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[WARNING: This post contains spoilers for the Orphan Black episode, “Certain Agony of the Battlefield.”]
Orphan Black‘s fight against Castor has now come at a significant cost.
When Paul (Dylan Bruce) realized Project Castor was using its male clones to experiment on unknowing women (the fallout of which was sterilization), he attempted to shut it down with help from his friends in the government. Unfortunately, they weren’t truly on his side.
After Paul realized he had been double-crossed, he and Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) – who had been imprisoned at the Castor facility – ended up in a showdown with a Castor clone. Though Paul was able to take the male clone out, he stabbed Paul a few times – the damage of which was severe enough that Paul set Sarah on a path to get out of the compound before he sacrificed himself (via grenade) to take out as many Castor operatives as possible.
“This is about as excited as I’ve been for an episode of the show to air,” Orphan Black co-creator John Fawcett tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a really big, epic thing. It’s what [co-creator Graeme Manson] and I really wanted to see. We wanted this to be a midseason climax.”
Fawcett spoke with THR about where the show goes now, how Sarah will deal with the fallout, that epic twerking scene and more.
In the aftermath of such a huge hour in the middle of the season, is the show going bigger in the season’s final three episodes? Or will it be quieter as the loss plays out?
For me, it was like, let’s have a big, emotional, climactic midseason thing around episode six. This was always the discussion. And then let’s have an episode that’s just lighter. Where we could have an episode where you can laugh a little bit, there’s not a bunch of emotional high stakes, conspiracy this, conspiracy that. So we wanted to follow it up with something smaller and lighter. But after that, we still have [episodes] eight, nine and ten to carry us through our build up for our season finale. That’s structurally how we looked at it, from a writing point of view.
The loss of Paul is one of the more significant character deaths the show has done. What made the timing right now, and is there anything you’d like to tell fans about making that decision?
That’s what drama’s about – having characters that can sacrifice themselves, and open new doors, and throw themselves on bombs, and reveal themselves emotionally, and elicit big reactions from people. That’s what makes great storytelling, and what Graeme and I have strived to do. Also, [to] keep people off-guard and never certain. I don’t like people getting too comfortable. We like that people tune in to our show and they don’t know what they’re going to get. They don’t know where we’re going to take them. That’s part of the fun of the show, and something we can continue to do. Because I really do think people get all tense and excited about watching the show and what’s going to happen. This is an element of the way we tell stories on Orphan Black. … Was it necessary we kill a character? I don’t know. But what it does is it’s such a big emotional explosion for Sarah, and it sends her on a different course. This, teamed with the fact that she’s had this strange vision of Beth, this is pushing her towards the end of the season. It means big things to help push her towards the drama of the finale.
Up until now, viewers were left to draw their own conclusions about Paul’s feelings for Beth and Sarah. What discussions were there about him saying, pre-death, so concretely that he didn’t love Beth, but he did love Sarah?
We talked about so many different aspects of that. I was always a little worried about introducing a dream sequence into the show. But it kind of worked so well with Paul, and Paul’s departure from the show, and [resolving] the thread we left kind of hanging a little bit. Does Paul actually have feelings for Sarah? Does Sarah actually have feelings for Paul? It was nice to hear him voice it. It was just one of those big epic lines, where you get some clarity before he dies.
Paul sacrificed himself with the intention of taking down as much of Castor as possible. How successful was he in destroying the samples, etc.?
The point of it was to corral all of the Castor [operatives], all of the DNA, all of their research into one room and blow the f—ing shit out of it. So that was his point. Beyond that, you have to see the remainder of the season.
How is Sarah dealing with this latest loss?
Sarah’s driven now. The thing that’s great about that character is she’s gone from being an irresponsible teenage runaway deadbeat mom to being a caring, responsible mother, to being a daughter again to her mother, to stepping into a leadership role with these people she now calls sisters. She is the one who has been pushed into this position to keep the sisterhood safe, and be the one on the front line, doing the tough work, looking for the answers to try and preserve the health and safety of the clones.
Since we’ve learned they can trust no one, what is Sarah’s next move?
This is about circling the wagons right now for Sarah. From here on, she has to do what she can. This is a big, crushing blow to Castor. We would assume this has helped [the sisters’] situation immeasurably in the immediate, and use the energy from this to go forward and … get the answers. For Sarah, I think that’s where she is emotionally.
While Sarah was MIA, Felix crossed a few lines in how hard he interrogated Rachel. How will his actions impact him going forward?
I love that scene a lot. Everyone – Mrs. S., Felix – they’re very wound up. No one knows where Sarah is. It’s interesting to see how far Felix will go to get his sister back. It’s nice he takes this a little too far. And because of that, it’s great to see Rachel – who has been so stoic and kind of strong in the past – have a little breakdown under Felix’s wrath, is a really wonderful scene.
How will Rachel, acknowledging her own vulnerabilities, change her path this season?
That is one of the things we really love about the show: Taking characters we’ve come to hate, and then giving us another side to them, or giving the audience something they can feel sympathy for, that shows their humanity. It’s something we tried really, really hard to do on the show. It’s good to see Rachel have some vulnerability.
On a lighter note, Alison and Donnie had an amazing twerking dance party to celebrate their newfound money. What was the genesis for that scene, and will there be an extended cut on the DVD?
On the DVD, we [will have] the long version of that [scene]. There is a much, much, much extended version of twerking that will be on the DVD. I actually just watched it with my editor, and it’s hilarious. I wish we could have put so much more; I could have watched that scene go a lot longer in the show. We just don’t have time. This episode, specifically, had to cover so much ground, and of course we had miles of footage for this. Aubrey Nealon, who wrote the episode, he and I laughed hysterically about wanting to see Allison and Donnie in a total gangsta‘ slo-mo, rapping. We just wanted to make a music video, basically, that was goofy. We spent a lot of time picking out underwear. We also had to be very judicious about the bits we used so they didn’t reveal too much, if you know what I mean. There were a few shots that were on the edge. It was hilarious. There was a lot of crew who had a hard time getting through it without laughing.
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on BBC America. Were you surprised by Paul’s death?
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