Orphan Black: Formalized, Complex, and Costly

Season three continues to plug along at a decent pace but I couldn’t help but feel that this episode suffered from a surfeit of expository details and a disappointing lack of cohesion.

We start with familiar territory for Orphan Black: body disposal. As in the second episode of the series, Sarah is faced with a dead clone and is not quite sure what to do with it. She really should’ve called Alison. Leekie could’ve gotten a bunkmate. (Although I don’t recall Alison confessing that little renovation project to her sisters, now that I think of it). The scenes relating to Seth’s body were weirdly my favorite of the episode. It was so darkly comical to see how jaded Clone Club’s become. Except Scott. Poor Scott.

Cosima continues in her role as Exposition Girl (one of the lesser known superheroes). This week she revealed that the Castor clones were biological brothers to the Leda clones. It’s not shocking, but it does make Rudy’s attempted seduction of Crystal pretty gross. Although, it’s Rudy. Everything about him is pretty gross. The way he hugged Virginia while sucking his thumb? Someone resurrect Sigmund Freud; we need the big guns on this one.

Our time in…wherever Helena’s being held was also a big exposition dump. By killing Seth, Rudy was following “protocol.” The idea that “the defect” is a severe enough problem to warrant a formal protocol is a little disturbing. How many Castor lives have been lost to it? Project Castor is also overseen by a “director” who may want to shut the program down which mirrors Topside’s inspection of Dyad in the season premiere. Maybe this problem too can be solved by a blonde wig and attempted strangulation.

Other than that, all we got in Helenaland was a pledge of loyalty to the Castors from Paul (which was oddly affecting) and a truly awesome scene between Rudy and Helena. Rudy thinks he has the upper hand. She is, after all, locked in a cell, isolated from every ally. Still, she isn’t afraid. She’s been through much worse and if he did get in there, I get the feeling she would literally rip him apart with her bare hands. Last week, I was all for Sarah gunning him down, but now I find myself wanting Helena to be the one to kill him. In any case, he needs to be gotten rid of before season’s end because good god he is creepy.

I had chalked the Proleatheans up as a nullified threat, but apparently the death of Henrik and the immolation of their ranch did little to quell their religious fervor. They’ve gone to ground, but are very much still out there. Bonnie Johanssen, wife of Henrik, mother of Gracie, and winner of the gold medal in the creepiest non-dead Proleathean contest, seems to have taken over the group. Nothing good can come of this. It is interesting that the threats to our girls are now all run by women, at least as far as we’ve seen.

The scavenger hunt for the missing genome continues this week. For some reason, Mark is convinced Henrik had it at some point and that he may have given it to a random hillbilly redshirt for safe keeping. Sarah wants it too, but last week Dr. Nealon told Cosima the original genome was gone. Has she not communicated this to Sarah? Of course, he could have been lying. And then Mark wants the original genome to cure his brothers, but last week we saw him burn his Castor tattoo off and Dr. Coady said that they’ve lost contact with him. Is he still working for them? If so, why hasn’t he called in? If not, why is he looking for the genome? Confusing.

I don’t think Mark is dead. Firstly because of Billie’s tenth rule of television (“If you don’t see the body, don’t believe anyone is dead.”) and secondly because what would be the point in introducing a whole new batch of clones if they were just going to kill them off one by one? At this rate, we’ll be out of Castor clones before we’re halfway through the season.

I have weird feelings about Bonnie going after Mark too. Grace told her he “took advantage” of her. The language there, to me at least, says rape. But Mark didn’t rape her. He lied to her, but he was never violent with her and it makes me feel sort of squeamish that maybe Bonnie killed (or just shot) Mark because of a false rape accusation. The idea that women lie about rape in order to get revenge on men who wrong them is just incredibly misogynistic, a word I never ever thought I’d apply to Orphan Black. Maybe she was shooting at him because Gracie told her he was ‘an abomination’ but I would have appreciated more clarity on the issue.

Speaking of lack of clarity, Art was in love with Beth. Holy retcon, Batman. My biggest question is did Beth know? Was this like an unrequited deal or did they actually have some sort of romantic relationship? He said “it happened,” which could mean ‘I fell in love with her’ or ‘we fell in love’ or really anything (‘we had sex but just one time,’ ‘we secretly eloped in Fiji,’ etc.). I’m not really on board with this idea because it really does feel out of the blue and completely lacking in set up. It also reminds me of a certain pairing in a recent film I had similar problems with. Season one showed us how close Art and Beth were but I never got a vaguely romantic vibe from him towards Sarah pretending to be Beth. Not even a little. Am I totally blind or is Art just really good at hiding his feelings? The producers have hinted that we’d be getting some Beth backstory this season. It better be more than this.

Alison’s drug dealing empire will be built on a foundation of homemade soaps, which isn’t a terrible cover. I still feel like her storyline is suffering from a lack of relevance, though. Our trips into Scarborough feel increasingly peripheral. Maybe if they brought Angie back in? She was out to get Alison last season and now Alison is breaking the law habitually and not just with the occasional murder/illegal corpse disposal, so maybe there’s something there?

Bits and Pieces

Pictured left to right: Tatiana Maslany, Kathryn Alexandre's
arm, Tatiana Maslany
As loathsome a character as she is, I was happy to see Alexis the abusive midwife come back. She’s played by Kathryn Alexandre, Tatiana Maslany’s main clone double. She puts a ton of work in on behalf of the show and deserves to get her face on screen every now and again and not just her arm.

A quick check-in with Rachel informs us that she is officially dead (thanks Delphine) and slowly getting better from her brain injury and that she doesn’t remember or never knew about Project Castor. Although apparently Dr. Nealon does. I told you he was shady.

Clone Quotes

Sarah: “Oh trust me, if Helena’s an abomination, I’m much worse.”

Art: “You are Beth’s sister. Through and through.”

Paul: “I served with these men, we owe them.”

Donnie: “We should’ve been drug dealers years ago.”

Alison: “Go sell a house, Marcie.”

Helena: “You are the ugliest Mark yet.”

Helena: “One day, I kill you all.”

two and a half out of four random hillbilly redshirts

sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany

4 comments:

sunbunny said...

I'm sorry this one is so very late you guys. I've been annoyingly busy recently.

Lamounier said...

Yeah, this one was boring, like second half of season two boring.

I’m having a déjà vu here. The Castor clones have a design problem that’s killing them and they need to find the original genome. Didn’t we go through that last season already, only it was the Leda Clones and Dyad searching for the genome/cure?

There were interesting parts, such as Grace’s arc. Zoe De Grand'Maison did a great job, and I hope Grace doesn’t fall for the crazy doctrines of the Proleatheans again. The main subtext of this series has been female empowerment, and a good way to showcase that would be having Grace achieve freedom of thought and become her own woman.

I’m enjoying Alison’s arc, but I agree with you, sunbunny, it’s such a distinct storyline that it’s like watching another series altogether. I also agree with you on the reveal that Art was in love with Beth. Does every male on this series need to feel attracted to Tatiana Maslany?

I'm sorry this one is so very late you guys.

It was worth the wait. The review was a great read.

TJ said...

I am sooo loving this show. But I have to wait for the next review to comment...next ep is epic

TheShadowKnows said...

"Does every male on this series need to feel attracted to Tatiana Maslany?"

I was thinking the same thing! And not just the men, but some of the women as well.

No disrespect intended to Ms. Maslany, who is certainly a very attractive woman, but I'm starting to wonder if the female clones have super pheromones or something.