Orphan Black: Variable and Full of Perturbation

“Who is she?”

After an entire week of tweets like this: “Thought last week was mind-blowing? NOTHING could prepare you for the first 5 minutes of tonight’s all-new #OrphanBlack. It’s must-see OB” from Orphan Black’s creators, cast, and crew, my expectations going into this episode could not have been higher. Were they met? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Meet the new clone. Same as the old clones? Not exactly. The sisterhood has gained a brother. When we first glimpsed Tony, I assumed we were seeing a clone, but I figured it was a flashback to Sarah’s criminal life. Sarah and Tony have similar slouches. And similar criminal tendencies. Actually, Tony and Sarah are the two most similar clones yet. He’s more pushy than Sarah (I don’t see her demanding to be drawn a bath in a stranger’s apartment) but they both have similar confrontational natures. Tony said “Jesus Christ” when he first encountered Sarah, one of her favorite phrases. He also said “You’re damn right,” like Beth, and “Where is Beth?” like Alison.

Tony is likely the result of Tatiana begging the writers of Orphan Black to make her job as difficult as humanly possible. At first, I honestly had problems seeing Tony as anything but Sarah Manning doing a mumbly American accent while wearing a press-on goatee. Anyone else have this issue? We didn’t really see enough of Tony for me to form an opinion of his personality. So far 90% of my feelings for him are caused by my immediate affection for all characters played by Tatiana Maslany. It doesn’t look like Tony will be a main character, for now at least. He does have a clone phone (does Felix just have a bunch of spares in case of new clones?) so he’ll be back...eventually. Probably next time the writers need someone to pop in with game changing exposition.

My favorite part about Tony was probably how little he was thrown by the whole clone thing. As a trans man, he’s spent enough time thinking about his identity to know exactly who he is. The fact that he has a bunch of women running around with his face is more a curiosity for him than a crisis. It brings up an interesting question. Why is having clones of yourself so upsetting? If one was completely confident in who they are, would it necessarily matter to them that they are the product of an illegal experiment?

Tony stops by just long enough to give some mysterious exposition that will no doubt make sense soon. It was sort of like Tony had a giant envelope with ‘PLOT TWIST FOR SEASON FINALE’ written on it. Tony’s message: Sammy told him to tell Beth “Keep the faith, Paul’s like me. He’s on it. He’s a ghost.” Anyone who can tell me what that means gets a cookie.

I have some serious questions about Sammy and Tony. Questions like: Was Sammy Tony’s monitor? Did Sammy know Beth? Did Beth know Sammy was Tony’s monitor? Why was Dyad after Tony and/or Sammy? How many licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

A lot of the internet seems very into the idea of Felix and Tony as a couple (their ship name is Felony) but them kissing really grossed me out. It seemed downright incestuous. Felix, he is a literal clone of your little sister. Just...gahhhh. I’d love to know how Tatiana and Jordan felt about playing that. They have so many different sibling-y dynamics together, it must’ve been odd to play anything romantic, right?

Meanwhile, Alison and Donnie find themselves bonding over common experiences, by which I mean accidentally killing people. Alison, always the critic, has a few harsh words for Donnie when it comes to his actions. Very sloppy murder technique, Donnie, very sloppy.

Cosima had quite a lot to do this week, although her stuff felt very overshadowed by the new clone introduction. She finally gets Delphine high and the pair exchange I love yous (awww). She also comes out of the clone closet to Scott, who handles the revelation pretty damn well.

Cosima collapsing was a center piece of this week’s promo, but there was surprisingly little of that in the episode. It turned into our big cliffhanger for next week. Color me annoyed but thoroughly unsurprised. Hopefully now that Dr. Duncan and his floppy disc that will save the world are in the house, Cosima will live a long life. Not so confident about Duncan’s chances, though.

Rachel seems to have reacquired her ice queen demeanor only to lose it when she finds out that she can never have children. I can’t be alone in feeling that being thwarted in her desire for kids is not what set her off. The idea that someone designed her in order to limit her authority over her own body is troublesome, to say the least. It makes sense, however, that the scientists in charge of Project Leda would want the clones to be infertile. They wouldn’t want their altered genomes interfering with the ‘normal’ population.

Neolutionist Bits and Proleathean Pieces

Helena was again absent this week.

I remember seeing that Tatiana was asked about the possibility of playing a trans clone at Comic Con last year. I wonder if that influenced his introduction or if Tony was already in the works.

I was wondering why they didn’t give Tony shorter hair. According to a behind the scenes featurette that aired during the episode, it was decided that stuffing all of Tatiana’s hair under a wig would look unnatural. They have a point.

How long until one of the clones has to impersonate Tony? Can it PLEASE be Cosima?

The book Duncan was reading to Kira was The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, a story of a man who creates sort of people out of animals using vivisection. So yeah, not at all appropriate.

Tony calls Felix “Fifi.” Rachel calls Sarah a tramp.

Donnie was too drunk to pick his wife up from rehab. I know I make jokes about how Donnie can’t do anything right, but he really can’t do anything right, can he?

Clone Quotes

Felix: “My work as a child smuggler is done for the day.”

Rachel: “Paul, your absence is inconvenient and your silence is irksome.”
Using it.

Felix: “Holy Tilda Swinton!”

Sarah: “We need Auntie Alison, stat.”

Donnie: “And I’m sorry for hating your mother!”
Alison: “Everybody hates my mother.”

Sarah: “You’re the very best of us.”
Felix: “I know.”
Everyone knows.

three and a half out of four press-on goatees

sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany

21 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Yeah, I wasn't on board so much. Tatiana can play anything, but Tony felt off. Maybe it was all that hair. Hey, they're able to make Rachel look good with a wig. And a big no to Felony from me, too. He's kissing his sister!

Alison and Donnie bonding over accidental murder was pretty hilarious. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm starting to like Donnie.

Helena, you are missed!

Morgan India said...

Orphan Black needs more Scott. Scott is precious and needs to be protected at all times. Also that scene when he finds about about Cosima made me all teary.

Also YAY FOR PAUL BEING BACK IN TE GAME! I'm surprised no one heard me yelling about that before.

sunbunny said...

Just to clarify, I think it's beyond words amazing they added a trans clone to Clone Club in terms of representing a group tragically underrepresented in media. I'm just so used to seeing Tatiana as Sarah and Tony is so like Sarah…I wish they had made a few different choices with his characterization. But he hasn't gotten much screen time compared to his sisters so maybe he'll seem more different the more we get to know him :)

Morgan I always hear you yelling in my head whenever Paul is mentioned. You'd think your piercing scream would not be loud enough to transverse the entire Pacific Ocean, but you'd be wrong.

Vero said...

I think the introduction of Tony is the first time the writers of OB have me questionning what the hell they are doing. I guess I was a bit disappointed with the episode? Well, just the Tony parts. I'm not sure if it's because Tony didn't feel that useful to the story and more like "hey, look, Tatiana can play a dude!" or if it's because I just didn't feel like Tatiana pulled it off at all (or maybe the hair/makeup department?).

I easily forget that all the clones are played by the same person, but Tony was just too similar to Sarah to work. I thought the only redeeming element was the chemistry between Tatiana and Jordan during Tony and Felix's banter. The romantic stuff just confused me, it didn't make much sense.

Anyway, maybe it's just that I feel that the show already has almost too many characters for a show that has only 10 episodes per season. I want more Paul, and Helena, and how about using Art more? We've already had Rachel, Cal and Duncan as new characters this season, not sure Tony was that much needed.

Okay, I'm done. ;-)

Vero said...

Actually, maybe I'm not done, lol.

After sunbunny's clarification, I wanted to clarify my comment as well. I think including a trans clone in the clone club is a great idea. I just think it didn't feel warranted at this point in the story, and I didn't think the execution was great, or even good. Maybe they should have waited a bit.

sunbunny said...

But Vero, who would have brought THE BIG PLOT TWIST FOR THE SEASON FINALE neatly wrapped up into an enigmatic one liner lol

For my part, I was sure they'd wait to add a new clone until one left the series. At some point, this has to put a strain on Tatiana, right?

Vero said...

I know, sunbunny, I know! ;-) Though, after not seeing him for almost a full season, will the big plot twist for the season finale really involve Paul? In any case, I'm not really in a hurry to see Tony. Come on show, concentrate on all those characters we already love!

Anonymous said...

This was the first episode when I thought: "They might be jumping the shark", I didn't buy it, and I might be the only one, but I think Tatiana she did not pull this off....

My question is, why introduce a completely new clone so late into season, when we have so much going on.

I get confused regarding the timeline. How much time exactly have passed since Beth's suicide? Weeks? Months?

milostanfield said...

Loved the hell out of Tony as a character and can't wait to see him back. And we will. He got a clone phone as you said, and he has a motivation to avenge the death of Sammy. Tony will probably cash in the bus ticket, steal a car, and drive right back to Cincinnati to push some buttons.

I think he's also the story gateway to whatever large entity out there that we haven't seen yet. We got corporate science and fringe religion so far with fingers in the clone pie. There's something else. Govt/military is the obvious choice but I think the writers have another curveball in the glove for us, and it will definitely GET (shirtless!) PAUL BACK IN THE GAME. I'm also thinking it wasn't Dyad that ambushed Tony and Sammy but "something else". Dyad ambushing their own monitor AND a clone makes no sense to me. Maybe Sammy was Tony's monitor but not for Dyad. No tootsie pop or cookie probably but that's the best I could come up with.

Much of the point of Tony was that he IS Sarah with a pair, or as rock of this show Felix put it: "definitely from your batch." And the differences were cool too. You mentioned how his dealing with his own gender issues made him better able to deal with "cloney" issues. I also liked his macho naivete (been there). It made both Sarah and Fee want to protect him which was sweet. And the hair? I can hand wave and live with "it's a mullet".

I didn't get any yucky incest vibe from Fee/Tony, other than a bit of understandable awkwardness from Fee. Tony is NOT Fee's sister, just another wonderfully flawed human with their own life like every other clone, which is the point of this show. Besides, any time you get two people in a room, both pumped full of T naturally and artificially, both of whom like pushing buttons, something's gonna go down. It's how they roll.

You're right. A lot of big character moments were crammed into 40 plus minutes. Inevitable I guess given the show structure. Too bad they can't do 50 or even 60 min as needed per episode, but that's TV.

We all knew Cosima's collapse was coming of course, especially with all the happy lab hijinks leading up to it. 108 ended with Kira being hit and recovering in 109. Hope that repeats in 208/209.

Rachel learning that she was "born this way" was a big wallop. They even broke the fourth wall. "Barren by design" is the most odious phrase since Orwell's "War is Peace".

At least Alison and Donnie are together again singing "Blood In The Car Trunk". I just love her so much!

Apologies for the length but there's just so much in this show to talk about!

sunbunny said...

milostanfield - NEVER complain about the length of a comment! We love comments.

My current working theory about Paul/Sammy is that they are undercover for the CIA or another covert organization, working to take down Dyad from the inside and that they somehow found out about Sammy which is why they were trying to kill him. Didn't include it in the review because I have absolutely zero evidence to back it up.

milostanfield said...

SB: Hey. Having zero evidence has never bothered me! So go for it.

Ah. So Sammy WAS a Dyad monitor and Dyad took him out once they realized he was a mole for "other big entity." And since Tony, as Antoinette, was in the system, unlike Sarah and Helena, Dyad probably knew about her (but maybe not him). That is a bit simpler than my theory. Good ole Occam's Razor.

Guess I'm just a bit wary of saying Dyad because Tony's "$400 shoes" quip and Fee's "Sammy has monitor written all over him" remark seem like writer's misdirection. So yeah I have no real evidence, just paranoia.

Anonymous: OB's timeline is pretty tight. It's not "24" but I'm thinking a few weeks to a month at the very most like you. We know 201 started one second after 110 ended, and I can think of only a couple of instances where a character's remark implied a day or two had passed. Otherwise it's been run like hell to the next plot point. Makes me wonder if we'll ever see Helena pregnant. The whole series would be over before she ever came to term!

Mark Greig said...

You have to love Alison. She finds out her husband killed someone and she's more upset with how badly he wrapped the body. And am I the only one who wants to meet her mother?

Mark Greig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Panda said...

I couldn't take Tony seriously either, and definitely agree with the ickiness of Tony and Felix. Great review as usual sunbunny.

Otherwyrld said...

Late to the clone party again :(

Regarding Tony's beard, I'm wondering if it was deliberately bad, as in it is something that Tony himself stuck on because he wasn't happy with the speed at which his masculinity was developing? If you look at the pictures, Tony has some much more natural looking facial hair along his jawline and upper lip, which I think might be where his actual beard growth has got to. The fake goatee is where he would like his beard growth to be.

This is just wild speculation of course, I have no idea how far along Tony is with his change of gender.

Heather said...

I have a question about Leekie. How does Rachel or anyone from Dyad know he's dead? Does he have some kind of "Hunger Games" tracker in him that gave away his lack of vitals? Lol.
Also, how did Beth originally find Tony? Fingerprints in the system? Mugshot?
I'm not really questioning any of this for real. I'm loving this season much more than to get stuck in the minutia but those two things stood out.
Also, I love Tony.

milostanfield said...

Heather - my guess is that Rachel is 1) - saying he is dead but sort of hopes he isn't. She did warn him out of lingering affection for him because he was her mentor. 2) - just assuming he is dead and the heart attack story was a cover they had ready anyway. Maybe both at the same time. (Full disclosure: ALL of my guesses and theories about OB have been wrong!)

Only Alison and Deadeye Donnie know the truth so far. That will change. They have a body to get rid of. Maybe they'll ask Ramon for help!

Beth finding Tony? - probably her cop resources. I wonder if she found about Antoinette before she became Tony. Also wondering if Dyad only knows about Antoinette but not about Tony.

Heather said...

milostanfield,
Your disclosure made me laugh out loud.
Love that this show is so incredible we can all speculate a great many things at any given moment.
Wow, it be so eerie if the Dyad already has a spin story chambered for their employees in case of their untimely demise.
Can't wait to learn more about Tony.

hekates said...

Leakey disappeared, and he was told that if he.avoided his.car and home he might have a chance at surviving. Rachel has.to tell people about.where he went, why he isn't coming back. People don't retire on a dime. Death is the only plausible story regardless of whether he actually is. Tony didn't work so well for me but I love the brother among the sisters.

Kara said...

From a sci-fi perspective, I would have found a biologically male clone more exciting than a trans clone. You would think that if they could clone, it wouldn't be that hard to change one chromosome and make a male clone. That would have been a really cool "mind-blowing" development. Felix said something along the lines of "He's just another version of Sarah" which was true. At this point, we've seen enough clones that a new clone who is just a slight variation is not that exciting.

Also, Tony just didn't work as a character for me. Tatiana didn't really pull off the male voice. Maybe Tony is supposed to be transitioning so he wouldn't have a totally male voice but it just didn't work. And they really should have given him short hair. I don't know any trans men(?) personally, so I don't know how it typically works but I would think one of the first changes they would make would usually be to cut off their hair.

sunbunny said...

Kara - They did try a short wig on Tatiana but apparently she had too much hair to keep bundled up discreetly underneath so they went with mullet.