Sestras and brother-sestras, the end is nigh.
Five years ago, “Orphan Black” carved out a space for itself in a television landscape that far too rarely puts a woman at the center of the story, let alone her 10 or so other clones.
The sci-fi series has always been politically relevant, challenging norms of gender, sexuality and science, but as the fifth, and sadly final, season kicks off, this kind of storytelling has never been more critical. Although production began before the 2016 presidential election, the cast, including Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Kristian Bruun and Kevin Hanchard, agrees that these themes speak to the powers at play in this political moment.
“This season was always set out to be about patriarchy and the system in which we are all oppressed ... that holds us all captive and seeks to own us all, whether we’re women or men,” Maslany told HuffPost during a Build Series interview. “Topically, it ended up happening in life, in major ways in politics. I feel like we were really eager to reflect back and talk about what is happening and get to work thorough it through the storytelling.”
“It’s needed now more than ever,” Bruun added about the show’s political impact. “I don’t think we expected that the world would shift that way from where we were five years ago when we started the show.”
Questions of origin and identity have always plagued the clones, as shadowy organizations and morally flexible scientists have pulled the strings since the series’ onset. But with the entrance of P.T. Westmoreland, the creator of a scientific community seeking to push the boundaries of human evolution, the clash between the clones and this looming father figure comes into greater focus.
Maslany describes Westmoreland as the “icon of that patriarchy,” which at least one or more of the clones will try to topple by the series’ end. But before they can band together, Sarah, Allison, Cosima and Helena find their chosen family fractured. After a relatively unified Season 4, the season premiere picks up with clones scattered around the globe, coming up against forces that threaten their very existence.
However, Jordan Gavaris, who plays fan favorite Felix, considers the rise of oppressive figures within the universe of “Orphan Black,” as well as modern day politics as a signal of a sea change.
“When the opposition is the loudest, when there’s the most fanfare, and we feel like the fight is the most tense, it’s actually just because we’re winning,” Gavaris said. “Thematically, I think it’s interesting because that’s what’s going on with the sisters in this entire season of the show. It’s really hard. The last season is very tense and they’re fighting harder than they’ve ever fought before.”
Watch “Orphan Black” cast’s full Build interview below.