(Warning! There are spoilers from Saturday's Orphan Black past this point!)
Take some deep breaths, Clone Club; Orphan Black just parted ways with one of its most beloved characters and it's a lot to process.
Yes, Mrs. S is dead, but she may have taken the Neolutionists down with her. During Saturday's explosive episode we learned that she helped leak incriminating documents exposing their experimental clone program to the world. However, she had to complete one more mission before she could watch them go down in flames — take out Ferdinand (James Frain) before he came after her family. Unfortunately, that meant sacrificing herself in one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in the sci-fi drama's five-season run.
In the wake of her character's incredible swan song, TV Guide spoke to actress Maria Doyle Kennedy about that shocking scene and what lies ahead for the rest of the Clone Club.
Is Mrs. S really dead?
Maria Doyle Kennedy: I'm sorry to tell you, but yeah, S goes --but not without taking Ferdinand with her and exposing Neolution in the process.
Is that the ending you imagined for her?
Doyle Kennedy: I did always think that it somehow would involve Ferdinand. On a personal level, James Frain and I have worked together on and off for almost 20 years. And when he came onto the show a couple of seasons ago, we immediately just felt like we were worthy adversaries. So I had a feeling that there would be almost sort of the Magnificent 7, some kind of O.K. Corral showdown — so it was kind of amazing.
I did know, I have to say. I was phoned very respectfully in July last year while they were in the [writer's] room [and] I just thought it was fantastic. I thought it was a perfect idea. I really thought that it was gonna be such an extraordinary emotional bomb to come like that before the end. And also, it really sort of gave light to see what would happen to the other characters afterward. You know, did Mrs. S get her job right? And her job is to leave behind her more highly evolved people than herself.
Doyle Kennedy: It's the biggest thing that's ever happened to them. I think it will be really interesting to see how they cope...How emotionally prepared are they for this incredible loss and the grief that's attached to that. I think it will be a testament [to] Mrs. S and the job that she's done to see if she really left them with the skills to be able to. That's what she's been trying to do all this series, is to set them up so that they are able and independent.
You know, Felix went off to Switzerland with Adele. She's been encouraging that relationship. For him to discover himself and know the other places he's from as well as being from her and Sarah's family. And she's been constantly passing responsibility to Sarah and allowing her to...not just trusting her or allowing her to follow plans or be part of what's going on. She's actually been passing the mantle to her and asking for her plans. Making her be the one that is the driving force of action. The strategist in what they need to do. So I think she's very much hoping that she's set them up to a place where they're able to cope, where they can fully function, form relationships, maintain them, take care of each other and Kira without her.
Was this the last thing you shot for the show?
Doyle Kennedy: It was. I think that was the beginning of the point where we all actually sort of went into grief mode. Obviously, we knew what was happening, what was coming. But we were just going on filming, concentrating on each day. It wasn't really 'til we got to that episode [Episode 8] when we all suddenly were like "Oh man, this is really happening." And the crying began there. The buckets and currents and tears that fell for the last three episodes was quite a remarkable thing.
We had a big party on the night of that big scene. They actually moved it so that it could come at the very end of filming the episode and we had a big party afterwards. We all cried and then they had a fabulous, huge "Farewell Mrs. S. We love you" cake. And that's when we all hung out and danced together for several hours. It was a proper celebration of Mrs S. A little bit like an Irish wake. We sent her off in a beautiful manner.
With all of those confidential documents leaked, does this mean Dyad is going down?
Doyle Kennedy: That's her plan, for sure. I think so. While S is prepared to put herself on the line, she wouldn't be prepared to put herself on the line unless she knew that was the only alternative and that the consequence of that was gonna be so huge that absolutely it was worth the sacrifice. So I think that's truly what she believes. She's exposed Neolution and she takes Ferdinand down because that's not gonna happen unless she does it herself and he has to be taken down. So that's what she decides. She's gonna take care of it and leave them [Felix and Sarah] to forge a new life from that afterwards. I believe she thinks that they're in control and they're almost able to start from a proper baseline...an unmonitered baseline like real people.
What is your ideal ending for the Clone Club?
Doyle Kennedy: From Mrs. S's point of view, I just hope that they will be able to choose faith living in a positive way...that Sarah will get hold of the idea that she's a mom and has a daughter and that that's gonna be her primary responsibility. That Felix will also support them, but also figure out exploring his art and that both of them will have the idea of forming and maintaining other relationships and continue that notion that your family is both what you're born into, but also what you choose. So how to create an emotionally positive and supportive space for them and for whoever else comes into their orbit. I would hope that that would be Mrs. S's legacy to them and that that would be how they would look at the world going forward.
What's the craziest scene you ever filmed?
Doyle Kennedy: Personally, some of the maddest things have been the badass S when she gets into like "This is what I need to do to shake this s--t up" kinda mode. When she pins Brenda (Nora McLellan) to the table with the fork and the carving knife, that was something that I had never done before and possibly will never be asked to do. It was such a revelation because we hadn't seen any of that in Season 1. Mostly, we've just referred back to her backstory that she was an activist [and] she was involved in all these groups. But this is the first time we really see what she can do. So that was kind of remarkable to me and a real revelation in the possibilities of where Mrs. S's character would go to.
On a bigger scale, I just think Donnie and the kilt and the drunken Highland flinging [in Season 5] is just hilarious and also, that came out of a real life experience. My family all transplanted [to Toronto] for half the year and we would have a lot of kitchen parties because we're Irish and we like to hang out and tell stories and eat food with people and sing songs. And we had this big kitchen party at the end of Season 4 and Graeme Manson was at it. We were all singing songs and at one point in the evening — now I would have to say that there is a small possibility that drink had been taken at this stage — Kristian Bruun actually did a Highland fling across the floor in my kitchen and it was the funniest, most fantastic moment in the world. But then we came back to work Season 5 and we suddenly saw that Graeme had written it in.
One of the other things that I think is extraordinarily special is the clone dance scene [in Season 2]. I've watched that scene lots of times now and I just find it so moving. And they truly all dance like their characters and it's just particularly...I think because there's no dialogue attached. It's just this very pure expression of who each of the clones is and I just find it so tender and deeply moving. I really do.
And it's all one person.
Doyle Kennedy: Well, there you go. Apart from Felix's little butt...Apart from Jordan [Gavaris] shaking his butt around the place. She's quite the extraordinary person, Tatiana [Maslany]. Really remarkable woman.
What will you miss most about the show?
Doyle Kennedy: I don't think I can say one thing, really. I'm still processing it and it's all rolled into one extraordinary experience. It meant many things to me. Just in terms of acting, Mrs. S was a wonderful part. I get sent a lot of scripts all the time and very often, the parts for women in their 40's and 50's are shocking and reductive and just not real...don't have any complexity or personal motivation or agency. So from a personal point of view, that actual part was a great great thing to have to do for five years.
In the bigger perspective, it was a very formative experience for all of us. It's unusual in our world to do something for five years with almost all the same group of people each time, half of the year each year. That's quite a big chunk out of your life. And for me, it was moving to another city with my family so it had quite a profound effect on us all. And I just think that that whole thing from the top down, through all the team, we got on really well. There was just incredible support around us and I think it's an experience that we won't repeat easily, if ever.
Orphan Black's fifth and final season airs Saturdays at 10/9c on BBC America.