The Hive Recap: Governed As It Were By Chance

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  "Hello seeeeeestra. Good to see you." - Helena

The Hive Writer's Notes – Russ Cochrane

Hey #CloneClub. “Governed As It Were By Chance”—very much like how I got here and joined the Hive. I’ve been friends with series co-creators John and Graeme for a number of years—so I had a good seat to witness the show’s gestation, development, and ultimate birth onto the screen last year. But I quickly turned from good friend to huge fan as I visited their beautiful, twisted little baby week after week—drawn completely into the world and the amazing characters. So I was very stoked that production schedules worked out such as to allow me to join the Hive for season two of this crazy journey. Hands down, the best part of my job is having the chance to work with smart, talented people. Graeme, John, and writer/producers Karen Walton, Alex Levine, Aubrey Nealon, Tony Elliot, and Chris Roberts are some of the smartest and most talented people I’ve ever met. Ever. Now, a little about the episode, “Governed As It Were By Chance”—or rather, a little about that wild series of events that take us deeper down the rabbit hole and bring our far-flung clone seeeeestras back together. uRBern8gUhUhBMzTLUg5oFbghwzBMm-N4BfNi3F5jKQ

A glimpse inside The Hive: Graeme Manson and writers Alex Levine and Russ Cochrane (far left) work on the story for episode four.

As episode 203 ended with a (literal) bang, “Governed As It Were By Chance” picks up those shattered pieces right where we left off, and finds Sarah desperately staring down an approaching squad car, gun in hand. (Yes, that is a tip-of-the-hat homage to a certain series opening scene—Orphan Black style.) Escaping capture, we quickly learn that Kira’s father Cal may have some big secrets of his own—and that if Sarah wants Kira to be truly safe, she’ll have to follow these threads back to the source for answers. Over on the Prolethean Ranch, Helena is coming to from a major trauma of her own—and realizing this “family” she’s been drawn into doesn’t hold a candle (or a chicken leg, or bowl of Jell-O) to the family she already has. Time to get the hell out of here and find her way back home—wherever that is. So how did this all come together? I have to admit that one of the major challenges to constructing this episode was how to take all these seemingly disparate storylines—Sarah, Helena, Alison, Mrs. S., now all in different geographical locations—and make sure they feel part of a whole; make sure that they are still one bigger, interconnected story. As the episode arc developed, it was initially by chance, and then by design, that we found our clone sisters at the beginning of each of their stories fighting through a fog to discover the serious consequences of what had just occured. Sarah snaps awake in Daniel’s car moments after the crash; Helena comes to on the Proleathean Ranch hours after her “wedding ceremony;” Alison wakes hungover and injured, only to also find herself institutionalized—in rehab. Common elements, very different stories. Like the clones themselves. (And, yeah, I fully realize that makes me sound like a story geek. So be it.) klRJqjLkWsQYQA_-J_KwsfEVgkU-wA1zA2HhWLiCfeA

Scouting the Prolethean farm. (Could the room be any creepier?)

But the biggest challenge for this story was figuring out just how to reunite Sarah and Helena after they had so violently parted ways in the season one finale. I mean, Sarah shot Helena through the heart (or at least she thought so) and left her seestra for dead. Not judging, but that’s kind of a messy way for family to leave things. We knew we wanted to bring those two back together as parallel stories on a collision course, destined to intersect. And we also wanted to use the circumstances of their reunion to bond them in a new way—and change up their previous dynamic. So, as Sarah heads back into the belly of the beast to investigate Mrs. S., Helena seeks out Sarah just in time to save her from Rachel’s very pissed-off hunter, Daniel. (Maybe Helena is Sarah’s guardian angel after all. She does already have the wings.) But as it turns out, not all of Helena made it off that Ranch. (Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about—that final reveal.) I could get into it and the story room’s profound discussions around this story but I really don’t want to give away any spoilers—and you don’t want that either. Suffice to say, when we landed on this twist in the story arc, we knew it was right. And very Orphan Black. But none of this would have been possible without the deft hands and minds of Director David Frazee, Direcrtor of Photography Aaron Morton, and the incredible Orphan Black crew. Every scene was beautifully crafted by every department. Whether it was the vast (and chilly) rural landscapes, or the intimate and unnerving reunion in the shower between Sarah and Helena, something electric was happening. Actually, I remember the vibe on set when we shot that reunion. Clone scenes are incredibly cool to watch unfold. And every member of the crew feels like they’re working on something unique and special. But the menace, terror, and vulnerability in that small space was all Tat. Which brings me to a final note: By now a lot of ink has been spent discussing the brilliance of Ms. Maslany. And I can tell you firsthand that she deserves every drop. I wish I could say that this episode turned out exactly as I had hoped. But the truth is, Tat always makes everything much, much better than you can ever hope for. Aside from playing all of our beloved clones, Tat has the ability to bring out the very best in everyone around her—the creative team, the incredible cast, the amazing crew. (And these are people who are already at the top of their game.) Yet, she manages to remain as humble and lovely as ever. It’s who she is. I can’t wait for you to see what Tat and the rest of us at Orphan Black have in store for you. Hang on. It’s going to be a wild, trippy ride. Cheers, Russ

NEXT: The Hive: Observations, Unexpected Results, and Mind-Benders

The Hive Observations, Unexpected Results, and Mind-Benders

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On set with Props Assistant Steve Stack.

Giving Props And here’s one of the men behind that amazing cow dung from episode three. Props Assistant Steve Stack, filming exteriors with Cal and Kira in episode three. Bloody Mess We had to VFX blood onto Daniel’s head when he got out of the crash car because with the lighting you couldn’t see it properly. And John wanted MORE! Work of Art The art department had a ton of work to do this episode. The basement where Mrs. S. and Carleton get it on had to be completely covered in band posters because the art on the wall underneath wasn’t cleared by legal. They had to create science articles for Cosima’s research on Duncan and create Rachel’s home videos. Some of them were a part of Cosima’s research. OrphanBlack_S2Ep4_07

"I don't believe I've ever done the nasty." - Alison Hendrix

Golden Girl The day we filmed Alison getting her tour of the rehab facility was the day that Tatiana found out she was nominated for a Golden Globe. We had a read-through that day at lunch as well. There was a standing ovation, cupcakes, and lots of celebrating. Set Inspection: Mrs. S.'s Home This is the first episode in season two that we went back to Mrs. S.’s house. It was a HUGE dress for the art department. Not only did they have to put the whole set back up, they had to match it exactly to the messed-up house at the end of episode one.

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Little Rachel Duncan, played by Cynthia Gallant.

Mini-Me Casting little Rachel was very important because if we were to ever do flashbacks or home videos of the other clones when they were little it would have to be played by the same actress. In a way we had to cast a mini Tatiana Maslany. It worked out wonderfully because we found Cynthia Gallant who is her absolute tiny doppelgänger and a great little actress to boot. She even learned a British accent for the role. OrphanBlack-Blog4

"Leekie wouldn’t, Rachel might... this one is for me." - Daniel

Rachel's Doberman Here’s to one of the best villains we have had on Orphan Black, Matthew Bennett, who played Daniel. He did such an amazing job as Rachel’s Doberman. Especially when he sharpens that razor. We didn’t have enough time to fully shoot the ear insert when Daniel cuts Sarah. So that is Bailey our stand-in's ear, during a clone change over in our studio and not in the shower.   OrphanBlack_S2Ep4_01

Helena makes a break for it.

Runaway Bride The wedding dress just gets better and better. Debra Hanson is to thank again and again for her design here. We had a meeting one day where we ripped up the dress and distressed it to John’s standards. It was great!

NEXT: Series Science Consultant Cosima Herter

Our Bodies, Ourselves Revisited By Cosima Herter, Series Science Consultant

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"I think he took something from inside of me..."

What the heck happened to Helena?! I wish I could say more, but I can’t spoil what’s to come… However, what I can tell you is that this episode is one of the most emotionally heart-wrenching, and shocking, in many ways, for me. That's not simply because Tatiana’s performance, in particular, is amazing (as always), but also because it’s so acutely affective on a visceral level that I cry every time I see the two final scenes (and, believe me, I’ve seen them many, many times, and not once have they failed to choke me up!). One of the many issues we discussed in the writers’ room while working on season two had to do with ownership of our bodies—not just women’s bodies, but all bodies. What exactly does it mean to "own" your body? The body as a whole? It’s parts? What about parts that have been removed, shed, discarded, or become "waste?" Which parts, and why those parts? These aren’t just intellectual issues limited to philosophical and political concerns about personal agency, self-identity, and rights of citizenship. The issues regarding bodies as well as body parts and their ownership are actually quite immediate, and they emerge most evidently (and egregiously) when biomedical research is involved. Personally, I became almost fanatically interested in these matters when I first read Rebecca Skoot’s article “Taking the Least of You,” in the New York Times back in 2006. [1] She went on to write The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010), which also profoundly affected the way I think about these things (it’s also become one of my favorite books to teach to undergraduates in the history of science and technology). Here, then, are some thoughts regarding the history of the medical commercialization of women’s bodies, in particular. Of course there is SO much to be said about these issues—about bodies of all kinds, not just those of women, throughout history being bought, sold, used, enslaved, and valued for their utility alone. Here is just one way to think about them. *** In 1970, in an effort to educate and disseminate knowledge to women about their own bodies, the Boston Women’s Health Collective produced a short stapled-together newsprint booklet entitled Women and their Bodies: A Course. “Initially,” they claimed, the intent was “to do something about those doctors who were condescending, paternalistic, judgmental and noninformative,” [2] and in so doing also address (at least obliquely) “capitalist forms of medicine,” the “profit and prestige-making institutions of the “health industry” (hospitals, medical schools, drug companies, etc.) [3] that seemed to profit from keeping women ignorant of their own biology. By 1973 the booklet was revised and renamed, and was commercially published. Our Bodies, Ourselves became one of the most controversial and highly acclaimed books in America. In 2012, the American Library of Congress recognized Our Bodies, Ourselves as one of the most important books that has shaped America. [4] “What are our bodies?” the books asked. "[T]hey are us. We do not inhabit them—we are them (as well as mind). This realization should lead to anger at those people who have subtly persuaded us to look upon our bodies (ourselves) as no more than commodities to be given in return for favors. In fact we feel we are commodities because our bodies, in toto and dismembered, are used to sell products." Moreover, the book went on, "[O]ur bodies are unique because they—us—will never occur again." [5] Our Bodies, Ourselves was more than a protest against what the authors viewed as traditional misogynistic hierarchies of medical authority, but also a vigorous rallying cry that addressed questions of autonomy and female agency more generally. As long as women’s bodies were viewed and valued as commodities, particularly insofar as sexuality and reproductive capacities are concerned, the book asserted, women remain stripped of their competency for autonomous self-identity. And in that case, women’s bodies would be reduced to material property, rather than independent agents with the right to choose how and in what ways (not to mention, with whom) their bodies (themselves) could engage in the world. There was profit to be made—if not financially, than in the maintenance of gendered social hierarchies—by simultaneously alienating women from their bodies and reducing their bodies to material economic entities, the argument went. The issues raised by the authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves became pivotal within 1970s civil rights rhetoric that protested the institutionalized oppression of socially and politically marginalized populations. Using other bodies as material property, in whole or in parts, for commercial and industrial purposes was not new in the realm of medical research. More than 20 years earlier, George Gey, a scientist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, had successfully cultured a sustainable human cell line from the cancerous tissue of Henrietta Lacks’ cervix—now famously known as HeLa cells. Lacks’ cells were taken, cultured, propagated into immortality, and sold as a lucrative commodity without her knowledge or her consent. Since then, HeLa cells have been bought and sold by researchers around the world, millions of times over, and used to fuel all manner of research and medical advances from polio vaccines to studies on cancer. HeLa cells were also the first cells ever to be cloned (1953), and in 1965, when they were fused with mouse cells, constituted the first ever hybrid human-animal cells. Henrietta Lacks had never been informed of, let alone compensated for the parts of her body that were commodified and used to form the very basis of what has now become a highly profitable industry of commercialized tissue samples—something Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, has aptly called the "tissue-industrial complex." [6] By 1987, concerned with increasingly complex and contentious issues raised by the proliferation of biotechnologies, the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment published for the first time a special report analyzing the “economic, legal, and ethical rights of the human sources of tissues and cells and also those of the physicians or researchers who obtain and develop these biological materials.” The intent was to offer a "range of options for congressional action related to commercialization of human biological materials, regulation of research with human subjects, and disclosure of physicians’ commercial interest in patient treatment." [7] There was a particular focus on the biological materials that biotechnology (at the time) most frequently made us of: tissues and cells. Indeed, there is great promise in biotechnology to improve human health and life, they wrote, but with that promise also comes great responsibility, and a whole host of difficult ethical questions that have yet to yield to promising answers. Some of the questions they raised are still, if not even more, relevant today:
* Are bodily substances “property” to be disposed of by any means one chooses, including donation or sale? * Do property rights to their genetic identity adhere to individuals or to the species? * Who should make the basic decisions affecting the acquisition of tissues and cells, and under what circumstances should such acquisition be permitted or denied? * How is it that inventions incorporating human cells are patentable in the first place? * To what extent are the issues raised by ownership of human biological materials related to commercial relationships between universities and companies? * What are the implications of these issues for scientists, physicians, patients, volunteer research subjects, universities, and the biomedical product industry? [8]
Now, almost 30 years later, in the midst of many highly publicized court cases regarding ownership and patentability of biological materials, we are still wrestling with the very same questions, and have yet to provide satisfactory answers. Today, public ambivalence regarding the propriety of bio-banked tissues, blood samples, and cells, and the patentability of biologically engineered genes and organisms, is without doubt a justifiable anxiety. But, these issues of autonomy over our bodies and its parts (whether excised or not), laws regarding consent, and obligations to inform patients about the extent to which their bodies are made into objects for scientific research are not entirely new or unprecedented—at least not philosophically, morally, or historically. A clear echo of feminist protestations against the (de)valuation of bodies as commodities can still be heard. There have been many historical struggles against bodies being subjugated to the de facto authority of those who profit from the objectification of bodies. And, of course, these issues are certainly not limited to women’s bodies. The advent of cell cloning and synthetic engineering of organisms not only demands adjudication of ownership, but also calls into question the very uniqueness of our bodies (ourselves). In 1970, when the authors of Our Bodies, Ourselves proclaimed so resolutely that “[O]ur bodies are unique because they—us—will never occur again,” neither they nor anyone else could foresee how complex, and possibly erroneous, such a statement would be.
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[1] Rebeca Skloot, “Taking the Least of You” New York Times, April 16, 2006. Also see Skloot’s blog post April 17, 2006, “Culture Dish.” [2] Our Bodies, Ourselves. Preface. 1973. [3] “Women and their Bodies: A Course” Boston Women’s Health Collective, 1970. p.8. [4] http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/books-that-shaped-america/ [5] “Women and their Bodies: A Course.” Boston Women’s Health Collective, 1970, pg 9. Emphasis in original. [6] Skloot, Rebecca. “Taking the Least of You: The Tissue-Industrial Complex.” New York Times Magazine.  April 16, 2006.  Also see, Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Broadway Paperbacks, 2010.  For an excellent timeline regarding the Lacks’s story, and the commercialization of tissue samples more broadly, see: http://rebeccaskloot.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/HenriettaLacks_RGG_timeline.pdf [7] U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, New Developments in Biotechnology: Ownership of Human Tissues and Cells—Special Report, OTA-BA-337 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, March 1987), p. iii. [8] New Developments in Biotechnology: Ownership of Human Tissues and Cells, p.3.