All posts by 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.

Review: Orphan Black – All Together Now

SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you’ve seen the Season 3, Episode 10 of Orphan Black, titled “History Yet to Be Written.

What a happy ending. Unlike other TV series that ended recently with mass deaths and gruesome, tough-to-bear sequences (ahem, Game of Thrones), Orphan Black draws the curtain on Season 3 with smiles, family, reunions and tight endings. Sure, we’re left with a few questions, but most of the stray threads are tied up nicely.

That doesn’t mean the season was a success overall; in fact, the plotlines felt rushed to conclusion. In particular, the Topside and Castor plots, often muddled and needlessly confusing as the season went on, seemed to be quickly resolved with cryptic explanation. Yes, Kendall Malone graciously offered up her blood after fussing, and she kinda-sorta made up with Mrs. S., but she switched gears so rapidly after being such an old codger, it all felt very convenient.

Aside from Ferdinand, the extraneous faceless corporate men are always hard for me to remember, so when another one of those guys threatened anyone—Delphine, Mrs. S., whoever—I didn’t always get what was going on. Whose side were they on, and what were their motivations? Maybe that’s the point, that we as the audience were supposed to be confused about what was happening, who was on which team, and who we could trust. But I’m a bit skeptical. It felt like Castor didn’t quite work out, plot-wise, so it was a mess towards the end (which is also why we didn’t see the Castors in two episodes out of 10, or one-fifth of the season).

But there were things I loved about this finale—don’t despair. As ridiculous as the idea is of Donnie bringing Jesse back to Helena, I loved it despite myself. Knowing that someone in the Orphan Black universe can be in love with my girl warms my heart. Their reunion was the most enjoyable one of the episode. Delphine’s not-so-subtle final goodbye to Cosima was also touching. Too bad Delphine had to die, since she was finally becoming a badass, using her Frenchness as an asset and threatening people. Her death is a guarantee that we’ll be getting more of Shay in Season 4. I say bring it on.

As brief as they were, I loved the scenes with Rachel. Her nightmare, which opened the episode, was psychedelic and potent. The first time we see her new bionic eye is also quite something. Just when we thought Rachel couldn’t get any cooler! And that last bit when she reunites with Charlotte was poignant (so well-acted by Maslany), and then we see Rachel’s mother, who up until this point was presumed dead. A friend of mine actually predicted that it would be Rachel’s mom as the new enemy—since she’s pretty much the only one left.

For Season 4, it looks like the Neolutionists will be the big baddie. I got a refresher on what, exactly, a Neolutionist is from Orphan Black’s Tumblr:

“Neolutionism is a fictional term, a sort of philosophical composite, designed to tribute several contemporary and historic perspectives on ‘directed evolution.’ At its root, it represents the belief that scientific advancements can and do improve the human condition, so anything we can invent or develop scientifically to do that should be applauded. Even if those discoveries and inventions can refine the terms of the species’ survival.

I’m not sure why a worm came out of that guy’s mouth, or what that has to do with the clones, but we can rest assured that whatever happiness and closure they’ve found will be disrupted soon enough.

Despite it all, the dinner scene was a pleasure—this season’s answer to the big dance in Felix’s apartment from Season 2. It’s always nice to give Maslany a proper send-off with most of her characters in the same frame (sorta). Sarah reuniting with Kira and Cal in the snow at the end was less heartstring-tugging (after all, we said goodbye Kira and Cal like two months ago).

Next season we’ll have Alison as school board trustee, a pregnant Helena with Jesse, Cosima with Shay and presumably not sick, Sarah with Cal and Kira (probably not for long), and Rachel on the hunt for all of them. And the clone story continues.

Clone of the Week: You know who I’m going to pick. It has to be Helena; every scene with her is a pleasure, impossible to look away from. She really breathed more life into this season—without her, it would have suffered immeasurably.

Random Thoughts:

  • Rudy vs. Helena: That. Was. Awesome. It was really the only way Rudy could go out, facing off against his just-as-unhinged sister in a knife battle. I wouldn’t have been bored of that if it had gone on for 20 minutes.
  • Alison is now the school board trustee. I never started caring about that election throughout the entire season. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. It always felt so tacked on.
  • Helena is still pregnant? Doesn’t it feel like she’s been pregnant for years? And in that garage fight scene, she wasn’t showing at all.
  • When Felix kicked down that door, I actually jumped back on the couch.
  • Helena: “Much moly.”
  • I tried really hard to care about Mrs. S. and her mother, but there’s just no charisma there. Mrs. S. works best on the periphery and not in the thick of things. There’s a reason why Art only makes an appearance now and then.
  • Lastly, thank you to everyone for following along with my recaps every week! Normally, I don’t miss multiple episodes a season, but life interfered. My apologies for that. Otherwise it’s been fun, and I appreciate each and every one of you who takes the time to read these. Until next season!

What did you think of the season finale, and the season overall? Comment below!

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Review: Orphan Black — The Six

SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you’ve seen the Season 3, Episode 8 of Orphan Black, titled “Ruthless in Purpose, and Insidious in Method.

Orphan Black episodes like this week’s bring to light just how remarkable Tatiana Maslany is. We almost take it for granted now, that the manic laughter of Helena, the tepid murmuring of Cosima, the dastardly side-stare of Rachel, the uptight cleanliness of Alison and the dark edge of Sarah all come from the same person. When you think about it, it seems insane that a show can be as engaging, as interesting, with one actor as the crucial centrepiece.

And of course, was playing a new clone (who we saw before, briefly, at her encounter with the Castors): Krystal Goderich. In her push-up bra and blonde hair, Krystal is instantly memorable and pretty much exactly how Felix describes her—as Sarah would be if she went to college. Maslany plays this character so easily, like Krystal’s been on the show since the beginning.

Jordan Gavaris also got a turn to shine, and it’s been a while since we’ve gotten a chance to see his chops, which I recall from Season 1. (That’s CHOPS, not CHAPS.) He was woefully underused in Season 2. Finally we’re freed from boring housebound Felix, and we’re treated to hardcore street punk Felix. When he slapped on the headset and spoke in his straight Canadian man accent to Krystal, it was one of my favourite Orphan Black moments to date. This is the fun stuff, this is the kind of thing fans are after.

Same goes for the Cosima/Shay/Delphine plotline, as many fans have a lot invested. I’m actually strangely invested myself, probably a testament to the realistic relationship being portrayed. OK, so it involves a clone, a progressing mystery disease and a multinational conglomerate, but I mean the emotions and the dialogue, guys. When Delphine and Cosima kiss, in my head I could hear “No! No! Don’t cheat on Shay!” and silently cheered when Cosima backed off. But at this point, we obviously can’t trust Shay. She’ll end up being a spy and then Cosima will get back together with Delphine. With all this talk about death and near-death experiences, seeing Delphine in a light … makes me concerned that Cosima will die in the end with Delphine by her side. Food for thought.

Even the Alison/Donnie plot is getting darker. Now Jason is very much a threat to their marriage, and it’s apparent that Alison is barely hanging on to her convictions. I gotta hand it to Donnie, he tries to get in there. He’s beaten to a bloody pulp, but at least he attempts something. I personally can’t wait until the drug-dealing scheme is over. Take the money and run, Hendrixes.

Of all the main characters (Maslany played six of them tonight), Scott got the s**t end of the stick. I have grown quite fond of the gentle nerd over this season, with his real estate fantasy board games and extensive sci-fi book collection. Not only does he get held up by Rudy, he loses the Island of Dr. Moreau, has his co-plan foiled and then loses his job. Oh no, wait. Krystal gets the s**t end of the stick if they’re doing what I think they’re doing, which is taking her eye for Rachel and then keeping her for tests/as a Rachel replacement. Yeah, that’s far worse. I hope she doesn’t die, she would make for an interesting character going forward. Things are looking sour for everyone, and judging by clips of the next episode, they’re going to get worse before they get better.

Off to London next week. Cheerio!

Clone of the Week: This is a toughie. I’m going to have to say Krystal. She was engaging (more than likely because she’s new), and it always fascinates me how Maslany wraps herself around these roles.

Random Thoughts:

  • Emmy submission! Globe submission! Seriously, I know sci-fi is an underrated genre, but c’mon six very different characters—often more—in one episode? Is that a world record?
  • Did I hear mention of a Polish clone? Sigh. That is just wonderful.
  • Felix: “Did I just get seconded into this s**t?”
  • Shout-out to the Firkin on King! Drank there many a time.
  • LOVED that shot of Rachel looking through the magnifying glass with her good eye. There were actually a ton of good shots tonight, but this one particularly stood out.
  • Krystal: “Bitch Mistress Cums-a-Lot.”
  • Helena + Gracie, co-workers, friends for life.
  • Delphine: “I’m French. We enjoy lovers.”
  • Rachel’s “top speed” in her wheelchair. I totally appreciate these quick quips you throw in there, writers!

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

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Review: Orphan Black’s slow ride

SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you’ve seen the Season 3, Episode 7 of Orphan Black, titled “Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate.

Anyone who watches any TV knows what this episode was: filler. We took a break tonight from the main, pulse-racing plotline that dominated last week’s hour, and instead had our focus shifted to the wacky Alison drug-dealing sideplot. Nothing really happened, nothing really changed, and the momentum Orphan Black was picking up screeched to a halt as we dallied around at a school trustee campaign rally.

Every scene outside of the Alison story was far more compelling and interesting. The things we’ve been led to care about this season—Helena and Sarah’s relationship, Cosima’s health, Rachel’s plan of action—are relegated to the sidelines, so any morsel we can savour, we should. As I will always attest, Helena is by far the most interesting character; every scene with her shines. So the opening in the Mexican restaurant is engaging enough, knowing that Helena wants to kill Mrs. S. for betraying her and selling her out.

I thought we were going to have an episode of fun Sarah and Helena dialogue, but instead Sarah decides to take a shower in a strange place from a complete stranger (who knew Helena was pregnant?), even though they just escaped a military base and are probably being sought after. She then proceeded to spend three-quarters of the episode in there. Bummer.

Cosima, too, is barely onscreen (not disguised as Alison), and when she is it’s infinitely more watchable than the Alison plotline. The chemistry between Cosima and Shay is believable, and their pre-and-post-coital flirtations are actually kind of hot. (To be honest, I didn’t really see that coming from two actresses who worked together as children. Good for them!) Cosima tells Shay the half-truth, that she’s sick but not why, and doesn’t mention anything about clones. Shay will find out soon enough!

When Cosima started bleeding out in the bathtub, I have to admit I got a little worried. So many of the Castor clones have died, and there hasn’t been any personnel loss on Team Leda for some time. (I’m not counting Paul.) Could Cosima die this season? I hadn’t really considered it. It wouldn’t be advisable for Orphan Black to lose one of its strongest characters at this juncture, so it’s most likely not going to happen.

The rest of the episode was pure Alison running for school trustee. We all knew she was going to win, so the stage is set for her victory—unless it all derails from the drug-dealing, which is probable. We meet her mother (Canadian shout-out to Sheila McCarthy!), who takes forever to sell her store to Alison, and we see Donnie make a series of missteps in the suburban couple’s first big drug deal. Everything is drawn out as Alison has to go back and forth between the rally and the deal. Watching this storyline was like that girl counting the money in Portuguese. It took forever.

At the end, at least we find out that Rachel knows the code in Ethan’s book, and she’ll only reveal it to Sarah. Yes please, more scenes with those two, and let’s circle back to the big stuff. We’re running out of time (and episodes) to dally any further.

Clone of the Week: Who else but Helena? Punching Mrs. S. in the face, being mouthy with the server, muttering death threats. It’s all so classic.

Random Thoughts:

  • I hate when Cosima coughs! Makes me so upset because I know what’s coming.
  • Helena vs. Mrs. S.: Ding ding ding! Loved every second of that.
  • Sooo the Castor clones just took the day off? No pursuit? No nothing? I find that very hard to believe.
  • Felix: “You need bangs that say ‘unhappy, sexless marriage.’”
  • How could they possibly hide Cosima’s dreadlocks under a Santa hat? I had dreads for two years of my life and they would bend to no hat.
  • Learning to play Agricola looks … uh …
  • Felix: “We’re gonna dismantle that bitch.”
  • I will never tire of seeing Canadian money on TV.

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

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Review: True love’s kiss on Orphan Black

SPOILER ALERT: Please do not read on unless you’ve seen the Season 3, Episode 6 of Orphan Black, titled “Certain Agony of the Battlefield.

Poor Paul. Such a noble death for the shady character. We never really knew whose side he was on until tonight, when he fully admitted to Sarah that it was her he loved all along. Looking back, it was fairly obvious that they were going to kill him off: A) he was disrupting the Castor camp completely by jailing Mommy and the rest, B) he had feelings for Sarah, their captive, and C) with Cal in the picture, Paul’s character had kind of hit a dead end.

Still, he went out fighting, and fighting hard. For the first time in my Orphan Black viewing time, I actually came to like Paul. We knew who he was working for, and it made all the difference. When he revealed that he was secretly packing a grenade in the end scene there, I actually let out a cheer. For once it was “Go, Paul!” instead of “Ugh, it’s Paul again.”

Interesting, too, how Beth was brought back to the forefront. Sure, Art mentioned he was in love with her a couple episodes ago, but we got to live and breathe Beth again. She’s downright creepy in Sarah’s hallucinatory dream, but drops a pearl of wisdom on Sarah prior to her waking up: “Stop asking why, and start asking who.” Before the end of the episode, we have both Paul and Sarah asking “Who?” They get answers, but not full ones.

Seems Mommy and her crew are illegally testing the Castor virus/disease/infection on unsuspecting women—enough to fill a couple black books—and they’re testing it so it can be used as a weapon. Mommy doesn’t seem to have any problems with it, and her complete lack of conscience indicates to me that she’ll be dead before the end of the season. She is irredeemable now, having killed Paul, almost killed Sarah and infected multiple strangers. Can’t wait for her to get her comeuppance (hopefully from Helena).

Helena in the desert was one of the greatest Orphan Black scenes to date. When she ate Pupok for sustenance, I smiled wide. (Does that make me a sick person?) I swear I could watch a Helena-only spinoff, no problem.

Another scene for the history books is, of course, the Donnie and Alison “making it rain” scene. The music, the flying money, the sexual gestures, the underwear … it’s something you or I would do if we won the lottery. Orphan Black hasn’t really been doing that very much this season: crazy stuff that makes us laugh. We want the zany, non-sensical interactions. Remember when Felix wore those assless chaps? Or when Scott and his nerd friends were playing that fantasy board game? Like that. This was a nice reminder of what the show can offer outside of sci-fi and drama. Despite that scene, I still contend the Alison/Donnie plot is by far the weakest one. So the couple wants to “take it to the next level” in the drug-dealing game? SO. WHAT. The whole thing is so pointless and derivative, I can’t even believe it’s still going on. Thank goodness Maslany and Bruun are so fantastic, otherwise this would have been disastrous.

In other news, Cosima got some! (Her storyline also steps outside the main plot, but she’s still fully involved in the goings-on. This is how it should be done with Alison.) We even got to see naked Tat back. Usually it’s just man bum on this show, so I approve of the change. The love triangle I prophesied last week has come to pass. Delphine is back in town and lurking on the sidelines, and yes, even taking pictures of Shay and Cosima’s date. I guess Shay is trustworthy, then? We can never forget what Beth said: “Start asking who.” So I still don’t trust her.

We see Rachel at the end, crying. She’s either broken or ready to kill; those are the only two options. She seemed kind of broken to me this time, what do all of you think?

Clone of the Week: Sarah. Girl went to hell and back, plus she lost a man who loved her and was reunited with her daughter and sister(s)—Helena in reality, and Beth and Kira in dreamland. Oh, and she almost died. Three times.

Random Thoughts:

  • The only reason I can come up with as to why the Alison/Donnie plot is still going on: eventually the clones will need money for something. Alison will be there to provide it.
  • Rachel vs. Felix. More please. And FINALLY Felix gets in there, really angry and relentless. It’s more believable that his character would do something rather than just sit around with Mrs. S.
  • Prettttttttty sure Kristian Bruun’s balls were visible in the money scene.
  • How does Alison not care at all about her sisters or their welfare? It seems very far-fetched that she hasn’t even called them, not to mention know anything about the situation with Castor.
  • Helena: “I regret nothing.”
  • Shay’s hair was totally a wig, right? What is it with this show and bad wigs?
  • Felix: “Now nut up and take me to the cyclops.”

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

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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.

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