Orphan Black creators on that shocking death
SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Saturday’s “Clutch of Greed” episode of Orphan Black.
Contrary to what happened in the series debut, Orphan Black does not kill clones lightly, especially after we get to know one of the sestras. So it was no small thing for creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett to send one of the Project Leda clones to the afterlife on the latest episode, and that clone was hacker hermit M.K., a.k.a. Mika, a.k.a. Veera Suominen.
We asked the creators about their decision to kill off one of the clones, how they put together the complex, no-cut scene between M.K. and Sarah, what we should make of the debut of P.T. Westmoreland, and much more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start right with the biggest moment from the episode. You all do not kill characters lightly and you certainly do not kill clones lightly, yet you do exactly that here by having Ferdinand stomp on the chest of M.K. Why do that to poor Veera?
GRAEME MANSON: Because nobody is safe on the show and we’re in our final season. You’re right, we don’t kill clones easily, but I guess it was just M.K.’s time.
JOHN FAWCETT: It was. This was a conflict between the two. This is a longstanding conflict between Veera and Ferdinand that we set up in season 4, and in season 4 we discovered that Ferdinand way back killed her best friend, and she comes after Ferdinand in season 4 seeking revenge and steals all his money and almost kills him. You know, if Sarah and S wouldn’t have intervened, Ferdinand would have been dead. But M.K. took off with his money, and certainly Ferdinand has a bone to pick, and he wants to finish Helsinki.
MANSON: It’s got to be a pretty burning desire for revenge for him to, in fact, double-cross Rachel. So that should play out interestingly.
Yeah, he’s clearly working through some issues, right? I mean, when you see him stomping he’s practically frothing at the mouth.
FAWCETT: Yeah, absolutely. There was a lot of direction.
MANSON: John’s direction was, “Okay, now froth at the mouth.”
FAWCETT: There was a lot of anger. He’s got a lot of anger and I think a lot of the Ferdinand psychology is that he has a lot of anger that he hasn’t expressed even towards Rachel. Because Rachel in this episode that we just saw has become enlightened, and she has taken on the mantle of the heir to Neolution, and Ferdinand is pissed because he hates them. So I think that part of this anger that comes out in the stomping of M.K., part of that is just feeling like he’s been betrayed a bit by Rachel.
MANSON: Yeah, he’s been spiritually betrayed by Rachel. His heart is a little bit broken so he breaks poor M.K.’s heart.
FAWCETT: And it’s also interesting too because I think psychologically when he lands on M.K., she’s dressed like Rachel. So there is a kind of an interesting psychological angle to Ferdinand’s anger, how he expresses it and why he kills her. There are many layers and I like it because it’s complex. It’s not just killing M.K.
EW: Speaking of complex, John, you have this incredibly long scene between Sarah and M.K. with no cuts, it’s kind of like Hitchcock’s Rope except Hitchcock didn’t have to deal with doubling up the same actor in the same scene. What was shooting that like?
FAWCETT: It was technically extremely complex. We’d never done anything like that before. We’d always talked about it but never done it. So it became this challenge. I mean, initially, this whole sequence appeared in the season 4 finale. In the original script of the season 4 finale, this was going to happen — this entire thing all was going to happen there. We had to cut it because it became a little too complex for season 4 finale, so we pushed it off into season 5. But we’d always been talking about doing one long shot that didn’t have any cuts in it.
MANSON: Yeah, it really was a sort of directorial desire and something that we’d wanted to do ever since. We’d talked about certain technical things at the beginning of the year that are challenges or that John would like to do along with the sort of storytelling things that we’d like to do. That one really, really stuck with us, and we were like, yeah, that long shot where they change clothes and we never cut away, and we’d pitch it to the writers and everybody loved it. I mean, it starts outside and it moves inside, and that was the idea we were going to do last year, and the shot got bigger and got smaller as per things that were technically available. John wanted to run on rooftops. We were going to do all kinds of stuff.
FAWCETT: The shot was actually quite a bit more elaborate. The alley down below is actually one big long shot as well, and that shot was going to follow Sarah up the stairs into the loft and then…right into the loft in one big long sort of seamless oner. So we realized that we actually didn’t have the screen time to manage it. So we ended up doing one big long shot in the alley and then trying to put a little time cut in there to get her into Felix’s hallway, and then just sort of worked it out from there.
I think what’s cool about it is not just that it’s one shot but the fact that when we do switcheroos usually we don’t get to see a ton of the actual process of the switcheroo. So it was fun to actually see them doing it real time, and the complication is we don’t have a way to edit around that. We have to figure out how they switch clothes and wigs and all that stuff in one shot. So it was a fun challenge.
EW: What are we to make of the fact that Kira can somehow feel that M.K. is gone?
MANSON: Well, it’s a quality in Kira that we’ve been lightly hinting at the whole series. You know, we in the writers’ room and amongst ourselves when we talk about it, we call it Kira’s woo-woo, and it’s one of those things that we’ve always said, this isn’t something that science can put its finger on. This is perhaps the most human part of Kira. It’s the invisible things that connect us, like extrasensory perception and things like that. It’s so valuable and so interesting it’s beyond actually anything that Rachel thinks she might find, and that’s why ultimately Sarah says that it’s the most important thing that they can’t have, is kind of the way that we felt about this power that Kira has. Rachel might get the biology but she won’t get this, this feeling, this thing that protects us.
FAWCETT: It was important to us too. We kind of knew in season 5 that Kira was going to play a bigger role in the season, and we knew that was coming. There was a good focus on the season on giving Kira stronger storylines and making her a more integral part of the plot.
EW: Staying with Kira, she refuses to go and hide with Sarah and says “I want to go with Rachel,” which is kind of like a child telling a single parent they want to go be with the other parent, only a million times worse. How does Sarah even digest something like that, that her daughter wants to be with her tormentor?
MANSON: Yeah, such a hard thing for a mother because that is like…it is a little bit of Kira wanting to fly the nest. Rachel is so gifted at going for the weak spot and Sarah recognizes that she’s dragged her daughter around, and this is her daughter standing up and speaking to her as an adult for perhaps the first time. In a show that’s often about choice, this kid is standing up and demanding her own terrain. It’s a real moment of maturity for them both that I think we were really fascinated with, and I know Tatiana was really fascinated with that — having to let go and having to surrender your daughter to Rachel is the hardest thing that I think Tat has done on the show to date.
EW: In other news, we finally meet the mysterious P.T. Westmoreland who says he wants Cosima to keep working to save herself and her sisters. How much should we trust this guy?
FAWCETT: How much? We can’t. I don’t know why on God’s green earth you would trust this guy. We’ve been opening doors and climbing the ladder, and we finally kind of got to the top of the pyramid and this is the guy that we’ve discovered here. He’s got a fascinating story of being very old, and he’s interesting and compelling, and Cosima has always been drawn to ideas and science, and she’s a bit of a sucker in that sort of sense. She really kind of is, I think, skeptical but fascinated with this man, and that was kind of the way we wanted to present him. I think there is something alluring about him for certain. He’s obviously very smart and very charming, and we’re very interested in the dangerous fascination that Cosima has for P.T. Westmoreland.
EW: We end with Delphine visiting Mrs. S. What can you say about that and what’s coming up on the show?
MANSON: We really liked the idea that Delphine is really torn away from Cosima in the first episode of the season, and within the confines of our schedule, we saw the opportunity to set up more of a season-long mystery, a little something on the side between S and Delphine. Now there are dangers to this because as we all know, the clones like to be in charge of their own business. But if there’s anyone who knows what’s best for them after these years it is Mrs. S and Delphine, as it appears that they’re going to work together. I think that’s going to be a relief to a lot of fans about where Delphine’s heart lies, because if you don’t trust Delphine at this point perhaps you don’t even trust Mrs. S, but maybe that’s the point of this entire exercise.
So, like John and I say, nobody is safe, and we’ve really got to look forward now to some interesting deep character study coming up now that things have found a little bit of a level with Rachel and apparently everybody is going to be sort of in their own homes. I think we’ve got a great opportunity here to sort of ask, who are these characters now compared to who they were when we first met them? Which is a great joy of a final season, is to really look a little deeper and look deep into the hearts of these women we think we knew so well.
Tatiana Maslany plays half the cast of BBC America’s paranoid clone thriller.