Unexplained Phenomena

Editor’s Note: We culled your questions from this blog, Facebook, and Tumblr for this week’s questions. See Cosima’s responses below and be sure to submit your own!


From awildofnothing: Hi Cosima! Do you think that there are things that are inexplicable, or just things that are unexplained (in terms of phenomena like Cosima’s apparent recovery)?
Graeme (the show’s co-creator) prefers the inexplicable. I prefer explanations—ones that do not depend on a supernatural realm.

In terms of Cosima’s apparent recovery, there is certainly still much to be explained, but experiencing the mystery of the Clones’ creation and subsequent illness alongside them with a similar state of perplexity is part of the fun!

Choosing to have Cosima undergo what might be a near-death experience, and subsequent recovery, was one way of adding complexity to a character who is ostensibly the most hard-boiled empiricist of all the Leda clones. Like all of the Clones, Cosima goes through her own personal transformations as she is continually confronted with the strange and dangerous history of her genesis, and ultimately with the inevitability of her death. Insofar as she is not reducible to her sexuality, neither is she reducible to the one-dimensionality of only being a robotically objective scientist. So having Cosima take a pause and step back from her belief that hard science is the only method of revealing the mysteries of life and existence more generally allows us to take seriously the question of whether there is more to our existence than mere biochemical configurations.

2. From “osofine” via BBCAmerica.com: I just watched episode 4 of season 3 and I’m confused as to why Johanssen’s deceased infant “son” would have “original” Castor clone DNA, but the adult Castor clones don’t. If Johanssen took the genetic material from Duncan’s lab and implanted it in one of his wife’s eggs, wouldn’t the baby just be another clone? During the phone call between Sarah (in the hotel room) and Cosima (in the bar with Felix), Sarah reveals what she has found in Johanssen’s trunk. There are no biological samples anymore, just journals. Sarah sends a photo of a page to Cosima, they discuss it, and [they] determine that Johanssen used the material to try to make more clones, which leads to a lightbulb moment in which they realize they need to find Johanssen’s son and get a sample of his DNA. They don’t even know at that point whether the son is alive or dead. So what makes Johanssen’s clone son a more “original” source of DNA than one of the Castor clones?

Cosima: What they seek is the original genetic material from which the Clones were made. That is to say, the DNA before it had been modified, which they believe Johanssen used in its original unaltered state to impregnate his wife. They do not know whether the Johanssens’ child is alive or dead, but their hope is that one way or another the body will supply an ample source of DNA that can be compared with the Castors’ altered DNA. Because time is of the essence, the quickest, most effective way of determining the modified sequences which seem to be the source of their illness would be to compare the altered DNA with the original source, and identifying where they differ.

3. From ta-panta-rievia via Tumblr: Hi! I’m pre-med at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, so it was super great to see my school in your school, especially through the lens of science. I’m writing a research paper on eugenical influences on reproductive rights, specifically examining the turn of the 20th century. This turned out to be a plot point in Seasons 1 and 2, with Ethan Duncan’s past and Cold River. Are the pasts of Leda, Castor, and Dyad going to be further explored in the show?

Cosima: The Clones are trying to discover their origins, and more and more they become aware that Leda, Castor, and Dyad are all, in some curious way, connected. So uncovering and understanding how their histories overlap is certainly part of the overall drama! Because themes about eugenics, evolution, bioengineering, reproductive rights, and the technologies used to police these rights are among some the strongest conceptual threads that have influenced our thinking, you can expect that they’ll be continually explored in various ways—sometimes more explicitly that others!—throughout the episodes to come.

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