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Orphan Black 502: Writer Jeremy Boxen breaks down “Clutch of Greed”

Spoiler warning: Do not read this article until you have seen Orphan Black Episode 502, “Clutch of Greed.”

“I want to know why I’m like this.” —Kira

The Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) we met back in Orphan Black‘s first season was a neglectful mother who disappeared for months at a time, leaving Kira (Skyler Wexler) in the care of Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy). However, the Sarah we see in Season 5 is completely changed: devoted, fiercely protective and determined to protect her daughter from Neolution at any cost. That’s why this week’s episode, “Clutch of Greed”which sees Kira willingly choose to spend time in the care of Rachel (Maslany)is such a kick in the gut. Sarah’s time of influence over Kira, already cut short by her previous selfishness, may now be over, handed over to the person she trusts the least.

And just as Kira turns to Rachel in hopes of learning more about herself, Cosima turns to Neolution founder P.T. Westmoreland (Stephen McHattie)whom we finally lay eyes onto understand more about the science behind her and her sisters. For a series Big Bad, who is also supposedly 170 years old, P.T. seems almost normal as he goes over Cosima’s latest test results (they’re excellent) and quotes an Arthur Conan Doyle poem. But while his chat with Cosima is disarmingly genteel, it appears in the same episode in which Ferdinand (James Frain) literally stomps the life out of M.K. (Maslany) in a fit of entitled male rage.

Rachel may claim it’s a “new day” for the clones, but this episode underscores that it’s just the same day, different week for Sarah et al., as they all continue to squirm beneath the heel of an oppressive patriarchy.

Joining us to discuss these issues, and break down all the major plot points in “Clutch of Greed,” is Orphan Black co-executive producer Jeremy Boxen, who wrote the episode.

You came over from another great show, Killjoys. How did you land on Orphan Black?
Jeremy Boxen: I have known Graeme Manson for a long time. We first worked together on a show called Endgame, which was shot in Vancouver. It starred Shawn Doyle as a Russian chess master with agoraphobia. So we’ve been friends since then, and this is the first time that our schedules lined up and I was able to get onto Orphan Black. I think we’ve both been trying to get me on it for a while, so this year, the stars lined up and I was able to jump on board, which is really exciting, because obviously it’s the last season, and we’re able to do some really satisfying things with it.

Is there extra pressure coming onto a show in its final season, especially one as beloved by fans as Orphan Black?
Yes, there are always different pressures with every season of television. With Orphan Black, there was pressure to get it right, but it was a thrilling kind of pressure because so much excellence had come before, and all we were trying to do was live up to that excellence and satisfy everyone who loved the show. So it was really a welcome challenge.

We finally meet the mysterious P.T. Westmoreland in this episode, and he looks like a normal Victorian gentleman. Was there much debate about what a 170-year-old prolongevity pioneer would look and act like? 
There was a lot of discussion about it, but Graeme came into the room with a clear vision already in mind of what he thought P.T. would actually bewhich was a throwback who was clinging onto the vestiges of Victorian society where he’d come from. So there’s this air of theatricality about him, this air of Victorian science, and a certain charm that P.T. Westmoreland had to have to really be at the top of Neolution and pull the strings in the way that he does as a puppetmaster. And also the hunt for an actor who could sort of live in both worldsthat old Victorian science world but also exist in the present in a very grounded way. So I’m thrilled that we got Stephen McHattie to do it.

I loved Cosima’s conversation with him, including the story about the cheese and the cow. Where did that come from? 
The bulk of the conversation came from our group work, like most of the things on the show, but I was very pleased that I was able to work in the poem about the cow, which is a little Arthur Conan Doyle poem that I had found by chance, because my spouse was in a book club and the book they were reading at the time was a graphic novel about Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace teaming up to create a steam powered computer in Victorian times [“The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer” by Sydney Padua]. So it was a very steampunky, kinda funny, heavily researched novel, and as part of the research, in the foot notes, this poem was listed. So I was like, ‘You know what? There’s a confluence of Victorian science and imagination that’s perfect for someone like P.T. Westmoreland.’

Cosima made the decision to stay on the island and ‘follow the crazy science,’ like Delphine told her to. What is that going to mean for her?
Well, obviously his science is very intriguing, and it’s attractive, but from my point of view, I would say that Cosima is always interested in helping her sisters and the rest of the world. So there will always be that interesting tension between being able to do good in the world and being drawn into some science that is perhaps unpalatable and that’s sort of the brunt of the season, as she gets closer to P.T. Westmoreland and deeper into his science, the question is where will she find herself and what choices will she make at the end of it?

Rachel also recently met P.T. Westmoreland and seems very changed by the experience. What is going on with her?
You know, what can you say about Rachel? She keeps her cards close to her chest and the extent to which she has bought into P.T. Westmoreland’s vision and power versus the long game that she’s playing is something that only Rachel knows. I believe that will continue to play out through the rest of the season in surprising ways.

Ferdinand does not like Rachel’s new Zen-like vibe, and takes out his rage on M.K. Why was the decision made to kill poor M.K.?
Very early on in our discussions for the season, we came to the realization that M.K. would be dying for a number of story reasons and character reasons, and it made sense for that to happen at the hands of Ferdinand because of their ugly history together that was still left unfinished. So apart from the story reasons for that to happen, there’s a very personal, emotional reason for M.K. and Ferdinand to come together in that way and for Ferdinandbecause of everything else that he’s going throughto act so horrifically. And the tragic result is something which will have some ripples throughout the next few episodes.

M.K.’s death was shockingly violent. 
Orphan Black is not a show that traffics in violence for violence sake. It all comes from character and scene. So the horrific violence we see on Ferdinand’s part is really an extension of the awful power structure in which the sisters find themselves, the patriarchy, and a lot of male control and a lot of male violence. So Ferdinand killing M.K. is a very concrete example of the kind of danger in which the sisters find themselves.

It certainly reminds viewers of just how dangerous Ferdinand is. 
It really does, and it gets to the reality behind all the fun we’re having, which is the patriarchal power struggle that exists really has the potential to result in horrible violence.

Kira makes the major decision to defy Sarah’s wishes and spend time with Rachel in hopes of learning why she is the way she is. How is Sarah going to handle that going forward? 
That’s one of the questionswhat are we going to see from Sarah? Because this is really what we had fun doing this year, was charting Kira’s agency as she really comes into her own. She’s just growing up and taking control of her own life and asserting her own wants and needs. So that’s a new challenge for Sarah for sure, and we thought it was important as we’re dealing with various structures of power but also generational structures and how knowledge and wisdom is passed down from one generation to another, particularly in a matriarchal fashion. So one of the questions for the season is how does Sarah negotiate with all the women in her life, and in this case, her daughter, who is coming into her own?

It was so great to see Delphine and Mrs. S finally begin working together! Although, I thought Delphine was supposed to be in Sardinia. How did she get to Toronto? 
The thing to keep in mind with these two is they always have more cards up their sleeves then we think. Out of anybody, these are two characters who are really playing the long game, so it’s going to be very interesting to see what they’re cooking up, and when it comes to light for everybody else, how it fits in with the story at large. But like you say, it is pretty juicy to see them working together, and it’s going to pay off in some very interesting ways.

And in terms of the practicality of Delphine getting aroundshe’s magical, isn’t she? [Laughs.] She has the skills to appear where she needs to be, I would say.

What was your favourite scene of the episode? 
I really liked the one-shot clone switcheroo scene with Sarah and M.K. It was a thing of beauty to see them rehearse and see it come together, the way that Kathryn [Alexandre] and Tatiana acted together in the scene and rehearsed it and really blocked it out.

I was able to be there for it; we workshopped it to make sure all the dialogue fit in the right place and all the emotional beats landed. And on a technical level, it was very difficult to pull off, and for me coming onto Orphan Black for the first time, it was really fascinating for me to watch how technically that everybody put it together, from the crew running around and shooting the scene with the Technodolly to how things were stitched together in post-production with the CG and making it all very seamless so that the drama really popped and nothing else got in the way of that.

What can you tease about the rest of the season?
I’m really looking forward to the fans being able to live with the characters in the moments that we get to spend time with them in ways we haven’t seen before, either through flashbacks or interesting scenarios. This season really is a season that allows us to spend time with the characters in a very intimate way and everybody gets their big emotional moments. So I think fans are going to be pretty satisfied by the end of it, no matter who their favourite characters are.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on Space.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Orphan Black 502: Sarah defies Rachel in “Clutch of Greed”

While Orphan Black‘s Season 5 premiere ended with a supposedly kinder, gentler Rachel claiming it was a “new day” for the Leda clones, Episode 502 deals with the rippling effect her latest power play has on Sarah and the rest of her sisters.

Here is our spoiler-free peek at “Clutch of Greed,” written by Jeremy Boxen and directed by John Fawcett.

Mother/daughter tensions
Not buying Rachel’s new “velvet glove” promises, Sarah refuses to bend to the Neolution leader’s demands. However, Sarah’s decision provokes pushback from Kira, who is starting to assert her own autonomy.

Ferdinand’s not happy with Rachel’s post-P.T. attitude
No, seriously. He’s not. Always great to see James Frain, though.

Follow the crazy science
At the Revival camp, Cosima earns some face time with the mysterious P.T. Westmoreland. We won’t say much, other than Stephen McHattie is the perfect casting choice for the enigmatic founder of Neolution, and we hope Cosima and ole P.T. have more of these chats.

The return of a familiar face
Felix tracks down an old ally to help Sarah, and we were happy to see them pop up again.

A new level of clone magic
Be ready to feast your eyeballs on a clone scene that required jaw-dropping levels of technical wizardry to pull off. It’s not flashy. You may not even notice what’s happening at first—which makes it all the more impressive. Kudos to John Fawcett, Tatiana Maslany, Kathryn Alexandre and all the crew involved. Holy wow.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on Space.

Image courtesy of Bell Media.

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Orphan Black 501: The clones face the beginning of the end

Spoiler warning: Do not read this article until you have seen Orphan Black Episode 501, “The Few Who Dare.”

“Whatever this place is, it’s the answer.” —Cosima

Welcome to the final trip!

After four seasons spent tumbling down the rabbit hole in an attempt to uncover the conspiracy behind the creation of Sarah Manning and her sister clones, Orphan Black‘s fifth (and last) season finally emerges in Wonderlanda Wonderland as conceived by H.G. Wells, that is.

The season premiere, “The Few Who Dare,” written by Graeme Manson and directed by John Fawcett, begins right where we left off last season, with Sarah (Tatiana Maslany, fresh from her first Emmy win) badly wounded and fighting for survival on Susan Duncan’s (Rosemary Dunsmore) mysterious private island. The island potentially holds the answers to 40 episodes of questions because it also houses P.T. Westmoreland, the 170-year-old founder of Neolution whose quest for prolongevity spawned the creation of the clones. However, his search for the fountain of youth isn’t necessarily going as plannedas evidenced by the “Island of Doctor Moreau”-esque creature that attacks Sarah in the episode’s opening scenesand, as always, the clones can never trust the motivations of Machiavellian pro-clone Rachel (Maslany), who is in her most powerful position yet.

“There’s only one faction now.” Mr. Frontenac

Over the past four seasons of Orphan Black, we’ve met a series of individual and organizational villains with disparate ideologies and goals. This tangled web has led to both some convoluted plots and a few story misstepsI’m looking at you, Castor clonesbut Season 5 simplifies matters by focusing on the Big Bad behind the curtain, P.T. Westmoreland (Stephen McHattie). The Proletheans are long gone, but the island’s Revival campwhich has taken in Cosimakeeps that group’s cultish vibe alive by acting like a science-loving Peoples Temple. Cosima’s cheery new pal, Mud (Jenessa Grant), explains that the people in the camp are P.T. Westmoreland’s “children,” chosen from around the globe to “genetically improve the human race.” The group is completely self-sustaining, with their own power, food and educational system.

“This place is scary,” says Charlotte (Cynthia Galant), after leafing through a propaganda-laced children’s book.

Word, Charlotte. Word.

“Follow the crazy science.” Delphine

Yet, for all Revival’s creepiness, Cosima can’t help but be intrigued. While Sarah just wants to get off the island and take her sister with her, Cosima wants to stay, simultaneously repulsed and enticed by the science. This is great news for viewers, as Cosima’s ethical sparring with Susan in Season 4 was a highlight, and any sitdowns with P.T. Westmoreland will undoubtedly crackle, especially given our resident geek monkey’s inability to hold back the sass.

As for Delphine (Evelyne Brochu), it was wonderful to see her have a few romantic moments, albeit rushed, with Cosima again. These two have been put through the wringer, and any tender moments between them have been more than earned by long-suffering Cophine fans. Hopefully, Delphine’s forced trip to Sardinia will be short-lived.

But, of course, Delphine’s temporary exit opened the door for the episode’s most shocking and uncomfortable momentRachel administering the cure to Cosima with a giant needle to the uterus. Yikes!

“It’s a new day, Sarah.” Rachel

And what is up with Rachel? While her new right-hand man, Mr. Frontenac (Andrew Moodie), and Art’s (Kevin Hanchard) new Neolution partner, Detective Engers (Elyse Levesque), spent the episode trying to bring Felix (Jordan Gavaris), Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Alison (Maslany) and Helena (Maslany) to heel on Rachel’s behalf, the formerly bitter clone comes away from her “seclusion” with P.T. looking like she’s had a true religious experience. She not only helps Cosima, but she promises Sarah that “it’s a new day,” even as she has her darted and carried away. I must admit that Rachel has never been one of my favourite characters, and I was hoping she might finally meet her (very justified) end this season. However, her post-P.T. glow has me deeply curious. What do you have up your perfectly tailored sleeve, Rachel?

Side Notes

  • What the hell, Donnie (Kristian Bruun)? Alison gets captured and you casually tip-toe off into the woods like you’re bailing on a boring lunch date? Not cool, dude. Not cool.
  • Sorry, the stick to Helena’s belly doesn’t frighten me. That pregnancy has gone on far too long for it to end that way. However, her injury does provide more opportunity for Donnie/Helena to bond, and, most importantly, they have to leave the shelter of the woods for help.
  • In a parallel to the first time she received treatment for her illness (that time with Delphine at her side), a single tear fell from Cosima’s left eye as Rachel administered the cure. Kudos to Tatiana Maslany for remembering that detail.
  • Art has always been the steadiest ally for the clones, but how much will his loyalty bend now that the Neos have threatened his daughter?
  • Elyse Levesque is my favourite addition to the cast. Disarmingly deadpan delivery.
  • Great to see Hellwizard (Calwyn Shurgold) again, and looking forward to M.K.’s (apparently) imminent return.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on Space.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Orphan Black: The cast and creators say goodbye

This is it, Orphan Black fans. The last dance. The final farewell. Or, as the production sheets said during filming of Season 5: Swan Song. This Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on Space, that beloved club of clones returns to the small screen for the last 10 episodes.

Earlier this year, TV, Eh was among a handful of media who were invited to the set for a super-secret tour guided by co-creator John Fawcett (I’ve included some images in this story) , got up close and personal with the experts on hair, makeup and wardrobe and locked in a few precious moments with Fawcett and Graeme Manson and stars Tatiana Maslany, Kevin Hanchard, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jordan Gavaris, Evelyne Brochu and Kristian Bruun.

Here are the answers we got to the queries we gave:

Co-creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson
What are you most proud of when it comes to Orphan Black?
John Fawcett: There are so many things. I think I’m most proud of the fact that this was a show that shouldn’t have gotten made in the first place. Nobody wanted to make it and the show is a bit weird. What Graeme and I had in our brains was a mashup and I don’t think there was a lot of conviction from anyone. It was a ludicrous premise that we somehow made a believable place and garnered enough support from the media and from fans that we could keep the thing going for five seasons. It’s been a really, really wild journey. Graeme and I were new coming into this. Tatiana was new. We had all worked in the industry before but this was kind of our first show. It’s been life-changing.

Graeme Manson: We’re also all very proud of the fact we took this somewhat ludicrous sci-fi conceit, grounded it enough and imbued it with enough character that it became inspirational for so many young people, so many young women and that Tatiana and so many other women who work on the show kept the feminist themes of the show—identity, nature versus nurture, themes of diversity, inclusion—this is the fabric of the show and we were able to say important things on this crazy clone show. That’s something we’re all pretty proud of.

Did you always have the same final scene for the show in your heads from Episode 1 of Season 1?
John Fawcett: Graeme and I have had the same thing in our head from the very beginning. The process of making this show … there has been a very organic nature to it. Sometimes you absolutely know how things are going to go and often it doesn’t and it goes in a different direction. Our collaboration goes beyond just us. We have a much bigger collaboration because we have a very talented group of writers and really talented performers and we have a small family around us from the beginning and we’re very tight. The inspiration comes from all different directions. Things have altered, but have kind of stayed the same.

Season 5 will be a hair-raising ride

Jordan Gavaris and Maria Doyle Kennedy
Jordan, you said you grew up on Orphan Black. What did you learn about yourself as an actor and a person?
Jordan Gavaris: I learned I’m an activist. I learned that, if I wasn’t an actor I’d probably have gone to law school and probably working for the ACLU or in politics. What I learned more than anything is about the intersection between genders. I’ve been watching some very interesting artists over the years and the really, really great ones that everyone seems to celebrate culturally are these people who understood that gender is not real. David Bowie is a really good example. He got the intersection between masculinity and femininity, men and women. He figured out that women are great. And they always have been great. I’ve also learned a lot about leadership watching Tat. She moves through a business that is very much about aesthetic and it can be very oppressive. She is a unique paradigm when it comes to how she leads a set and there is a trickle down effect of her leadership. That perspective is what makes Orphan Black so unique. Her voice is in everything you see. Felix was such

Felix was such an exploration of all my feminine parts and I think it’s important to take the femininity to other characters that aren’t necessarily Felix or look like Felix or sound like Felix. They might be an attorney or doctor or whatever … I can bring what I discovered about my own feminity to them.

Are you taking anything from the set as a souvenir?
Jordan Gavaris: Oh yeah, I’ve gone full klepto. I’ve taken paintings, necklaces, cool pieces of costume. I’m stealing stuff.

Maria Doyle Kennedy: The only thing I want to take aside from my memories is this little wire bracelet. I think it’s the only thing I’ve had since Season 1 and I pretty much never take it off.

Kevin Hanchard
What are these final episodes going to be like for fans?

Kevin Hanchard: I don’t think we’re going for cheesy gotcha moments, it’s about the wonderful base and the wonderful story we’ve built and the tangents we’ve built from that. It’s time for the laser focus. It’s only 10 episodes, so it’s gotta go really quick. It builds to a head. I think fans will be happy.

Tatiana Maslany
Where did you put your Primetime Emmy?

Tatiana Maslany: My mom didn’t know it was in this box and she put a plant on top of it. It’s in a pretty chill zone.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on Space.

Want to make Alison’s face lotion? Here’s the recipe!

 

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Link: Tatiana Maslany says shooting the final season of Orphan Black has been “Extremely Emotional”

From Ryan Roschke of PopSugar:

Link: Tatiana Maslany says shooting the final season of Orphan Black has been “Extremely Emotional”
“We’re five episodes into the last 10, and it’s been extremely emotional. I think, because of what’s going on in the world, it feels vital to be telling these stories. And, all of your clones are very much experiencing things that are related to all of this crap. They’re disparate, they’re separated, and they kind of have to come together.” Continue reading. 

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