You can't choose your family. Or can you?

By Nicole Sperling
June 03, 2015 at 09:47 PM EDT
Steve Wilkie/BBC AMERICA
  • TV Show

The family we create is so often far preferable to the one we are born into. While the title of this week’s Orphan Black is “Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate” from President Eisenhower’s farewell speech of 1961, this episode was clearly a chance for the sestras in two different countries to come together and realize that the family they have become is anything but a community of fear and hate. 

It was also a respite from the exhausting saga of the Castors—something I think all us Orphan Black fans can agree was desperately needed. Instead, the drama centered on Alison in what ultimately devolved into a Three’s Company episode involving drug lords and withholding mothers. Yet, it did provide some clues into Alison’s uptight nature, specifically her cold mother who despite her attempted switch-a-roo in the fertility lab, birthed a daughter who never lived up to her expectations. Let’s get on with the show and put our clones through our Orphan Black Clone Status Hyper-Sequence Generator Calcutron to determine which clone is the most vulnerable. 

1. Alison

We finally get to meet Connie, the owner of Bubbles soap shop and Alison’s uptight mother. I was expecting a woman more refined—hair blown out, exquisite jewelry—you know, typical high-society accouterments. She still fit the stereotype we were all expecting despite the lack of trappings. (Budget issues?) We will forgive her since she provided us with the fabulous nickname for Donnie: Mr. Chubbs. Alison has a lot going on this episode: fighting to be elected as school trustee, a job even her mother isn’t sure she should have; saving her husband—and his nose—from an envelope-swap mishap that leaves poor Mr. Chubbs at the mercy of the same limb-cutting drug lord that landed Sarah’s old flame Vic with one less finger; and landing the Bubbles shop from her mother while recognizing her mother’s true character.  

While at times it felt a little sappy, ultimately Alison became a more human clone this episode, a woman who comes to terms with her own abilities despite the rejection she constantly received from her mother. And, though Donnie spent most of his time in the grasps of a nutty Portuguese woman and some thugs, Mr. Chubbs actually had quite a few moments of strength. For a guy who took his wife’s name as his own when he married her—something Connie insisted upon, he threatens Jason Kellerman, speaks some Portuguese and seems less of a subservient husband then we’ve seen before. Team Hendrix is on the up-and-up, and that’s a good thing.

2. Cosima

Tatiana Maslany is one brave actress. There really is nothing she can’t do, and her willingness to go there is quite impressive. Yes, I’m referring to the opening shot of her as Cosima, lying in bed with Shay with a close-up of her upper thigh. Yes, it was bathed in forgiving soft light, but still. Anyway, I digress. Cosima is dealing with Delphine, who has now tracked her down to her girlfriend’s apartment asking for some urine. And while things seem all hunky-dory with Shay, there’s got to be something nefarious here. She’s spying on Cosima’s conversation with Delphine, and I’m not totally convinced that it’s just good-old fashioned nosiness. But Cosima isn’t well and she doesn’t want to give Delphine her urine. (Though I’m not quite sure why. She’s all about the science and she needs the cure more desperately than any of her sestras.) Rather, she’d prefer to track Alison down at the high school where she’s about to give her school trustee speech, only to be thrown into the chaos, playing Alison while Alison deals with the drug dealers.

Maslany is always great playing a clone playing imitating another clone, but the frenetic pace of characters playing other characters took on a level of absurdity rather quickly—a storyline we could see coming from a mile away that wasn’t inventive enough to surprise. Along the way, Cosima had to sport some “sexless marriage bangs” provided by Felix, kiss Jason Kellerman’s soft lips, humiliate herself onstage, be introduced to Alison’s mother (“That girl is mulatto”) and in the end walk away without any urine because now Dyad is a force of good and monitoring is just what we do(?).  I can’t decide if I hated this episode because of its lack of stakes or loved it for giving us a moment to breathe when every other episode this season has felt like life or death.

3. Sarah/Helena

Finally, Sarah gets to rest, a brief moment in a Mexican casita while Helena and Mrs. S resolve their differences. The opening of the episode was filled with so much melodrama between Mrs. S and Helena, it was a good thing it was set in Mexico. The only thing missing from this telenovela was a good old-fashioned bodice-ripping scene. “First I eat, then we fight,” says Helena, as clearly her only method for resolving conflict is getting in a few punches. And punch she did. Knocking Mrs. S good and silly until she finally relents and collapses in her arms. Helena may be one scrappy girl but she still needs some mothering and Mrs. S is ready to give it to her. (The same Mrs. S that betrayed her in the early episode.) Interestingly, in an episode filled with mother-daughter issues, the one that feels more genuine and whole is the one between Mrs. S and Helena, rather than the stilted one between Alison and Connie. Now if only Helena could get back to her boyfriend Jesse and her dream of driving tow trucks and raising babies. Rather, it’s looking like she and Sarah will return to Mrs. S’ house and Helena will birth her baby while a barren Gracie looks on. That won’t be awkward at all.

4. Rachel

Things are sure to become more complicated now that Rachel is getting stronger. She and once-meek Scott begin working together under the guise of a medieval farming game to work out the clues left by Duncan’s Dr. Moreau book. But Duncan didn’t leave the Dr. Moreau book to Rachel, even though it was something she was very familiar with growing up. So while she is integral to solving the puzzle, she remains dangerous when it comes to her motives. And she won’t provide the clues to the book to Scott, asking for Sarah instead—the only one she wants to share her clues with.

I don’t know, Clone Club. What are we searching for again? The Castor threat seems nullified for the moment, Cosima is clearly getting sicker but will these episodes wrap up with a cure for her illness? Is that what we are looking for now? I loved the character development we saw with Alison, I’m just not sure what the end game of these episodes will lead to. Are the writers out of ideas? Hopefully not. Until next week, readers. Keep away from paper cutters. 

Tatiana Maslany plays half the cast of BBC America’s paranoid clone thriller.
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