Here comes Helena…
The Hive Writer’s Notes – Alex Levine
Hey everybody, Alex Levine here, one of the staff writers of Orphan Black, and the writer of this week’s episode, “Mingling Its Own Nature With It.”
First off, let me just say how much fun it is to play in this amazing world that Graeme and John created, and spin stories for these amazing characters. In season two, the writers room was full of undeniable talent— Karen Walton, Russ Cochrane, Aubrey Nealon, Tony Elliot, Chris Roberts. We also had great help from our creative producers Kerry Appleyard and Karen Troubetzkoy from Temple Street Productions. All these brilliant minds worked together to create and hone the stories you see on the screen. It really is a hive mentality.
As far as episode three, “Mingling Its Own Nature With It” goes, let me just admit it: I got lucky. Not only did I get to pen the episode that introduces Cal Morrison (the new guy!), but I was also given a more stand-alone story, and a change-of-pace episode. What do I mean by that? Well, as you may have noticed, we are churning story on Orphan Black at a breakneck pace, and our episodes often end in cliffhangers that roll into the next story. But episode two ends with a bit more of a definitive resolution, so episode three is one of the few episodes that really has a fresh start. We find Sarah, Felix and Kira on the run, but at rest. It was a rare opportunity to take a breath, story-wise, and dive into the characters.
Felix and Kira, roughing it on the road.
From a story perspective, one of the hardest parts was figuring out why Sarah would go to see Cal now, and why she would keep it a secret from Felix. But as we honed the story, we fleshed out the reasoning. Sarah’s out of luck, out of money, and her conscience is begging her to take Kira somewhere safe, somewhere “nourishing.” So she drops in on her ex, but, knowing that Fee wouldn’t go for it, she hides the truth.
Sarah Manning and Cal Morrison, reunited.
Speaking of the new guy Cal Morrison (Michiel Huisman), I can tell you the conversations around this character and his backstory were long and involved. We wanted him to have a woodsman feel but a science background. I’m thrilled with where we landed, and who we cast in this great role. Michiel is rock solid, and he fit our Cal perfectly, adding his own credibility and depth to the character. And there’s more in store for Cal, as you will see.
One aspect of the story I really enjoyed writing was Fee and Sarah’s big fight. That’s where we get to see a glimpse of that brother-sister relationship and some of its less flattering colors: jealousy, pride, pettiness. This is the other side of all that fierce love we see between these two characters at other times. When I saw it acted so brilliantly by Jordan and Tat, it felt so realistic, like one of those rehash arguments we have with our relatives over and over again. At the end of the day, we know they love each other… but at the moment? Not so much.
“There’s no place for me here.” – Felix Dawkins
I don’t mean to make anybody jealous, but being on set with director T.J. Scott, director of photography Aaron Morton, and the whole cast and crew is an unbelievable experience. For a storyteller, there is no bigger thrill than watching these great creatives bring the story to life. Remember that big tree in the opening scene? When T.J. saw that tree, he dragged all the scout vans out into the middle of a big field, in the middle of nowhere. And he just starts marching… right to that big, leafless, desolate tree. He knew it would be awesome, and he knew he could get the crew and the cameras out there. And it really paid off. Below are a couple of pictures from the shoot.
The tree from Sarah, Felix, and Kira’s opening scene.
Shooting outside Cal’s cabin.
There was a trail between two sets out by Johanssen’s ranch, so I got a fuzzy shot of Graeme and Mackie Donaldson on a little bridge.
At the community center, rehearsing the musical.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Paul Jones FX—the team that created the Jennifer Fitzsimmons clone prosthetic. He did such a great job that we could even shoot close-ups of the cadaver’s teeth. He even put skin wrinkles on the feet. Shockingly realistic.Read More