it said was “Clone Dance Party.” And we all just thought it was a joke.
MANSON: I didn’t!
FAWCETT: Graeme maybe didn’t. It was just about, where does this land? What is it? We love it, but how do we incorporate it? And then it fit into episode 210 and there was a lot of pitching, because, like Graeme said, it took extra investment from the networks to create it. And obviously it took a ton of time to shoot — Helena meeting Cosima, Alison, and Sarah. So you’ve got four girls all together in a room meeting each other for the first time. There’s also Kira in the scene, just to add an extra complication. And then they dance! It took two days to shoot that.
MANSON: But story-wise, the clone dance party suggested to me the emotional climax of the season in a very celebratory fashion that did not involve a lot of talk. So I was thinking strongly about the structure of episode 210 being a little bit different in that the action climax would occur at the end of act 3, then we would have the emotional climax of the season in act 4 with the dance party. And then we would set the stage for the third season with the revelations in act 5.
FAWCETT: We put a lot of work into the episode, We just finished it two and a half weeks ago, with all the visual effects. And obviously there was a ton of work from a visual effects point of view on the clone dance party and the sequence with Helena at the end. The editing of the finale went on and on and on. It took a long time not just to edit the dance party, but just to get all the pieces right for the season finale. What’s interesting and of note is that unfortunately there was a Donnie storyline that we had to cut out, but we will include the four minutes of the Alison and Donnie storyline on the DVD which will be released later.
EW: I cannot believe you are going to put us through another entire year of having to worry about Cosima’s health. You freakin’ bastards. That’s just rude!
MANSON: Hey, she dances!
FAWCETT: Not that we’re trying to purposefully play with the audiences’ emotions.
MANSON: Yeah, we are.
FAWCETT: Well, we are in the sense that it is an emotional ending. And that dance party is a little bit about his feeling of worry and concern and dread for Cosima and if she’s going to live and die. We have that feeling too, amongst Graeme and I and the way we talk about the character. I think ending with Cosima still ill, but with Duncan’s special book in her hand, it’s kind of like this ray of light at the end of season 2.
EW: What can you tell us about those markings in the copy of The Island of Dr. Moreau that Duncan gave Kira?
MANSON: It seems like professor Duncan ha left us something critical and he left it in the hands of Kira. So like John said, that book is a ray of hope.
FAWCETT: It’s the Colonel’s secret recipe.
EW: One of the most powerful scenes in the finale was Rachel having to sit there and watch her father die…again! And this time at his own hand. What’s going through her head there as she reacts so strongly? Is it about losing her dad or losing the information in his head? Or both?
MANSON: I think it’s a bit of both. That information is power and that’s critical to her. But losing her father again is losing everything. Her life is really looking like a hell at that point.
EW: So, will Rachel be rocking an eye patch next season after taking that pencil through the socket or will the Dyad Institute fashion her a new genetic eye?
FAWCETT: I don’t know. I kind of like rocking an eye patch. Also, that pencil went pretty deep so Rachel’s future is questionable.
EW: What else can you tell us about little Charlotte (above), who was the only survivor of the further female cloning experiments? Is she going to become another piece of the puzzle?
MANSON: Yeah, we’ll see more of her. Like Kira, Charlotte adds to the stakes. She’s an innocent and she is apparently part of the reason that Marian Bowles is putting her neck on the line and throwing her lot in with Sarah and her clones. Because she has this daughter and she shares the same stakes and has the same concerns about the future — health concerns, concerns about the conspiracy and what they’re for and who they’re after. All of those concerns are reflected in that child.
EW: We’ve dealt a lot with the Dyad Institute, but now Marian tells Sarah all about this other group known as Topside. Are we going to be delving more into Topside in season 3?
MANSON: Yes, that’s Marian’s shadowy cabal and we’re definitely going to learn more about them and meet the actors in that viper’s nest.
EW: So what’s Paul’s deal now? He returns as a major. How long has he been working with the military?
MANSON: Paul has apparently been working with the Castor side of the conspiracy the whole time. He’s been playing double agent. But he steps up for personal reasons to get Sarah out of this. At the end of the day, Paul the double agent has been shady and shadowy and not that likable, but in the end he did, he did it for Sarah.
EW: So he had been with the Castor side the entire time, because that was a bit unclear?
MANSON: I think he was embedded from the beginning. If you go back, this Afghanistan scenario that got him compromised by Dyad and put in that position as a monitor was manufactured to put him in that position where he appeared to be someone that they could compromise. So he was inserted as a spy into Project Leda by Project Castor.
EW: Finally, where the hell are they sending Helena?
MANSON: Don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.
FAWCETT: The Death Star.
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