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Nicolijne Troubetzkoy: Sarah’s ‘Dark night of the Soul’

Editor’s Note: The Hive is Orphan Black’s weekly Writers’ Room blog. Each week, someone intimately involved with that week’s production will take you behind the scenes. This week is one of Episode 7’s scribes, Nikolijne Troubetzkoy.

I was a latecomer not only to the Orphan Black writing room, but also to this season—having joined halfway through. I came into the very thick of things. Chris, Kate, and Renee were in the middle of breaking Episodes 5 and 6 while Graeme, Russ, and Alex were trying to iron out all the details of Episodes 1, 2, 3, and 4. When it came to Episode 7, the only directives were, first, to try to keep the episode “contained” because Graeme wanted to move a day of shooting from it in order to add it to the finale, and second that this was to be about Sarah’s “dark night of the soul.” I remember Graeme waltzing into the room and writing some pretty terrifying act headers onto the whiteboards before he waltzed right back out to set.

It went something like: Act I: Tears; Act II: Drugs, drugs, drugs; Act III: Sex; Act IV: Vomit/Blood and Act V: Hangover

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So there you go, new girl, have at ‘er…

Orphan is a very plot-driven show. A ton happens in every single episode, and taking your heroine on a bender is all well and good and tons of fun, but you still gotta have a story, don’t you? It wasn’t until Graeme and I brought Beth into this episode that we began to find a through-line.

The first half of the fourth season is emotionally centered around Beth. And to me, Beth’s story is a reflection of what Sarah is going through all the way back to Season 1—after all, she’s the one who dragged Sarah into this whole mess in the first place. So I was really happy that we were able to bring Sarah back to the tracks for this episode. It made real emotional sense to me for her to return to the place she began her journey, at the darkest point of her story—after she’s caused the death of the woman who was ultimately responsible for her creation.

Of course bringing Sarah and Beth back to the tracks together meant shooting a clone scene outside, which certainly did not fulfill our mandate of writing a “contained” episode. Big fat fail on that one! Instead, it meant a long night on the Bathurst Street bridge in January (thank goodness for those cold dark Canadian winter nights because we were there until 7 a.m.!) with our fantastic director, David Frazee, who had to find creative ways to bring the two sisters together in a believable way without the use of our beloved Technodolly.

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Shooting that bridge scene was every bit as rewarding as we’d hoped it would be, but what I did not expect was that it would be Beth rather than Sarah who brought me to tears. Tatiana is a smart and incredibly nuanced actress (I think we’re all part of the Tat Maslany superfan club here!), and she makes some very surprising choices. The depth of emotion she brought to her performance as Beth (or rather, Sarah’s imagining of Beth) that night really rocked me and everyone else on set that night. I’ll admit it. I was crying like a little baby into my parka behind the monitor.

I hope you guys had as much fun watching this as Graeme and I did writing it!

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