This was a whirlwind season for Orphan Black, and when we caught up with co-creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, we had questions. Why did they decide to unveil the [redacted]? What's going to happen now that [redacted] has been [redacted] in the [redacted]? Obviously, spoilers for Season Two ahead.
So it finally happened in the season finale: boy clones!
Graeme Manson: I saw some people filmed themselves watching the finale. Did you see that?
John Fawcett: I did see that. It was watching the dance party. They made a video of them and their friends watching the season finale and there are like eight or nine people in the room all freaking out. It was interesting, because when we made the dance party scene, we thought, well, one, we thought it would be really cool just to do a scene that is not really about the plot so much. It's just four girls getting together and dancing. And that it would be kind of a moment where you just go, "Ahhhh," and relax for a little bit in this crazy pace of the finale. But then when I started seeing that and watching the social media that was airing, nobody believed—everybody thinks that something really bad is going to happen during that sequence. So everyone's completely on edge during that sequence, which is sort of funny, because it's not really what we intended.
I found myself laughing because the scene just kept going on.
John Fawcett: It was nice. It was a long scene. We actually cut it short. The original version of it was a little over three minutes long. It was one long shot and obviously we only have 43, 42 minutes of airtime, so we had to shorten it. But we kept it as long as we possibly could.
At what point did you decide that Mark was going to be a clone?
Graeme Manson: Well that's kind of an interesting story, because we knew we were going to do Project Castor. We knew that we wanted to introduce a male in the form of Project Castor, but we didn't know who it was going to be. And we didn't know it was going to be Ari when we cast Ari as Mark, and he was actually slated to die.
John Fawcett: He was going to die in Episode Six and Paul was going to kill him. You probably heard that.
Graeme Manson: So it was around Episode Six or Seven that we made the decision that let him know—or was it even later?
John Fawcett: No, it wasn't later. We didn't let him know what we had planned, but we had made the plans. Essentially, we kind of thought Project Castor is really important in terms of telling Sarah's story. It's not just because we want to have boy clones. It's a really important piece of the big puzzle, because we're essentially telling the story, as often as we can, from Sarah's point of view. And I think we thought that, at the beginning of Season Two, we would be looking maybe to cast a new character. We had gone through the exercise of "What if it's Paul? What if it's Felix? What if it's Vic?" All those sorts of things. And then we realized that casting a new character was going to be kind of unsatisfying and we wanted to look within, but it was really looking at Mark during the season and Ari Millen specifically that made us…that's when the shoe dropped for us.
What about Ari Millen made you choose him to play the male clones?
John Fawcett: He's just a great actor. He's a really good actor, really interesting.
Graeme Manson: Intense. Good intensity and he showed—he was scary as heck and then he blew both of us away in that scene with Gracie when she's got her lips sewn shut and he gives her the milk. And he was just so sweet! That showed a lot of depth, and it was him really bringing something to the character.
John Fawcett: It was very interesting, because you know he was set up in the beginning of the season as just a weird bad guy. I went to him and I said, "I want to cast you, but I really want to give you a weird haircut." So I was like, "Are you down for a weird haircut?" He was like, "Yeah, yeah. It's Orphan Black. Give me a weird haircut." He was just going to be kind of a bad guy and then as you write and you develop a character, you start seeing other layers to him, but he just brings this other sort of weird, passionate, sensitive side as well, so that he's an interesting bad guy. We just thought he was an interesting, complex character to pull off what we needed him to. And then the thing that really capped it for us was that we got this really great bookend out of the season. Ari at the beginning, Ari at the end, and Sarah staring him down in both instances. That made it interesting for us.
You had an interesting twist on the Proletheans this season, with the pro-science religious extremists.
Graeme Manson: We thought there was a more interesting take for us in our second season than the Old World Tomas take. We wanted to give Tomas a great exit, which we did at the top of the season, and then there were a lot of conversations about this with the real Cosima [Herter], who consistently pointed out that that was a pretty old view and that religion and science are constantly intermingled throughout history. So that was like, okay, that's interesting. That's Orphan Black territory.
John Fawcett: Plus, I think yes, that was definitely in conversations, but I also think that it's just an interesting deepening of the mythology of the show, that as far as the history of the Proletheans go, it's kind of an old order. And what we were designing was this kind of new order, the American—
Graeme Manson: —breakaway sect.
John Fawcett: —that they're doing things differently than the elders have done it in Europe. I kind of like that idea. And they drive trucks with mud flaps with the on the flying fish on it.
Graeme Manson: Jon spent ages designing the mud flaps for the truck. Did we ever see them?
John Fawcett: I don't know if they ever ended up in the shot or not. It sucks, I know. And then I think somebody swiped our mud flaps. He had a good set of mud flaps and someone ripped them off. Because I was going to try to get them on camera again and no one could find them. Obviously now someone is driving around with flying fish Prolethean mud flaps.
But it was also an attempt to broaden the scope of the show, give it a flavor that it hadn't had in Season One. We liked the kind of rural setting to the Proletheans. In Season Two, this concept of Sarah on the run and away from the city was good because it allowed Season Two to breathe a little bit more and expand its scope a little bit and feel a little bigger. We wanted Season Two to feel a little bigger and badder and better. More cinematic.
Is Rachel getting a badass eyepatch?
Graeme: That would be sweet.
John Fawcett: If she survives!
Graeme Manson: Yeah.
John Fawcett: Well, you know that eyeball's gone, so if she does survive, she definitely is going to be rocking an eyepatch.
Graeme Manson: I want to grab the pencil and wiggle it and see if her foot twitches. Can we do that?
John Fawcett: Well, you know there's going to be some kind of damage just beyond a missing eyeball.
Graeme Manson: The pencil went pretty deep.
I did wonder if Rachel was going to become more unhinged next season, because she got pretty unhinged toward the end of this one.
John Fawcett: She did. She was sort of losing her marbles.
Graeme Manson: It'll be interesting to see how she accepts her beat down.
John Fawcett: I mean, this was truly a beat down. I think that on the one hand, it's interesting to really, really hurt or maim your villain, especially when you're just starting to see some actual human sides to her. We've taken this cold, calculating woman and broken her down a little bit and started to see that she actually cares about her father and actually has some feelings toward motherhood, and then fuck her up.
You're not rooting for Rachel, but you feel so awful for her.
John Fawcett: But that's one of the joys of the show. You can take a character like Helena, who's essentially a trained assassin in a way, has killed people, and make her sympathetic and make us care about her.
Graeme Manson: You did the same thing with Kristian Bruun this year, because everybody hated Kristian. Everybody was like, "Bad Donnie!" and now he's Hero Donnie.
John Fawcett: Yeah, he is beloved by the end of the season. And frankly, I think the reason that people really love Donnie is because I was very involved in making sure that Kristian had to show his butt. I pushed that one as far and as hard as I could. In fact, I feel responsible; I was pushing Kristian a lot in his white underwear. And luckily, Kristian goes along with it every time.
It's funny that, after Donnie killed Leekie, Alison and Donnie's relationship is stronger than ever.
John Fawcett: Well, it was really, "How are we going to bring these two characters back together?" I mean really, Alison's been betrayed by the fact that she's discovered that her husband is her monitor. And she's feeling guilty—we really beat her down a bit. We really separated them. How are we going to put those two back together? Add a little manslaughter.
Graeme Manson: We saw it as a catalyst. It would either destroy them or bring them back together, and we wanted a "Now what's going to happen?" feeling. And I think it's kind of surprising that brought them back together, certainly because they jump one another. It's awesome.
John Fawcett: We did debate who—we knew Dr. Leekie was going to die.
Graeme Manson: From Season One, we knew.
John Fawcett: There was a lot of debate about who was going to kill him. As we were designing Season Two, Graeme said, "I think Donnie should do it." And I thought that was stupid. And then, as we went into the season, it became abundantly clear that Donnie killing Leekie made a ton of sense.
Graeme Manson: And I wouldn't shut up about it.
John Fawcett: But then it was about how it was all going to go down. We just wanted it to go down in the most shocking, quick, dark, and funny kind of way. And so it's a little homage to Pulp Fiction.
Graeme Manson: She's the Wolf.
I loved the revelation about Donnie's monitor status. For ages, I thought he was being blackmailed and I wondered what Dyad could possibly have on Donnie. Then it turns out he was monitoring Alison simply because someone asked him to do it.
John Fawcett: We're going to go into the story of monitors at some point. I think they would probably all have been told different things. Some of them might have been blackmailed. Some of them might not know what they're doing. Everyone's got different reasons for being a part of—maybe it was a promised job or promised money. Who know, right? I think that's an interesting story in itself, why the monitors are actually doing what they do.
How important is Tony to the plot? Will we be seeing him in the future?
Graeme Manson: Yeah, we really want to bring Tony back. Tatiana and Jordan really want to as well and maybe explore that a bit more. So we're game for that. But yeah, we are trying to figure out a way that he can affect the plot.
John Fawcett: To begin with, he wasn't significantly tied to the plot and we liked that, actually. We wanted to meet someone else out there in the world who wasn't all that connected—
Graeme Manson: Well he was, informationally.
John Fawcett: A little bit, but it wasn't meant to be a plot-heavy episode. Listen, I like Tony because I like exploring the relationship between Tony and Felix. I think that's really interesting. We put a lot of time and energy into Tony. He's going to wind up coming back.
What made you decide to explore having a transgender clone?
Graeme Manson: It really fits the themes of the show about identity, fluidity, nature/nurture, and all those things. And it's also something that's very dear to Tat. And oddly, we were coming up with the same idea, Jon and I and the writers, at the same time that Tatiana was coming up with the same idea with her hair and makeup team, because she works really closely with those guys to find these characters. It sort of started from two sides at once and we said, "Well, we better do this because we all want to."
John Fawcett: Well, we knew that we wanted a new clone in Season Two and there were a lot of conversations about, "What should we do? What can we do? What would be challenging and unique and what have we not said yet about this?" And it was those things. We knew that some people were going to like it, some people weren't going to like it. In the end, everyone was going to talk about it.And I think that's good, when people are talking about things like that. It means that the show has some social relevance. Obviously, we want to make an entertaining, surprising thrill-ride of a show, but at the same time, we want to hit things that are important and make our own little statement about things.
And learning that he's a clone doesn't shake his identity.
John Fawcett: He's been through it.
Graeme Manson: We really liked that twist on the revelation.
John Fawcett: He's not that shocked.
Graeme Manson: Yeah, there's only so many times that you can explore the sturm und drang of learning you're a clone, although I'm sure we'll do it again.
John Fawcett: Yeah, we will.
The Clone Club is a pretty tight-knit group with Sarah, Cosima, Alison, and now Helena. Is it possible that we'll be seeing more core Clone Club members?
John Fawcett: I guess there's always a possibility, but we love these girls a lot. Their stories are the most important to us. So listen, it's a clone show and we like that that's one of the cool things about our show, that we can introduce these new characters. But at the same time, our priorities are with the heart and soul of the show, those girls.
Graeme Manson: And now that Helena's in—from the first season and into the second season, with the three of them—Sarah, Cosima, and Alison—Sarah starts as the black sheep of the sisters. She grows and matures and turns into something different. And so now we have another black sheep, which is good.