This morning (call time 7am), Tatiana Maslany and the cast of Orphan Black met for their final table read—they’re running through the script for the series finale. A little over five years ago, they met for their first table read, fingers crossed that what they refer to as their “weird little show” would survive an entire season.
Instead, Orphan Black’s run spanned half a decade. With this, their final season, the cast and crew are wrapping up the series on their own terms: with one final instalment of thrilling, sci-fi-infused storytelling starring the hardest-working woman in television, Emmy Award-winning Maslany.
This past weekend in Toronto, Maslany joined castmates Jordan Gavaris (Felix), Kevin Hanchard (Dt. Art Bell), Natalie Lisinska (Aynsley Norris), Nick Rose (Colin), Lauren Hammersley (Adele), Kathryn Alexandre (Maslany’s acting double), and show co-creator Graeme Manson to perform the cast’s first-ever live table read: Season 1’s fourth episode, ‘Effects of External Conditions’.
Clone Clubbers will remember the landmark episode as one where Sarah is still posing as Beth (resulting in Alison having to pretend to be Sarah with Kira, who immediately knows it isn’t her), and where Helena, having just removed the piece of rebar Sarah stuck into her kidney, sneaks into the police station to blackmail Sarah over the death of Maggie Chen. It’s also the episode in which we first meet Donnie Hendrix.
Following the reading, the cast hung around for an hour-long Q&A session with fans, talking until nearly midnight about the evolution of their show which, in Gavaris’ words, began as a “cute little thing” he thought he’d get to do for a season and is ending as a universally loved (except in Russia, Manson jokes) beacon of feminism and LGBTQ advocacy.
“It’s such an absolute privilege,” says Maslany. “We’re so lucky to get to tell stories about what we’re passionate about. I’m passionate about feminism, I’m passionate about queer stories. I’m passionate about characters that are fallible, complicated, contrary, and conflicted within themselves… There is such a branding of ‘this is what a strong female character is’ and it’s often somebody who’s acquired male traits or who’s taken over a male position in the story. What I love about our show is that it it puts a bunch of different kinds of women from different experiences with different perspectives in their own stories—and they’re not occupying one space, they’re occupying 10.”
“As Canada is entering this new age, where we are actually developing a cultural identity, it’s happening in part because we’re creating one ourselves, but also because the rest of the world around us is starting to catch on fire a little bit,” adds Gavaris. “We’re left standing as this interesting little experiment of multiculturalism and empathy and kindness. I think it’s an amazing opportunity for storytellers in Canada right now and Orphan Black helped facilitate this. We do have a cultural identity and it’s weird. We’re a bunch of weirdos!”
The incredible weirdos of Orphan Black return to Space on June 10—and it you’re wondering where the cast will be gathering to watch the finale, it’ll be in Gavaris’ bathtub… don’t ask.