A year ago, the Comic-Con organizers badly underestimated the appeal of "Orphan Black," putting the BBC America cult hit into one of the convention center's smaller rooms for a TV panel, which led to a long and angry line and an overcrowded room. But rather than automatically award the show a promotion to Ballroom 20 (seating capacity of around 4,000), the Con organizers only bumped "Orphan Black" up to a room with a capacity of around 1,000 — double a year ago, but still likely not enough to accommodate the show's many fans.
The panel size has also expanded, as we'll get to see Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Dylan Bruce, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Tatiana Maslany, Kristian Bruun, Ari Millen (the new male clone), Tatiana Maslany and co-creators Grame Manson and John Fawcett, with Entertainment Weekly's Dalton Ross moderating. We'll see what the cast and creators have to say about the state of the show's mythology after season 2, how the show will function with a second set of clones, and more.
I'll be live-blogging the whole thing as often as my typing fingers and the ballroom wi-fi will allow.
5:59 p.m.: The room is packed, leaving a long line of frustrated fans outside, and the announcements over the PA are sounding increasingly frazzled and desperate as the organizers try to find whatever open seats may be remaining. We may start a little late while this all gets wrangled.
6:01 p.m.: Nope, relatively timely. The lights dim as Ross takes the stage, joking that he's from Project Castor. He has brought out a paperback copy of "The Island of Dr. Moreau," has read it backwards and forward but still can't figure out how to save Cosima.
6:02 p.m.: Ross begins asking for cheers for the various clones. Alison gets the loudest applause, followed closely by Helena. Then he kicks it to a season 2 highlight reel.
6:04 p.m.: The crowd loves seeing the various clones kicking butt, and they really love any footage of multiple clones in the same scene. A shame we can't have a live clone dance party here.
6:08 p.m.: Pardon me, but I am now deaf after hearing these 1000 people screaming in response to that clip reel. Ross introduces the panelists starting with Fawcett, Manson, Millen (still sporting that short haircut), Bruun (who mimes shooting everyone in the crowd, Donny-style), Kennedy (looking very chic with blue streaks in her hair), Bruce (who teases the crowd with the possibility of lifting up his shirt), Gavaris and, finally, Maslany (who gets a standing ovation and beams as she waves to the crowd). And I am now twice-deaf. Lots of love in the room.
6:09 p.m.: Ross jumps straight to the clone dance party from the season finale. Maslany had worried about her workload, but "It was too much fun. It was kind of a dream when they said that was going to happen. I was so up for it."
6:10 p.m.: Ross rants about Maslany's Emmy snub. "I just think that we're at a point where television is extremely exciting," says Maslany. "I just feel really lucky to be at this point in television history making a show like this, and in the company of shows like that. The Emmys is lovely and wonderful, but to me it's more about hearing the response from the fans... Being in this room — that's why we do it." Very diplomatic, all around.
6:13 p.m.: We see a clip from perhaps the most memorable scene from season 2, where a bloody Helena hugs a bound and terrified Sarah. (And it functions as a nice supporting argument to Ross's earlier Emmy complaint.)
6:14 p.m.: Season 2 showed some cracks in Sarah and Felix's relationship. "That was a hard scene," Gavaris says of Felix's temporary break-up with his sister. They knew they wanted a fracture in the relationship, but didn't know how deep it would run. "There was no acting required. Every time we went to perform the scene, I just felt so bad for the poor guy, who has put himself on the line every time for this girl who he cares a great deal about. And he feels so alone, and so alien. And this is someone who's felt alone for most of his life, so to feel that way because of his sister — that was a knock." He liked playing Felix without "the mask, or the theatrics or the flair."
6:17 p.m.: Ross threatens to have Gavaris sing if anyone in the audience has a guitar, then shifts over to Kennedy (who herself sang in "The Commitments.") We get to see another clip, of MRs. S turning against some of her former allies. "I wasn't invited anywhere to dinner for ages" after she stabbed her friend with a fork, Kennedy jokes. Manson and Fawcett had bigger plans for Mrs. S in season 1, "And we were waiting for the right time to show off her bad-assness," explains Fawcett.
6:19 p.m.: A Twitter questioner wonders if Mrs. S "will get any action" next season. Kennedy says a lot of fans are interested in Paul and Mrs. S's tea sessions, but concedes that might be a step too far in Sarah and Mrs. S's relationship. The actors have no idea what's coming next, and are just excited to learn what's coming next.
6:20 p.m.: How much is Millen prepared for what's to come playing multiple characters in season 3. "We've had a couple conversations," he says. "I know a little bit about who I am and where we're going. But Tat's one of the most generous actors you'll ever work with, and I know if I ever do have any questions, she'll be there to answer them." He calls creating the clones "a personal journey" that he looks forward to. Also, Paul was supposed to kill Millen's character off in episode 6, but the creators changed their minds. Maslany recalled playing her first scene opposite him, "And he was so present, had this whole well of depth... Getting to use him in this way next year is so exciting."
6:21 p.m.: Given all of Paul's identity shifts, Bruce jokes that, "I don't even trust myself." We then cut to another clip, this time of Paul framing Felix for murder. (These are all very strong scenes, but I'd rather hear more from the panelists, given that everyone in this room watched season 2.)
6:24 p.m.: "I'm naked in every clip we seem to show in this room!" notes Gavaris. Bruce calls all of Paul's misdeeds just "part of the job," and jokes that he has a big man-crush on Gavaris. He worried that Paul would become irredeemable after that scene. Gavaris praises Bruce for being willing to show such a nasty side of Paul. Bruce notes that Gavaris' high-heeled boots kept nailing him in the crotch during every take of that scene. "Jordn, if I didn't love you so much, that would not be cool," he adds.
6:26 p.m.: The Donny section of our discussion begins with the clip of his "Pulp Fiction"-style accidental shooting of Dr. Leekie. "Where does Donny do his underwear shopping?" Ross asks, noting that he's often in his undies, but it's the least sexy possible. "I think Alison might buy his underwear," Maslany suggests. "She's into it."
6:27 p.m.: The finale had a few deleted scenes where Donny attempted to perform some blackmail. (They're on the season 2 DVD.) "If you want to see Donny try to get his monitor expenses back from Rachel, you should check out the DVD," says Manson.
6:29 p.m.: Which deceased clone does Maslany wish she had more time to have played? "I'd like to go back to all of them," she says. "I think Jennifer would be quite an interesting character," she says of the dying clone seen in a few home videos. She is also really fascinated with Beth. Will we ever see a Beth flashback? "Nothing is off the table," says Manson. Fawcett says the writers have talked about Beth's story since the beginning of the show, and they're both fascinated by it. "At some point," he says, "there is a definite chance that we may see that." Manson suggests there's a "twist" to Beth's story that he looks forward to showing.
6:34 p.m.: Will Tony return and meet the other clones? "I love Tony," says Maslany. "I would love to explore him further. I think we got the very littlest bit of him. He just offers so much as far as identity and gender identification exploration and expression, and our show is all about that... But at the same time, he's singular in the sense of his mullet. He's just this guy who I've never seen on screen." She was so excited by Tony and his interaction with Felix. "I think polarizing is the only way we're going to start talking, and the only way we're going to understand each other," she adds. "Telling trans stories and having trans actors in those parts is part of getting those stories out there." Doyle adds that having a debate that's polarizing is better than having no debate at all. Gavaris likes the idea of art that makes you uncomfortable. Maslany thinks Felix changed a lot by meeting Tony, and the way that Tony mirrored Felix. Kennedy thinks Mrs. S would understand Tony's rebelliousness, "But she also has a lot of conversations she needs to have with him about table manners." Fawcett's favorite part of that was "the super-hot kiss. It was a little weird, but super-hot." Manson asks if Maslany is asking to kiss Kennedy, too. "Is Tony asking to kiss Maria?" Maslany replies. "Yes, he is."
6:35 p.m.: Where are Cosima's parents, given how ill she is. "I guess they're out in Berkeley," shrugs Manson. "They don't own a car, so they're walking really slowly," jokes Maslany. Manson says that they're most eager to meet Alison's mother, and wants Catherine O'Hara to play her, "or Mimi Rogers."
6:36 p.m.: As fans sprint to the microphone stand (faster than I've ever seen at this sort of panel), we get a montage of lighter moments from season 2, including lots of Helena saying "Sestre."
6:38 p.m.: Fan Q&A begins with one of the Cosima cosplayers (Cosima-players?) who pleads with the writers not to kill Cosima. Since Maslany wasn't nominated for an Emmy, the Facebook Clone Club presents her the "greatest actress in the world award." Maslany comes down from the stage to hug her. "That was way better than an Emmy," she says.
6:39 p.m.: A fan thanks the show for giving her the courage to come out of the closet, and for writing Cosima as a character who was more than her sexuality, but watching "Orphan Black" with her mother helped rebuild their relationship. She's fighting tears as she tells the story, as are a few of the panelists, and the whole room bursts into applause when she nervously tries to transition into asking a question about what it feels to change people's lives in this way. Maslany wipes away a tear, and says, "That's amazing. I don't know what to say." Gavaris adds, "We like to be reductive in life sometimes. I don't know why. It's a social construct, whatever you want to call it, we reduce people down to sexuality, or their diseases, or their race, or their sex, or their gender, or whether or not they like 'Game of Thrones.' But that is not who people are. People are complex, people are diverse, and there are much more interesting things to you than your sexuality. Thank you for what you said." More applause. Awww.
6:43 p.m.: Now that Alison and Donny have bonded over disposing of bodies, will they have a healthier relationship? "There are different ways to spice up your love life," says Bruun. "I don't suggest murder being one of them." But he likes Alison and Donny finally being a team after two seasons of fighting and glue-gunning each other. "They love each other so much," says Maslany, "and now they can fight together for their family."
6:44 p.m.: Another Cosima-player asks how each actor would want their character to die if they had to die. "Helena would eat herself to death," says Maslany. "Rachel, something really clumsy and stupid... Alison would do something with crafts, or panic herself to death." She laughs at how dark the question is. The actors turn to the writers for ideas. Manson: "Sarah would just refuse to die."
6:45 p.m.: Will we see more of Helena's love interest Jesse? Fawcett calls that mini-romance in the bar one of their favorite moments from season 2. Maslany likes the idea of Jesse seeing her as a person without all her violent history, and how he gave her a moment of normal life.
6:47 p.m.: How does Kira know about Cosima? Manson figures that in between scenes, Sarah has told her daughter "about the aunties." Maybe that sort of scene might appear in the upcoming "Orphan Black" comic book, which Fawcett says will offer original material, and also some backstory.
6:48 p.m.: Which clone does Maslany see the most of herself in? "They're all a part of me, for sure," she says. All have aspects of her that have been made bigger. "I think Cosima's probably the one I relate to the most, in loads of ways. She's focused and really passionate about what she does, and loves people. Except I'm not good at school."
6:50 p.m.: Maslany's mother once visited the set, and Kennedy asked her what it was like seeing her daughter playing all these different roles. "She said she always saw Tatiana most in Sarah," Kennedy explains, and when other clones would appear on-screen, "she said, 'I would wonder when Tatiana was coming back.' She's so good even her mother doesn't recognize her in some of those other roles!"
6:51 p.m.: A fan gives Maslany a clone nesting doll. That is pretty badass. She opens it up, and Helena is the tiniest doll.
6:54 p.m.: How does Maslany play all these characters so differently, and how do her co-stars interact with her playing so many different people? Maslany approaches each character with different kinds of research. (As she's answering, a wall of security guards flank the stage to prevent the crowd from rushing the panelists when this ends.)
6:55 p.m.: Which clone's journey was her favorite this year to explore? "I loved all of them," Maslany says, as you'd expect. "I really love Rachel. She's a lot of fun to play, and really challenges me on a lot of levels." Maslany doesn't consider Rachel a villain at all: "She just does terrible things, because why not? She's a product of a lot of things... Ultimately, she's the most vulnerable of all of them, and that's why she has the hardest exterior."
6:56 p.m.: A Mrs. S cosplayer thanks the creative team and Kennedy for giving the audience such a great female character of a certain age. Does Kennedy look for a common thread between her various strong and manipulative characters across film and television? "I'm mostly interested in strong women," says Kennedy. "I'm never really attracted to parts where I'm just gonna be the set dressing for somebody's actions. I don't really want to be in scenes where I say to my husband, 'Your dinner's in the thing, and your kids are there.' I have a real husband, so I could just be doing that at home." Too often, she thinks women aren't represented as complicated people on screen. Manson told her that his original inspiration for Mrs. S was Patti Smith.
6:58 p.m.: Last question is about Paul's true allegiances at this point. Bruce jokes that he had it in his contract that he had to wear a beret at some point in the series, "whether as a mime or a soldier" and adds, "Paul's never what he seems to be." He likes that you can never tell what anyone on "Orphan Black" is truly up to.
That's all, folks...