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Ask Cosima: What’s Up with Kira?

Editor’s Note: We culled your questions from Facebook and Twitter for this week’s questions. See Cosima’s responses below.

Cris K. via Facebook: Cosima, what is your thoughts on why Kira maybe psychic or has a connection to all the clones as she can ‘feel’ them to an extent!? Was this project Ledas goal to create neolution in a person; Kira who could possibly have self driven evolution?
Cosima: Kira’s “woo-woo” (as we affectionately refer to it in the writers’ room) is an important aspect of Orphan Black for at least two reasons: 1) it’s a thinly veiled commentary on tendencies towards Scientism; and, 2) a nod towards phenomenon we can neither predict nor plan for. It represents a host of things that we do not — and perhaps cannot — understand about what it means to be human.


One definition of scientism that is commonly used is attributed to philosopher Tom Sorell who wrote, “Scientism is a matter of putting too high a value on natural science in comparison with other branches of learning or culture.”* (It’s not the only definition of course, but it will do for our purposes.) What this refers to, in a nutshell, is the belief that science and scientific methodology have the authority to trump all other forms of knowledge-making and claims of so-called truth. I put a lot of faith in science (and scientists) to reveal facts about the natural world — indeed in many aspects of my life I depend on it! But, science does not have the capacity to answer everything! Some aspects of the human experience are outside the purview of science — they are neither predictable nor analyzable by and through the scientific method.

Throughout the years of our friendship, Graeme (Manson) and I have spent incalculable hours discussing what it means to be “human,” what it means to have a “human experience,” what it means to love, to feel, to know, to understand, and what the limits to understanding and answering those questions may be. I think these are questions that most of us contemplate, and I certainly don’t have the answers myself. But, I don’t think that science per se has jurisdiction to adequately answer them.

Graeme has often said that, for him, Kira’s woo-woo is one of the most “human things about her (and by extension, us all).” She feels things in ways that perhaps many people do, but in ways that no one can really explain. It is an expression of love, intimacy, imagination, curiosity, and the ineffable sense of oneself and meaning in a universe that seems almost impossible to define.

Kira wasn’t planned. Sarah’s chance genetic mutation that allowed her body to overcome the genetic manipulations designed for infertility by the scientists that created her was unexpected, unforeseen, and undirected. Kira’s conception was contingent on all those factors. She is another way to explore one of the fundamental themes running throughout the Orphan Black narrative: chance, contingency, and the events that we just can’t see coming!

In Season V we’ll be taking a closer look at Kira and some of those strange, intangible qualities!

* Sorell, Tom. “Scientism: Philosophy and the Infatuation with Science.” New York: Routledge, 1991.

2. Claudia M. via Facebook: I was expecting Susan Duncan to get sick when she had sex with Ira, the same way it happened with Gracie when she had sex with Mark, but it didn’t happen? Why? Maybe because Susan was old and in menopause?


I don’t think any of us really thought too deeply about the intimate details of Susan and Ira’s romantic relationship, or the various ways that Susan might have escaped the dangerous effects of the fictional Castor pathogen except insofar as it may have been rendered null by her post-menopausal physiology. (But, at the risk of overstimulating your imagination, there are many ways she may have avoided coming in contact with the medium of its transmission!)

As a side note however, one of the things I find most exciting and interesting about Susan and Ira’s relationship is how uncommon it is to see portrayals of romance and serious mutual love between older women and younger men. Certainly we are inundated (indeed, perhaps even inculcated!) with depictions of heterosexual relationships between older men and younger women, to the degree that it is acceptably normalized. In writing Orphan Black, we take very seriously questions of female agency, the complex mechanisms involved in human sexuality, and romantic roles women have traditionally been expected to play in relationships. It seems to me one of the last frontiers that we — collectively in society — have yet to seriously accept regarding women and their sexuality is the fact that women over a certain age can, and do, maintain, engage in, and embody sexuality. We rarely deny sexuality to older men, yet still, for some reason, we continue to deny this to aging women, and are even often shocked by it. This role reversal in our narrative was deliberate.

Despite the stranger aspects of Susan and Ira’s relationship (and we really have no idea how long their romance has been in play, or how old Ira may have been when they fell in love — but we most certainly never conceived it as anything but adult and consensual) its depiction really has to do with contemplating how we understand female sexuality and how social conventions often guide our expectations of its engagement.

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