When I first joined the Orphan Black family for Season 5, I was hired as a story coordinator. My job was to take notes in the writers’ room, and copy-edit each script before publication. My only goal was to make myself as useful as possible to the writing staff; to pitch ideas as often as I could, and do my best on the creative projects that were thrown my way. The last thing I expected was to be offered a co-write with Graeme on one of the show’s most heartbreaking episodes, as well a promotion to story editor! Talk about a dream come true!
For me, 508 was a gift and a challenge. For budget reasons, we knew it would have to be a “bottle episode” — meaning that we would have to confine the stories to our standing sets, with no exterior shots. I was worried this would make the episode feel a little claustrophobic or “small world,” but the production design team outdid themselves and the stark changes to Felix’s loft, and the addition of Rachel’s hotel room (which is actually Krystal’saApartment redressed) helped to keep things fresh.
Two episodes before the series finale, we also knew it would mark a major turning point for Clone Club. This was the episode where our beloved Mrs. S would sacrifice her life to take down the corporate machine behind Neolution, and win her family’s freedom. But with Kira safely out of Dyad’s clutches, we also had the opportunity to have a little fun, to give our characters a brief reprieve from their constant chaos, and thus, Felix’s Art Show was born.
It was a tricky task — balancing such contrasting storylines — and at first, the heavy stakes of S and Delphine’s covert mission to broker a deal with Rachel made the art show feel frivolous. We tried to create some tension through Sarah’s paranoia that her mum was hiding something, but it wasn’t enough. We considered manufacturing a way for Ferdinand or Detective Enger to crash the art show, but that would have been overkill. Eventually, we found the solution in our brother-sestra. We leaned into Felix’s personal stakes — his determination to put on a good show and impress an influential gallerist. It all came together from there, culminating in a tribute to sisterhood and family which Jordan Gavaris delivered beautifully, with such genuine emotion that I get misty-eyed every time I watch it.
Props to the costume department for finding Felix such a dope outfit for his debut, and to Jordan for rocking 6 inch heels for three days straight till we got it all in the can!
Here’s a pic of one of our early boards where we were trying to figure out the guest list for Felix’s art show. Most of this changed once we got to script.
When we originally broke the stories for 508, the writers’ room struggled with another daunting problem: What does taking down “corporate Neolution” even look like? After floating many versions, we decided to tackle issues of genetic privacy, drawing inspiration from Kuwait’s recent push to enact a mandatory DNA sampling law. To us, there was nothing more terrifying than the idea of a company like Dyad bribing governments for access to their citizens’ genetics, and honestly, after writing this episode, I am far too paranoid to hand over my DNA to any ancestry tracing sites. But I digress… If Siobhan could convince Rachel to give up the tangible proof required to expose Dyad’s bribes, the whole evil empire would topple, cutting off P.T. Westmorland’s resources and foiling his endgame.