Well then. The term “that escalated quickly” has rarely been more applicable. I don’t know about you but I certainly didn’t see Donnie accidently shooting and killing Dr. Leeke being the culmination of a crazy, messy, entertaining if not rushed episode of Orphan Black.
There’s quite a lot to trudge through before that bit, but man, there are some big things being set into place and many of them are easily overlooked due to the breakneck speed at which they’re being presented. Recently, I’ve praised the writers for how they barrel through storylines rather than dragging them out because they can’t find anything else to fill the time. This week, we see Cosima realizing that Delphine hid the fact that the stem cells that are helping her came from Kira and then we see her calling Sarah to tell her the news. This was a storyline that I thought wouldn’t be wrapped up until the finale. I figured that there would be a huge blowup and that the climactic moment would involve the revelation of Kira’s unknown participation. Instead, the creators went the smarter route by having the secret be discovered quick and then have Cosima get a wonderful scene afterwards where she shouts at Delphine to leave, claiming the right to her own body and her own science.
That was an example of how the pace of this show elevates the quality.
It’s the same regarding Allison discovering the truth about Vic. She learns that he’s only been befriending her in order to get incriminating information to Angie. She quickly calls Felix and the two of them plot a way to cover her in one of the most amusing scenes of the series.
But then there are moments where the speed of the storytelling becomes a detriment to the larger playing field involved. In this single episode Donnie is revealed to have not known about the clones but had been her monitor for a sociological experiment and then he goes on to confront Doctor Leeke and ends up killing him. Rachel is reunited with her father in a moment that is largely offscreen and then drops Leeke from her support system. Delphine and Cosima’s relationship begins to crumble and Sarah agrees to bring Kira in to try and save her life.
That’s a lot and we don’t even hear from Helena.
Some moments need time to sink in—they need time for the audience to accept them and then move forward with the new direction the show is taking. It’s not necessary for Orphan Black and it doesn’t lessen the quality of the episode a great deal, but it certainly would have been helpful for the show to realize that some revelations need breathing room.
Otherwise, this week’s episode was perfectly entertaining. Sarah is called back into the fray by Felix after he and Allison have cornered Vic. They’ve only managed to subdue him by promising a meeting with Sarah. So while Allison goes off to make greetings with Donnie and her kids, Felix beckons Sarah in to talk to Vic. Vic wants to make apologies-he wants to heal. But he also wants Sarah to tell him she’s sorry for everything that happened to him.
She’s not having it at first, but then she realizes, begrudgingly, that she’ll have to play along to get him to not tell Angie. Felix makes off color comments from the sidelines. She gives up and tells Vic that the two of them were two colliding train wrecks and they both hurt one another. Despite this, he tells her that he wants her back and before Sarah could actually laugh in his face he turns, wobbly, and falls over, his head smacking the table on the way down, knocking him out. Sarah turns to Felix asking what the hell just happened and he tells her, sheepish but kind of proud, that he had spiked his tea.
Jordan Gavaris’s delivery of the line is proof that he is underutilized.
Sarah is pulled into playing Allison and does a switcheroo when Allison ends up back in her room with Felix and the knocked out Vic there. Allison is outraged that she has to miss her opening speech and role playing (although watching Sarah playing Allison playing Donnie is fantastic) in order to hide Vic’s unconscious body; which is a task that Allison and Felix weren’t born to do. Have I mentioned how genius this pairing is before? I’ll say it again because them hiding behind couches with a glittery Vic is likely one of the funniest moments this show has done before.
It all miraculously works out for them until right at the end Donnie walks into Allison’s room to find the two clones standing side by side. He’s flabbergasted and Allison despite her belief that he’d known everything all along must accept that he was simply a fool used as a pawn in a larger plan. She tells him that he and his meddling ruined their family and their marriage and storms out. I didn’t think I’d ever feel bad for Donnie on this show.
This coupled with Rachel learning the truth about her father and Doctor Leeke’s hand in it leads Donnie to picking him up in his car after threatening him with a gun. Leeke like most don’t take Donnie seriously and it results in the accident that ends his life. In frustration, Donnie hits the gun against the steering wheel of the car, causing it to go off and shoot Leeke in the head-killing him. The shot of Donnie shocked and covered in blood in his car from a faraway shot with the rain pouring down wraps up the episode.
But then there’s Cosima, Cosima who’s been on the outs for most of the season so far and as the season draws to a close it’s easy to worry about her. Her health despite being on a brief upswing isn’t stabilized and I can’t see her wanting to allow Kira to offer herself over as a test rat. More than anything she seems to be like a warning sign for the other clones. Sure, they’ve heard of the illness that can kill them, the fault in their DNA, but they’ve never been so up close and personal with it.
Cosima is a walking, talking example of that fate they could be meeting soon which makes her reaction to Delphine’s lies all the more powerful. It would be easy for her to allow her fear and her want to live to take over and allow the testing to continue without telling Sarah, but she doesn’t. Because as a clone she’s gone far too long being controlled by others.
This show is a beautiful showcase for female characters and one scene in particular highlighted this. Cosima, after learning the truth of who the stem cells came from yelled at Delphine about how it was her lab, her body and her science. Her agency for a brief moment had been stolen from a woman she trusts and it’s scary how easily it can be shaken. There’s a fundamental need to have control over your body and for one reason or another that hold has been forcibly lessoned as the years have gone by. Whether they lose the control through physical force or violence, whether they’re told that they’re bodies are made for nothing more that child bearing, or if they’re simply told how and what their body needs to be in order to conform to beauty standards: they’re controlled. Women are objects to some and Orphan Black takes this horrific notion and runs rampant with it. In many ways this show is all about how a group of women are fighting to have the right to control their bodies, as well as their lives.
This show was female-positive already due to the array of characters that Tatiana Maslany was given to play. She gets to play a rebel—all leather and black, the antihero archetype that is typically are given to men, the house wife who also kicks butt and has a drinking problem, a lesbian scientist, a power hungry, emotionally stunted villain, and a sociopathic wild child.
She’s given the chance to break the walls that have been built around female characters as well as lead her own action-packed, science fiction show.
Add in the commentary on personal ownership over women’s bodies and you’ve got quite the message. Sure much of the show dabbles in the flashy and campy and there’s a natural silliness to the premise (like all good sci-fi) but the grounding statement about this show is that no matter who you are, where you came from or where you’re going, your body is yours.
The episode was fun and entertaining—the pacing dragged it down a bit, but otherwise it was yet another strong installment to one of my favorite shows of the year thus far.