[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from “Orphan Black” Season 5, Episode 2 “Clutch of Greed.”]
Our worst fears from watching the Season 5 trailer came true in Saturday’s episode of “Orphan Black”: One of the Leda clones died.
“We’re really going to hear it from the fans,” series co-creator Graeme Manson said about killing off a beloved character. “I think if you watch five seasons of the show, you’ll realize that this isn’t the clone of the week show. We want to care deeply about them. We want to invest in them. It comes down to the decision of whose going to make it out alive because the bottom line is nobody is safe.”
The death happens as a result of Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) being pursued by Ferdinand (James Frain). She insists on retrieving MK (Maslany), who is suffering from the debilitating disease that has hit so many of the Leda clones, from her hideout, but MK refuses and instead offers to masquerade in the Rachel (Maslany) outfit that Sarah had been wearing. Once Ferdinand arrives, then MK would buy Sarah some time to escape with her daughter Kira (Skylar Wexler).
Unfortunately, once Ferdinand discovers that ruse, that MK is in the Rachel disguise and not Sarah, he snaps. Not only did MK lose him a lot of money when he botched the Helsinki job in which she was supposed to die in a fire, but she also stole money from his accounts in a previous season. Add to this his obsession with Rachel who had recently dismissed him as a sexual partner, and he spirals into a vengeful, senseless rage in which he conflates his hatred for the two women and brutally stomps on MK’s chest repeatedly until she dies.
Saying Goodbye to MK
Manson explained why MK, one of the newer clones introduced on the show, was chosen. “There’s not one clone on the show or one supporting cast who couldn’t, in a twist of plot, wind up in the same boat as MK, having to put down their life and sacrifice themselves to another, for a greater cause of the sisters, which is what MK does,” he said. “I think we wanted to lessen this blow a little bit by very early on saying, ‘Okay let’s make sure that MK is sick.” Her way of hiding in the shadows and having so much difficulty reaching out, part of this has to do with her own decision. She is the one who can sacrifice herself because she believes her life is about to be cut short by the clone disease.”
In order to give her more time on the screen before her death, the show crafted the technically challenging scene in which Maslany as both MK and Sarah would switch clothes as part of the disguise.
“We really thought that MK might bite it at the finale of last season,” said Manson. “We don’t kill clones lightly, so we wanted to make it very memorable. We were looking for a way to do it that’s both arresting and that gives value to that clone that’s helped us. It was a technical challenge for us to do a long shot showing sort of behind the scenes of these switcheroos that we do. I don’t think since Sarah played Rachel in Season 3 have we gone behind the scenes and watched one clone turn into another. All the while that they are in the same frame, they’re changing clothes and handing things to one another.”
Unfortunately, MK’s death was one of the most personal and brutal ones we’ve seen on the show so far. Being a Leda clone comes with many dangers, but before, the clones that we’ve seen die were usually ones we didn’t know very well or their deaths were fairly quick, such as Beth Childs (Maslany) stepping in front of a train or Katja Obinger (Maslany) dying from a sniper rifle shot to the head.
“We’re not going to pull any punches,” said Manson. “If we’re going to give her clone her due, and she’s going to sacrifice herself, we’re going to challenge the audience while we’re doing it. James Frain is a wonderful actor. He can be deliciously evil. It was a conscious construction of a strange scenario that we wanted to play out and that would be horribly violent, that it would have this moment of recognition in it for Ferdinand. Right now, all his frustrations with Rachel would play out right in front of his eyes because at this moment, MK is dressed as Rachel. So there’s this deliciously perverse level of things playing out for Ferdinand. Perhaps he even loses control because he is now countermanded an order from Rachel. That can’t go well even though Rachel seems to be wielding the velvet crowbar these days.”
Manson was on hand that day while co-creator John Fawcett directed the scene. “It was a hard scene to watch,” said Manson. “In that violent moment when Ferdinand loses himself and he stomps her, Tat had this big, hard, fiberglass body cage that fit her whole upper torso [on]. It doesn’t look pleasant when you’re sitting on set either.”
In the Wake of MK’s Death
MK’s death has almost immediate repercussions as well. Although Rachel and Ferdinand had made their association strictly business now, in killing MK he’s disobeyed her.
“She’s been anointed on high by P.T. Westmorland, [the founder of Neolution],” he said. “And P.T. Westmorland seems to have a legitimate desire to keep these other clones alive. Rachel’s not supposed to lose any of them and she makes that clear. We’ll see what’s in store for Ferdinand for countermanding that action. Rachel is trying to look at this in a different light because of her new position at the head of Neolution. She’s trying to exercise restraint and look good for her new big boss. Ferdinand put a wrench in that.”