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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Orphan Black: The Redesign of Natural Objects

This was a surprisingly straightforward episode. Your average episode of Orphan Black is packed with so many twists and turns and surprises that it's forever teetering on the edge of incomprehensibility, but this one involved significant steps forward and a near-perfect example of the Unspoken Plan Guarantee (because did anyone truly believe that Alison would betray her seestras?)
It was still a rather low-key episode, and much of it was setup for the final two episodes, but I glimpsed Helena in the "next week" promo, so it's clear we're heading into endgame now...

This was also a pretty easy episode to divide into subplots, so let's go through them one at a time.
Rachel and Ira are both floundering in a world that no longer seems to need them, but that very sense of loss is what galvanises them to start working together. It was almost touching when Rachel addresses Ira as "brother" and he assists her down the stairs – though tension makes its way back into the room by the time Cosima's plan effectively shuts Rachel out.
And what are we meant to make of the strange visions she's having? So far only Ira knows about them, but they seem to be linked to the myth of Leda and the swan. The show has touched on this before, what with the entire cloning project named after the woman who was impregnated by Zeus in the form of a swan, and who went on to give birth to four children - one of whom was called Castor, the namesake of the male clones.
The myth provided hints as to the relationship between Leda and Castor clones, but why reintroduce it now? The swan Rachel is seeing surely represents the Leda clones, which means that the sight of its decapitated head is a deeply inauspicious one. And who is this man she spots in the visions? If the female clones are Leda then does he represent Zeus?
***
As heralded last episode, MK is back in touch with Sarah, having found the island Susan is hiding on and tapping into her computer to see the Skype meeting between Evie/Susan/Rachel. They know that Evie is coming after them, and they know that Cosima needs Susan's resources in order to find a cure.
It's still so easy to forget that two of the people
in this still are the same woman.
So a Deal with the Devil is brokered: even though Rachel and Ira will be shut out, Cosima and Susan will attempt to pool their resources and save the seestras, even without Kendall's DNA. It's then that Cosima has a brainwave.
The science of this show has always been a bit over my head, but from what I can gather here, Cosima wants to recreate Kendall's genome (or something) by combining fertilized Leda eggs with Castor sperm. They'll then have the building blocks they need to find the virus that's killing her.
In light of this development, Helena's frozen embryos feel even more like a Chekhov's Gun that was carted around for two-and-a-half seasons without ever getting fired, but Sarah agrees to the procedure and Cosima takes off in a helicopter for an island of mad scientists. Her enthusiasm is cute, but I question why she's going alone. That just reeks of trouble.
***
Meanwhile, Siobhan gets her revenge on and heads out with her rifle to take out Duko. I've no idea how on earth she knew his location, but just as she takes aim at his head, she notices him in conference with Alison.
Evie has Sarah pegged as the leader and therefore biggest threat of the self-aware Leda clones, and Duko blackmails Alison with Donnie's safety if she doesn't cough up her sister's whereabouts. This is not the first time Alison has been targeted as the seestra's "weak flank", so it's not surprising she's the one being squeezed.
Donnie has since realized he's in prison with a Neolution spy threatening to kill him, leaving Alison to grapple with this episode's moral conundrum: her husband or her sister.  
So we're left with Felix, Sarah and Siobhan knowing about Alison's potential for betrayal before she knows they know. Felix heads to the Jesus Christ Superstar rehearsals to scope her out, and it doesn't look good. Oh, and this is after Adele comes back into play on Felix's behest to help out in her capacity as a lawyer.
This is the most I've ever liked her character, both with her tipsy attitude and her double-take at Alison. Once again, it totally slipped Felix's mind to pre-warn someone about a pretty important issue at hand (he forget about stealing Krystal's wallet and the news Delphine was still alive – at this point it's a character trait!) and quickly blabs that Alison is Sarah's twin sister.
I can feel the writers' impatience in having to fill in these narrative gaps, and so playing it all as a joke is a reasonably fun way to deal with the ever-convoluted plot dynamics. Heck, they practically lampshaded it with Donnie hissing: "Felix has a sister?" two seconds later.
Plus, I can totally buy that Felix is so done with this clone drama that he doesn’t much care who knows what at this point.  
***
A couple of people complained it was too obvious that Alison was playing Judas in the Jesus Christ Superstar musical, but then you'd only know that if you were familiar with the play. I thought it was a cute little touch, and worked so well with the way she relaxed into the song after getting confirmation from Felix that Donnie was safe. Her genuinely bowed head of thankfulness, her smile when she sang: "Jesus Christ!" – beautifully done. Through the power of text messaging and musical theatre her prayers were answered.
Her shiny cape however, is a total mystery. In all, a great Alison-centric subplot.
While all this is going on, the trap is sprung on Duko. After a bout of electrocution, a requisite sob-story, and a few clues to lead us into the next couple of episodes (Evie is ready to distribute her worm-bots under the guise of gene therapy, though we don't yet know what their true purpose is) Siobhan goes through with shooting the man who murdered her mother.
Doylistically it was a good choice. It was not only a little shocking but also gets rid of an extraneous character and demonstrates just how far Siobhan will go to avenge and defend her family. But on a Watsonian level?
I'm looking forward to seeing whether this will have any long term consequences for her. Duko's disappearance will surely be investigated, and killing a man in cold blood certainly takes its toll on a person. And how can they be sure he didn't tell anyone else about Rabbit Hole Comics?
But as ever, the Clone Club is severely underestimated, much to the under-estimator's regret.
Miscellaneous Observations:
"Yo Rachel." "Yo." Snert. Perfect exchange between them.
I'm not sure about Alison's reverend. Was he being sincere or sneaky in his little chat with her? His line: "I'm sure the children who witnessed [Donnie's arrest] are going to be just fine – you know with proper therapy" could have been the character being passive-aggressive, or just the show making a joke. That's the problem with Orphan Black – we can't trust anyone.
Sarah Stubbs considers to be hopelessly devoted to Alison. It's adorable.
A fun little detail from the prison thug was that he put his shiv back in his mouth when he needed his hands free – it was originally a toothbrush after all.

Another fun scene with Hell Wizard (I had to look up his name on IMDB and apparently the character is just known by his D&D nickname): a guy who knows backup is in the next room, but also Genre Savvy enough to realize he's the guy that dies first in these situations.
Hats off to the makeup team. With that close-up on MK – who by the way coughs up blood for what I think is the first time – we not only glimpse her scars, but also a few sores around her lips. As fantastic as Tatiana is, I think some credit also has to go to the hair/makeup department for making each clone so physically unique.

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