Orphan Black creators break down the Helena flashback episode
SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Saturday’s “One Fettered Slave” episode of Orphan Black.
The penultimate episode of Orphan Black moved our story forward by once again looking back — this time providing a flashback episode for Helena to give us intel as to what turned her into a clone-killing assassin. That backstory was juxtaposed with a modern day escape plan to get Helena out of the clutches of the phony P.T Westmoreland and Neolution — an escape plan that was complicated by Helena going into labor.
With only one episode left to go, we spoke to Orphan Black creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson to get the inside scoop on this latest hour — which also included yet another death of a clone.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Here we are with the penultimate episode of Orphan Black and you give us a big flashback download episode for Helena. Why do it and why do it here, so close to the end?
GRAEME MANSON: We really talked a lot about bringing the original twin clones back together — that’s Sarah and Helena — so the episode is really driving them back together after Mrs. S’s death, and this year we wanted to do these deeper episodes where we dive deep into the characters and maybe reveal something to the audience that they didn’t know about them. And we figured that Helena was the perfect one to really start to climax the whole series really, and to bring her closer to her sisters and to bring her a little closer to the Clone Club, who seem to love Helena so much.
JOHN FAWCETT: We’d always talked about Helena’s backstory and how she grew up with the nuns and how she was trained by the Proletheans to kill, and we always knew that if we were going to do flashbacks for Helena that those were the things that we really wanted to illustrate, and so it’s really exciting that we finally wound up with a Helena centric episode that we could do it in.
I know you guys love your body horror. We have seen it time and time again, and in the flashbacks, we see the start of Helena’s self-body mutilation. What leads her to that place?
FAWCETT: Again, this is a bit of an origin story and we know that she’s got herself in the name of all that is holy I suppose, in regards to the Proletheans, We’ve obviously seen the progression of where it goes to, but we never really saw the beginning of it. We never saw the beginning of her time with Tomas and being trained by the Proletheans, so it was interesting to back up in time and show the beginning of that. And I suppose my one regret in regards to this episode is that we never got Pupok into the episode. He was in earlier drafts but he just never wound up in the final show.
MANSON: It was like “John could have the scorpion or the nuns — which one do you want? You can’t have both.”
Let’s talk about Sarah, because obviously we had the big death last week with Mrs. S. and then this week we see Sarah not really taking the time out to grieve that loss. Alison and Cosima both note that she hasn’t even cried yet. Is that just because there’s too much to be done, or is it that she can’t handle dealing emotionally with the loss?
FAWCETT: I think Sarah has just kind of hit a wall and she has always been aggressive and opinionated, and bombastic, and spontaneous, and now she’s just at a loss, and really in this moment doesn’t know how to deal with her emotions and really needs to lean on her sisters. This is kind of where we really see what we’ve built over the last five seasons. We see this family that is strong now and can support Sarah. Sarah’s done so much for everyone else, it’s great now to see her to be able to lean on other people.
P.T. instructs Coady to put Mark down, which she does. This is the last of the Project Castor clones. What was it like to seemingly put an end to that line as well as an end to working with actor Ari Millen?
MANSON: It was a season of goodbyes, especially as we were wrapping up this year. We kept wrapping up cast and wrapping out characters, and those were emotional goodbyes. First of all, we said goodbye to Ari’s other character and then we said goodbye to Mark, and I particularly like that scene, and I love the way he played it and Kyra Harper, her torn motherly attitude towards having to do this to her son, and how that is really slowly mounting more pressure to the last of the support that P.T. Westmoreland has.
FAWCETT: Working with Ari has been a great experience. He’s really stepped up for us and has been fantastic through four seasons of Orphan Black. It’s hard to say goodbye and we had to do that with Maria last week, and that was a really tough one for everyone. And now, again, with Ari, and then the finale of course, which is still to come, saying goodbye to everyone else. It’s been an emotional experience, there’s no question.
Sticking with Project Castor for a second: Who was your favorite Castor clone?
MANSON: My favorite Castor clone has to be Mark. He was our first and he was the character that Ari played, came in and knocked that role out of the park. That was not a role that was going to continue. That was a one-off part and it was off of that during that season that we decided that the story could twist around to reveal that Ari was the Castor clone. So Mark was our first and Mark was a really exciting discovery in our process of deciding to have male clones and then figuring out where they were going to come up in the story.
FAWCETT: I would agree with Graeme, but I’ll add a different spin on this. I love Rudy and I love Seth. I mean those two were kind of my favorite. I don’t know who to pick. Rudy was just psycho crazy, who’s kind of joker-esque and that was just a real gas, but I think dumb guy Seth was probably the most fun character to create with Ari, and it was sad that he didn’t stick around too long. I think he was only in there for an episode.
Yeah, I’m going to pick Seth just for the mustache alone, if no other reason.
FAWCETT: I kind of agree with you, Dalton. That mustache was great.
MANSON: And he had a great death. Helena really took that boy down.
We see Helena’s water breaking. That would seem to complicate Sarah’s escape plan. What can you say about what’s in store as far as that is concerned?
FAWCETT: Well, that was kind of the most exciting place that we could leave the episode. It seems like Sarah’s managed to get her sister free and that they’ve got back up outside. It seems like they’re good to get out of there and then we throw this curveball at them as Helena’s water breaks, and as soon as that happens, of course, it’s a little more difficult to move her, so this is certainly going to put a damper on any escape plan.
For more Orphan Black intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.