The Hive Recap: By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried

There Be Monsters Here
By Cosima Herter, Series Science Consultant

On the eve of this recent New Year, my dear friend Siobhan presented me with an unusual, but rather exquisite gift. “There be monsters here,” she remarked as she handed it to me with her customary mischievous wink, and a hug. The package contained a current map, but not one I’d ever seen before—it is an actual map of uncharted waters. [1] It displays nothing but that strange, flat-green color common to aeronautical maps, the black crisscross lines of longitude and latitude designating a small area in the northern Pacific Ocean, and a footnote that reads “Assign Longitude Values as Required.” It hangs above my desk now so I can see it every day when I sit down to work. I’ve drawn a little picture of a boat on a sticky note, which I’ve named Intuition (in honor of Bucky Fuller who loved to sail), and I like to randomly position it around the map, then just sit and focus on it. [2] For the record, this has never been effective in calling down the recalcitrant Muse when I need Her most, it doesn’t help me to either meditate or think any better, and neither does that little boat silently whisper any secret strategies to help embolden me when faced by dragons. But I do it anyway, hoping some day it might.

Despite being a mystical disappointment, this map does regularly serve as an effective reminder for a few things. First, to have the courage to try things I might not feel particularly competent to try. Competency, not to mention expertise, comes in stages, it’s a learned process, and learning requires an alarming amount of courage — it’s often exhausting, isolating, and grueling. But it’s also exhilarating and wonderfully gratifying. That map clearly speaks to the obvious metaphor of bravely setting out into unknown territory, of intrepidly exploring that which has been left unexplored, of being undeterred by possible dangers that lurk seductively close on the other side of the horizon, of having the fortitude to strategize one’s own course according to one’s own index, and of having faith that with enough perseverance one will find safe passage to lucrative shores. Learning also requires an enormous amount of generosity. We learn and accumulate knowledge through sharing, and that includes the mistakes as much as the achievements.

This map also calls into stark relief for me something else: finding an appropriate orientation towards some goal profits as much from failure as from success. Effective strategies to navigate unknown terrain often come by way of laborious trial and error, by experimenting with different ways of solving problems, some which work and others that don’t. This is made doubly difficult because we are often blind to the future consequences of our current actions—all that poking and prodding in the dark might just as easily let loose the hornets as it might locate a buried chest of gold.

These points also serve as a nice paraphrase for the history of science, especially the experimental methodology that Francis Bacon advocated almost 400 years ago: “It would be an unsound fancy and self-contradictory to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried.” The scientist must be brave explorer, a fearless interrogator, a systematic designer of experiments that can be effectively repeated, a meticulous laborer, and finally, endowed with tremendous creativity so as to approach obstinate problems in novel and innovative ways. I don’t want to get carried away with romantic tropes of intrepid scientists building a New Atlantis, but the point is this: Bacon believed that the role of science is to acquire knowledge, and in order to do so the scientist must be someone who is audacious enough to enter uncharted waters to obtain it.

The search for knowledge and the limitations of knowledge both have a long history of being represented geographically, and often quite graphically with narratives built around sea-faring journeys into the “Unknown.” Indeed, the frontispiece to Bacon’s Great Instauration depicts precisely this—two ships that have passed through the Pillars of Hercules into the Straight of Gibraltar, underscored by an inscription from the Hebrew Book of Daniel 12:4, which reads, “Multi pertransibunt & augebitur scientia” (“Many shall pass through and knowledge will be the greater.”) While Bacon certainly had great respect for the individual’s courage to risk himself for the sake of knowledge, he was adamant that this kind of undertaking should not simply be for the individual’s glory or gain. Instead, he had a much grander and altruistic goal. The accumulation of knowledge is a collaborative endeavor, a great communal project which must be done for the benefit all of humanity. Just like the great explorers who mapped the contours of the earth for all those who might come after, science should be approached as an effort to add to public coffers of knowledge for the prosperity of all humankind. We assign longitude values not for ourselves alone, we chart the waters for everyone. Science is a collective effort for collective gains.

He also believed that for science to be a fully realized enterprise there needed to be a complete renovation of all scientific activities (more accurately, natural philosophy) to date, and a systematically designed standard program be put in place. We need to rid ourselves of all the false thinking and assumptions that impede our abilities to learn about and understand the natural world around us. [3] We need to develop new ways to organize, understand, and utilize raw data; facts must be arranged and understood in such a way so as to infer general principles and laws of nature. We need to recognize that logical deduction alone is insufficient in proffering knowledge; physical experimentation was key to Bacon’s project. Finally, we need to standardize those experimental methods of inquiry. This is not simply repeatability for its own sake, but because repeatability allows for the collaborative effort of both confirming proofs and sharing knowledge. Bacon really did believe he could plan it out, and effectively standardize and implement methodologies by which science is done (and just as importantly, communicated). If we could just get rid of the impediments to knowledge, and conduct experiments in certain kinds of ways, what could possibly go wrong?

It turns out that science involves much more trial and error than Bacon imagined. I don’t just mean insofar as developing and employing particular strategies for particular experiments. Rather I’m referring to the long durée of the history of science more generally. There is just so much room for error: errors about hypotheses, errors in perspective, errors in implementation and utility, errors in practice, errors in judgment—sensory, philosophical, and ethical. Science, both as a practice and an epistemological framework, is in many ways, just as much a history of the human project of stumbling along until we hit on something that ‘works,’ as it is a systematic attempt to apply those well worked out principles and proven theories towards greater and greater knowledge. Certainly not all science is simply a vulgar matter of poking at things with sticks, but sometimes it is.

Finally, that map reminds me that no matter how meticulously I might try to plot out a course for myself (trivial or grand), I cannot escape the unforeseen contingencies that might derail my planned trajectory, and throw me into situations for which I have no cartography. You know the kind of scenario I’m talking about: those events, relationships, or ideas that you just couldn’t see coming, the ones that disrupt—for good or for ill—the best laid plans, and force you to re-navigate the course, or worse, to scramble to draw up a whole new one without really knowing where it’s going to take you. Sometimes they are the outcomes of past choices only now manifesting with material consequence. Other times, they are random improbable events that run derelict to the expected order by which you’ve set your aspirational compass. The Unexpected really has a way of screwing with your sense of direction. Like, for example, that time I was shocked to encounter a strange man, in the middle of the tundra, carrying a shovel and pail, who was prospecting for diamonds; he just seemed to appear out of nowhere.[4] After that chance meeting I left my job, and spent the following 6 years in diamond exploration camps all over the arctic. And then there was that time I came home to find my house burning down, and Graeme was kind enough to put me up in his home for several months. It was then, on his front porch late one night that the first Clone Conversation happened between us. Quite literally, out of the ashes of a totally unpredictable event was born a most gloriously unexpected collaborative opportunity for me, with some of the most remarkable and brave people I know.

There be monsters here, indeed.


[1] I’m not even sure if this should still technically called a “map!”
[2] Ok, let’s be honest… usually I’m just daydreaming, and blankly staring at it.
[3] This is the basis for his four Idols: Idols of the Mind, Idols of the Tribe, Idols of the Theatre, and Idols of the Marketplace.
[4] You may be wondering what I was doing wandering around the central arctic barren lands myself that day: that too was the strange consequence of another unexpected, and unrelated, encounter. But that’s different story.

This story has multiple pages:

  • Tom Horsley

    So now we have months to wonder if maybe a little girl who was perfectly OK a few hours after being run over by a car will also be fully recovered and ready to donate some more bone marrow a lot sooner than six weeks…

    • WrittenByArose

      dude, weren’t you watching? the cure is scribbled in the book ethan gave kira (which cosima was reading to her in the finale) AND helena left her frozen embryos in Felix’s loft so stem cells ahoy

      • Elliot Burford

        “Stem cells ahoy” is the greatest thing I’ve heard all day.
        Should be the tagline for season 3

        • Mothman’s Dog

          You had to say that now that Rachel’s a pirate :p

      • Effie

        yeah but it takes forever for that to work… cosima don’t have the time, but i do hope they will use helena’s babys like you said…. i think it’s her only chance!!!

  • Phoen1x1

    I love this show so much, Tatiana rules. What a fantastic actress she is, it doesn’t hurt that she is easy on the eyes either. Bravo to the whole cast and crew. I can’t wait for season 3, please hurry back.

  • Carlee McIsaac

    Thanks for the wonderful season OB Crew!!!

  • Jamey Sommers

    Love the show. Tatiana & Jordan – incredible. Thanks to crew & can’t wait for Season 3!!!!!

  • Mothman’s Dog

    You know what’ll happen to Rachel now, don’t you? The fans will spend the hiatus fretting over what her eyepatch is going to look like, whether it will clash with her designer wardrobe, if the pencil penetrated far enough to give her the kind of brain injury that makes her think want to run away to Once Upon A Time and steal the Jolly Roger from Captain Hook… and episode 3.01 will open with a long slow zoom in over her standing in front of a window, back turned, dismissing her recent “minor setback”, then glancing over her shoulder at the camera to reveal HOLY TILDA SWINTON A Robotic Eye!!! ,)

    • Tom J. Cassidy

      Or, a perfectly cloned eye. Let’s not forget what business she’s in.

      • Mothman’s Dog

        True, Dyad probably still have Jennifer’s body in their private morgue… on the other hand, there was the Neolutionist in season 1 with a silver left eye. Guess we’ll wait and see ,)

  • Angelo Barovier

    “J. G. Fawson.” Very clever portmanteau. “Le Petite Chat” is name of the video box room, I take it? Odd. And fitting that it’s odd. So, oddly fitting I suppose.

    The 7:30 travel note is a bit sniffle-sniffley. Oh, Professor Duncan…

    • Mothman’s Dog

      (from Rachel’s diary) “Note to self: in future, schedule the Personal Security Review BEFORE visiting family members.” .)

  • Bu

    this is by far the best TV show on TV rn!! thank you for the amazing finale and the awesome inspiration!! for fans of fan fiction:

  • rozzi8

    Wow! Very gracious of you. Your show is just so good and I keep telling more and more people to catch it ON Demand. I want all my friends hooked on it.

  • Anna Clara Dornelas

    We should be thanking you for the wonderful show!! And for reading everything we’ve been writing on tumblr, twitter and everywhere else! :) Everytime you guys put a reference in the episodes about something we’d been saying, #CloneClub members all over the internet (specially Tumblr) would be like “They see us, guys!” and it’is the best feeling! hehe :)

    Orphan Black is definitely my favorite show right now, and Tatiana’s become my favorite actress of all time, and I don’t even need to explain why. And all the others actors and actresses, everybody’s just so good!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! :)
    Much love from Brasil!!

    • Mothman’s Dog

      I half expected someone at the World Cup to spray Save Cosima on the pitch during a game… know something really funny? The network Orphan Black airs on down here also broadcasts the World Cup, and they keep playing that Nike ad with clones playing football :)

  • ceithor

    This show is TV perfection! Characters you truly come to care about (or despise), an engaging story that makes each hour feel like 2 minutes and acting that is so stellar that it boggles the mind!!! Tatiana is beyond amazing, she is Meryl Streep good and I’m dead serious. You truly think there are different actresses playing the parts. And everyone else enhances the show, especially Jordan Garvais (Felix). He has some of the best lines in the show. There are few TV shows that I’ve actually purchased, but this is one of them.

  • Pennylane22

    Just have no words to tell you how much I love this show. I am so fully invested in each character, which is a testament to great writing and the absolutely incomparable Tatiana. I think of all 4 characters as completely separate individuals. So, THANK YOU for bringing them to life. Write On!

  • Ernest

    Re: things said in video posted by GM about Simulacrum.

    Is anyone really so deluded as to think that the antiquated Nielson rating system is actually needed for them to tell who is viewing what? I’d guess that they know what at least 90% of people are watching. Anyone who is watching through a cable box or internet (and perhaps various other digital means), they probably know full well what you’re watching and when, live or later. Have you learned anything from the whole Snowden / NSA thing?

    And the networks will use the supposed excuse of ratings (or lack there of) to cancel shows, but the intelligence of a show seems to be inversely related to its longevity. Being too intelligent and too close to the truth of the “real” world – what some might call “faction” or factual content portrayed through fictitious characters and settings – especially too early in its life, seems to herald a show’s death knell. Some creators are sharp enough to not get too close to the truth of the real world until they get a good following, maybe get a couple seasons under their belt and get so much press that the networks would be hard-pressed to cry “low ratings” as their excuse to cancel, not that they won’t try, mind ya.

    With all this in mind, I wish OB well. You’re kinda pushing the envelope and yet I hope you keep pushing it, even more blatantly so. Don’t let your show just become another mind-numbing distraction. Keep it and make it even more intelligent and more truthful than the news media. Instead of being something that leads people from the truth, use it to lead people TO the truth.

  • Kurt W. Wanfried

    The dance scene seemed so spontaneous. Great job.

  • Tom Horsley

    Ha! You want something to wrap you head around: What if a new clone is introduced: A Canadian actor named Tatiana :-).

    • Tom J. Cassidy


  • Alexis Tamony

    Love this show! I have to now go back and watch every episode again. Clonetastic.

  • bwellerr

    Thanks so much for posting this. One thing that’s kind of hard to understand: “Sandy Sokolowski, the hair stylist on Orphan Black, shaved Ari Millen’s head” why didn’t they have a similar hairstyle for the Tony character? Tatiana performed great as Tony, but the wardrobe and hair were a mistake, which wouldn’t be a big deal but a lot of casual fans think Tatiana was the one who messed up. lol I guess there’s a reason why experimenting is scary. Which just goes to show how talented the OB crew is, because 95% of the innovative / experimental stuff turns out to be hugely successful.

    • Mothman’s Dog

      Oh I don’t know, Tony wouldn’t look out of place among the long-haired beer-drinking blokes hereabouts. Maybe better company though…

  • Sean

    Fantastic job on really developing this season! So many great scenes!

  • Mothman’s Dog

    Watching 2.10 again On Demand, have to say, very much liking the addition of mini-clone Charlotte. Particularly the fact that, while an important plot point, her health issue (leg brace) is only one part of who she is. Not hidden, not made a big fuss over, simply there, doesn’t get in the way of the story or the character’s obvious joy for life or how Sarah reacted to her. Thank you.
    Season 2 DVD is released here on Monday. The DVD store 10 minutes walk away has a 20% discount sale ending Monday. Plan for the weekend was to stay up late watching the World Cup. Thanks to my like-this-since-I-was-born health issues, I have the energy/stamina for one or the other. Plans change…

  • Dick Stewart

    My 44-year-old son turned me onto this series and said I would dig it. And boy howdy, do I! Aside from the story line, what really makes this show exceptional is the casting, the acting, and the suspenseful scenes. Of course, the theme instrumental is very appealing as I’ve been an instrumental rock-and-roll guitarist since 1961 with a group called the Knights performing early-60s style guitar instrumentals similar to that of The Ventures, with drenching reverb, whammy bar, and major/minor chords. The theme tune’s back-and-forth, major/minor performance is a very common concept in ’60s surf guitar instrumentals; however, the added sound effects in your opening tune brings it to a new level of creativity. Good job, people. You got this 74-year-old man’s attention, bar none! . . .

  • Soapstef

    I love this show! Tatiana & Jordan are brilliant! I don’t know what I’ll do while waiting for season 3. Guess I’ll start over and watch it all again. :)
    Oh the questions and musings!
    1. Sarah had sex with Paul & Cal…then was seen getting sick. What if……
    2. That interrogation in the finale revealed that Sarah had once had an abortion. Wonder if that could be anything.
    3. I have mind-melt thinking about Daisy out there pregnant with Helena and her father’s child! Nobody knows to even look for her..unless her mother survived the fire that Helena set.
    4. Holy Cow…WTF is about to happen to Helena?!
    5. Woooo the cypher was found!!
    I’m so excited I’m going to bust a gut!