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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Orphan Black: The Antisocialism of Sex

I've seen a lot of complaining that this episode didn't push the story forward, but that's what Breather Episodes are for: to give characters (and audiences) the space they need to react to devastating events, let them regather themselves, and set up the board for the final stretch of episodes. In that, this succeeded.
And if we had jumped headfirst into the next bout of action for the Clone Club, I've no doubt people would be complaining about the breakneck pacing instead.

First things first: Delphine is ALLLLIVVVVVEEE!
I applauded and then I ugly-cried. The funny thing is, I was never a particularly huge fan of Delphine/Cosima as a couple, but I thought Delphine was a great character played by an even greater actress, and I'm mostly just happy to have her salvaged from the Bury Your Gays trope. There's already been a huge amount of commentary on just how many lesbian and bisexual female characters have been killed off on television this year alone, and so this felt like a well-deserved and long awaited subversion.
With the exception of that single ray of light, this episode is dark. Nearly every other character has thrown in the towel and given up – and with that came another complaint: the fact that all women were falling apart while the men kept it together to find productive solutions.
But come on! This show is built on capable and proactive female characters; the writers have stored up more than enough goodwill to let them have one single episode in which they realistically meltdown in the wake of a crisis and let their male support system step up into a caretaking role.
If anything, it made for an interesting Gender Flip. How many times have we watched male characters wallow in self-pity or follow self-destructive tendencies only for the womenfolk to administer pep talks and cooldown hugs?
Which is all to say – I didn't have a problem with this episode. And because it was quite compartmentalized, I'll go through each clone one at a time:
Sarah
Siobhan gives her foster daughter the cold shoulder in the wake of Kendall's death, even to the point where she comes across as a bit hypocritical. No one brings up the fact she sold out Helena at the end of season two, or that up until very recently she was fully prepared to throw Kendall into an acid bath.
Yet despite this, she drops a fairly devastating bomb on Sarah, telling her: "You came to me an orphan, that's all you'll ever be." Way harsh, S. No wonder Sarah promptly goes off the deep end.
She proceeds to get wasted with Dizzy, a character whose motivations and trustworthiness I still can't put my finger on. I like the actor and the character, so I'm hoping he turns out to be on the level, though you could finish this episode thinking he was either a sleaze or an ally and have plenty of evidence for both interpretations.
On the one hand, he does nothing as Sarah gets increasingly drunk/high, seemingly takes advantage of an inebriated woman, and doesn't pass on Felix's message. On the other, it wasn't really his business to intervene in Sarah's partying, is obviously more interested in getting information than sex, and has no solid reason to trust Felix. The pill he gave Sarah could have been offered for any number of reasons: to calm her down or to knock her out.
So we're left with a character we still don't know that much about – only that he was friends with the dead guy from the premiere. He with the bifurcated penis.
Throughout her bender Sarah is haunted by the spectre of Beth, but is it a real visitation or a hallucination? I suppose it doesn't matter either way, but the show has been laying on the parallelism between the two women pretty thick this season, going so far as to splice together scenes of each one snorting coke. More significantly, Felix describes Sarah as "the glue that's holding us together", which I suspect is the same position Beth filled before her suicide. It's fitting therefore, that she appears to Sarah to talk her out of making the same mistake.
Kira also seems to be aware of the potential danger Sarah is in, and warns Siobhan that: "this time she's following Beth." Siobhan relays the message to Felix, saying: "you know the way [Kira] is", which is actually one of the most surprising developments of the episode. So it's not only common knowledge that Kira has psychic tendencies, one that's been in the family for so long that Siobhan can casually reference it in a phone call?
In any case, Felix pulls through for Sarah, and the siblings are reunited. There were any number of ways the writers could have gotten Sarah down off that bridge, but I'm glad it came down to Felix.
Cosima
If we can ignore the fact that Scott and Cosima apparently didn't have backups to all their data, this was also an affecting subplot. As Scott articulated to Felix, she blames herself for everything that's happened, which is certainly grounds enough to try something as crazy as sticking a worm-bot in your cheek.
Believe it or not, I could buy that Felix would totally forget to immediately tell Cosima about Delphine – I'm someone who would similarly forget to relay super-important news whilst trying to multitask several ongoing calamities. What was far more contrived was Felix not instructing Scott to immediately namedrop Delphine so that Cosima would pick up the phone. Instead they dragged out the will she/won't she drama with the worm-bot and the cell phone ringing right beside her.
Still, at least we got Scott telling Cosima "some [offense] taken actually" when she states her lab partner died. I'm glad he stood up for himself, as he's been completely devoted to Cosima for over three seasons now.
Alison
Not a lot from Alison this episode, but she deals with Kendall's death in much the way you'd expect: sending flowers to Siobhan, falling to her knees in prayer, and then charging ahead with the minutia of suburban life.
Of course, Gemma's slumber party is ruined halfway through with a police raid. Somewhere along the way the writers must have realized how absurd this scene was, as it ended up getting the wacky soundtrack treatment.
And poor Donnie! Duko may be working under duress, but he's still an utter creep.
Rachel
Rachel finds her way upstairs to discover she's been on an island this whole time, and that Kendall Malone is dead – along with the cure. Susan has given up completely, but it seems Rachel won't go down without a fight, even as Evie basks in her own success. 
I'm interested in seeing how Rachel is going to handle the thought of a new Helsinki. According to Evie, only the self-aware sisters need to be disposed of (which again makes me wonder why Evie didn't have Cosima shot along with Kendall), and Rachel seems on-board with that decision.
I'm not sure why I'm disappointed, as it's not like Rachel has ever shown the slightest bit of affection for her sisters, but I thought that perhaps she would ally against them in the face of a greater enemy. Also, I'm not sure what to make of her breaking the news to Charlotte of her imminent death. That's not something you tell a child, but Rachel obviously wasn't taking pleasure in it, so perhaps she truly thought that honesty was the best policy. With Ethan and Susan as parents, I suppose it's possible.
I like the way the easel pincers her head though.
The myth of Leda and the swan makes a reappearance, with Rachel thumbing through a book containing an illustration of them. But if Leda are the female clones, and Castor are the male clones, and each one is represented by mythological figures who were mother and son, then will Zeus (the actual swan who impregnated Leda and fathered Castor) come into play at some point?
It would seem so judging from Rachel's vision at the end of the episode: of a white swan gliding across the floor of the building. Ira can't see it and it disappears in a glitchy sort of way, so we can only assume its appearance has something to do with Rachel's synthetic eye.
The most obvious theory is that MK is hacking it somehow, just as she hacked Kira's computer.
Miscellaneous Observations:
So did they bring back Delphine as a response to the backlash, or was it always part of the game plan? I suppose we'll never know, but the fact that she was shot in the stomach instead of the head suggests at the very least they were covering their bases.
I've only just realized that Scott's friend at the comic book store is the same guy who participated in Rachel's escape from Neolution last season. D'oh!
That was a nice Art/Siobhan scene, especially with him putting his hand on her shoulder. Sometimes the best scenes are the ones with quiet gestures, as with Siobhan and Sarah silently sitting down to breakfast, hands held.
Do you think it's a coincidence that Evie and Rachel have identical haircuts? Or is it an indication of how similar they are?
We get some unexpected backstory on Neolution: apparently it dates back to the Victorian Era and was founded by a guy called Percival Westmoreland. Poor Rachel is stuck with a terrible glob of exposition: "he used his resources to essentially create a secret scientific society", but she's apparently sleeping in the guy's bedroom so I suppose it'll turn out to be significant.
Oh look, here's Siobhan readying her Chekhov's Gun – literally.
Dizzy learns that Sarah has a daughter, and his reaction is pronounced enough to make me think this is important somehow.
Who wins the passive-aggressive competition: Ira in calling Susan "mother", or Rachel in telling him: "it's fortunate you found such an ineffectual means of suicide".
I'm starting to miss Helena.
Ultimately, this was an episode that gave us a necessary cooling-off period, to process Kendall's death and the sorry state of the Clone Club before kick-starting the final stretch of episodes.

2 comments:

  1. oooh, I had not even thought about MK hacking Rachel's eye,
    I have no doubt we'll be either seeing, or looking for Helena next week to help Donny out of jail
    Speaking of quiet moments, I quite liked the moment where Ira picked Rachel off the floor and said "what a pair we make" or something similar, it was quite sweet.

    Also - have we seen Alison praying and wearing a cross around her neck before? I blinked in surprise.
    I thought the whole bringing the reverend around to "talk" was quite weird.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, Donnie definitely messed up when he invited around the reverend without giving Alison the heads-up. It's not like she can confess to manslaughter without turning their lives upside down! I wasn't too surprised to see her pray though - granted there hasn't been too much church-going from them, but Alison's storylines have always been very community-focused and that naturally brings to mind the church. (Remember the intervention back in season one? I'm pretty sure the reverend was involved in that as well).

      Speaking of quiet moments, I quite liked the moment where Ira picked Rachel off the floor and said "what a pair we make" or something similar, it was quite sweet.

      Yes, that was nice! I wonder if they'll be teaming up soon given they're in the same boat.

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