In last week’s Orphan Black premiere, we found out that Ukranian clone/clone assassin Helena was still alive after being shot in the heart by twin sister Sarah. But how? We got our answer this week. [SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Saturday night’s episode of Orphan Black.]
What is a mirror twin? Why is Cosima working at the Dyad Institute? How come Mrs. S is all of a sudden killing people? And why finally let Alison in on the secret that husband Donnie is her monitor? We spoke to Orphan Black creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson to break down all of that from tonight’s episode and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with Aynsley’s funeral and Alison seeing that text to Donnie leading to the light bulb going off in her head that’s he’s her monitor. Did you guys debate how long you wanted to keep her in the dark on this matter?
JOHN FAWCETT: The audience is ahead because the audience at the end of season 1 knows. There’s a big reveal right at the end of episode 10 where Donnie leaves the house and jogs down the street and gets into the car and we reveal to the audience that Donnie has of course been a lying bastard and is her monitor all along. And Aynsley is dead and Alison is burying all of this guilt. I think we realized that we had to reveal it to Alison quite quickly or quite early in the season and this seemed like a fun place to do it. Right in a public spot.
GRAEME MANSON: We didn’t want Alison too far behind for too long.
EW: Right, because then she just looks sort of dumb. If we, as viewers, know something she doesn’t, you run that risk.
FAWCETT: Yeah, I think so. It’s always been the kind of show to reveal the mystery through the eyes of the character rather than let the audience in on things that the characters don’t know. There’s a few instances where we’ve done that, but for the most part we like to catch our characters up fairly quickly and not have our audience know stuff that our characters don’t because you’re right, it just makes them look dumb.
EW: So we learn about Helena and how she survived that gunshot because her internal organs are reversed. How the hell does that work?
MANSON: The mirror twin thing is something I discovered in twin research and as soon as we caught onto that we were like, “Bingo, there it is.” It’s a genetic anomaly that occurs naturally in twins, once every…I’m not sure how many, thousands of twins where you’re a mirror twin and your internal organs are actually reversed. And one twin is left-handed and one twin is right-handed and it’s a true yin-yang that occurs naturally or anomalously in the womb.
FAWCETT: And if you notice and track back through season 1, you can see that Helena is left handed. So we knew this all through season 1 that they were going to be mirror twins.
MANSON: And the other thing that it creates for us, which we also knew, is sort of a yin-yang between the two of them.
EW: I’ve never even heard of that. How do you find out about this stuff or come up with this stuff and incorporate it?
MANSON: Just researching the show, you know? Digging into twins and stuff like that. We’re always digging and looking at twins and researching and using our science consultants like the real Cosima to make the science realistic in surprising ways.
EW: But it’s interesting because you do make efforts to keep the science realistic, but when you’re dealing with scientific innovation and experimentation you also can go places where we’re not quite there yet, so when I see stuff like this sometimes I don’t know — is this real or is this just the next stage that we don’t know about yet?
MANSON: That’s interesting if the audience is asking themselves that because they go find out about it and they find out about real science, and it’s cool.
FAWCETT: I think whenever we depart from real world science it’s always from a real science point of view. It’s always trying to kind of go, where does the real science end and we begin, and how we make our science fiction be real?
EW: I know the winters can be very chilly up there in Toronto. How much did you want to take advantage of this earlier shooting schedule to get outside more because it does give the show a very different feel being outside of the city?
FAWCETT: I think it was important to us that the world kind of expands, that the show feels like it’s broader, that it’s confined more than claustrophobic and really I feel like part of the thrust of the beginning of season 2 is Sarah is on the run. And we really wanted to get rural locations and be in some very different environments that were unlike what we had set up in season 1 so it feels new and it feels bigger and it feels more open and expand the universe kind of thing.
EW: You now have Cosima working in the lab at the Dyad Institute — after a gentle shove from Delphine — which opens up a lot of possibilities for you guys and really makes Delphine an interesting character here in terms of her role and where her loyalties ultimately lie. Tell me a little bit about that.
MANSON: It’s a really interesting relationship and I really like writing that relationship. Their hearts are really caught up in it but also Delphine’s loyalties are very much divided and I think people really like a relationship that’s loving and hot, and yet you just can’t trust it. And I think that there’s a mounting feeling of who’s going to come out on top during this season? And Cosima has to learn how to play a little dirty herself. She’s not that kind of person naturally.
FAWCETT: I also too just like the feel of this sort of basement lab environment that is a new set for us, and in episode 2 it’s really Cosima and Delphine moving into this new space and trying to make it their own. And that’s kind of a fun element to this as well.
EW: I love the scene between Rachel and Cosima — which I guess is their first scene together which is always exciting when you get two clones that haven’t interacted before. And you get this great exchange where Rachel says “So, you’re gay?” and then Cosima responds, “My sexuality is not the most interesting thing about me.”
MANSON: I like that too. That’s a line that I’ve had in mind since last season.
EW: And you were just looking for the right context to use it?
MANSON: I knew I was going to use it somewhere, and when we realized pretty early on that a really interesting encounter – and an inevitable one – would be where Cosima goes to the Dyad, then I knew where I was going to place that line. I had that line written in a notebook from last season.
FAWCETT: And it’s perfect coming out of Rachel’s mouth. Rachel, who is kind of this elitist powerful above everyone else sort of clone.
MANSON: And I think it kind of encapsulates our show’s view of sexual politics.
EW: We’re already seeing a much more active Mrs. S. this season. She kills not one but two former accomplices here to help Sarah escape. Did you guys sort of set out to give her a meatier role this year?
FAWCETT: Absolutely, though I think it was something we wanted to do last season. We knew Mrs. S. had some dark secrets. We don’t know how deep these dark secrets go. She’s feeling another side of her and it was something that we wanted to do last season but we couldn’t find a way to do it. So it really wasn’t a new decision to do for season 2; it was something we were trying to do last year but it just didn’t work in the way we wanted it to. But this season a good chunk of the mystery revolves around Mrs. S. and her backstory.
MANSON: But I think it became apparent near the end of the end of the season that we didn’t have room to do everything we wanted, but we had room to make her a sleeper — to let the audience know that this is a sleeper character and to have them look forward to season 2. And Maria Doyle Kennedy is so great, she plays a much expanded role in season 2.
EW: I’m curious whether either of you would like to say a few final words — deliver a eulogy, if you will — for the dearly departed Tomas.
FAWCETT: Rest in peace. Sorry we had to kill you.
EW: Or rest in pieces, perhaps.
MANSON: Sorry we did it and you landed in a cow patch. Gotta go sometime. And thank you Coen Brothers for the pneumatic gun.
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