Things were not looking good for Ira (Ari Millen) at the end of this week’s Orphan Black. Love them or hate them, the Castor clones have had a rough go of it. Sure, some of them were reprehensible murderers and rapists, but then they had a very different upbringing from Sarah and her sisters. And then there’s Ira, Susan’s pet clone who she raised in seclusion at the heart of Dyad. He’s really been through a lot, if you think about it. First he was torn from his home and his brothers, raised by a domineering older scientist, then he finds out most of his brothers have died due to a genetic mutation and that he is likely to follow them. We saw Ira go through an existential crisis in Season 4, culminating in his suicide attempt, but he rallied this season and even started to help the Leda’s in their mission.
But time seems to have run out for the last of the Castor clones. The TV Junkies recently spoke to actor Ari Millen about Ira’s fate in “Manacled Slim Wrists.”
The TV Junkies: Can you confirm whether or not Ira succumbed to the Castor glitch?
Ari Millen: Yep, that’s it for Ira.
TTVJ: It almost seemed as if he didn’t expect a cure in the end — although I thought Cosima’s treatment might save him. Do you think Ira was resigned to his fate at that point?
AM: I think at the end of last season, and the beginning of this season, he obviously started to recognize his mortality. Pretty much for his entire life he’s been sort of a doll in a way, for lack of a better term. He was Susan’s right hand man, that was his existence, that was who he was and he didn’t really think of himself in any exterior context. I think once he started to learn more about his Castor brothers and started to realize that he was going to share the same fate, he did start having an internal struggle. So the journey this season, you’ve seen him making deals with the other side, or anybody, just sort of grasping at straws for himself. I think at that moment, in the end, his intention is rushing to get Susan so they can get off the island, and once he sees that she’s dead, he maybe recognizes that it’s already to late for him, that Susan is essentially all he’s known and he belongs with her — there’s a lot compacted into that moment.
TTVJ: Early in the episode, Virginia Coady remarks to Ira that Susan remade him in her own image. What do you think she meant by that? In what ways is Ira different from the more militarized Castor clones Coady raised?
AM: Well, I think he’s kind of the polar opposite. I don’t think there’s a hint of aggression, he doesn’t have malice towards anybody. He’s not a dullard but he’s also not ambitious. He likes status quo. I wouldn’t say that he’s a lap dog or anything like that — he’s far more than that — he’s just comfortable with what he knows and what he knows is the complete opposite of his Castor brothers. He left Castor at a very young age, way before any prior life could affect his future life.
TTVJ: Looking at his relationship with Susan, she did take this young child and groom him to be her companion and eventual lover. It seems like — not an abusive relationship per se, but Ira never had a choice in the matter, did he?
AM: It was a very codependent relationship. I mean, I would imagine that Susan’s life would have been a very lonely one. She made a decision to leave her life behind, and chose her work and her ambition over all of that, and Ira might have been an outlet in a way, to fulfill all those human needs. Ira became everything to Susan, in the same way that Susan was everything to Ira.
TTVJ: If Susan was a mother figure to Ira, and a lover, then who is Virginia Coady to him in the end? Because he seems to express an interest in her and about his roots.
AM: And that scene between them was probably my favourite to shoot of the entire season. First of all I love Kyra [Harper] to death. I had the entirety of Season 3 to work opposite her in different capacities and then to do it as a different character. It was just interesting to look at her through Ira’s eyes and have her look at Ira. Some of the things that Coady says to Ira, those were mysteries to me until I read that episode, as far as that story between the two of them. That was really interesting and revealing about the character and about Castor as a whole I would say. It showed a humanity for both of them.
TTVJ: What kind of legacy do you think Project Castor leaves behind, especially when it is juxtaposed with the Leda Project?
AM: A lot of what the storytelling of Orphan Black as a whole is who your family is and this idea of nature versus nurture, and certainly if Leda was nature and they were allowed to grow organically in their different environments and their own people, then Castor was, in quotations, “nurtured” because they were very much controlled. As you said, the relationship between Ira and Susan could be construed, as much as there didn’t seem like there was malice there, Ira didn’t really get a fair kick at the can. The same with the Castor boys. They were very much controlled early on to be bred and guided into super soldiers, and then they were let off the leash but always had to come back, and obviously we see what happened to Mark when he tried to get away. I would imagine the legacy of Castor was showing the other side of the experiment, the nurture side of it.
TTVJ: Now that you’ve wrapped on Orphan Black, what has it been like saying goodbye to the show and what is life looking like post-Orphan Black?
AM: Every time we get together its obviously very bittersweet because of the impending knowledge that this is probably the last time we’re all going to be together. I think one of the greatest things about the show was the family dynamic of everybody involved, the cast, the crew. Many, if not most of, the people involved in the show did the entire run, both cast and crew, so I think that’s pretty unique. It was a very very wonderful experience and so going forward from here, I’m very happy to have been a part of it and I’m very happy to now be able to use Orphan Black as my calling card, because certainly it’s been the biggest thing I’ve ever done. Hopefully, it will project me into a further career. I mean, this weekend I have six auditions and that’s kind of unheard of and an interview! [laughs] So hopefully one of them sticks.
TTVJ: Well we wish you all the best and we hope to see you on our TV screens again soon!
Will you miss Ira and the rest of the Castor clones? Let us know in the comments!
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET on Space Channel and BBC America.
Hermione Wilson is a Junkie when it comes to all things Orphan Black, Game of Thrones and Supernatural, the show that introduced her to classic rock. She is a graduate of Humber College's journalism program, a current staff writer at Dovetail Communications, and an avid reader of sci-fi novels.