Orphan Black: By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried

“My name is Sarah Manning and this is my unconditional surrender.”

For possibly the first time in Orphan Black history, I feel underwhelmed.

The season began at a breakneck pace and hasn’t slowed down for a minute since until this episode...the season finale. The pacing just seems odd to me. Everything slowed down very rapidly and then suddenly boom! major plot twist. I feel like I’m betraying my favorite show here, but I’ll say it: it could’ve been better.

So much got resolved in this episode with such little fanfare. Cal just happened to figure out the whole clone thing. Cal conveniently met Marian Bowles online and she was totally willing to help Sarah because...that was never explained. I mean, her daughter’s a clone (which makes her, what, Sarah’s aunt?) but is that the whole reason she betrayed Rachel in such a stunning manner? And who is in charge of Dyad? It feels like a free for all right now. Leekie’s dead, Marian’s good, Rachel is going crazy. Doesn’t seem like a great time to be a low level employee of Dyad.

Rachel Duncan is probably the most complex of the clones, which is saying something as that group includes Helena. One second she seems cold and heartless and then she breaks down. She’s scheming and calculating and then loses it. Her relationship with her father was interesting. She claims to not remember the sensation of feeling loved, but seems genuinely upset when he dies. I don’t think all that was about losing the information he had in his head. And then she destroys Kira’s marrow sample out of pure spite, putting Cosima’s health at serious risk and nullifying Kira’s sacrifice. They can do the procedure again in six weeks but does Cosima have that long?

In a much anticipated scene, Helena finally meets her sisters and it could not have been more perfect. Cosima goes straight in for a hug and talks to Helena kindly. Alison has no idea what to do with a Ukrainian serial killer wearing her face. She’s polite but obviously uncomfortable. The dance sequence was wonderful. So sweet, yet somehow extremely tense. It was so happy I just kept waiting for something terrible to happen. One of them to collapse, one of them to rip off a wig and announce herself to be Rachel, a bomb to come through a window - something. But nothing bad happened and it was a fun exhibition of Tatiana’s acting talent and her grasp of all the clones characters; they all dance so differently.

Also meeting for the first time: Kira and her Auntie Cosima. Skyler Wexler does a really great job with Tatianas different characters. She really feels like Sarah’s daughter and she’s clearly apprehensive when around Rachel, but it was her scene with Cosima that really got me. Kira is comfortable with Cosima but in a different way. Kira reacted to her in an unmistakenly familial way, but she didn’t treat her like a mother. Definitely a fun aunt vibe there.

It seemed odd how very little Delphine there was in this episode. And the scene where Cosima hallucinated her was bizarre. That has to be foreshadowing something, but what? Is Cosima going to die? Is Delphine going to die? Are they both going to die? If they do both die is there any conceivable way we can blame Joss Whedon for it?

As I and frequent commenter Morgan had predicted/hoped, Paul, it turns out was undercover for the military the whole time. It remains to be seen if he’s in the game for good or evil. He does conspire with Mrs. S to kidnap Helena, which doesn’t look great, but maybe he has a reason. Maybe it’s somehow a good thing?

The military’s been lurking over the mythology of Orphan Black for a long time. Last season it was just Paul’s mysterious background, but this season we met Mark and Sammy who both had served in the military, plus we learned of their involvement with Project Leda. It never occurred to me there was a parallel cloning experiment with male clones, but it makes perfect sense. So much of this show is about duality and mirroring. It remains to be seen how the female and the male clones are related. Is their DNA nearly identical or do they have completely separate genomes? Also unanswered: did Henrik know Mark was a clone? Does Mark know he’s a clone? Are you already ‘shipping’ crazy captive clone with Helena? And who the hell keeps a crazy person locked in their home (in a room outfitted for that express purpose, complete with observation window) when they have a young child?

In an interview earlier this year, Tatiana Maslany ‘joked’ that there were now 16 clones. There are, in fact, 16 clones. Stay with me here: Sarah Manning, Beth Childs, Katya Obinger, Cosima Niehaus, Danielle Fournier, Aryanna Giordano, Janika Zingler, Alison Hendrix, Helena, Rachel Duncan, Mark Rollins, Jennifer Fitzsimmons, Tony Sawicki, Charlotte Bowles, Crazy Guy Clone, and Soldier Guy Clone.

Neolutionist Bits and Proleathean Pieces

Delphine is in Cosima’s computer as “Eskimo Pie.”

They took Duncan prisoner but no one examined the stuff he had in his pockets?

I really can’t wait to see Rachel in a stylish eyepatch next season.

This episode marks the first time Cosima, Sarah, and Alison have been in the same room all season.

I knew all that stuff Cosima was telling Sarah from Donald in Mathmagic Land.

They’ve shown a lot of the Rachel as a child home videos this season because it made sense for the plot so we would recognize a little clone when we saw one. Nicely, nicely done writers.

Cosima now has Duncan’s mysterious sequence thing I don’t understand because science is confusing. Will it make a difference though? Without her lab will she be able to save herself?

Clone Quotes

Delphine: “I love her! And if you let her die without me, it is personal.”
Please don’t be foreshadowing, please don’t be foreshadowing.

Mrs. S: “If I say you’re making a car bomb, you will bloody well make a car bomb.”
For my own peace of mind, I’m choosing to believe Mrs. S was angrily discussing alcoholic beverages with whoever she was on the phone with.

Art: “Well, I can tell you I just came home to find someone at my table.”
Felix: “What do you mean? Who?”
Art: “She’s eating.”

Cosima: “You win the experiment! You win science!”

Cal: “It’s clones only tonight.”
Felix: “I know. That means me too.”

two and a half out of four boy clones

sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany

17 comments:

Morgan India said...

Having had at least 12 hours to digest the episode as a whole, I have to say I give the finale about a 7.5 out of 10? I really enjoyed the Mark!Clone reveals and Paul returning (boy looks FINE in uniform), and the technicalities of the whole clone club dance party, some things still bother me:

1. Have Sarah, Alison, Felix and Cosima forgotten that Helena was until recently, killing off other clones?
2. Can the show please utilise both Paul and Art a bit more in season three? Poor Art seemed to be relegated to Helena's baby-sitter since he was suspended.
3. Where is Raj, the cute Police tech?
4. Can Cal and Paul PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE shirtless wrestle (with an oil of some kind) next season? That is all I want. Or have a butt-off. Thank you, Game of Thrones for providing Cal buttage.

I find it really interesting that apparently, Paul was supposed to be the male clone, not Mark. And that Mark was supposed to die in 206 at the hands of Paul. Goes to show that Ari Millen is doing something really well with the role that it causes the creators to change their initial character concept.

Thank you for reviewing OB, Sunny!

Billie Doux said...

It's not that I didn't enjoy it, but you're right, sunbunny -- it didn't hit the Mark for me. Pun intended. I did love the dance scene a whole lot, though. And it does make sense that there's a second line of clones and that they're male. I wish the actor didn't give me the creeps.

Rachel and a stylish eye patch. :)

Docnaz said...

So disappointed. My husband is obsessed with this show and he and I were both let down. Last week's episode would have been a better finale.

VĂ©ro said...

As I tweeted to sunbunny last night, I don't think I was necessarily underwhelmed, but I was definitely annoyed by the finale. I still have so many questions and I feel so kept in the dark about the motivations of several of the characters. Do the writers even know them? The interviews with them I read last night after the episode did not reassure me on that front.

Also, I couldn't help but ask myself how the audience is dealing with all the science stuff, synthetic sequences and all. I have a freaking Ph.D in Biochemistry and even I admit to being confused most of the time. Maybe because of my background I just devote more attention to it, I guess the intrigue can be followed without knowing too much about the details of the science. Anyway, I thought they dealt with the scientific elements better in Season 1 than in Season 2. Those cipher keys for the synthetic sequences don't even mean something concrete to me.

Finally, I thought the fact that there are male clones made sense, but will it mean even more characters? That's really the last thing this show needs. It's barely able to properly use those it already has (Art, Paul, etc).

sunbunny said...

Vero - I can't speak for all the scientifically illiterate, but I just sort of let the science speak wash over me. I don't even attempt to follow it.

J.D. Balthazar said...

I might be in the minority here, but I really dislike all the Dyad stuff. For the most part the series has been the characters for me (even when they act a little out of character). Yet the main plot has been a bit to 'evil corporation' for me. This episode marks the first time where I'm actually intrigued where the story is headed, and not just about whether the clones survive until the next episode.

One more point, not only to does Cosima have Ethan's book with potential cipher keys, Helena also left the cryo tank with the unused/fertilized embryos. I'm not really that much of a science nerd, but isn't that Kira like stems cells by the hundreds?

Anyway, great review as always. Really good season.

topher darling said...

Thanks JD for explaining the nitrogen. I didn't remember Helena hauling a tank of nitrogen with her when she was running from the farm but that's a cool plot point.

I too am tired of the Dyad plot and I'm glad to see that it goes higher into a cabal/new world order idea. Plus it's interesting that the military is involved and there are boy-clones but I hope they're only involved on the periphery (or that they get a spin-off) because I don't want to much attention diverted from our fabulous 4 clones.

That dance sequence with them was amazing and the only part of the show that felt like a season closer instead of a season opener. It was almost like the show-runners were saying, 'Look what we can do.' Still, I was expecting Cosima to collapse during the scene which made it nerve-wracking as well as delightful.

My hope for next season is a gay Mark-clone for Felix to fall in love with, stability for Kira, and for Helena to make it more than 3/4 of an episode without being abducted.

Pody said...

I was so hoping for Felix clones..sigh..the eye pencil was a bit much and I an sure we could find a photo (or drawing) of the writers having coffee with Joss Wheadon

Podycat@yahoo.com

morticiachair said...

I'm finally back to comment after a move that occupied pretty much all of my time this last month...

I feel like I really am the minority since I really really loved the finale. I found it exciting and scary and nerve-racking and cathartic with all the emotions in between.

I always like the actor who plays Mark, he reminds me of a creepier Joaquin Phoenix so I must admit that I'm happy he will be the male clone.

Regarding Helena I have mixed feelings.. On the one hand my heart breaks for her, can't she finally catch a break? On the other hand I think the military won't know what hit them!

Finally, for the first time I got the fans' love for Cosima. She was always my least favorite but on this episode she shines. Her scenes with Kira, Helena and the clone-club dance were so precious!

But seriously it's been two days since the finale and all I can think of is how the hell are we going to wait for one year for season 3??

drnanamom said...

@morticiachair I agree with you. I enjoyed the finale and thought it had some excellent moments, brought back some characters I was wondering about and continued to make Mrs S. an intriguing character. I actually felt sorry for Rachel. She is working hard at being the good little CEO - Dyad really was her family and it obviously messed her up big time. @sunbunny thanks for the great reviews this season and I'm with you, I just let the sciencey stuff wash over me. It all sounds vaguely possible. I'm so glad I started watching this show and I can't wait until next year.

Joseph Pennycook said...

I have to say, I'm a little worried about trusting another actor with being clones. If I was casting, I would have tried to get Enver Gjokaj.

Heather said...

I loved the finale. I watched 2.09 and 2.10 back to back though, maybe that elevated it in some way?

Thank you for the timely(!), thoughtful, hilarious and perhaps the most cherished quality of your style to me...conversational reviews this season, sunbunny. They have definitely elevated my experience in many ways!

The dance scene: I'm in awe of it, felt the tension as others mentioned like there's no way this is going to end well, couldn't believe how long it was based on where it was situated in the episode, I agree with Topher Darling, I also felt a twinge of 'please understand the level of fx we employ every episode, people!%&$*' but loved the vibe, Fee&Kira, the clones... Starting with the introductions to Helena.

The boy clone story: I'm torn here. I liked the reveal. I'm cool that it's Mark and philosophically it fits perfectly (as sunbunny noted) but it opens up a whole new can of worms. One that I don't think has been satisfactorily answered re: the women clones--mainly the WHY. Maybe I was not listening well enough to the scenes with Leekie, Duncan or Marian or maybe I'm jaded from other sci-fi shows doing this storyline. But other than 'we're building an army of super soldiers' or 'because we can AKA scientists are megalomaniacs' I can't think of the reason a show would further expand the mythology in this direction unless they have a wildly different spin on it.
It's my sincerest hope that they'll use this new direction to explore some seriously cool and progressive gender stuff!

Finally, S3 can't come soon enough!

M said...

Eh...the science doesn't make sense because it is sort of made up! The technology to create clones with manipulated gene sequences was not even invented, much less in use, when the clones were born. I am a molecular biologist, an I usually just have to suspend my disbelief with fictional science!

I have to agree I was bugged by some stuff in the finale, particularly Helena's warm reception by the clones. We, the audience, have had much more time with Helena than the clones have had in order to form some sympathy for the crazy serial killer, and I doubt most of US would give her a big hug and have a dance party with her. I suppose they needed to have the clones care about her enough for them to try to help her next season, but it felt like too much too soon.

The dance party was a great demonstration of TM's skill, but it took me out of the moment because I was so aware that was exactly what it was meant to be. Also, since when is Helena a shy little flower afraid to join in the dancing? Does she need a tail in her hand for confidence or something?

Stephen said...

The pacing for this finale was really odd, not the best episode of Orphan Black, but still better than pretty much everything else on TV at the moment! This season has made some odd choices, and I'm just hoping the writers are as intelligent as they have shown they can be and that they haven't made irredeemable missteps. Whilst I love absolutely love Helena and her whole arc this season, it is odd how the characters reacted to her, and she seems to have been redeemed, not only to the characters but to the audience, far to soon, and I wonder if this choice was made on anything other than fan service :/ I also don't quite understand the relevance of introducing Tony, hopefully this will all make a lot more sense in future seasons, but upon looking at Season 2 it seems odd, and the entire season is almost as weirdly paced as it's finale.

The dance scene was worth the price of admission alone!

Of all the male characters who could have been revealed to be a clone.... Mark.... really?! and more importantly, WHY IS HE NOT PLAYED BY ENVER GJOKAJ?!!! Again, I hope the writer's know what they're doing, perhaps this revelation will make more sense further down the line

Whilst not the most satisfying finale, this episode has certainly whet my appetite for the next season. There just aren't enough episodes of Orphan Black a year!!

Kara said...

I was really hoping the clone would be Felix. We still don't know anything about his background, other than that he's an orphan and it would have been really cool to see different versions of Felix. But I'm good with the clone being Mark.

Ravi said...

I feel sorry for the guy playing the male clones though. TM's so going to outshine him, unless he pulls out some really, really impressive stuff from somewhere!

sunbunny said...

To be fair, we haven't really seen what Ari Millen can do yet, but he definitely has his work cut out for him. TMas sets a pretty high standard.