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Review: Sister, Sister on Orphan Black

SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you’ve seen the Season 3, Episode 5 of Orphan Black, titled “Scarred By Many Past Frustrations.

Ah, Orphan Black was back to form this week.

As much as it pains me to point it out—because I’m an Alison fan to the core—you’ll note what storyline was missing from this episode: the Alison drug-dealing plot. In its absence, things sailed along, with even very disparate stories (Shay and Cosima’s blind date, Helena and Sarah planning an escape, Gracie bonding with Mrs. S. and Felix) blending together seamlessly.

While the dominant Sarah/Helena story was obviously the most gripping, the other two didn’t detract from the excitement. As lame as it was to see Mrs. S. dancing with a drunken Gracie (who was worse? Tough to tell.), there was at least a lighthearted humour to it. With the Alison subplot it’s almost too hard to suspend disbelief.

But I’m spending too much time talking about something that wasn’t even in the episode! I think I keep doing it because this week’s episode was so far superior to the preceding four that I can’t help but compare. Things moved. Things happened. So far this season I’ve been able to get up and make a sandwich during the show and I didn’t miss a thing.

Not so tonight, as I was completely gripped by Sarah and Helena reuniting, talking, and planning an escape. Remember, again, that this is the same actress playing both roles. It’s so easy to forget when you’re watching Maslany, especially as Helena. The way their scenes were shot was also something to behold: both clones with their backs against the wall speaking through a grate, the camera panning back and forth.

There is an irrefutable charisma to Helena, and I find myself practically thirsting for her to have more dialogue. Every utterance is either funny, charming or crazy (which can also sometimes be funny), and the added physicality (the hair. THE HAIR!) make her the best clone of the bunch, hands-down. When she screws over Sarah in the end, leaving her in the cell—I consider the move a just retribution—the slate is wiped clean. We know from the ending that Helena will be back, though, ready to rescue her sister. Here’s hoping she takes down the whole compound.

Things outside the Castor base are calmer, but not without their requisite drama. Gracie wants to break free from the Prolethians for good, and seeks to confirm that separation by drinking and dancing to bad pop music. For whatever reason, Felix and Mrs. S. nurture this plan, and keep feeding her booze. I couldn’t stop thinking, “This girl has just suffered a clone miscarriage, shouldn’t she be in bed?!”

In any event, things end badly when she’s on the floor writhing in pain, her eyes turned blood red. The escort who slept with Rudy and Seth reveals to Art that she also has red eyes. Seems the Castor boys are spreading something. Zombification? No, couldn’t be. Right? There should be some kind of unspoken law against zombies and clones in the same TV show.

Something’s up in the Cosima-Shay love story as well. Who was taking pictures of their date? Shay must be some sort of spy. Even though we know she has ulterior motives, the feeling between the two women was genuine, and the first-date awkwardness was pretty believable. Ksenia Solo (Lost Girl) takes a different turn as this character, and it’s refreshing. Master flirt, that Shay.

We see that Delphine is back next week, so it looks like we’ll have ourselves a love triangle. Also—Kira? What is she doing at the base? And Rachel looks back to normal. If the show stays on track, we could have a real gem coming up.

Clone of the Week: Helena. Scene-stealer.

Random Thoughts:

  • The set for the Castor base is pretty obviously a set. It looks very fake. It’s like at a Disney park when you approach a ride and they have those faux stone walls. You touch them and they’re styrofoam.
  • Shout-out to Halton Police!
  • Felix: “She doesn’t look like she’s ready for cult deprogramming.”
  • What a great opening scene with Pupok, the camera following the scorpion’s point of view to Sarah’s dangling hand.
  • Helena: “Yes, much shit.”
  • I can’t believe Felix hasn’t been given more to do. No love interest, no involvement in the craziness, just hanging out at home.
  • Helena: “Dirty Paul.”
  • Always remember to hoard small butter packets, kids. You never know when they’ll come in handy.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET on Space.

Chris Jancelewicz

Chris Jancelewicz

Chris has been an entertainment reporter for almost a decade, covering Canadian and international TV and movies for numerous publications. Mostly known for his work at The Huffington Post, Chris has conducted hundreds of celebrity interviews, including Hugh Hefner, Scarlett Johansson and Michael C. Hall -- just to name a few. You can follow him on Twitter at @CJancelewicz.
Chris Jancelewicz

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One thought on “Review: Sister, Sister on Orphan Black”

  1. Orphan Black has recovered its stride in the last couple of episodes. I think only the first episode back really failed for me as it wasn’t a great episode for a season premiere after a big break. The season premiere was too convoluted and complicated for having been on a 9 month hiatus. This episode, though, was awesome.

    I thought the scenes this episode between Helena and Sarah at the Castor base were the high point of this season thus far. I was so surprised when Helena abandoned Sarah but then I thought maybe she was doing it for Sarah–she didn’t want a “sandwich”. Helena and Sarah remain my favourite clones to watch, especially when they are together. I still like Sarah the best of the clones. Her conversation with Paul was also interesting and I’m glad the writers put it in.

    I didn’t really miss Alison this episode–I think she needs to get reintegrated into the main plot again as her side story takes away from the short time we have in a season to see the big story play out. Ditto goes for Cosima’s date–while I like Ksenia Solo, whenever they showed the Cosima scenes this episode I was so impatient for the show to get back to the Castor base so I could find out what was going on with Elena and Sarah. That being said, I’m hoping Ksenia’s character isn’t who she says she is–I hope she’s in on the conspiracy.

    I liked the Felix/Mrs.S/Gracie scenes. Mrs. S. remains one of the most intriguing Orphan Black characters. When she said her ex, John, got killed by garden shears, I instantly wondered if she was his killer as she has proved in the past she has a penchant for non-conventional weoponry (i.e. forks). Mrs. S is such an underused character on this show and I hope we’ll get to see her badass self again. I also like that we found out a little more about Felix’ origins. She adopted him when he was a 6-year-old hooligan. I still really want to know why she adopted him–his origins must be important.

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