Orphan Black: Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate

“We’re going to dismantle that bitch.”

And now for our annual ‘Alison’s life goes to heck in handbasket’ episode. Holy fishsticks, where do I start?

Cosima is, predictably, terrible at impersonating her sisters. She didn’t even try to match Alison’s clipped tones, couldn’t contain her characteristic hand talking, and came out during her speech. Don’t quit your day job, Cos. She (and Felix and Alison) were just lucky that Alison’s outfit featured tattoo concealing long sleeves, a dreadlocks concealing hat, and that there was a stash of wigs conveniently located nearby. I’ve actually been thinking for a while that it would probably be worth it for the sisters to invest in a wig collection as these situations keep coming up.

This one felt more contrived than the previous ones. Actually, a lot of the episode did. Mixing up the campaign signatures and the money? Really? Hyper organized Alison isn’t going to make incredibly sure that the $30,000 in drug money gets to where it’s going? Cosima shows up to get Alison’s urine for Delphine (weird sentence) because she couldn’t wait an hour until Alison’s major event was over. Alison’s mom calls her knowing she’s in the middle of this big event to tell her that she’s not going to sell her the store (I guess that one could be attributed to her mother wanting to sabotage her? maybe?). Alison goes to deliver the drug money leaving Cosima to make her speech when it just as easily could’ve been the other way around. It was fun and enjoyable but that doesn’t mean I’m going to automatically give it an automatic pass on this, especially since they’ve done this sort of thing more realistically in the past.

Alison’s mom isn’t quite what I was expecting. She was just as judgmental, controlling, and, frankly, bitchy as I thought she’d be, but she was more than that. Connie Hendrix is definitely a woman of contradictions. She demanded Donnie take Alison’s name when they married and then judged him for agreeing to the request. She thinks “Mr. Chubs” isn’t good enough for Alison and instead has always wanted her to be with a guy who might as well have ‘trouble’ tattooed on his forehead. Their high school picture was hilarious. Alison in her perfect little cheerleader uniform and Jason looking like a stereotypical 90s stoner/slacker/Nirvana worshipper. Which was a little out of date, since the clones (minus Charlotte) were born in 1984 and would have been in high school in the late 90s/early 00s. Which makes them younger than Buffy Summers. Which is extremely confusing for some reason.

Okay back to Mrs. Hendrix. She wants Alison to succeed but doesn’t support her in her attempts to better her life, which is maybe not so exotic as far as crappy parenting goes. She calls Cosima a “mulatto” (I gasped in horror) but is fine with Alison bringing her to the club. She “doesn’t want her grandchildren to feel the pinch” but is fine with them having to switch to a subpar school under the school board trusteeship of Marci Coates. She acts like a posher than thou princess but seems to have risen no higher in life than owning a soap store in suburban Toronto.

The thing that really struck me about Connie is how little she seems to care about Alison. She wants her to be successful but doesn’t seem to care about her happiness. Alison is an object to her, a measure of her own success as a mother. She wants Alison to appear to have the perfect life but doesn’t seem to give a crap about the reality of Alison’s life. She clearly doesn’t listen to Alison. She was introduced to her daughter’s genetic identical and totally dismissed the situation. Chalk that one up to shock and denial if you’re feeling generous. Supporting Marci Coates in the election for school board trustee is a little less of a grey area.

Cosima trying to get Alison to do her urinalysis for her was a little weird mostly because it wouldn’t have worked. We established in season one that the clones can be differentiated by DNA and you can get DNA from urine. Maybe Cosima was counting on them not looking that closely? I was so proud of Alison when she decided to not “help” Cosima. She realizes that Cosima is sick again and knows that her best chance at getting treatment is honesty, even to people as untrustworthy as Dyad.

Delphine’s straight haired twin is back. The show just doesn’t feel the same without Èvelyne. I continue to be bored by Shay Kale and unsure of how much she knows about the whole clone thing. She did eavesdrop on Cosima and Delphine’s conversation but that could be chalked up to normal curiosity. Your new girlfriend’s ex-girlfriend stops by your apartment for a secret tête-à-tête? How do you ignore that? I am quickly tiring of this love triangle, largely because it’s patently obvious which one Cosima belongs with. And if Kale turns out to be a perfectly normal woman totally unconnected with the larger mythology, Orphan Black will be guilty of underutilizing the fabulously talented Ksenia Solo. Still, as we left Cosima hemorrhaging in a bathtub, I’m happy someone, even Kale, was with her.

Keeping Up with Clone Club

I’m digging brain damaged Rachel, which I know sounds awful. I like how her injury has made her more vulnerable without radically changing her personality. And I’m really enjoying her “bonding” with Scott. Delphine physically tortured Rachel. Felix tortured Rachel by drawing an eye on her eyepatch. Now it’s Scott’s turn to torture her with the magic of complex role playing games. Rachel thought it would just be a cover but no no no, Scott’s determined to maintain the appearance of innocence by genuinely making her play the game. Scott is one of Orphan Black’s least utilized but most interesting characters. He’s genuinely kind in the same way Felix is. It’s delightfully subversive that Orphan Black’s non-evil, non-romantic interest male characters take on the traditionally female role of caretaker. Although Felix has had literally nothing else to do this season besides taking care of Sarah and Siobhan and Gracie and Alison and Cosima and I’m beginning to get annoyed at how little he’s being used. There’s been a criminal lack of Felix one liners so far this season.

What was I talking about? Right. Scott. I’m definitely getting the vibe that he’s Team Rachel. Not that he’s attracted to her because that would be pretty disturbing but that he wants her to find redemption, to find her place in Clone Club. He also probably feels guilty about the pivotal role he played in the pencil incident.

Sarah and Cosima managed to make it through the desert to a bar with a magically intuitive and kindly bartender. Seriously what was with her? She somehow knows Helena is pregnant, also knows that Helena should not have access to pointy objects, and even lets Sarah use her shower. Is she working for Castor or has this show made me unduly paranoid? Maybe don’t answer that.

Mrs. S shows up to take them looking like a badass archaeologist. The contrast between her and Mrs. Hendrix is obvious. Alison’s mother can’t be bothered to vote for her only child in a school board trustee election while Mrs. S not only travels to Mexico to bring home her daughter (plus provide her with the necessary, probably less than legal travel documents) but has to deal with said daughter’s troublesome twin as well. Not only is Helena a literal murderer (who, let’s not forget, killed her own birth mother just a few months ago), she has every reason to hate Siobhan right now. The way S approached her was interesting. It was half her typical mother hen thing, and half extraordinary caution. Before this season, Mrs. S was never shown as anything less than a force to be reckoned with. Her brutally murdering the Birdwatchers comes to mind. This season, she’s already been victimized by Castor and now we see her afraid again here. One of the many things Orphan Black excels at is letting its Strong Female Characters™ be vulnerable, be afraid, be bested without undermining their characterization or their strength. So many shows fail at this (glares at Game of Thrones).

Helena’s rage at S is eventually quelled as she gives into the better angels of her nature. Leekie once described Helena as “feral,” which is accurate as hell. If you scratch her ears she is just as as likely to start purring as to scratch your face off. Although framed that way, I’m sort of just describing your average cat. Can Helena be tamed? Short answer: probably not. But she has at least proven herself to not be dangerous to Sarah or Kira and I can’t see her ever intentionally harming her baby (-ies). And she’s never been cruel. Unpredictable and violent, yes, but never deliberately mean.

Finally: Sarah. Traumatized, physically and emotionally exhausted, Sarah finally gets what she needs: her mother. I teared up a little bit when she called her “mum.” I know she’s done it before, but the bond between these women never ceases to amaze me. It’s so real, it’s so deep, it’s so complicated and Maria Doyle Kennedy and Tatiana Maslany just play the hell out of it.

Bits and Pieces

Donnie took Alison’s name. I felt this merited mentioning again.

Speaking of Donnie, this episode marks the second time he has found himself at the mercy of craft supplies.

The appearance of Connie Hendrix necessarily invites other clone family questions. Like where are Cosima’s parents? Do Beth’s parents even know she’s dead? What about Katya’s?

Did anyone else think Delphine was going to step on Kale and squish her like an ant?

Again, Kale handed Cosima a drink (this time a glass of white wine, not a mystery smoothie) and it occurs to me that Cosima’s illness didn’t start to reappear until Kale strolled into her life. Coincidence? She also claimed her stomach in the name of Spain but I’m not sure I can make anything of that.

Clone Quotes

Helena: “Paul was a good man in the end.”

Alison: “Cosima needs my pee.”
Felix: “What do you mean she needs your pee? What for?”
Alison: “I don’t know. Science?”

Felix: “You need bangs. Bangs that say unhappy, sexless marriage.”
Oh Felix, if you only knew.

Felix: “Sarah Stubbs.”
Cosima as Alison: “Hi Sarah Stubbs.”
Sarah Stubbs: “Hi Alison…Hendrix.”

Felix: “Pouchy? Pouchy as in the crime lord that cut off Vic’s finger?”
Alison: “Maybe.”
Felix: “There are not two Pouchys, darling.”

Cosima as Alison: “As a lesbian…supporter.”

Connie: “I will never understand that hairstyle.”

three out of four lesbian…supporters

sunbunny, who is probably not played by Tatiana Maslany

4 comments:

mazephoenix said...

Okay just wondering..when did Ksenia Solo play someone called Kale? Kenzi was on Lost Girl..Her love interest was Hale.
Oh loved the review. I think Alison would be better organized, yes.
Helena is indeed a cat. I hope she purrs.

sunbunny said...

mazephoenix - She hasn't, but I kept forgetting her character name and kept wanting to call her Kale for some reason. I had thought it was just because she was all nutritiony and annoying like kale but now that you mention it Kenzi and Hale might have had something to do with the reason that kept popping into my head.

Josie Kafka said...

Topher Darling, I'm very sorry, but I had to delete your comment because it spoiled a recent event in Game of Thrones.

If you would like to re-post the comment without the spoiler, please feel free to do so! You could call it a "recent event," for instance. :-)

I've got a copy of your comment saved, too. If you forgot what you wrote and want me to send it to you, please email me: douxreviews at gmail.

mazephoenix said...

Oh figured Kale might be a shipping name for Kenzi/Hale..Well it's better than Shay. I hope Shay has no agenda and is just a normal person.
I felt badly for Rachel here..wonders never cease. No Castors this week-yay. Well, I assume they'll be back. They just don't interest me as much as the Ledas.