Once again, BBC America's "Orphan Black" has upped the ante of bizarro season finales. And once again, the audience was left slack-jawed, sobbing and with some important remaining questions.
But don't worry, we have answers. We peppered "Orphan Black" co-creator Graeme Manson with a list of super spoilery finale questions and ended up finding out a lot about the new season.
Warning, season finale spoilers follow!
It's not every day a grown man coughs up a robotic insect and then waves it about in a nefarious fusion. But that is the cyber horror that was "Orphan Black's" finale. And that wasn't even the most insane part of the entire thing.
We asked Manson about Rachel's new digs and Delphine's exit and found out what's going to happen next year in the new season.
"Orphan Black” has always played around with sci-fi science. The LEDA clones had barcoded DNA, the fact that they exist is science fiction-y-ish. But two big reveals in the finale were both centered melding of flesh and science-fiction technology. There was Rachel's new eye and the maggot [that came out of Dr. Nealson’s mouth]. Is this the first time that you've really introduced this kind of biotech, and is this the new theme of the fourth season?
Graeme Manson: Well, Sarah spent season 3 kind of peeling back the layers and factions of the conspiracy, that created them. So she sort of stepped through the veil now into a new understanding of who the overarching organization is and that's this seemingly innocuous movement that we mentor, Professor Leekie's kind of pop science in season 1. Yes, we stepped through into it. As I think Dr. Nealson said, ‘Wherever you think the tech is at, you're wrong.’ We call that the maggot-bot. They've got some creepy things in store for us.
Oh, good, so this isn't the last time we're going to see the maggot-bot?
In season 4, I want to see that creepy little thing again that's for sure.
And now the Neolutionists are back. How big is their role in the fourth season?
Well, as we saw in the end of the finale, we've revealed that Susan Duncan, the mother side of the, sort of parents of the experiment, if you will, that she is still with us. We've sort of looked behind the curtain. Understanding how deep Neolution runs is part of Sarah's journey next season for sure.
You've had some pretty epic end moments. After watching one of your characters cut off another person's tail and dance around with it in a club, the clone dancing moment last year, how do you top the stuff you've done in the past? Do you even think, ‘How do you top this,' going into the finale? Do you even think that way?
Of course we do! John [Fawcett] always wants to out-do us, in terms of our finales, in a number of ways. The way we've been enjoying the last couple of seasons is getting all the clones together in some fashion. The dinner party was, in fact, technically probably more challenging than the dance party. There's more characters in it. That was an idea that had been steeping for a while. John had really been talking about, I think for a couple of seasons, just a sit-down, and so it's one of the things that we were working toward.
Now that the sisters are all so familial and the bond the sisters this season ...
That was clone club. That's what we did, that was a clone club dinner.
And they've never been stronger, which makes me nervous. At what point are we going to start ripping it apart because it just seems so tight and gelled and perfect at the end of the season. I'm worried about them now.
Oh, the pain. Oh, the drama.
The reappearance of Charlotte was in the finale. Charlotte lives with Marion Bowles [Michele Forbes]. Does that mean that, is Marion Bowles in this fancy prison as well?
Well, I think we'll find out about the sort of behind-the-scenes upheaval that led to these things, probably early in season 4. We really like little Charlotte, so we glimpsed her a little bit this year. We did want to glimpse her; we glimpsed her in the middle of the season, as well, because we knew we wanted to bring her back a little bit stronger.
Was that when Sarah was having the moment when she's in the desert, trying to escape, that was Charlotte?
Sarah was in the Castor compound, in a fever dream. Yeah.
And now Rachel is trapped in a very fancy prison, complete with stuffed finches. What were those birds placed in her room in reference to?
It's perhaps a Darwinian reference.
Will you be exploring evolution even further in the fourth season?
I think questions of evolution and those things that we might have, the basic ... you know Cosima's an “Evo-Devo” and the basic science that we were at in the beginning. We're going to look deeper at it as well as at the new things, like our biotech angles.
The Castor were the new additions this year. They started off as such a violent foil to the LEDA clones but by the end, the LEDA clones are treating them much more like lost, like the prodigal son/brother types. How did you thread this relationship?
They’re foes, but they are siblings, so it's going to be complicated. We never really treated them like brothers because they didn't deserve to be. Cracks of it, even to the point when Helena said goodbye to Rudy in that really almost touching fashion, yet she sent him off with the biggest curse he could carry. It's something we like to do, to show the crack of humanity in every foe.
Do you think that the Castor clones could ever really be treated like brothers? Could they ever be sitting at the table with the sisters in the future someday?
That might be a good journey. Who knows? Mark is redeemable, but they're sick. They're sicker than we are. I can say we haven't seen ... we will certainly see Ari Millen next season on “Orphan Black.”
That's good to hear; he's so talented. And the Castor clones took a real hit in the finale, I was wondering if there were some left.
Well, no, we haven't seen the last of Castor.
Wonderful. How about that big vat of acid? It was kind of like Chekhov’s gun. You can't show a big vat of acid without utilizing it later. How did you guys come up with that scene? Were you impatient to put a body in it? Did you consider even shooting a minute of the acid boiling scene?
Yeah, we considered all those things. Once we had the idea of it, it was, ‘Who the hell are we going to put in there?’
The first season was a lot about discovery and, as you said, peeling back the layers of this world. The second season was about Sarah taking ownership of the cards that she was dealt. The third season actually felt a lot about, not only taking ownership, but looking back and taking responsibility for the role that she plays in this clone club, Sarah. There were many mentions of Beth, the first clone that committed suicide this season. Why the meditation on the past and why was it important for Sarah to think of Beth and look back at the clone she never knew?
I think it's part of Sarah's journey and I think looking at the past is something that she ... we've only really just introduced her looking into the past. I think she's come to an understanding that, to move forward, you have to look into the past. I think that that's probably a theme of season 4.
Season 3 was really, it was the inklings of the past that her story would never leave her alone, obviously, with the big revelations in it near the end. Her own story, that is about looking into the past. That's how she cut through to see what's behind the curtain. I think moving forward, accepting the past is certainly important.
Do you feel like you saved Rachel? The villainous clone that was going to rip apart Sarah to get her ovaries and then got her just reward, as many thought. But then this season was really, you guys really tried to push the viewer into feeling bad for Rachel. I think it worked. Do you think that you saved this character? Do you think she's savable?
I think Rachel is redeemable, but she does have a dried-up little pea of a heart. Rachel is obviously still with us. A new window has really opened on Rachel's story as well, so we'll find out a lot more about her, and her past, next season.
Delphine really became a major player this season. It was really fun and exciting to see a character like her, someone who kind of let things happen to her, let Leekie make a lot of decisions for her or even Cosima make a lot of decisions for herself. Actually she's the one going in making the big decisions for everyone. Were you excited to see how she embraced the power? And … is she going to be OK?
That's really, it was a story choice. We love Evelyne [Brouchu] and we wrote that part for her, so we went for the boldest choice we could on that story arch and the best arch for the series. I'm glad you liked her power because we did want to make her stronger. We did want to put her in terrible, mortal conundrums and really let Evelyn go with that.
Also I liked her wardrobe change. I thought she really worked the power suit quite well.
Yes. But, oh the controversy; oh, the hair.
We just had a terrific time with Evelyne this season and she sees the challenge of playing that character. At its core, it's about the promise she made to Cosima, and at its core, that's a love story and a tragedy. A heroic one.
I really like Evelyne. It's the same decisions that we made story-wise, they're very similar decisions that we made with Paul. The story demanded bold choices and so we were going to let the actors, give them as much as they could to work with and really bring those characters to a dramatic close.
So it’s 100% that she's dead? Is there a chance she's still alive?
I suppose there's always a crack. There's always a chink.
You don't sound optimistic. Cosima is going to be so upset. You love killing off monitors. Should we be worried about Donnie now?
No. Evelyne's our friend. I'm sure if there's a way we could loop her back in, you know, it's possible. The story is going to have to demand it, I'll just say that.
Science horror has always been a small part of the show, almost in a way that “Game of Thrones” plays with magic. There’s drama, drama and then oh my goodness there's dragons in this show now. Drama, it's a drama and then oh my goodness, someone has a tail. How much are we going to delve into science horror in the new season? Because it felt like the maggot really stepped it up a notch.
Going back to Neolution, I think is back to our first understanding of it. The guy Olivier, who had the creepy tail, and some of that really interesting body mod and self-directed evolution, it feels like our show. It's very “Orphan Black.” It's kind of going back to our roots.
So we're going to see a lot more body modification?
We’re just now starting the writers room for season 4, but going back like that, and also our maggot-bot, looking back at Neolution, I think we can be pretty excited for a little bio-horror next year on “Orphan Black.” Cronenbergian, bio-horror.