'Orphan Black' creator John Fawcett promises 'we get a lot of answers this season'
Orphan Black has left us with plenty of question marks heading into season 3. And those question marks are often wrapped in mysteries. And those mysteries are often wrapped inside another layer of enigmas. So the point is, there is a lot we still don’t know. But Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) sat down with Orphan Black co-creator John Fawcett on set this week where he is directing the season finale, and he promises that when the show returns April 18 on BBC America, we can start to expect to get some answers. Here’s what else he told us.
EW: As we sit here on set, you’re filming the season 3 finale. I wanted to ask you about that because the last two years around this time, things got pretty crazy with your work schedule at the end. How are you holding up?
JOHN FAWCETT: It might be the same with most shows, but as it comes down and you’re cranking down at the end of a show, it gets a little hairy—especially around here. There’s so much emphasis on our finales and the twists and the turns and the mystery and looking ahead to what’s coming next. There’s just a lot of expectation. And everyone’s tired. But it’s exciting at the same time, because it’s a big finale and we’re really excited about it.
Well, last year in the finale you put yourself in a bind with that crazy clone dance party scene. The payoff made it worth it, but I know it was super time consuming to pull off. Do you have anything approaching that level of intricacy this season?
[Sheepishly] Yeeeeeeah, we kinda do.
Why do you do this to yourself?
I don’t know! I think consistently we are trying on the show to one-up ourselves and try to be bigger and badder and better, so this season we’ve got a big surprise—a big clone surprise for the finale.
Season 1 of Orphan Black was introducing us to this world. Season 2 was expanding the world. What is season 3?
Season 3 is deepening the mystery. Certainly it’s solving big clues to outstanding mysteries. We get a lot of answers this season. But the show goes in a very different direction than it has previously, and by the end of season 3 we end in a place that we’re all really excited about. We have a very, very big ending to this season, so we’re excited about that. A lot of answers. And a lot of new questions.
When you say season 3 is going to be different, do you mean tonally it’s going to feel a bit different?
I think it’s no surprise that we are dealing with male clones this year, so by its very nature that’s a very new angle for us. There’s a kind of military angle to season 3 and so that’s exciting. The show goes yet in another direction that hopefully people will go with and be excited about, and we make a bunch of turns they won’t see coming.
We learned about the military operation with Project Castor last season. And we learned about Topside last season. Is Dyad still in the mix here? Is this going to become a triangle with these three?
It is a little bit of a triangle. I mean, Topside is a kind of cabal and Dyad falls under its control. Castor is outside of that. So Castor and Dyad/Topside are sort of separate entities, yeah.
Let’s talk about Ari Millen, who is playing the male clones. We spoke after he got that assignment and you all were excited to see how he would do playing these different characters. So having now seen him in action this season, what has that been like?
It’s been great. He’s a talented guy and it’s been really cool to take what we’ve learned about clones and see Ari bring that to life on screen. It’s been a really cool unique aspect to this season, and he’s just such a talented, awesome guy and we couldn’t hope for a better situation. There are a lot of big surprises coming for those characters and a lot more mystery.
Has that lightened the load for Tatiana at all? You’re already nodding no.
Nope. Because at the end of the day, we want to see Tatiana. The Leda clones are the heart and soul of the story and frankly, I don’t think we would ever stray too far from Sarah. The story just kind of evolves differently. Our guest players—a lot of them are male clones now. And certainly there are some new faces and some returning old faces. But she works a lot.
You do have some other new faces this season though.
Yeah, we have Justin Chatwin. He’s an old friend. I’ve worked with him before so he agreed to do the show and he plays in Alison’s world. He’s an interesting cat because he’s an old flame of Alison’s that comes back. And that’s pretty fun. Ksenia Solo is in our show and she winds up in Cosima’s world when Cosima and Delphine are split up. James Frain is coming to us straight from the new season of True Detective and he’s a great guy that I’ve been following since The Tudors, so I feel really lucky. He’s a very serious, heavy dude from Topside. He’s a really cool new character.
I’m curious whether you all have discussions about killing one of the main clones. Is that something you guys talk about at all? There’s always the question about stakes, and you all have killed a lot of characters before and you’ve killed some clones—but not the core ones we have come to know and love. But the relationship fans have with these characters is so intense and so strong. And you’ve been to Comic Con and seen people dress up as Cosima—who is always in mortal peril—and the other characters, so I’m curious if that’s a conversation you guys can even have.
We have the conversation. You know, Cosima’s health is always a big concern. The fact that the Leda clones are ill and have historically in the past have become ill and died and that is potentially the track that Cosima is heading down—that is very much something that drives our girls forward to try and find an answer and to try and find a cure. If there is any way of solving it, that is what we want to find. And having Cosima sick and her life in danger is important to us. And it keeps people on edge.
And you’ve done that for two off-seasons now. You did it after season 1 and then again after season 2.
I don’t want that to get boring, but it is a big part of the show—trying to figure out, what is wrong with us? And can we fix it? Do we have discussions about it? Yeah, we have discussions about it, but we don’t take that stuff lightly when it comes to Alison, Cosima, Sarah, Helena, and even Rachel to some degree.
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In a related video below, the cast of Orphan Black explains the entirety of the show in just thirty seconds:
Tatiana Maslany plays half the cast of BBC America’s paranoid clone thriller.