'Orphan Black' recap: 'Formalized, Complex, and Costly'
“Formalized, Complex, and Costly.” What a perfect title for an episode that showcases just how complicated this entire Castor/Leda experiment is and how costly it has become to its participants, both physically and emotionally. The line comes again from Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell speech where he addresses the U.S industrial arms revolution. And in the case of Orphan Black, it’s clear that the creators of the clones were engineering their own revolution, however ethically dubious it is. We learned some important things in this episode. Mainly, thanks to Cosima’s YouTube-taught surgery skills, that the Ledas and the Castors are siblings. But also, Sarah discovered that Helena’s eggs have been harvested and implanted both inside her and Gracie, expanding the seestras’ family in ever more weird ways. (Kira’s going to have some odd first cousins.) Art was also filled with revelations: mainly that he was in love with his former partner Beth Childs and his quest to save the seestras stems from that love. Oh, and we can’t forget that clone managers Paul and Dr. Cody are also part of some ethically dubious weapons program, leading me to believe that the Castors are somehow part of that same program—human drones? Soldiers bred to fight?
It was a great episode overall, one with just the right mix of plot advancement and character development. And I will confess, I started to feel some sympathy for the Castors—well, specifically Mark and his poor bride, Gracie. Rudy remains awful, but I have hope that Helena will get to “the ugliest Mark” sooner or later. While we wait, let’s put our girls through the Orphan Black Clone Status Variable Invasive Hyper-Sequence Generator Calcutron and rank them according to their bone-cutting abilities.
1. Cosima: Doesn’t Cosima work in a lab? Isn’t that a more appropriate place to cut open mustachioed Seth’s diseased skull rather than Felix’s apartment? Regardless, this is a TV show, and I think we should take one moment to pause and acknowledge that Cosima cut open a skull based on watching some YouTube videos. Nuts. But I will admit I loved all the gore and how Felix and Scott were losing it while Cosima was having a grand ole time playing Dr. Frankenstein. And plus, without her, we’d have no idea that the Ledas and Castors are one big happy family now. But it is worth noting that the women didn’t inherit the genetic defect that is turning the Castors from sociopath freaks into neurological zombies. It will be interesting to see where they go from here. I would have thought they’d be going in the direction of forming an uneasy alliance with the Castors but with only crazy Rudy really left, who wants to partner with that guy? Perhaps Gracie can find some solace with the sisters considering she’s carrying some of their genes, but that will only happen if she can escape her crazy Puritanical-looking mother—a woman who seems to have completely lost her marbles. She goes back with her crazy mother who knows what’s coming her way.
2. Sarah may have stayed away from the chain saw but she certainly cut to the bone in her dealings with Art, Gracie, and Mark. I enjoyed Art and Sarah’s shoe leather detective work. They certainly make a good pair, and Art’s reveal about his feelings for the deceased Beth Childs gave him a more human, vulnerable side. Plus his recognition of the clones’ ferocity was pretty great. There was actually quite a bit of male vulnerability in this episode, and I think it’s what made it so good—from Art’s official intro to Clone Club to Scott and Felix’s flirting to Mark experiencing “sex things” for the first time. Sarah and Mark’s meet-angry at Willard Finch’s farm also felt like the beginning of a new chapter until freaky Mrs. Johannson put a serious damper into that nascent brother-sister relationship. Who didn’t freak out when Mark begs for his life by saying, “I love her,” and she replies, “Not like her mother,” before blowing him apart.
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3. Alison: Business is booming for Team Hendrix. They are blackmailing on the bike path, proposing revamped school lunches, and making serious cash. “We should have been dealing drugs years ago,” says Donny. And while Allison’s storyline still remains so distinct from the rest of the drama happening on Orphan Black, it gives all of us a little respite from this season’s great mystery. I’m just hoping we don’t get into any cartel nonsense or rival drug dealers. Because, really who’s got the stomach for any more drama?
4. Helena’s storyline was mostly just the locale, in order to learn about the Castor clones’ wants and needs. And sadly there was no pet scorpion to give her a little pep talk. What we did learn is that Helena doesn’t have the defect, they still need the original genetic material, and Paul is wanted back in Arlington because there is a glitch in the weapons program they are running. What weapons program?!? Dr. Cody is one interesting character and her line “If you can protect them, I can cure them” leads to so many questions. I need to know what this weapons program is, and here’s a hunch, somehow Sarah’s Cal is remotely connected to it too.
But getting back to Helena, her one great cell scene when she gets all classy, licks her palm, and urges Paul into her cell? Man, that girl has all the moves. She does tell Rudy (i.e. the ugliest Mark yet) that she will kill them all. And you know she means it.
5. Rachel’s getting stronger but her realization that she’s no longer in charge leaves her despondent. She also doesn’t recognize the Castor symbol of the two-headed horses any longer, a sign that her involvement with them was greater than we knew and yet she can no longer remember what it was all about. Will she gain her memory back? What will Dyad do to her now? Will she find her way back to her family now even though it was Sarah who did this damage in the first place?
Sidenotes: The sexual tension between Scott (a.k.a. Scooter, Lieutenant Scotty) and Felix is fantastic. I hope they amp that storyline up in subsequent episodes.
Gracie’s fierceness was also explored in this episode. It may have been the saddest honeymoon ever but she did eat some sweet cinnamon buns from a turbaned man, had some sex, and realized her power. Hopefully she can escape the clutches of her mother too.
Until next week Clone Club.