WHAT THE HELL?!?!? That may have been your reaction upon watching Orphan Black’s season 2 premiere. So allow me to issue the standard SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Saturday’s Orphan Black season premiere.
Helena is not dead. REPEAT: Helena is not dead. And it turns out that was the master plan all along. Orphan Black creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett explain why they insisted on lying through their teeth when they told anyone who asked that the Ukranian clone/clone killer was indeed a goner after being shot by her twin sister Sarah in last season’s finale. They also tell us about that intense diner shoot out, Alison’s foray into musical theater, and their big cameo!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me, how does it feel to be big fat stinking liars by going around telling everyone that Helena was dead?
JOHN FAWCETT: It feels great.
GRAEME MANSON: Evil master plan. Evil master plan the whole way.
EW: So when you were mapping out season 1, you knew then that the plan was that she was always going to be alive and come back?
FAWCETT: Yeah, we always knew that. It was never, ever a discussion of whether we kill her or not, she was very much going to be alive and we kind of had an evil plan for why she was alive, which will be revealed soon. I’m hoping the audience is going to be really excited that she’s back and then the question is, how did she survive?
EW: So you knew the whole time she was coming back but people were going to ask you about it after that finale, so you just decided to…
FAWCETT: We lied. It was bald face lying. We just did it as best we could with every single interviewer that would talk to us.
EW: It was funny because when I came on set, the first thing I saw was Tat outside kind of pacing around in her Helena wig and I was like “those #%&* bastards.”
FAWCETT: Yeah, it kind of got blown for you early.
MANSON: That just says something towards our own acting prowess.
FAWCETT: We’ve been taking lessons from Tat.
EW: Let’s talk about how you start the season. You start with this big action scene in the diner. We see these two nefarious looking characters that show up and tell Sarah, “We’re here to take you to Kira” and then all hell breaks loose. That’s quite an introduction.
MANSON: This diner scene was another one that was in our mind. John knew we wanted to do something in the diner at the end of the season. We put our heads together on it and I was like, “Oh, she could kick her way out of walls. I like that.” We wanted a big set piece for the tease.
FAWCETT: That was pretty much it, with bad guys that we didn’t know. And we wanted to give it a really exciting, vaguely horrorish feel — sort of a throwback to all of our favorite horror films, being trapped in a small space with some psycho outside the door trying to kick his way in.
EW: I remember talking to Jordan Gavaris and saying, “Hey, how much are we going to see of Felix’s butt this season?” Little did I know it would be, like, his first scene of the season that we would get a total ass shot!
MANSON: It’s true. I remember I did an interview from the bus with you for Entertainment Weekly Radio when we were on a location shoot surveying that club scene. So that’s exactly what we were doing when we talked live back in August.
FAWCETT: Thumpers is the name of that fictional club, by the way.
EW: You guys know I was a big fan of that patent twist from last season, which was made even cooler when real life intervened a few days later when the Supreme Court ruled in that similar matter on patenting of clone material. And I know that’s not going to be a big plot point in season 2 but I thought it was really cool the way you guys touched on it here with Rachel and the way she tied the Dyad Institute in there with her lobbying efforts, so tell me about that. I’m sure as soon as the Supreme Court thing came down you guys were like, we gotta incorporate that somehow.
MANSON: Patent law isn’t where we want to spend a lot of time dwelling, but it’s incredibly important and it’s that sort of Orwellian dystopia where beauracratic things are actually very scary and very powerful. It’s very important territory. We’re going to spool it out and not going to get any big answers on that this season because there are no really big answers in that Supreme Court decision. There are questions there. To me, it’s like, okay, what constitutes synthetic DNA? That’s now the question.
EW: I like the way you touched on it here. And now I want to touch on this interesting clue you left here going forward. There’s this one scene where Delphine says that Cosima’s showing the same respiratory symptoms as the “other two.” Now we know Katja was one and knowing what we know about another clone named Jennifer that you guys will be introducing at some point, is it safe to assume that’s the second in that two that Delphine is referring to?
FAWCETT: It’s a little point of mystery though, if people are paying attention they’ll hear and wonder, who’s number 2?
MANSON: Especially if they haven’t seen all the EW stuff. It’s just another little clue going forward.
EW: Tell me about the decision to have Alison do community theater show. I just think that’s so perfect for her and that character.
MANSON: John had to talk me into it.
FAWCETT: See, both Graeme and I have different characters that we kind of prioritize a little bit. Graeme is a little more with Cosima and I tend to be a little more with Alison. So I think that’s just a product of our upbringing. He grew up on the west coast, slightly more hippie-ish, and I grew up in the suburbs of Calgary, so I just thought it would be a really fun thing for Alison to be doing a musical this season, and this kind of begins her new journey through season 2.
MANSON: It didn’t take me that long to get on board. And it’s interesting because we were trying to get Grease. That’s what we talked about from the beginning — she was going to be in Grease. But it proved very difficult to get the rights and very expensive, so the musical Blood Ties is a little local Toronto musical that was in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year, and had been mounted by friends of our assistant, Mackenize. So we took a look at the script and took a look at some of the songs on YouTube and it was eerily paralleling Alison’s predicament.
FAWCETT: And possibly foreshadowing what was to come.
EW: Because I had never heard of it, I assumed you guys wrote some wacky songs, but you actually used existing stuff.
FAWCETT: No, that’s an existing musical and what’s interesting, too, is that in the episode, that is the cast of Blood Ties. Other than Sarah Stubbs and obviously Tatiana, that is the cast of Blood Ties – the pianist in the show and the blonde girl on stage, those are the creators of the musical, and the two men in the cast are from the show. So we were basically working with their cast and the musical’s creators. Isn’t that cool? And they helped choreograph all the dance moves and stuff like that. So we just worked with them and said, “Hey, let’s stage this.” And I hung out while she choreographed, and that’s how we created the musical numbers.
MANSON: I was just so thankful because it was down to the wire what musical we were gonna find and John kept saying to me, “just write one!” [laughs]
EW: Were you tempted?
MANSON: I was not up for writing it. I had enough to do without writing a musical in the middle of this thing.
EW: Season 3, you can write the musical, Graeme. Get to work on that! Now what about your big cameos at the Dyad party scene?
FAWCETT: That’s a game we call Spot the Creators.
EW: Whose idea was that? Or did someone prod you into doing it?
FAWCETT: Well, what happened was, just as a joke, I wanted to wear my suit to set – because I thought if you’re a big hot shot director you wear a suit to set sometimes. So I decided on the day everyone was gonna be dressed up. So I think I convinced Graeme to wear his suit as well and it just turned into a cameo at the last minute. I don’t think we were planning the cameo.
MANSON: We were planning on just photobombing it but we ended up shaking hands with Matt Frewer and that was cool.
FAWCETT: It was our little Hitchcock moment.
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