Review: Gains and losses on Orphan Black

SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you’ve seen the Season 3, Episode 2 of Orphan Black, titled “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis.”

One down already, and we’re only two episodes in!

Deranged and obviously defective Project Castor clone Seth was shot to death by his brother Rudy, who either couldn’t bear to see Seth suffer anymore, or couldn’t be bothered to continue cleaning up his messes. Seth, we hardly knew ye. I will miss that moustache. It seems rather early in the Orphan Black season to bid farewell to such a potentially rich character (not to mention the possible dynamics between he and his brothers), but it might be a device to draw our attention to the obvious comparison pairing: Helena and Sarah.

I could argue that Helena is “defective” like Seth, but I don’t really see her that way. I see her as a product of abuse, hyper-intelligent, and street-smart. Yes, her one confidante at the moment is a scorpion, but you try being in a crate for an extended period of time and see how you’re doing! Anyway, we can see how much Sarah is driven by her desire to save her sister—no matter what the cost. Enough, in this case, to send Kira to Iceland with Cal (oh, Cal) so she can resume her Helena search-and-rescue without endangering her daughter.

And Helena, even though she’s been sold to the bad guys by Mrs. S., is still loyal to her sisters. When Dr. Coady (“Mommy”) tries to sway her with platitudes and compliments, Helena simply utters “I don’t believe you.” At this point, she still believes she has an ally in Sarah and the girls, and there’s no way Sarah betrayed her. She’s right, of course, but it’s only a matter of time (and waterboarding) before Helena is reprogrammed to go against her fellow Project Leda members. Lest we forget that she’s pregnant, too—a very valuable thing to every camp on the show.

Seeing Cal, Paul and Art for the first time in Season 3 reminded me just how weak the male characters are (with the exceptions of Felix and Donnie). Cal exists as a device to take care of Kira and physically protect someone when he needs to, plus he’s easy on the eyes; Paul is also the stereotypical “hot” guy, but he doesn’t really do much of anything other than threaten on occasion and lurk in the shadows; and oh man, Art. I can see he’s no better at policing than he was in the series premiere.

On one hand, as I’ve expounded above, it’s irritating to have all these fringe male characters (other than the clones) just popping up when necessary to move the plot forward. But on the other hand, it’s interesting to see the gender flip, and I wonder how many current TV shows have unjustifiably weak female characters, merely there to be eye candy. On a show like Orphan Black, which is female-strong, I think it’s an acceptable thing (for now) to have these supplemental people contribute now and then.

Ari Millen was more prominently featured in this episode, and that was a pleasure. Obviously an outstanding actor, he brings a lot of charisma to the male clones. He is at once convincingly scary (as Rudy) but also sincere (as Mark). I think it’s going to be fun watching him unpack the characters over the remaining eight episodes. His scenes with Tatiana are just a joy.

I am also a big fan of the nerd duo, Cosima and Scott. With Delphine “away in Europe” (a.k.a. Evelyne Brochu shooting another TV show), the two scientists are working together to figure out where they stand with Dyad. They’ve got the key to Ethan’s work, and that’s their ace in the hole. We’ll have to wait and see how they wield it.

As for the Alison, Donnie and Ramon side-plot, I don’t want to spend too much time on it because I think it’s ridiculous. As much as I love to watch the married couple bicker and be silly, the idea of running for school-board trustee while being everyone’s drug dealer just makes no sense. Why would anyone willingly elect their drug dealer in a position involved with their child’s education? Alison would have no power over these people. Sure, she knows that they do drugs, but so what? Surely there are other ways to get money. I don’t know, the whole thing just seems very random.

We’ve trudged through the beginning here, but the through-line for the season seems clear: Sarah is now on the hunt for Helena, phalanxed by Mrs. S., Felix and her sisters, and Project Castor (along with Mommy) and Dyad are after them. Like Sarah says: “Now we find Helena and finish this shit.”

Keep it simple, Orphan Black.

Clone of the Week: Rudy. Convincingly terrifying and engaging, I wanted to see more of him. Also, second episode in a row featuring Ari Millen’s ass.

Random Thoughts:

  • Anyone else counting the minutes until Mrs. S. and Mommy throw down? Mother-figure fight!
  • Thanks to the readers for pointing out my errors last week—I could swear Alison said “diddle,” but apparently it was “doodle.” Also, the new Leda clone is spelled “Krystal,” not “Crystal.” Love you Orphan Black fans, so dedicated!
  • Felix on the new clone phones: “Blue as the skies of Lesbos!”
  • Donnie: “Fist me.”
  • The fake moustache budget for this show has now substantially declined.
  • That hockey-in-the-house scene with Cal, Kira and Sarah was so contrived I had to hold in my laughter.
  • Michiel Huisman (Cal) is so drastically underused on this show, it’s almost criminal. See: Game of Thrones.

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


3 thoughts on “Review: Gains and losses on Orphan Black”

  1. It is interesting how i lose interest in this show episode by episode, quiote frankly it was never good after season 1 and i miss that show a lot. im not againt the castor clones but no one can compare to what tatiana maslany has built over 2 seasopn, she even plays an SCORPION and was waterboarded for real !!! was taht scene even necesary to the plot?? I feel like at this point these scenes are mainly for shock value, to sell the show as groundbreaking? and the whole alison storlyine feel like a ripoff version of weeds

  2. This episode was much better than the season premiere, which was too jumbled and complicated (season premieres need to bring people back to speed on the story). I rather liked this episode. I’m sad Cal is gone but I don’t think it’s for too long. Why have Paul bring back up the info that Cal is extremely rich from making some sort of weapondry without following through on exploring that later down the road? Cal has secrets and I really want to know the details–I’m sure all roads will lead back to clone-world.

    P.S. I really liked the scene where Sarah, Cal and Kira were playing hockey in the livingroom.

    P.P.S. The ridiculousness of the school trustee election plotline and Alison and Donny becoming the new suburban drug-dealers is part of the show’s charm. I really enjoy those scenes because it gives the show a sense of comic relief. I guess you don’t get it but just realize that Alison is a lot of viewers’ favourite clone. Mine is Sarah but Alison is a close second.

  3. Alison is my favorite. I would marry her in a heartbeat. Not sure if that says a good or bad thing about me. Alison’s plots are always the lighter side of the show as she’s the most boxed-in narrative-wise with a stable family and two not important kids but that’s can’t get rid of that as Alison is defined by suburbia. in some ways she represents an idealized “normal life” that her sisters may want a form of if they could put the clone conspiracy behind them.

    Congrats to Aril Millen on his new baby and making the Castors already seem different in some ways. I didn’t exactly feel sorry for Seth but I don’t totally hate him or Rudy, impressive given how creepy their opening scene was in this episode. It also seems to be more focused with both Leda and Castor looking for material on the originals to cure themselves.

    Glad they didn’t kidnap Kira again as that’s been done enough and it makes sense to send her and Cal away to free Sarah up and let Cal do what he needs to over on Game of Thrones.

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