'Orphan Black' creators on sexy, surreal season premiere
[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched the season 3 premiere of Orphan Black.]
Male clones. Dream sequences. Talking scorpions. Choking and spanking. There was certainly a lot to take in on Saturday night’s season 3 premiere of Orphan Black. But why take it in alone? Every week we will discuss the latest episode with the show’s creators, John Fawcett and Graeme Manson. So read on as we break down the premiere with the show’s head honchos. (Also make sure to check out our season premiere interview with star Tatiana Maslany.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So you ended season 2 with a huge four-clone dance party and then your very first scene of season 3 is a four-clone dream sequence. Have you no respect for your own time and sanity, sirs?
JOHN FAWCETT: Hey, what better way is there to kick a season off than with a really, really weird, surreal backyard baby shower with four clones—and four clones wearing very weird clothing, I might add.
Let’s talk about the decision to start the season that way—with this really jarring dream sequence which is so out of place with where we left off with the story and therefore sort of confusing in a wonderful way for the viewer.
GRAEME MANSON: I think it started off as a lot of our things start off: It starts off where one of us thinks it’s a great idea and the other thinks it’s a really bad idea. But then as we walk our way through it, the bad idea morphs into something really cool and we find things we both really liked about it. We liked that it was a lot different from the beginning of season 2, where it was heart-pounding running action. We liked that it was a lot more dreamlike, and we really liked putting our weird little Helena in the middle of it and seeing how she sees her sisters. The tone of the humor of our show is something we enjoy so much and it was kind of fun opening in a more playful tone than in a really serious, dramatic kind of fashion—so hopefully the audience gets a kick out of it. I was the one who thought it was a bad idea in the first place and I was the one who came around, by the way.
What’s with the Helena hallucination of the scorpion? What is going on there, guys?
MANSON: John, I must leave that to you.
FAWCETT: Well, the scorpion in my mind—and I think in Helena’s—is kind of like her spirit animal, in a way. And I think that the scorpion has some past. The scorpion is her imaginary friend to some degree, but also a character that offers guidance to her and wisdom and is her intuition and sometimes is her bad Gollum. I like that Helena can have a character like that and also that the scorpion represents a character that has been with her for some time and has helped her survive a number of very difficult trials that’s she’s faced in her life previously.
Did Tatiana do that voice as well?
FAWCETT: Yeah, one of the cool things about the scorpion is not only did Tatiana do the voice of the scorpion, but the scorpion kind of purrs a little bit. It sort of purrs and clicks a little bit like a velociraptor. Not that real scorpions do, but this particular scorpion does, and so Tat did all the sound effects for the scorpion as well—with her mouth. So she made these different layers of scorpion purring and clicking noises that we layer on top of the scorpion voice, so she really built this character of the scorpion—it really, truly comes from Tatiana. And that makes some sense because the scorpion is really a figment of Helena’s imagination.
I love how as if you guys have not given Tatiana enough work to do, it’s like, “Hey, give me 25 scorpion vocal tracks. Can you do that for me?”
FAWCETT: The great thing about Tat is that she loves every second of that. Whenever you go, “Hey, Tat. Can you do this?” it’s very, very seldom that she says, “No, I can’t” or doesn’t want to try it.
MANSON: “Can you beatbox a scorpion?” “Yes, I can beatbox a scorpion.”
FAWCETT: She probably could but we haven’t asked her.
Let’s talk about Delphine, who is back and now running stuff over at Dyad. So she and Cosima have this tearful lovers goodbye to avoid a conflict of interest. Why do you all insist on making it so gosh darn hard for these two? Why do you hate love?
MANSON: Yes, sorry, Clonesbians. These are two characters in a very difficult position and we really wanted to explore Delphine this year. We wanted to explore that bind—the bind that emerged out of that promise that she made to Cosima to keep them safe by loving all of her sisters equally. That means that she can’t play favorites. She’s making a really hard choice here and shippers can still ship because I think it sure was a heartbreaking parting there, and my feeling is that Delphine will be back and she’s going to bring her heart with her.
You have Sarah playing Rachel and Alison playing Sarah. How much fun is it when you have Tatiana doing these clones as other clones scenes?
FAWCETT: It’s a gas. It’s absolutely a gas. It is one of the things that Graeme and I love so much about our show. It’s a completely different thing than just bringing a new character in. It’s hilarious watching a character that we know playing another character we know—and watching it done either really well or watching it done really badly. In Alison’s case playing Sarah, it is done really not great. And watching Sarah playing Rachel slap Alison to get her to shut up is really part of the fun of the show.
Speaking of the real Rachel, she doesn’t sound so hot after that pencil was removed from her brain, and we see her having trouble even speaking. What does this mean for her going forward?
MANSON: It’s a really interesting position to put this character that is so together—this clone that has grown up with this elite feeling of superiority and this self satisfaction—so you take that away from her, you put her in the same position that she had Sarah, essentially a captive, and it really is interesting to see Tatiana take that character and put her in that vulnerable position. And perhaps we’ll even begin to open a crack of sympathy for Rachel. Plus, it’s Rachel—don’t trust her.
FAWCETT: And also, it’s interesting to take a character that we know and have established and then add a really completely new layer on top of her, which is a physical and mental handicap. And see how Tatiana manages that material and how the character now is different and has changed as a result of what she has endured. I think that’s pretty cool also. And frankly, it’s interesting to see Rachel a bit broken.
Yeah, she’s someone that is very used to being in control and you take away that control—I’m very much looking forward to seeing what that means for her. Okay, let’s talk about the male clones Rudy and Seth—Rudy being the one with the scar and Seth being the one with the mustache. I’m not sure which is worse, the scar or the ‘stache. What can you say about what sort of mission these guys are on?
MANSON: It’s interesting that we are landing in the middle of Castor and they seem to know a lot more about us than we know about them. And that’s the kind of position we like to put our characters in quite often so that we are on the back foot but we have to go forward and figure out who these guys are. Are these guys separate? Are these guys part of our mystery? It’s nice to put Sarah in that same position that we sort of found her in at the beginning of the whole series, where it’s like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” And that’s exactly what Castor’s main thing out of the gate is. It’s like, “Who are they and what the hell do they want with us?”
FAWCETT: I think that certainly is going to be the mystery going forward into episode 2.
Before we wrap up, James Frain came in as Ferdinand, a Topside cleaner who wants to wipe out all the clones like back in Helsinki. He is just electric in this role while getting spanked and choked. Tell me about casting him and if there’s any chance we might get to see him again at some point.
FAWCETT: We really, really like this character. We really like James. He’s such a dynamic, interesting, lovely guy and we really love the character and would love to see him return.
MANSON: I think he had a really good time with Tatiana and Évelyne Brochu. We got a chance to stick him with some really cool actors on our show and watch the sparks fly.
Well, sparks were definitely flying in that scene, that’s for sure. Okay, hit us up with a little tease for next week’s episode.
FAWCETT: In episode 2 were going to unfurl some of the mysteries of what the Castor clones are after. That’s a big one.
Also make sure to read our season premiere breakdown with star Tatiana Maslany. And for more ‘Orphan Black’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.