I wouldn’t be surprised if viewers were feeling a bit of whiplash after this week’s episode of Orphan Black considering just how much happened.
With none of the clones physically interacting this week there’s a lot of ground to cover and while for the most part in manages to keep up the break neck speed that it’s developed an affinity for, there’s some definitely rough patches that would have benefited from some time to smooth over.
Most notably, Sarah’s story line which I half loved and half rolled my eyes at this week.
As much as Allison has taken over my heart, Sarah holds on a special place as being one of the most interesting female characters on television right now which makes it so difficult to see her being fed the most generic storylines of the bunch-as well as the often times least compelling of the group.
Her storyline this week is an instance where I kept wishing for the story to switch over to any of the other clones after a certain point. Her, Felix and Kira are on the run and after having to shoplift from a side of the road convenience store Sarah realizes she can’t continually put her daughter through this so she tells the two of them that she knows there are some abandoned cabins nearby where they can sleep. It turns out that she had ulterior motives.
In the middle of the night a man Cal returns home and we discover he has a tumultuous past with Sarah and that he is Kira’s daughter. Cal is unwilling to simply toss a child, a child that’s seemingly his, out when they’re in danger so her lets them stay but it isn’t a difficult guess that he still holds resentment towards Sarah-most of which was born out genuine affection. Tatiana Maslany and Michiel Huisman have a decent chemistry and Huisman delivers more charm than all of the other supporting characters aside from Felix but boy does it feel awfully convenient.
Felix finds out what Sarah did Cal and also, with a sibling intuition, is able to tell what she’s after. Sure, she may have stolen from Cal and ran from him-but she came back. Felix calls her out on being a wrecking ball, taking down everyone in her wake. In wonderfully played scene by Jordan Garvaris (someone who I always want to see more of on this show and with more to do) he tells her that he can’t just stand by it this time. It’s not just due to her self-destructive lifestyle, but because he also feels displaced. There’s no place for him in this plan that she’s dragged him into and tell her, brokenly, that he needs to leave-for people who need him like Allison.
It’s an open moment for a character that so often plays superior and haughty to his onlookers, followed by a significantly cold reaction from Sarah. She’s on the run so consistently, always dealing with her own problems (understandably) that she forgets Felix is also alone in the world. Her attitude to him leaving is nearly cavalier. This won’t break their relationship-their history and mutual affection runs too deep-but this must sting. It also reminds us that as much as we love Sarah and her rough and tumble, one against the world attitude, she isn’t always a good person. She’s a survivor through and through and will always do what needs to be done.
The fact that this coms after an earlier scene where she had told Kira of how angry and dejected she felt as a child growing up-a beautiful scene by Maslany-makes the scene between the siblings all the more effective.
He leaves and what you expect to happen happens. She and Cal hook up and make a cute little family portrait. Sarah wants some sense of stability present in Kira’s life, something she never had and she hopes this could be it. Of course this doesn’t last for more than a hot second because when Kira is out feeding the chickens she’s grabbed by Daniel.
Here’s a quibble: you’d think that after all that’s happened Sarah wouldn’t downright IGNORE her daughter’s first shout. Of course, she quickly is alerted to the danger but it was a small moment that we’re asked to overlook because it fits with the moment.
Sarah gets Kira to safety and is then taken herself-with Daniel the man who’s been chasing her all episode having found the picture of the Dyad on her person. They don’t get far before they’re derailed by a truck barreling into them.
Meanwhile in Cosima’s camp she’s coming face to face with her likely future. She’s given a video diary of one of the clones, Jennifer, who died only three days prior. In the first she’s lively and hopeful and by the end she’s a shell of a being, damning the place she’ll die in. It’s a startling transformation, for both Cosima and the audience. We don’t want to watch this character that’s so energetic, young and vibrant slowly deteriorate in front of us. Later she and Delphine (who I guess is almost definitely Cosima’s monitor so I don’t know how to feel about her) perform an autopsy on Jennifer’s body. They find that there were growths in the uterine wall which is where they then spread from, eventually killing her. This may not be enough to save her but its new information that they didn’t have before. Also worth noting: what does it say about how these clones are seen when even Cosima will go digging around them?
Allison has reached her performance and, despite my hopes, it goes exactly the way it was always destined to go-disastrously. She sees Donnie and Felix in the audience but despite this is already too wrecked to salvage the performance. She’d been confronted by Angie earlier in the day and believes she now has two monitors and is losing her grip and in the middle of the performance falls off the stage and needs to be rushed to the hospital. There wasn’t enough of Allison this week and some of Sarah’s storyline could have sacrificed so we at least could have seen the fallout but I guess they want to build up anticipation by making us wait another week.
Helena, usually such a feral being, is rendered harmless and she’s being constantly drugged and manipulated by the Prolethian camp. You see her regain some of her old energy when she interacts with one of the cult members, Gracie, but it’s soon diminished when she’s forced to wed the leader. The scene after is disorienting as we see from her groggy point of view as she’s carried down a long hallway by her new partner. We can make assumptions about what happen-and it points to rape in order to conceive what he believes is a “miracle baby”-and it’s a terrifying prospect.
While many shows would drag out the moments where our characters begin to hit rock bottom Orphan Black jettisons our characters there, or close, at rapid speed. Allison is the most obvious example. They could have her quickly ease herself back into her pill and alcohol induced lifestyle but instead she hits that mark immediately, right after she’s seemingly left more alone than she’s ever been. Her play was always going to be a catalyst of some sort and while I kept hoping that she’d miraculously survive I without a hitch, her falling off the stage was nearly inevitable.
While the other clones aren’t being nearly as self-destructive, they’re all looming over a high ledge. Felix left Sarah (which still amounts the episodes most emotional moment)-another instance that could have been dragged out- which is followed by her kidnapping and being hit by a truck. Cosima has seen her possible future while coming up close and personal with her biology while performing Jennifer’s autopsy. And Helena, poor Helena, has had all agency stolen from her as she’s drugged, wed and presumably taken to be impregnated.
There’s a lot going on and lot of which in typical narratives would dictate a looming conclusion. Instead I have a nasty feeling that most of these storylines are only going to get worse before any resolution and if they are resolved, new, worse ones will pop up soon enough.
We’re left with plenty to think about until next week’s episode. Who was driving the truck that his Sarah and Daniel? Do we want it to be Cal? What happened to Allison and with Felix in her corner will she be able to climb out of the bottle of pills once again? How long until Cosima succumbs to disease that took Jennifer? Out clone club is in a precarious position and seemingly weaker than they’ve been. Split apart and without one another to rely on, how long can this group of survivors make it?