Orphan Black: Certain Agony of the Battlefield

“I just hope it’s not as twisted as it looks.”

After a week of mulling and rewatching, I’ve come to the conclusion that Orphan Black has never produced a finer hour of television.


To quote Sarah Manning, “Shit, as they say, is completely sideways.” We finally discover what Coady is up to and surprise, it’s awful. War crimes awful. She’s trying to make the Castors’ defect into a biological weapon which is just so…shuddery. She’s trying to engineer a way to make innocent civilians infertile in order to end conflicts by depriving them of future combatants. You don’t need an overactive imagination to see where this goes. More troubling, the government seems to have approved of or even officially sanctioned this research. Paul’s contact at Arlington seemed appalled when he heard of Paul’s discoveries, but someone from Arlington called Rudy to tip him off.

Stepping away from the broader implications Coady’s experiments have (had?), what she’s doing in real time is just as horrific. She sent out her boys to sleep with as many women as possible in order to see what would happen, expecting them to become ill and sterile. And Rudy at least was in on it. That’s a whole new kind of perverse. Rudy is just disgusting and I need him dead. Soon.

Coady infects Sarah with Rudy’s blood, Sarah gets sick and hallucinates a whole bunch (see below), ultimately inspiring Paul to make the discoveries he does. Their scene together is pretty painful, especially on rewatch. Her reaching for him and his concern at her illness…there are no words. Or there are, but I don’t have them. For all of Cal’s virtues, he and Sarah don’t have half the chemistry Sarah and Paul have. Or had. Sad face.

While I did like Paul and I loved him with Sarah, from a story point it was the smart thing to kill him off. Orphan Black has so much going on right now, winnowing it down is definitely a good thing. He did get to valiantly declare his love for Sarah before his death. Plus, I mean, if you have to die, dying in a fiery explosion to save the woman you love while destroying a potential biological weapon after suffering a major stab wound and taking four bullets to the chest is pretty much the most badass way you can go.

After being infected by Coady but before being cured by her miraculous Sarah-ness, Sarah gets led down the rabbit hole by the littlest clone Charlotte and into a truly awesome hallucination of Beth. I say hallucination and it’s important to remember that it is just that. Like Pupok, ‘Beth’ isn’t real. She’s a part of Sarah’s brain. She’s merely an imitation. A bit of a shoddy imitation at that. Little details are off. The shoes ‘Beth’ takes off at the end of the scene are a different style than the ones she wore in real life. In fact, her entire costume is just a little too frumpy. Sarah should know better, she’s been in her closet. Or maybe it’s just Sarah’s subconscious differentiating between Sarah and Beth. Maybe, deep down, Sarah fancies herself the hotter one and still thinks of Beth as a “square.”

‘Beth’ takes pills, as Sarah knows Beth did habitually. On the table near where they’re having their conversation are a badge and gun. ‘Beth’ appears tired and a little sweaty, possibly because so much of what Sarah knows about Beth she learned from videos of her running. There’s a lot of Alison in ‘Beth;’ I’m thinking in particular of the way she says “grifters.” Sarah knows Alison was the closer one to Beth. She’s silhouetted in light like she is when Sarah first encounters her at the train station. What’s more than that, a silhouette is all ‘Beth’ really is. An image that leads us to imagine what is there without really showing us the actual truth.

What’s most interesting about this scene is the choices Sarah’s brain made for ‘Beth’ that I can’t easily explain. Two things: the fact that she makes them tea, and the location of their conversation, both things closely associated with Mrs. S. Sarah is still harboring some serious resentment towards her mother after the Helena incident. ‘Beth’ said “We do terrible things for the people we love,” which is exactly what Mrs. S did last season. In order to save Sarah and Kira, she handed Helena over  for rendition. That’s a terrible thing done for the people she loved. Was ‘Beth’ supposed to represent more than Beth?


I really did think Helena went back for Sarah last week. I was wrong. Instead, she made her escape into the desert with Pupok. I guess Helena’s decision to go back needed to be a more momentous scene. Pupok is essentially Helena’s desire to survive. He’s her coping mechanism. She dissociates in a way so that the rational part of her brain (Pupok) can talk her through whatever situation she finds herself in. That’s all Pupok is about. Keeping Helena alive. He doesn’t care about Sarah. He wants Helena to keep walking in the desert instead of wasting valuable time going back, even for her sister. Helena is ultimately able to overcome the need for her dissociative state, literally consuming Pupok and making him a part of her again. That accomplished, Helena is able to weigh the value of continuing on versus going back and chooses to return for Sarah. Because, again, “We do terrible things for the people we love.”


Cosima had a little more to do this week than usual, but was still singing back up to Sarah. I always forget Shay’s name while watching and think of her as Kale. So, I’m going to lean into that and just refer to her as Kale. Okay, so now I’m thinking Kale might be a civilian after all. Her asking about Sarah and pressing Cosima to drink a mysterious concoction is super fishy. Too fishy, really. Could she be nothing more than a red herring? Fish pun! Okay, but really. Besides the fact that she’s obviously wearing a wig, how is Kale acting differently than a normal person?

At least we now know who was taking those surveillance photos - Delphine, which…boundaries, woman! You can’t just send stalkers after your ex girlfriend to spy on her and her new lady. And no ‘But the Ledas are in constant mortal danger! It’s smart of Delphine to keep track of the new people in their lives!’ excuses will be borne. At least not until surveillance pics of Alison and Jason Kellerman turn up.

Cosima’s time with Gracie this week was really delightful. The way she was treating Gracie, talking to her with such kindness, helping her zip up her jacket, is just so…Cosima. If Gracie is to be completely convinced that Clone Club are not abominations, Cosima is probably the best person for her to bond with as she is the only Leda who is a) not a murderer and b) not astonishingly prickly (looking at you, Sarah).

Oh and, for the record, Kale mentioned that Cosima’s been coughing. That’s…probably not great.


My least favorite clone is Rachel. Weirdly, some of my favorite scenes this week were hers. Seeing her so vulnerable really brings out the humanity in her. I have to say, I loved the scene between her and Felix. So much of her true nature is able to come across now that she’s been stripped of her skyscraper heels and Britisher than thou attitude.

Felix really didn’t do anything to her, nothing that would warrant the reaction she produced for a normal person under normal conditions. He drew an eye on her eyepatch. A little mean girl, maybe, but hardly torture. The way she recoiled from his touch speaks volumes. She is so like Sarah in so many ways. She doesn’t like to be touched, first of all. It’s hardly surprising given that we opened the season with Delphine torturing her. But she’s always been that way. Remember how she told Kira that Sarah had “laid hands” on her? Exactly like Sarah, Rachel doesn’t like personal contact unless she is the initiator, the one in control (think of that scene with Paul).

Control is Rachel’s main thing. We can imagine that being wheelchair ridden at the mercy of Delphine and her sisters is not her ideal situation. Not to mention the room she’s being housed in doesn’t have floor to ceiling windows. No wonder she wants out. We all know how Rachel feels about windows. She’s clearly being treated well, despite her prisoner status. She’s wearing silk pajamas after all. And getting regular art therapy. Compare that with the treatment of Sarah and Helena in Castor captivity.

Even with everything that happened with Paul, I think the saddest moment of the episode might have been the realization that no one loves Rachel. In an episode all about relationships, Rachel ends the episode alone, looking at a picture of her and her deceased father. And that comes off Helena’s line to Sarah “Come sestra, people miss us.” Delphine told Topside Rachel was dead and that was it. No one seemed to care. No one’s looking for her, looking for answers. Felix had it right when he said “No one is coming for you. Do you understand? Because no one cares.” Is there room in Clone Club for Rachel? After everything she’s done to Cosima and Sarah and even Kira, is there room for forgiveness? I find myself hoping that, despite everything, the answer to that is yes. Scott’s discovery that she may know Duncan’s code gives her a door into the group, let’s hope she chooses to walk through it and not slam it in everyone’s face.


As with every other episode so far this season, my biggest complaint is Alison. However hilarious her antics, they’re totally unrelated to the main narrative and at utter odds with the tone of the rest of the episode. Now that my substantive complaint is over, forget I said anything and just enjoy these gifs.

Bits and Pieces

Donnie’s extravagant “I’m a successful drug dealer now” gift to himself was, of course, a car. But not just any car. A Subaru. Presumably with an excellent warranty and enough room in the trunk for those weekend trips out to Costco. (Yes, I know Subaru is a sponsor of the show, don’t let it dampen your enjoyment of Donnie’s super practical choice in impulse purchasing.)

Paul mentions that Mark was on Sammy’s team. Sammy was Tony Sawicki’s friend and monitor, and, like Paul, a double agent for Castor within Dyad.

In a throwaway line, Paul mentions that Castor was trying to cure six soldiers. We only know of five Castor clones: Miller, Rudy, Seth, Parsons, and Mark. Does that mean that there’s one still out there left to be discovered?

Miller looked pretty dead, but then so did Helena in season one. He never really became a character to me, always standing just behind Coady. Even Parsons had more of a personality.

Clone Quotes

Alison: “Are your underpants tear away, mister?”
Donnie: “No, but the elastic’s wearing out, so…”

Donnie: “Cars aren’t conspicuous, Alison. They’re like everywhere.”

‘Beth’: “I killed myself because I couldn’t understand it.
Sarah: “Neither can I.”
‘Beth’: “You’re starting to.”

‘Beth’: “We do terrible things for the people we love.”

Alison: “When we own it, we’ll run it differently.”
Donnie: “As a drug front?”
Alison: “Yes!”

Paul: “It was never Beth I loved.”

four out of four tasty scorpion hallucinations

sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany


milostanfield said...

Yes! An awesome episode. Great insight into Rachel in your review. With so much other greatness I glossed over those scenes. Rewatch!

My favorite episode is still S01E06, the suburban pot luck at Alison's, and this one edges out S02E07, the rehab/Vic-In_glitter episode, as my new second best. I think the writers are still better at lighter episodes but this ep is the best "serious" one so far.

There just hasn't been much room for Alison & Donnie in the more serious, plot heavy direction the show needed to take. So their antics are just out there to enjoy as comic relief. I don't mind at all.

Favorite scenes: Helena eating Popuk, and Paul's awesome soldiering.

Alyce said...

One quick point - I thought Paul's line was "Curing sick soldiers" rather than "six soldiers" so it may not have any reference to the number of Castor clones. However, given the number of Leda clones (remembering the branch that were 'eliminated' alongside the women we know of) I'd be surprised if there weren't more.

I havent been a fan of Paul's for a while but I have to admit that there is(was) definite palpable emotion between Sarah and Paul tonight. It makes sense (internally and meta) for Paul to die at this point but it is a definite loss.

Does Sarah's hallucination of Charlotte leading her into the light indicate that Charlotte has died? Or at least that Sarah believes so? I'm not sure I understood the significance of choosing that character as a guide in the circumstance.

Still my favourite show on TV!