By Dalton Ross
Updated April 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Steve Wilkie/BBC America

Orphan Black will be doubling down—pun intended—when season 3 kicks off this Saturday with the addition of a whole new batch of male clones (played by Ari Millen). Who are they? What do they want? And how will they affect the female clones we know and love, played by Tatiana Maslany? We traveled north of the border to the Orphan Black set to put co-creator Graeme Manson in the hot seat. (Actually, it was pretty damn cold up there.) Here’s what he told us.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay. Let’s talk about these new male clones of Project Castor, and especially this nut-job Rudy.

GRAEME MANSON: Rudy is a lot of fun. Rudy is very diabolical—a great nemesis for Sarah. And the really interesting thing about the journey is Ari brings this tremendous menace in multiple guises, but it’s still Sarah’s story. So as our girls dig deeper into Castor and get to know these boys better and what they’re actually after, she’s really digging deeper into her own mystery as well.

What about Mark, whom we met last season? He took off with Gracie at the end there. What is his deal going forward?

We sort of left them in a little love-on-the-run story last year, and part of the decision of keeping Ari going was really liking the character of Mark. And we really like Zoé de Grand Maison, who plays Gracie. It was great to be able to get those two back and dig into that relationship, because Mark has a pretty special relationship among his brothers, whereas the way the rest of the Castor boys live is a delicious discovery for us this year.

You now have all these different groups with Dyad, the Proletheans, Topside, and the military. How is this all going to work?

This is all going to boil down in a timely and surprising fashion, but that’s really the root of our conspiracy story. Part of the work of this season is for Sarah to go in sleeves-up, running and gunning like she always does and peel back the layers of the onion. And as we get closer, we’ll know much more about each of those factions and we’ll get to populate each of those factions a little bit. There’s some delicious mystery and conspiracy coming up.

You worked Tatiana pretty damn hard in the first two seasons, and I understand it does not let up this year either.

It’s a lot to put on an actor and a crew, because we’re all working super hard here, but we like to push it, and when we get to the finales we’re like “Oh, we can’t be as crazy as we were last year.” Part of it is leaving every story with a thread that we like to do. We think that we can’t go back and do that because it’s so exhausting to pick up the pieces and start again, but of course we’re right back here this year and just want to make that finale as big and surprising as possible. When you get to the finale, there are a lot of threads. So it’s a challenge and we’re always out of time.

Heading into season 2, the main questions were: Where’s Kira? Is Helena dead? And is Cosima okay? What do you think the big questions are now, besides, again, is Cosima okay? What are people bugging you about?

People want to know what’s going to happen with Cophine—that beautiful and tragic relationship. People are really interested in Helena. Helena is that little monster who grew over a couple of seasons to win everyone’s heart. And at the end of season 2, she’s with us, so what does that look like? How does Helena fit into the sisterhood is a real question and a really rewarding one over the course of this season.

You guys have killed several characters, and few secondary clones as well. Is killing off any of the main clones something that is on the table for discussion?

Our main character triangle is really close to use—that Cosima, Sarah, Alison triumvirate. John and I each have a favorite clone. I’m Team Cosima; he’s Team Alison. Each time he talks about killing Cosima, I’m like, “No, no, no. We’re just going to slit Alison’s throat.” [Laughs] So we keep our murderous impulses in line a little bit that way. But we do make some bold moves this season. So people are going to be excited and surprised by some of those bold moves.

We ended both seasons with Cosima in peril. How long can you play out her health issue?

In TV reality time, really not that much time has passed. She’s going to have ups and downs. There are different kinds of treatments. It’s part of the genetic mystery and it’s part of the language we like to use to explore the themes of the show with the science. As long as it based in reality, the sort of cutting edge gene therapies that we would be looking at and trying to take one step further—that little Orphan Black step into sci-fi—they’re really interesting, but they’re experimental. So she can ebb and wade, and the effort to save her will not let up this season for sure.

What can you say about Rachel, who took that pencil through the eye at the end of season 2?

Rachel’s fate hangs on the few inches that pencil went into her eye. Rachel has a lot to atone for and a lot to face up to when she comes to. A lot of it is personal, and some of it maybe physical. So Rachel’s is another journey that we’re really looking forward to. Someone with that amount of poise and armor, whose mask is that important to who they think they are, and that perfection—it’s sort of interesting to defile that character and watch them rise above it.

We’ve obviously been talking a lot about the male clones because they’re new and exciting, and the sestras because they’re the heart of the show—but what about Charlotte? We met her at the end of season 2, and she’s the only one out of 400 attempts to get at another female clone that worked. So how much is she going to be a part of what we see going forward?

Charlotte is going to play in. We have plans for Charlotte. But it’s a long game with Charlotte. Let’s say that. Let’s put it that way.

If season 1 was introducing the world of Orphan Black, and season 2 was expanding that world and making it bigger, what would you say is the theme of season 3?

I think it’s “how far will the sisters go to protect this family bond? And will Castor strain that bond to the point of breaking?” The theme of season 3 is, “we are stronger together.”

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

And just in case you need a refresher in time for this weekend’s premiere, the cast of Orphan Black is here to remind you of everything that’s happened so far in just thirty seconds:

Episode Recaps

Orphan Black

Tatiana Maslany plays half the cast of BBC America’s paranoid clone thriller.

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