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Orphan Black Stars Break Down that Bittersweet Series Finale

Plus, spin-off ideas and what the last day on set was like

Keisha Hatchett

This is it, Clone Club. After five adrenaline-filled seasons, Orphan Black has closed the book on a compelling drama about a group of clones fighting for their freedom.

Over the course of the show, their biggest struggle has been the one for independence while trying to make sense of being a part of a top secret scientific experiment. In the series finale, we saw the sestras finally succeed in taking down the Neolutionists and experience life as free women for the first time. The bittersweet ending caps off a groundbreaking series that featured not just over-the-top conspiracies, but also fully-realized and autonomous women of varying ages, and LGBT and minority characters who were an integral part of the story.

As the cult hit comes to an end, we spoke to Jordan Gavaris (Felix), Kevin Hanchard (Art) and Kristian Bruun (Donnie) about their last day on set, potential spin-off ideas and so much more.

Jordan Gavaris, Orphan Black

Jordan Gavaris, Orphan Black

BBC America

How did you feel about the finale?

Jordan Gavaris: I felt satisfied and a bit...It was bittersweet but I think that is what the ending is supposed to be. Some people probably interpret it as a happy ending. I didn't interpret it that way. It's not tidy. I mean, our show has never been tidy. I think that's the point. And relationships and human beings are not tidy so it felt appropriate.

What was it like filming Season 5 knowing it was all going to end?

Kristian Bruun: Everything throughout the whole season was the last this and the last that. We started doing that for everything, it was so stupid. But at the same time, we kinda meant it. We would be on set throughout the season and just kinda catch ourselves being wistful or shedding a tear here and there. Certainly, the last read-through was a complete mess, like a total write-off. We were just blubbering messes the whole way through and it just got worse as we got further along in the script. But I guess that's to be expected. We're all sensitive saps at Orphan Black.

What was the last thing you shot?

Kevin Hanchard: The birth of Helena's twins which was kinda cool because it came right back down to Tat [Maslany] and I. Tat and I were a part of the first shot of the show five years ago and the fact that we were a part of the final shots was an amazing sort of full circle moment for the both of us.

Gavaris: My very last scene was Felix coming into the house and accusing Sarah of selling [the house]. It was strange...[Felix] coming through the door and he's looking around the house and he's realizing he might have to say goodbye to all of this stuff. And that's exactly what I was feeling in the moment. I was about to say goodbye to everybody. I was about to close a chapter on the show and this chapter [of] my life.

Bruun: The last scene that I shot was the last Donnie and Allison scene [in the craft room], just the two of us together. It wasn't my last day on set but it was the last day that Tat was gonna be playing Alison with Donnie. We had a good hug and a good cry and we just kinda sat there.

Kevin Hanchard, Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

Kevin Hanchard, Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

BBC America

Bruun: [On the final scene shot in which Helena is giving birth to twins] We shot it on a Tuesday night, things were going super late. It looked like the day was gonna finish at 4 a.m. on Wednesday so everybody just started showing up around midnight to watch the last scene shot. We just kinda sat around, again numb, watching that scene go down. We just stood around until 4 a.m. kinda quietly until that last call was called and then we didn't know what to do. Everybody just stood there. So we just started cheering and screaming at the top of our lungs and then we shut up and there's a moment of silence.

John Fawcett [series co-creator] called us all around on set and someone poured a bunch of champagne and we just stood there quietly together. And John, who's not an emotional guy at all, quietly said, "I don't wanna leave. I don't wanna go anywhere. I just kinda wanna stand here with you guys and still be here because I don't wanna say goodbye to everybody." Then we all just started crying.

Maria Doyle Kennedy was there and she started singing a song and we all just started singing along. And then a few hours later, we were on a plane to Los Angeles for Paleyfest, just deliriously tired and wondering was the hell's going on with our lives. It was the most bizarre evening/morning ever on set.

What's life like for everyone now that the Neolutionists have been taken down?

Hanchard: How do you top that? How do you move on and find something more fulfilling? I'm not sure. I don't know whether he leaves the force or not but there's definitely a change that would have to take place for him at this point, after having gone through what he's gone through. I don't think the regular homicide beat is gonna be enough for him. So what that change actually is, I'm not sure. But there definitely is gonna be something different down the line for Art. No doubt.

Gavaris: I think Felix is back and forth to New York. I think his art collection has taken off, he's actually an artist. His story continues for me in New York City, weirdly.

Bruun: It's something that [Donnie and Alison] have wanted since the madness started happening. The biggest thing that they've striven for is safety. Safety for the family and, of course, now their extended family...their sestras. They crave that normalcy, that suburban life [they] had before. They won't ever go back to normal, not after what they've all gone through, but at least they know they're safe and that they can have their family back.

Kristian Bruun, Orphan Black

Kristian Bruun, Orphan Black

BBC America

How fitting was it that the last thing we see is Felix, Sarah and Kira walking out the door on their way to the beach?

Gavaris: That was the satisfactory moment for me. I needed to see them get their piece of normal. They've been fighting and running and fighting for so long that I wanted them to have their little slice of normal, even though it's not gonna be normal. [Sarah's] still a clone. The sisterhood is still very much a real thing. She's still related to a Ukranian serial killer who has two children. It's never gonna be sane or completely normal but at least they can be less panicked and frenzied. They got to just breathe for a second and I love that.

If you can have an Orphan Black spin-off, what would it look like?

Gavaris: I've heard a lot of Felix and Donnie and a lot of Felix and Art. That's very funny. Felix and Art fighting crime sounds kind of interesting to me. Or maybe like parallel universe Felix and Donnie where Donnie's gay and they're a couple and live in the suburbs and a mystery befalls. [Or] Krystal and her roommate solve some sort of cosmetic mystery.

Hanchard: Inga Cadranel and I decided we were gonna have a spin-off in Season 1 with Deangelis and Art [called] DART [in which we were] a crimefighting duo who [were gonna] get to the bottom of Neolution in sort of an X-Filesy kind of way. Then, of course, the Felix and Art thing comes along and people dubbed that one FART. I think we'd be more of a private detective agency as opposed to crimefighters. I would use my police contacts to get stuff done and he'd get himself involved in all kinds of hijinx.

Hanchard: [On a Krystal and Art spin-off] KART. Why the hell not? She's just a funny character. She epitomizes that sort of...the person who you don't think is all there but is wise well beyond their years and even their own understanding. She is the pinnacle of truth and understanding. She is such a fun character to bring to the show so I'd work with her all day, everyday.

Orphan Black

Orphan Black

BBC America

What do you want people to take away from the show?

Gavaris: This show means so much to me, not just on a personal level having been a part of it for five years, but having been a part of a piece of television that pierced the zeitgeist in the way that it did...and became a part of a very timely conversation about women and how we value and see [them] in society. I wasn't prepared for that. I don't think any of us were. We certainly didn't expect it. What I hope the take away is, is just that...That women can't be reduced to what they do. None of us can. We should be valued and appreciated for who we are which is infinite and broad and really not definable. The sum total of a human being, who this person is, who these women are is infinite.

Bruun: A message of inclusivity. I think the show is such a positive influence out there in terms of women's rights, rights to their own bodies and control of their own bodies...LGBTQ positive stories out there and people of all walks of life coming together and finding a way to live with each other and get along. And I think Orphan Black promotes that so well compared to some of the crazy things that are happening in this world. Of all this stuff that we say, or all of the crazy situations that happen on the show, I just want people to see these characters now living normal lives together with a full understanding and acceptance of each other. And I just wish for the world to have a piece of that as well.

Hanchard: I really am so happy to be in a show that has been as successful as it is...that has been as unapologetically Canadian as it is. But [also] speaks about women and women's rights and has women at the center of it. We still have so much further to go as far as the industry is concerned...as far as putting visible minorities and members of the LGBTQ community at the forefront of these shows. The fact that someone said let's have this idea of someone jumping off of a train platform and seeing a clone, it could have easily been a white thirty-something-year-old man. But they said no, this is about women and women's identities and gender identities, gender politics... We can touch some people with it and we did.

How would you best describe your experience filming this series?

Gavaris: It's very rare to like everybody as much as we all really liked each other. So you get to go to work everyday and you have this great working relationship and then you also have these really great off-set friendships. It just made going to work easy all the time. It was just never a job at any point and I think that's going to be the thing that we miss the most. We're still all really great friends and we're still gonna see each other but we just don't get to work together. If I was to define the shooting experience, it would be the friendships that I got to walk away with and those are the things I'll miss the most.

What did you all think of the series finale?