'Orphan Black' Declassified: Peter Outerbridge on Proletheans' 'Endgame,' Helena Obsession

The actor behind Henrik, the "charismatic" cult leader, tells THR, "You don't want to exploit someone like Helena because she's completely nuts."
Steve Wilkie/BBC AMERICA
"Orphan Black"

[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Saturday's episode of Orphan Black, "Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion"]

Does Helena have closer ties to Sarah than originally thought?

In the second episode of Orphan Black, a new group of Proletheans led by Henrik Johansson was brought in to the fold. But why did they desperately want Helena under their guise? Helena may have the ability, like Sarah, to give birth to a baby -- at least, that's what Henrik believes to be true.

STORY: 'Orphan Black' Declassified: EP Breaks Down Season 2 Premiere's Big Reveals

"What I liked about him was [he is a] very charismatic cult leader. He runs a family, the North American Prolethean sect, he's charming and he seems like a lovely guy, but his sinister nature is slowly revealed. What's sinister about Henrik is he doesn't think he's sinister at all," Peter Outerbridge tells The Hollywood Reporter. "He does not know, nor believe, that he's doing wrong. In fact, he thinks that he's working in favor of the clones."

If the Proletheans of the old world, led by the late Tomas (Daniel Kash), viewed the clones as an aberration of science and religion -- using a clone (aka Helena) to assassinate the other clones -- Henrik sees them as "a part of God's greater plan," Outerbridge says.

Other revelations: Mrs. S, through a friend, was the one who had Kira and staged the house turnover to make it look like they were kidnapped; Alison, ostracized at Aynsley's funeral, confirmed that Donnie was her monitor; Cosima settled into her new digs at Dyad, with a task from Rachel to research Sarah to uncover why she's different and can conceive; and Mrs. S terminated the Birdwatchers.

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In THR's latest installment of Orphan Black Declassified, Outerbridge breaks down Henrik's belief that Helena can conceive, the lengths to which the Prolethean leader goes and what's next.

Henrik has a line in this episode where he says Helena's existence is "God opening a whole new door," which seems to sum up his motivations, his beliefs and his desires pretty well.

Exactly. He doesn't see the clones as an abomination at all. He thinks they're fascinating. In fact, perhaps the next phase in evolution. If that's the case, it's all part of God's plan and he's going to be a part of it.

Is Henrik's assessment of the clones correct? Is this a question that toggles between right and wrong for much of the season, or is there a gray area?

That's always the case when you're talking about big issues like this. The idea of cloning human beings has been on the map for at least a decade now, and the ethics behind it are questionable. Bottom line, if you were to clone a human being in a laboratory, does that constitute a soul? Does that constitute a human being? Or because it's created by humans it's a manufactured thing that we can [use] to do whatever we want? Is the clone property because the laboratory made it, or once it's born, does it have free will and is it its own thing? That's what the show is exploring. Henrik has cut through the ethics by saying, "Look, the clones are here on the planet, so I'm going to embrace that and I'm going to say that it's part of the whole plan and I'm going to be its chief advocate."

We learn at the end of the episode that Henrik's prime reason for wanting Helena is simple: He believes she can conceive, like Sarah.

One of the definitions of life is something that is able to recreate itself. Something like a rock can't recreate itself, so we say we say a rock doesn't have a life force to it. But as soon as an organism is able to replicate and duplicate, and recreate itself, we define that as having some sort of life to it in terms of organic life. That gets even stranger when you get into species because in order for it to be a species, it has to be able to procreate. If a clone can't procreate, it's not a legitimate species, ergo it's not really a part of the planet. Henrik is fascinated with the idea that if he can find another clone that is capable of conceiving like Sarah -- the whole question is, is Sarah the clone or is Sarah the original and the fact she has a daughter suggests she's the original -- then it's a legitimate species and a legitimate creation. That's what he becomes fascinated with and that's what he finds with Helena.

What is Henrik's ultimate end goal if Helena can do that?

There is an endgame, but it's simpler, it's not so sinister as world domination. It's more megalomaniac than that. He wants to be a part of the new wave of humanity. Once he finds a clone that's capable of conceiving -- he thinks that's the spiritual movement -- he is going to be the father of all of these children.

Henrik and Mark have an interesting mentor/protege, father/son dynamic that's introduced in this episode. How does their relationship progress?

Mark is certainly Henrik's right-hand man and is also very fond of Henrik's daughter Gracie. It's stated in the episode that Henrik considers Mark as his son and he's trying to groom him to become leader of the Proletheans once he dies or to leave the army to help become a general or something like that. That's the relationship, which isn't to say Henrik wouldn't be prepared to get his own hands dirty but he certainly leaves a lot of the dirty work to Mark to do.

Case in point: Mark kills Tomas.

That speaks to the devotion that cult members have. He truly believes in what Henrik is doing and is prepared to follow him. He's devoted. At one point Mark has a line, "The army gave him a mission, but the Proletheans gave him a purpose."

Detective Bell begins to snoop around Henrik's compound. How worried should Henrik and his followers be?

With any insular family like that, you think of David Koresh and Waco, as soon as you buy a giant farm and start circling your wagons, the police are always going to be wondering what the hell is going on behind those fences. And the Proletheans, for all intents and purposes, don't put an outward appearance of menace -- they're a little odd but they're peaceful. The reason the police are on to them is because they're a cult and they're going to keep tabs on them. Certainly they do get up to no good but they're clever enough to hide their tracks. Eventually it becomes apparent to Helena that there's nothing he's doing on her behalf and he's exploiting her. You don't want to exploit someone like Helena because she's completely nuts.

Every week, THR will bring in-depth, spoiler-filled chats with the producers and stars on Saturday nights following original episodes.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays on 9 p.m. on BBC America.

Email: Philiana.Ng@THR.com
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