But instead of caving to the fear of heightened expectations for Season 2 (premiering Saturday, 9/8c on BBC America), Manson says he was emboldened by it. “We push up to the point where [co-creator/director] John [Fawcett] and I said, ‘We kicked the shark.’ We don’t jump it. We just walk up there, kick it and run away,” he explains with a chuckle. By season’s end, he adds, “nobody will say we didn’t go for it.”
Below, Manson and star Jordan Gavaris, who plays Sarah’s beloved foster brother Felix, reveal how the new season will push the tonal boundaries of light and dark, avoid descending into melodrama and even touch up against real-world headlines regarding DNA patents.
Plus, Gavaris previews Felix’s “tested” relationships and a caper worthy of last year’s potluck fiasco.
TVLINE | Did you feel an added pressure as you were crafting the second season because now people have seen it and they have expectations of the show?
GRAEME MANSON | [Co-creator/director] John Fawcett and myself always push each other as it is. We wanted to do something bigger and better than we did in the first season. So I don’t really think that it was nervousness to live up to expectations because we put super high expectations on ourselves, all of us.
JORDAN GAVARIS | Sometimes, it’s tricky because you can easily fall into the trap of just thinking to yourself, “Well, the audience really loved when I did this, so I’ve got to do this again and give them more of the same.” But you can’t. The only way to sustain in the business is to actually continue to change and forget however many people are now watching and following you on Twitter. [You have to] push all that out and say, “Let’s create something new and interesting. Let’s take risks. Let’s live in that place of, ‘Oh my god, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to pull this off,’ that place of fear.” And that’s where the good stuff comes from. That’s where the really show-stopping ideas happen.
TVLINE | What are the big questions or themes of Season 2?
GAVARIS | Season 1 was conception. Season 2 is evolution.
MANSON | Sarah is on the run. [We pick up with her] in almost the same position she was in the first season when we first meet her, only the stakes are way high. Now we know her. Now we’re invested in her, but she’s the same person. Nowhere to turn to, no money in her pockets, and she’s lost her daughter. There’s also a [powerful] theme of being stronger together than divided.
TVLINE | Tonally, how would you say it compares to Season 1?
MANSON | It’s a lot of the same crazy clone conspiracy hijinks.
GAVARIS | I feel like we get into genre blending a little faster because Alison and Cosima and Rachel have already been established as characters. In the first season, we didn’t really start to blend Alison’s suburban genre with Sarah’s London grifter. We’re blending light and dark a lot more fluidly. There’s a lot more of that going on from the get-go of Season 2. That’s happening a lot more, which is fun because then we get to experiment and see just how far we can push it and how much can we blend. And how light can we go. And how dark can we go.
TVLINE | Are we going to get something on par with the suburban pot luck episode? That insanity?
MANSON | There is something. We really loved that episode, that our tone could be elastic enough to do a farce.
GAVARIS | To do a caper, like how cool is that?
MANSON | So yeah, Felix gets involved in a bit of a caper at one point.
TVLINE | Graeme, you said at the TCA panel that you’re experimenting with your own premise. Can you talk about what you meant?
MANSON | The premise of clones, it’s crazy to begin with. We try not to take ourselves too seriously. That’s always been one of the things about the show — if it turns into heavy melodrama all the time, like clone melodrama, it’s not going to be any fun.
GAVARIS | And it’s safe to say that even when it comes to the clones and the clone conspiracy, we’re still living in that place of fear. Many, many times, [we’re] thinking, “Oh, boy. This season, in particular, are we going to be able to do this?” So that should excite people.
TVLINE | As crazy as this premise is, you are starting to see the subject matter in the news. There was a Supreme Court ruling about natural DNA patents. Is that going to bleed into the show?
MANSON | Yeah, it bleeds in a little bit. But we don’t want to turn the show into –
GAVARIS | Political commentary or satire.
MANSON | Yeah. Patent law is pretty boring. [Laughs] But it’s actually incredibly important. So it’s nice that we can use that as a theme even if we’re just brushing up against it.
TVLINE | What is Felix’s journey? He’s such a character. Are we going to see more of a softer side?
GAVARIS | He’s always going to be a character, but what was interesting to me to play with this season was… Felix, his M.O. any time things get too serious, he gets very quippy and witty and sardonic and sarcastic and silly. Because if he’s not taking something seriously, then it’s not serious. But what do moments look like where you cannot deny the reality of what’s in front of you? When you can’t deny the seriousness of something? When you can’t deny the gravity of it? What does he look like? Does he get angry? Does he get sad? What do those moments look like? What is his ultimate truth? What is his ultimate vulnerability? That was really fascinating to me. And stretching that character that I worked very carefully to conceive in Season 1… His relationships are tested in a huge [way]. They all come to a head, and he has some really big decisions to make. He forms new bonds and relationships outside of Clone Club and forms new allegiances where maybe they’re allies, maybe they’re enemies.
TVLINE | It sounds like he and Sarah are going to be on the outs this season. Very disconcerting.
GAVARIS | It’s anybody’s best guess. Their relationship is tested in a very profound way.
TVLINE | Is the relationship between him and Alison going to evolve?
GAVARIS | Yeah. I think so. We move a little bit beyond the Laurel and Hardy comedy duo. That’s still very much there, but…we get to see a little bit more of their true connection and what that looks like, why they connected with each other, why they found each other. It’s a very unlikely pairing.
TVLINE | Jordan, is there a clone that you’ve gotten to work with more in Season 2 that you’re really excited about?
MANSON | You do a little time with Cosima.
GAVARIS | I did some time with Cosima. Cosima’s cool. Felix is cool to party with Cosima. I don’t think he understands her and I don’t think he trusts her, but he thinks she’s OK. I’d have loved to work with Helena if she didn’t die. That would have been a really wicked scene. That would have been like the ultimate, but rest in peace.
Orphan Black fans, stay tuned to TVLine for part two of our interview with Manson and Gavaris.Follow @VladaGelman