Post Mortems
Orphan Black Series Finale

Orphan Black EPs Talk 'Quieter' Series Finale, Helena's Birth Scene, [Spoiler]'s Unhappy Ending and Movie Hopes

Warning: The following contains spoilers for the very last episode of Orphan Black. Proceed at your own peril.

Clone Club finally got a taste of freedom during the Orphan Black series finale.

After taking care of the heavy business of birthing Helena’s babies and killing both P.T. Westmoreland and Dr. Coady, thereby breaking Neolution’s hold on them, the sestras were left to try to acclimate to normal life. While some took to it better than others — Helena seemed to adapt surprisingly well to new motherhood with twin sons Arthur and Donnie — others found themselves struggling. Still shaken by Siobhan’s death, Sarah was plagued by old insecurities and her shortcomings as a mother. But after a sweet chat with Helena, Alison and Cosima, Sarah ditched her plan to sell Siobhan’s house and run off with Kira. Instead, the hour concluded with her and Felix taking Kira to the beach before fading out on a shot of Siobhan’s home.

Orphan Black Series FinaleAfter five seasons of crazy “OMG!” plot twists, the creative team felt strongly that a “smaller, quieter” series ender was the way to go. The second half of the hour was meant “to say, ‘The bad guys are done. The bad guys aren’t the show,'” co-creator/writer Graeme Manson shares. “If our sestras win, we need a little bit of time to see the repercussions of that, and to give Clone Club the hope and the heart that they deserve, and that the sestras deserves.”

Also in the finale: Cosima and Delphine set off to cure the 270+ clones around the world — an idea that could lead to more Orphan Black stories one day, Manson and co-creator/director John Fawcett tell TVLine in the following Q&A.

Below, Manson and Fawcett reveal the last-minute tweak they made to their swan song and explain why Rachel was left out in the cold, even after giving up a list of all the clones’ identities and whereabouts.

TVLINE | You could divide this finale down the middle into two halves, the first part dealing with plot and the second with emotion. What was the thinking behind that structure?
JOHN FAWCETT | That was kind of always the plan, in terms of the way we had thought about the finale way back when we were originally talking about it. We knew that we were going to need the last two episodes as like a two-parter, and in some ways, Episode 9 was going to do a lot of the heavy lifting in regards to the plot and the run-and-jump elements of the show. We wanted to wind up that action early on in the finale so that we could make this jump forward in time and be with the characters in the future. That was something that we always, always wanted to do, and that we felt was important. And in some senses, then, it makes the finale a kind of smaller, quieter episode. I think both Graeme and I felt that was necessary, that it really boiled down to the characters and where the characters were going from here, and where they are three months from now.

Orphan Black Series FinaleTVLINE | The final image of Sarah and Felix taking Kira to the beach and then that empty house: It was a sweet, quiet note to end on. How did you land on that particular closing moment?
FAWCETT | I think, actually, that was kind of a Graeme-ism. We struggled with that a lot. It was like, really, “What are we going to close on? What’s going to be the final image?” Sarah has gone through a lot. She’s lost her mother, she’s feeling a little f–ked up, obviously, three months in the future, having spent so much of the last five seasons just fighting against oppression and battling enemies. [She] is now left with no one left to fight, and is uncomfortable in her own skin again, and doesn’t know what to do without her mother. You can see that the old Sarah is creeping in now. All those old insecurities are coming back, and that feeling of wanting to run is with her again. And she doesn’t. She’s held up by her sisters at the end and doesn’t run… I think those final images of the house, that is everything we wanted the show to be about.

TVLINE | When did you know this would be how the show would end? Did you always have this ending in mind, or was it something that evolved over time?
FAWCETT | We knew we were going to wind up with P.T. Westmoreland at the end. We knew that the story was really going to come down to Sarah and Helena, and that we were going to birth these babies under duress, in the most awful conditions, in the most awful place that we could. And that we were going to defeat our bad guy. There were some last-minute changes within the season. Since Season 2, Graeme and I felt that this ending would actually take place on the island, and we switched gears. We actually wrote that draft of Episode 9, where they went to the island, and then backed up on that and wrote like crazy and changed it during our hiatus to bring the bad guys to us. What we realized we were missing in that ending [was] all of our other actors. We were missing Scottie and Cosima and Art, and putting Sarah and Helena alone on the island just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. So we backed up on that. But other than that, I feel like we shot the finale that we had talked about three years ago.

TVLINE | As you said, this was a very contemplative and emotional finale. Were you ever tempted to go with a more twisty ending?
MANSON | I felt quite strongly that this was the way to end it. This is a show that keeps audiences on the edge of their seat. Every episode, we tried to twist, twist, twist… It’s part of the veneer of our storytelling, but it’s not the most important part of the storytelling. We’ve often said to ourselves, particularly Tat [Maslany], “Gosh, I wish we could do more episodes like that, that slow down a little.” But we have this hard-charging formula that really works for us. … We didn’t want to rely on a big plot twist to wrap up the series. We wanted to rely on the hearts of the sestras and the deep themes of family that we’ve built up.

Orphan Black Series FinaleTVLINE | Talk to me about filming that birth scene. It looked very difficult on an emotional and technical level.
FAWCETT | Yeah, it was. One of the things that I’m most proud of about this show [is] certainly the technical accomplishments that we’ve achieved, and that we’ve constantly pushed ourselves to try to do better and to try to make clone scenes that people hadn’t seen before. This was certainly one of them. This was extremely challenging from a technical point of view. And very, very hard from an acting point of view because, as you can well imagine, it’s so technical [that] it’s often very difficult to get it right on the first take. Or the second take. Or the third take, for that matter. And so, for Tatiana to be in that emotional place consistently from take to take until you actually get it right is so hard.

And those birthing scenes down in the basement were the very last scenes that we shot of the entire show. They were the last two days of shooting. It’s emotional, not just the content of the scenes, but the state on set, and where everyone was at was just a very emotional place. So in some ways, obviously, it worked well for the scene. But it was hard, and it was challenging.

It was really important for me to try and get Sarah and Helena together with two babies in a complicated techno-dolly shot. As soon as you add little, tiny babies to that, that makes it even that much more challenging. But I’m proud of that sequence. It really has the emotional power that I always imagined that it needed to have. I’m very proud of how those scenes work and how the cross-cutting between Sarah birthing Kira with Siobhan present — that was always in my mind as the scene that the series was all going to come down to.

Orphan Black Series FinaleTVLINE | Rachel is still the outlier. Would having her bond with the sestras and going inside the baby shower have been one happy ending too many?
MANSON | Yeah. We discussed it, and I don’t think anybody thought that Rachel could walk into that room. Sarah would not allow it. She’s not that benign. [Laughs] That’s too much character change, and that’s too tidy a ribbon to tie on it. We really, really enjoyed Rachel’s arc series-wide. But season-wide, to me, it was great. I really liked Episode 7, [which allowed us to] look beyond what we know about Rachel and understand the deep wounds in Rachel, understand why she finally turns toward her sisters. But to have her sitting there at the end with our four sisters, that’s definitely a bridge too far. She’s redeemed, but not forgiven.

TVLINE | Was there one clone in particular that was very difficult for you to say goodbye to? For example, Tatiana [Maslany] told me she had such a visceral reaction during her final scenes as Alison that she got a nosebleed.
FAWCETT | It was probably Alison for me, too. That was absolutely the hardest one to wrap. I’ve been very close to that character from conception. [Alison’s] last scenes, I had to do a really weepy phone call where it was just her on her own, and [Tatiana’s] nose started to bleed, and she was crying, and there was snot and blood. “Oh my God, I have to cut.” [Laughs] And Tat, of course, was like, “Why are we cutting? This is great! I was trying to incorporate it into my performance.” And I was like, “Tat, there’s blood everywhere. It’s not worth it.” [Laughs] She’s that kind of actor. She just wants to stay in the moment.
MANSON | For me, it’s going to be Sarah. At times, my favorite clone’s been Cosima, and I’ve loved Helena and Rachel. I love them all. But at the end of the day, Sarah is my nemesis, too. Sarah’s the one that I had to spend the most time with. She’s the most difficult character. She drives the plot. I’m like her Felix. [Laughs] While I feel battered and bruised, I’ll stick up for her. I’ll miss her terribly when she’s gone. I really will. She’s my surly sister.

Orphan Black Series FinaleTVLINE | We learned in the finale that there are 274 total clones. Would you like to explore some of these other clones’ stories in some format?
FAWCETT | If I was going to imagine another season for Orphan Black, following Cosima and Delphine was where I wanted to go. I wanted to go with them and to find these other women. I wanted to see what these other women were like. I wanted to hear these stories that these other women had. That, to me, felt like there was certainly more to imagine there. At the end of this season, you really feel like they’re out on their journey around the world, and that they’ve got this list and the list is life, and they’ve got their inoculations, and they’re world travelers now. I love what that feels like. If I were to pick this up and continue, that’s certainly something I would be interested in.
MANSON | We just need to give these characters a break for a little while. But obviously, there’s tales to be told there, even if they’re told in the comic books or something. I do believe that someday we’ll come back to these characters. We’re still interested in a movie. I’d be interested in returning to this world if Tatiana was in it.

Orphan Black fans, what did you think of the series ender? Grade it via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your pick!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Soph says:

    Loved the finale.I thought it was the perfect ending.

    • H.H. says:

      Eh, I think if they had paired this hour with the penultimate episode you’d be right. But it felt like not enough climax and too much epilogue. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, but it did feel imbalanced and I think if it had been paired with everything that happened last episode it would have felt balanced.

    • Evelyn M. Clumpkens says:

      Agreed, still reeling! It was brilliant.

  2. GeoDiva says:

    While I wish the action went on for a little longer, I love how everything was wrapped up.

  3. Tanya says:

    It was ok, after 5 years I expected more. But, I did cry!

  4. N says:

    You guys just don’t understand I can’t. Its gone. Blu ray where you at?

  5. Debbie says:

    The finale was everything I’d hoped for and more. The action and suspense in the first half hour leading to the emotional pay off in the second half was extremely satisfying. Thank you Orphan Black for one heck of a ride.

    • Evelyn M. Clumpkens says:

      Again, totally agree. The ending was emotional and satisfying. Lots to think about. The sestras around the fire helping Sarah sort things out- Sarah taking charge when Helena gave birth, juxtaposed with her experience with S – just brilliant. Thank you for such a smart and heartfelt series. This is setting a new bar! Loved every minute.

  6. Rick Bell says:

    Didn’t like the final episodes where Helena’s was completely out of character — for example, Helena tried to kill herself after Coady said mean things to her, whereas during the entire series Helena showed how much of a tough survivor she had been her whole life. It also didn’t fit that Helena wrote an entire book about the Sestras that captured the whole Orphan Black story when it seemed during the whole series that Helena was barely literate. There were also too many loose ends they didn’t tie up before showing everyone living an everyday normal life. What happened to the remaining Neolution people, etc.? I also felt that it was a bit egotistical and inappropriate for the creators to make an appearance after the ending taking a bow and thanking people — we aren’t interested in them, but rather are interested in the show.

    • nope says:

      She didn’t try to kill herself because Coady was mean, she tried to kill herself to prevent her babies from becoming lab rats. Also, what’s inappropriate about a show’s creators thanking the fans??! You seem like Sarah – unsure how to be happy.

    • H.H. says:

      A big theme of the show was autonomy/freedom. These women were always sort of property of their creators and a big deal of the finale was that they were finally free of everyone trying to own them. Helena was trying to kill herself so that her babies would never be owned/slaves to anyone. It was the choice between freedom or death and when she thought her babies wouldn’t have the former she chose the later.

    • Sheila says:

      I loved the creative team thanking the fans!

  7. T.W.S.S. says:

    If Tatiana decides she’s not returning for any future projects, that’s half the cast gone.

    • H.H. says:

      Don’t you mean ALL? Donnie and Felix are fun-ish but who are they without the sestras?

    • Rick Bell says:

      She won and deserved an Emmy for her tour-de-force acting in this highly enjoyable series, but it remains to be seen if she can now leverage that achievement into playing ONE character in a movie compellingly. Most of the oohs and ahhhs of her acting were due to the uniqueness that she brought to the different clones and the way they contrasted against each other in the same episodes. Can she play just one character in such a compelling and interesting way without the almost campy sci fi gimmickry of the good and evil twins shtick? Hope so.

      • T.W.S.S. says:

        Well, damn, did Tatiana kick your dog or something. Lol, jk. She’s in the upcoming “Stronger” opposite Jake Gyllenhaal, my only interest in that film is seeing how she performs outside the “almost campy sci fi gimmickry.” I believe she’ll deliver.

  8. awnb95 says:

    Definitely got emotional when Helena gave birth & they kept going between that & when Sarah had Kira. It was like Ms S. Was there.

  9. drhenning says:

    Enjoyed the Slum Dog Millionaire style post credits dancing scene.. Glad I made sure I recorded a little over…

  10. Shaun says:

    Could have been better.They completely excluded Krystal and I found it crazy that they wouldn’t introduce themselves to the new clones they found.Sarah even had a short relation with the German one.

    • Dude says:

      They said they didn’t ever want Krystal to figure it out so I assumed after her last episode this season, that was it. I wanted more Krystal too but I understand that creatively it made more sense just to leave her be.

  11. Jay says:

    Totally loved it. The characters have been through Hell and they deserved this happy ending.

  12. TV Gord says:

    Five seasons. 50 episodes. S. in the finale. Perfection! Sincere thanks to everyone who made this outstanding series. I will be watching it for the rest of my life!

  13. Amy J says:

    Definitely one of the better series finales I’ve seen.

  14. Martes says:

    lol is this for real. the finale was sh*t.

  15. TexMike says:

    I kept waiting for Patrick Adams’ character to come back for Helena.

    • Rick Bell says:

      Exactly! That was one of the many loose ends that they overlooked. Helena’s romance with that boyfriend isn’t addressed at all in the end. Where did he go? Why is she rearing her kids without trying to find him? After all, he showed up at that house and knows where she lives.

  16. Cate says:

    Great series, anchored by an incredible set of performances from Tatiana Maslany. Yes, the plot got a bit confused at times, but the interactions and shifting alliances between the characters were what I loved.

    As a Cophine fan, I was glad to see them set off to travel the world saving clones. Spotted one address not far from me so I’ll have to stake out Putney Rd in Birmingham! (Fictional!) They even threw us one more clone for the finale. How many is that now??

    Will really miss this show, farewell Orphan Black, thanks for all the clones.

  17. Missy says:

    Cosima and Delphine travelling around world to save the other Leda Clones would be an awesome movie. The scope is big enough for a movie.

  18. TvLover says:

    Tatiana Maslany is amazing without question. However, I wasn’t really into this final episode or the season for that matter. I thought that they could have done without the whole hippy neolution commune and I would have rather they brought back the actor who played Kal instead of Adele, Grace and Mark. Most of the season felt dissjointed and random to me.
    I did like that all the sestras mostly got happy endings in the end.
    I’ll have to re-watch it because I still don’t really understand how Kira has that weird psychic thing with the clones.
    Overall it was a very great series.
    Well done to everyone on Orphan Black!.

  19. pat says:

    Great show. Please do a sequel. I will watch devotedly -watch. Love Tantiana as an actress.So gifted- what a range.

  20. mikeschinkel says:

    Loved the finale. Kudos!

    So many shows screw up the finale that having such as great one really makes a difference. It reminding me of the Six Feet Under finale, another favorite of mine, but not so final as that one.