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TV Goodness Reports: John Fawcett and Graeme Manson Talk Orphan Black at ATX 

Photo Credit: Heather M.
Photo Credit: Heather M.

[Warning: Spoilers for  “Variable and Full of Perturbation.”]

Have you recovered from tonight’s Orphan Black jaw-dropper? I had the immense pleasure of watching it at 10 am this morning alongside a hundred-plus, semi-caffeineted TV fans. So you can safely multiply your who/what/how reaction several times over and imagine how the hive minded responded.

First off–Orphan Black on a theater screen kicks ASS. If you ever have the opportunity to partake it on the big screen, I highly recommend it.

Once the lights came up, series creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson took the stage to talk about Tony, Tatiana, and all things Clone-ish.

The team said the discussion of Tony originated at the end of last season and then grew this season, and it took an operation of extreme secrecy to kip a lid on it until the time came to shoot the episode. “It was a very long process of creating and discovering that character. We had interesting discussions with Tat and landed on the same idea separately and she embraced it fearlessly,” both said. Fawcett says creating the look was a super, top-secret, fun process, and that Tatiana came in on the weekends to shoot pictures in wardrobe and makeup.

The crew had no idea until scripts were handed out for shooting. “It was an interesting first day on set…I think the quietest day on set [ever] but they were respectful of what Tat was doing,” says Manson. “It’s rewarding when we create a new clone. It’s not done lightly. We don’t have a lot of red shirts.”

Of course the biggest thing out of that whole arc was a kiss between Felix and Tony that Felix doesn’t initially fight. “The kiss was definitely a little bit twisted,” says Fawcett. “Tatiana and Jordan were dying to do that. It’s a kiss with many layers [because they’re like brother and sister in real life]. Jordan was really excited but terrified, just mapping his way through the episode.”

Manson adds that they were all very excited, and ultimately happy with the way the episode turned out.

Cosima and Delphine reunite in tonight’s episode, but there’s an edge as Cosima tells Delphine she can end her career if she’s crossed again. “It’s true love between these characters. There are secrets and lies and manipulation but they do love each other.” says Manson. “Cosima’s open and honest and forced to swim with sharks. She can admit her heart and maintain control.”

Speaking of couplings, the producers were asked about Paul and Rachel’s aggressive hookup. “It’s interesting watching Paul try to be in control and struggle with desire and [retaining] control,” says Manson. “It was interesting to map out. Ultimately it’s consensual. It’s just kinky.”

Manson and Fawcett are aware of the responsibility that comes with blazing such a trail with a show that’s feminist at its heart. “We didn’t set out to make a feminist show,” says Manson. “The themes of the show and the embodiment of Tat with all these characters made the theme [happen]. To land them [successfully] is difficult. It takes really good writers and full commitment from Tatiana.”

Fawcett says the larger goal of the show is to tell a complete story. “It was important to create characters and situations that people could believe in,” he says. “Absurd premises go down so much better when you can believe in and invest in the characters. We didn’t want to make a cartoon. It’s complex and entertaining–one big puzzle cube.”

Looking ahead, the producers say they have an end game but they’re not sharing it yet.

For now, they’re having a ball and say standards and practices really doesn’t rein them in much. They got some feedback on the tail in season one, but they’ve been given a really long leash. “BBA and Space have fully embraced this weird, wacky journey and we’re always wondering what the broadcasters are going to say and they surprise us all the time,” says Fawcett. “They’re so into all the weird stuff we’re throwing at them. So far we’ve been really fortunate. Nobody’s really said ‘no’ to us yet.”

Last week’s shocker was the accidental killing of Dr. Leekie. Manson said they had hesitations about it, but it had been planned since the first season. When time came to tell Matt Frewer, he took it like a pro.” We knew we were going to kill him but [we didn’t know] how,” says Fawcett. ” And Graeme suggested Donnie should kill him. We all though it was too silly. We went about every other possible way and came back around to Donnie. What sold it was the crazy homage to Pulp Fiction. It’s a sudden, shocking, hilarious, horrifying death and [Matt] loved it.”

During the audience Q & A they responded to a few general questions::

  • John loves to write for Allison best because she reminds him of his sister, and he says her character almost writes itself.
  • Graeme loves Cosima for her West Coast vibe, but he’s loyal to Sarah as she’s where every story begins.
  • They haven’t sorted out a timeline of the events we’ve seen so far in terms of weeks or months, but they worry ahead to when the actress who plays Kira has a height burst.
  • When they write for all the clones, Sarah is the throughline to the plot and then they weave the others in organically.

“Variable and Full of Perturbation” re-airs at 12:15/11:15 c and Thursday morning at 2 am/1 c on BBC America. You can also find out where to watch it online here.

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