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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Orphan Black: Clutch of Greed

So is anyone else feeling an odd disengagement? All the pieces are in place: the clones, the conspiracy, the suspense, the twists – and yet I don't feel myself as pulled in as I usually do. This may have had something to do with the "Rachel targets Kira and has to be smuggled away" plot playing out for the millionth time (albeit with lampshade hangings and an eventual subversion) or the shock death that was as unpleasant as it was perfunctory, but I'm just not feeling it this season.

Which is a shame, as it seems the writers are finally gearing up for some answers. Sarah has been transported back to the mainland and kept in a Neolution holding cell, with Ferdinand and Rachel offering a deal: the safety of her sisters and a return to her home in exchange for regular tests on Kira's physiology.
Unsurprisingly, Sarah rejects this utterly. That at least is in character, though it feels like fundamental bits of Ferdinand and Rachel have been retconned: the former is now perfectly okay with working alongside Neolutionists, and the latter has been neutered by an off-screen conversation with Westmoreland that results in her extending a truce to the "sisters" she hates.
It's a bit of an uneasy shift – much like how Paul went from a blackmailed soldier to a military spy – which makes it difficult to really get a grip on the two of them as characters. I suppose in Ferdinand's case it hardly matters, but Rachel has always been a bit of an enigma: brittle, cold, and without any idea of what she wants. Until now, which is apparently directing the course of human evolution.
After a mad scramble that involves sneaking Kira out from under the noses of Rachel and her goons, the object of everyone's obsession finally puts her foot down and demands that she be allowed to stay. On the one hand, it seems ludicrous that an eight year old is being allowed to call the shots (especially on the heels of MK's death – I'll get to that in a minute). On the other, this was a long time coming.
In the past we've seen Kira get grouchy over the chaos of her life (especially after Cal inexplicably disappeared) and this not only ends the repetition of yet another "run and hide" arc, but also ties back nicely into Siobhan's words to Sarah way back in season one: that she couldn't be a proper mother until she could prove she could be still.
It makes sense that Kira would be the one to insist on this, especially now that she's old enough to realize her own strangeness, and it would appear we're finally going to get some answers on some of her psychic/regenerative abilities.  
That seems especially likely when you look at what's happening in the Helena/Donnie subplot: after being stabbed by a sharp tree branch in her pregnant belly, Helena is given the miraculous news that the injured foetus has rapidly healed itself. She immediately connects this to Kira's similar capabilities and wreaks her usual havoc as she makes her mistake (again, more on this in a bit).
I'm glad they've returned to this particular mystery, especially since it's been on the backburner for a while, though I suppose there's a chance it'll all just come down to genetic experimentation and Westmoreland's plans for self-directed evolution.
Finally, Cosima gets her chance to meet with the enigmatic Westmoreland, and he's ... just an old white guy basically. I was surprised we got to meet The Man Behind the Curtain so soon in the season, though the conversation between the two of them was predictably frustrating. Cosima asks a very clear and simple question ("what the hell is the point of all this?") and Westmoreland gives her a vague and metaphorical answer in response.
Anyone else a little underwhelmed?
That's just to be expected, but instead of Cosima calling him out on this evasion, she merely accepts it with a dim smile. Seriously? Cosima the scientist whose purpose on this island is explicitly to find answers, just goes with "I'm the figurative cow" as an explanation? Please.
(So many LOST flashbacks right now. So many).
But between MK's brutal murder and Helena's violent escape from the hospital, there was a nastiness to this episode that left a bad aftertaste. It's off-putting that between Donnie's comic reaction to the sight of a (presumably innocent) doctor pinned to a hospital bed by a giant needle through her cheek/tongue and Helena scampering off with her bare bottom half-exposed, we were meant to interpret that scene as black comedy.
Hah ... hah?
It doesn't jive well with the dead-seriousness of MK's murder, which felt gratuitous and pointless. Heck, in-story it was pointless since she sacrificed herself to give Kira more time to escape; a window of opportunity that she then chooses to give up. It's unclear why MK didn't just follow the plan and go to Scott's (apart from the convenient sentiment of being tired of running, which doesn't make a lot of sense since she cleared off with a fortune last season) and the chest-stomping was ghastly.
Worse, the death was more about Ferdinand than MK. He states this is a two-for-one revenge fantasy (against MK for robbing him and Rachel for denying him) and takes obvious enjoyment in killing her.
And yet even this didn't rile me too much given my aforementioned disconnect. Simply put, it didn't feel like MK died for a Watsonian or a Doylist purpose – either to secure Sarah's escape or to prove how evil Ferdinand is. Instead, it feels like she had to go because it's the last season and the writers want to get rid of an extraneous character. It's almost boring.
So this episode was some very promising stuff mixed with some pretty bad stuff. I'm obviously going to stick it out to the finish line and it could be that the writers are still getting warmed up, though some of the excitement that last season managed to regenerate has dissipated once more.
Miscellaneous Observations:
Mud is Aylee from Reign! I knew she looked familiar.
So where is Helena hiding? They made a big deal out of her whispering it to Donnie.
I got a laugh out of Ira's weary: "thank you" when Scott's friend tries to reassure him that "his mum" will be alright. (Even though he described her as: "my Susan" while in earshot, which was a pretty clear indicator that their relationship is not a maternal one).
I should probably give up on Cal ever reappearing, though it seems strange he wasn't even mentioned at any point during this episode, especially by Kira. That he's dropped so completely out of the picture is a glaring case of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.

1 comment:

  1. Nope, its not just you, am definitely feeling a disconnect so far this season - MK's death was brutal and felt really unnecessary, so does putting Allison back into suburbia (for yet another theatre production soccer mum argument). Perhaps its the feeling that for all the things the clones have gone through, the goal posts have shifted yet again.
    Poor Art too, I really feel for him