The Hive Recap: Variable and Full of Perturbation
"Just another variation in my sister's skin." - Felix Dawkins
The Hive Writers' Notes – Karen Walton
"Nature, who has played so many queer tricks upon us, making us so unequally of clay and diamonds, of rainbow and granite, and stuffed them into a case, often of the most incongruous…" –Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928)Born. This. Way. Third Rule of #CloneClub: what you’re doing here—what we’re all doing here—is far more complicated than sex or gender. Tasty Tony, Trans Clone, Bandit Clone, Spanner in the Works and Bad Boy Breaking Cool… well he’d been on the boards since season one. Right beside him was a note: "naive." We wanted to do a story about a new clone who wouldn’t know what we do, a story that might turn on someone’s right to know. By season two, these two ideas became one: what about an "unaware" trans clone arriving so deep in his own shitstorm, you’d think twice about telling him anything? Creating Tony was an epic illustration of a six-month-long, whole-team effort, in which our pack of in-house artists invested heavily in an ongoing, all-informing research and dialogue exchange; each contribution making every choice stronger, better, truer. For us all, Tony had to be a new individual, who had confronted being born with a biological challenge: the original DNA gave this person an incompatible chromosome scenario. True to our convictions on the identity spectrum, this would not be the most interesting thing about him. But it would differentiate his take on clone-dom, in part and experience and attitude, from all others. A poignant analogy evolved with Tony’s off-screen story: survival goes to those who adapt.
"My sexuality is not the most important thing about me." - Cosima NiehausTony began, as all new clones do, with John and Graeme consulting Tat, at the tail end of season one. All were devoted to taking the vital issues of representation and depiction seriously. Soon after that, The Hive reconvened for season two and found Tony’s arrival a place, at least in principle, in our plot. And soon after that, the hush-hush visits to the Hair and Make-up trailer began, secret photos were flashed from locked desk drawers, creative and social-insight confabs where whispered around the cameras, between earlier episodes’ takes. For me, this process was déjà vu Helena: by the time I was sketching out a full character, personality, and Tony’s role in the episode, I was utterly inspired by what Tatiana, Stephen Lynch (makeup), Sandy Sokolowski (hair), and Debra Hanson (wardrobe) had already given us: a beguiling piece of work I not only felt was his own man, but a bad boy I kinda wanted to date. So we credit all their devoted, personal hours spent designing and refining Tony—who also had to visually differentiate himself from Sarah’s own eff-it, outsider style. Back at The Hive, armed with our collective will to present a trans character confident and uncompromising in his own identity, Tony became a sketchy dude grieving a dead best friend, who’d dispatched him on a mystery mission. Jordan, John, and Tat flopped an irresistible twist: what if Felix and Tony had a "thing?"Attacking any opportunity to throw our de facto seestra-fixer off his game was brain candy for me. The idea of putting Fee and Tony in a heady cage-match of The Hots was the just the extra oomph Tony’s time in town required.
"When did you come out? Tuesday?" – Tony SawickiOur goalposts firmly in place, we returned to our real-world homework. The work of others—and reactions to it—held vital lessons for us all. To us, the extra time and effort to present a caring portrait would be the difference between presenting Tony as a "stunt," and presenting Tony as a full-blown human being. We all had so many questions: medical realities, the politics and passions of passing, or not, the complex acceptance issues in the straight and gay communities at large—and with someone like Felix in particular, the sexual slipperiness that developed but did not define Tony. How does testosterone actually affect a body, what makes someone masculine versus what society identifies as such? Where might Tony be physically, biologically, psychologically? Would he have had gender reassignment surgeries, and if not why not? How would our guy see other guys, and women? Could he really be sexually slippery? Does being trans mean by default you prefer your birth-sex, sexually? Once we were better informed, Tony went through his final development as a player in our story, for our story. He was a new clone whom we now knew, he had his own story unlike any others. His interactions with each of the other characters were tweaked, tested again. Soon after that, The Hive was summoned to set. Behind a flat, we found a shifty-looking young man stepping out of our collective experience, and right up into our faces. He made the dudes nervous, and the women blush. We were supposed to be checking him out, for last-minute sundry qualms. But he was checking us out. Tony? Was finally, fully undeniably here. Karen Walton
Tony "Trans Bandit" Sawicki
The Hive Observations, Unexpected Results, and Mind-BendersClone Deconstruction Tony is a character that Stephen Lynch (makeup), Sandy Sokolowski (hair), Debra Hanson (wardrobe), and Tatiana worked on all season. During Tatiana’s small windows of time off, she would often stay on set to do camera tests, makeup tests, wig tests, and wardrobe tests. About four or five tests were run in order to find the right look and organically create the character. Monitoring Tony Bishop Brigante, the actor who plays Sammy, is a rapper foremost and an actor second. Here’s a close-up of the damage on Sammy and Tony’s getaway van.
Tony's busted getaway van.Drill Bit Drilling Kira’s tooth was a multistep process. Our props master Geoff Marin (pictured below) found us the perfect sized drill to pre-drill the tooth, paint the inside red (to look like the roots of the tooth—here the stem cells are found) and repack the hole with white dust so that on camera the fake drill would look realistic. Finally, we had camera assistant Michael Battistone research what types of micro-cameras would work best onscreen. We ended up renting three different cameras to find the right look. The entire process took nearly three days of work, all for about fifteen seconds of screen time.
Props master Geoff Marin playing dentist.Here’s director John Fawcett modeling the micro-glasses that Scott uses for drilling into Kira’s tooth.
Director John Fawcett, taking Scott's micro-glasses for a spin.Mini-Bottles. Big Mistake. Here at The Hive we love Alison and her little bottles of booze. We also love Donnie in tighty whities. So how would Donnie drown his murderer’s guilt? In bed, in his tighty whities, cleaning out Alison’s hidden mini-bottle collection, of course.
99 mini-bottles of booze in the bed...Runewars The game that Scott and his fellow "battle bitches" play in Cosima's lab is a real game called Runewars. John Fawcett is a secret board game geek, and it was his prerogative to get one of his favorite games into the show this season. John wouldn’t settle for just any version of the game either. He brought in his own copy of Runewars, a special 3D board that has been discontinued. He also recruited his close friend Julian to be an on-set specialist and extra in the scene. Julian (pictured below) made sure all the moves were authentic to a real game of Runewars.
"Pillage!" – Cosima NiehausPsychedelic Seestra Alison's signature lip color is Clarin’s "Raspberry" and her magical eyeliner is "Psychedelic Sister" by Urban Decay.
"I'm going to keep the promise I made to you when we first met. That one day I’d get you completely baked." – Cosima NiehausCophine Highs Cosima and Delphine use a vaporizer to get "completely baked." We chose this type of paraphernalia because of Cosima's health condition. No more smoking joints—so vapor it was.
High times with Cosima's vaporizer.Pitch Perfect Cosima and Delphine’s helium voices were done in post-production. It's too dangerous for actors to inhale helium continuously for all of the takes necessary to shoot a scene. So Tatiana and Evelyne had to act it out and the voice pitch was changed in post.
"Whoa." – Tony Sawicki "Shite." – Sarah ManningTime Vampire Typically when two clones touch or interact, we have to use the Technodolly, otherwise known on set as the Time Vampire, because of it's tendency to be a huge time suck! For the Tony and Sarah collision, we didn’t have time to use the Technodolly, but luckily our amazing VFX team at Intelligent Creatures were able to figure out how to do it old school and use camera lock-offs. Pretty well done!
"Fluidity doesn't shock me." – Felix DawkinsOne Take The scene between Felix and Tony before Tony storms off and bumps into Sarah is Orphan Black’s longest single take. If you watch carefully, John Fawcett executed a wonderfully smooth single shot, and Jordan and Tatiana executed flawless acting. Cover Art The cover of The Island of Doctor Moreau was hand-drawn by the art department, and the codes inside were created by the art department's Sash Kosovic and The Hive's Chris Roberts.
Variability and Perturbations of the Spiral Universe Inside Us By Cosima Herter, Series Science ConsultantI was born with the sun in Pisces, the moon in Aquarius, and an Aries ascendant. What does this tell you about me? According to my mother, who had an astrologer cast a natal horoscope for each her children when we were born, it doomed me to chronic ambivalence when faced with big life decisions and a sensitive soul. She believed this map of celestial motion at the time of my birth divined all manner of potential pathologies and behavioral expressions. It foretold the complications she’d have in our relationship, what kind of careers I'd be interested in, outlined the likelihoods of my romantic involvements, and even provided insight into my future financial practices. Insofar as it revealed the unique constellation of my innate qualities and characteristics, my mother believed it to be both an instructional tool in childrearing, and a useful apparatus by which I could channel my innermost being towards adulthood in the most effective and fulfilling ways possible. She also made us sleep with crystals under our pillows to aid prophetic dreaming, and consult tarot cards when unsure of what action to take next. I grew up thinking that the fact that Saturn was conjunct with my ascendant bound me to an irrepressible sense of loneliness, and my Aquarian moon and twelfth house Venus made me the kind of person prone to secret love affairs with unconventional people. And when I was being particularly naughty and defiant as a child my mother would levy my Aries rising against me like an indictment. To be honest, I really don’t know whether or not the interpretations of these configurations that were espoused to me when I was growing up accurately match those conventionally taught by professional astrologers. What I do know is that I was taught that my personality traits were to be understood as qualities influenced and fixed by the zodiac, and the 'stronger' the geometrical relationship between planets and signs indicated a higher likelihood of expression throughout my life. A bit sheepishly, I'll admit that well into my adulthood, I still indulge secret fantasies that each failed relationship might have been due to the rather depressing array of my planetary aspects, my Neptune in Sagittarius makes me a irrepressible idealist, and every time I get a headache I still describe it to myself as a momentary Aries affliction. Old frameworks by which one has been taught to analyze the world – fiction or not – are hard to suppress, I suppose. Today we often find our horoscopes relegated to the final pages of beauty magazines and online dating questionnaires, but astrology as a soothsaying tool has a long history. Early modern western astrology was employed as a predictive model by which one’s fate could be foreseen. It was deeply integrated into medical practice, and was considered an indispensible tool for treating ailments and formulating surgical practice. Now, of course, professional astrologers are quick to defend their craft by explaining that they do not profess to reveal predetermined fates, rather potentials – potential experiences an individual may have during their life because there is a pre-existing tendency towards certain kinds of capacities that compel one to behave and respond to their world when the planets are aligned in a particular way. Yes, your idiosyncratic cosmic propensities matter when expressing yourself, but they are inextricably influenced by the idiosyncratic conditions you encounter in your material world. Nothing is written in stone, despite what deep-seated astrological proclivities one might have. Proneness does not equal inevitable.
We are also born with certain genetic potentialities. To be sure genetics provides an epistemic access to certain anatomical truths that astrology does not (and I certainly put my trust in the science of genetics far and above astrology!). Breast cancer runs in my family, but I am not fated to succumb to it. Heterosexualism also seems occur with some regularity, but I am not predestined to succumb to that either. There is little doubt in my mind that genetics plays an important role in just about everything that happens within our bodies, but there is a hefty surtax on thinking that our genes furnish us with compulsory behaviors that we are unconditionally bound to express. Indeed, this thinking often contributes to an arrested development of understanding about how genetics 'work.' No geneticist worth their salt will argue that simply because some particular gene sequence occurs within our genome it necessarily must express itself, let alone in a very specific predetermined way. Genetics is not a synonym for determinism any more than astrology is. Human sexuality, for example, is as much a biological characteristic as it is a political institution. It is a lighting rod for controversy, and the subject of an increasing number of contentious, yet politically efficacious, scientific studies. Civil liberties, human rights, access to health care, basic respect and human dignity, and freedom from prejudicial violence are at stake. But, insofar as sexuality has a genetic component (like all biological characteristics) it is not so simply explained by genetics alone. Moreover, it is not regulated by any one single gene. Despite how studies on the genetics of sexuality are represented in the popular press that either decry or redeem the genetic basis of sexual orientation, none of the research to date that espouses to have found the "gay-gene" (or, more recently the "male-loving gene") are actually supported by a claim that one gene, and one gene alone, determines sexual orientation. Sexuality is complex, both as a biological component and a political identity. Our genes do not define who we are, and while certain genes may indeed be present, they may or may not be expressed depending on a whole spectrum of environmental and biological circumstances. The reductionism of either 'nature' or 'nurture' is far from adequate to explain sexuality. The "Brief on Sexual Orientation and Genetic Determinism" published by the Council for Responsible Genetics offers a sensitive and cogent discussion of this issue: “The social urgency to answer questions regarding sexual orientation has pushed a greater interest in the "science" of it. Yet a narrow focus on the variability of sexual expression threatens to cloud the issue altogether. Without giving proper attention to the mutability of human sexual expression, questions regarding its origins and character cannot be answered."  Neither genetics, nor sociological and psychological studies, alone can answer the questions we ask about the origins of human sexuality. By no means am I attempting to position myself as an authority on this subject. I sincerely do not know how much of a role my genetics, my familial, social, physical environment, or my choices play in the configuration of my sexuality. But it's important not endow either genetic or social science with an epistemic reach into the truths about ourselves that they simply do not have (and that most geneticists would not grant themselves). All manner of factors affect the expression of genetically coded traits like height, hair color, and disease, just as much as they affect the expression of sexuality. Genes are no more the final arbiter of my sexual and romantic relationships than my moon and Venus in Aquarius. ___________________________ I want to thank my dear friend Cameron Lazaroff-Puck for this essay’s title. I was struggling with that, and I couldn't be more delighted with his help with this! – Cosima Herter  Brief on Sexual Orientation and Genetic Determinism, Council for Responsible Ethics, 2006.
#AskOB: Fan Q&A with Cosima HerterIf Cosima Herter met Cosima Niehaus, what would they talk about? – extremely-organized-chaos They’d probably stay up all night commiserating about their complicated romantic relationships! Were you pissed when you found out that Cosima might die? – hella-cosima No! Cosima is an interesting and loveable character but I don’t necessarily feel any more attached to her than I do any of the others because I am her namesake. To be honest, my favourite character is, by far, Alison. For some reason, I feel deeply invested in the well being of that character, and I’d be far more upset if something were to happen to her than Cosima! What are your favorite works of science fiction, and how have they influenced your outlook on science and technology? – Sunnydalescoobies There are few works that I love, and have been reading and re-reading since I was quite young. I really love 19th century Victorian novels, and both Frankenstein and The Island of Dr. Moreau still top my sci-fi favourites list. I actually read each of these every year (yes, every year!) for pleasure when I can give myself a break from schoolwork. I think they are such wonderfully constructed narratives, which still viscerally affect me. But they’re also both important social and historical commentaries written by authors who were incredibly well informed of the biological sciences of their day. They raised poignant and provocative moral, social and political questions about the intentions and consequences of science, especially when unchecked by any kind of moral oversight, that are still relevant today. I also love Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake. I have a deep and longstanding reverence for Atwood (and that’s certainly not limited to her science fiction! I’m also a big fan of her short stories and poetry).
The Hive Wet Lab & LibraryThe Council for Responsible Genetics Brief on Sexual Orientation The Position Paper by The Council for Responsible Genetics from The Council for Responsible Genetics There’s been a fair bit of controversial research done on attempting to find the genetic origin of homosexuality. Dean Hamer’s 1993 publication “A Linkage Between DNA Markers on the X Chromosome and Male Sexual Orientation,” in Science regarding his research of the markers on a region of the X chromosome called Xq28 is one that is often cited, and also highly contentious. You can find it here. A short video of Dean Hamer discussing his research: You may want to compare his studies with follow up studies that contradict his findings which showed that his "results do not support an X-linked gene underlying male homosexuality:" "Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at Xq28" (Science 23 April 1999: Vol. 284 no. 5414 pp. 665-667) In the popular media you can see how these issues are still being debated and represented: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/14/genes-influence-male-sexual-orientation-study You can compare that report with: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10637532/Being-homosexual-is-only-partly-due-to-gay-gene-research-finds.html And the 2012 article in Time: http://healthland.time.com/2012/12/13/new-insight-into-the-epigenetic-roots-of-homosexuality/ For one interpretation as to the evolutionary role of homosexuality: http://www2.psy.uq.edu.au/~zietsch/Zietsch_et_al_2008_Evolution_of_homosexuality.pdf Here is a pretty good bibliography of literature discussing the history of homosexuality: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/gayhistbib.asp And finally, just for fun, if you want to know my secret guilty pleasure, here are the two astrology sites I visit every once and while when I’m in need of some entertaining online augury: http://www.freewillastrology.com/ http://www.astrologyzone.com/