The Hive Writer’s Notes – Karen Walton and Graeme Manson
After the Pope made the cover of Rolling Stone, the Hive decided Thomas, Helena’s Old World handler, needed to succumb to change. In other words – get whacked.
Welcome Henrik Johanssen to the Orphan Black fold, brought to you by Peter Outerbridge with rawboned righteousness. We introduce Johanssen inseminating a cow, as one does with a villain. Why? Because it’s kind of sick. Sick, swampy territory swimming with themes, memes, and suggesting the beautiful bio-horror to come in season two.
Henrik Johanssen, played by Peter Outerbridge.
Johanssen follows a different path—he “ran his faith through MIT,” and thus can interpret the science (and miracle) of Helena surviving a gunshot to the heart—she and Sarah are mirror twins. Yup, it’s a thing, a science thing, flagged last year and filed under “drop this headcannon in season two.” Yeeeees, the Hive are dirty rotten tricksters.
Rewrites at Johanssen Ranch.
Lighting Helena’s infirmary.
Locations like the Johanssen Ranch, The Birdwatchers’ faded mansion, and Aynsley’s funeral were chosen specifically to open up the show and explore cinematically different worlds. Director John Fawcett, DOP Aaron Morton and Locations Manager Bryn Garrison chose some logistically complex locations. In episode two we also step into a new set—Cosima’s lab. On the soundstage, it sits right next to Leekie’s office, but we use our exterior DYAD location to cross from Leekie’s gleaming glass side to the old wing basement that Cosima dryly calls “clone jail.” But really, how bad can jail be with Delphine in it? (Answer: This is Orphan Black.)
From the early story breaking, we knew the real centerpiece of the episode was “The Birdwatchers.” We conceived Mrs. S’s old network in the twin veins of Children of Men and the writers’ beloved Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (the 1979 BBC mini-series). Like Mrs. S, Graeme is a bit of a birdwatcher. At least he can do a loon call by blowing into his hands (Canadians have weird skills). But it was Karen who—to put it in layman’s terms—wrote the shit out of The Birdwatchers. “Walty” and Maria Doyle Kennedy were already known, after a few pints, to hatch incendiary plots, so who better to reveal a deeper Mrs. S? So Sarah learns a few new tales about her step-mum, as we set the table for a betrayal. And the whole production got lucky when Maria found a remarkable foil in Nora McLennan, AKA Brenda the Birdwatcher, AKA RIP, AKA #birdsofafeather.
Nora McLennan at table with carving utensils; in background: Johanna Moore (First AD), Paulo Perin (Key Grip), and Aaron Morton (Director of Photography).
And talk about a weird location! The Birdwatchers’ house is actually an abandoned old mansion with one of those backstories about a rich man building it for a wife who never comes (or something… let’s embellish). Embellishing, the writers freaked themselves out in the creepy basements and dusty turrets, on the weird Masonic slogans and Canadiana stained glass. We even had to change Gamz’s (aka Graeme’s) pants after the basement tour; he still won’t—or can’t—talk about what he saw down there…. Suffice it to say, don’t mess with S.
The Birdwatchers’ mansion, built back in the 1930s.
So… now we know Mrs. S. Or at least we know she’ll pin a traitorous old friend to the table with the carving utensils and gun down her son to save Kira. And yet, Sarah still won’t trust her…
Us either. Don’t trust any of this! And poor Alison too! Felix helps her prove Donnie was really her monitor, then abandons her to hit the road with Sarah? That’s cold, Fee. You know she’s in the middle of rehearsals. None of this bodes well.
The Hive abides.
Graeme and Karen (aka Gamz and Walty)
Graeme Manson, graveside.
“Aynsley was one of favorite dearly departed characters from season one. So we really wanted to send her off in style. Her funeral had quite the suburban style.” – Graeme Manson
Karen Walton, looking like Sarah, on location at Johanssen Ranch.