5 Things I Loved about 5 Years of Orphan Black

Orphan Black is over. All we have now is stored on the DVR to rewatch endlessly. Sob. I was a huge fan of the show and want to celebrate its time on live TV. Continue reading “5 Things I Loved about 5 Years of Orphan Black”

Orphan Black S4 E6 The Scandal of Altruism

Orphan Black’s sixth episode, “The Scandal of Altruism” is an earthquake, a monumental change in direction, a shocking turn of events. Where we go from here is a complete unknown. Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Orphan Black S4 E6 The Scandal of Altruism”

Orphan Black: S3 E3 Formalized, Complex, and Costly

“Formalized, Complex, and Costly” is episode 3 of Orphan Black season 3. There’s a big reveal in this episode about the cloned boys and girls.

Let’s start with Seth (Ari Millen, an army), cooling downstairs in Felix’s (Jordan Gavaris) apartment building. For some reason Rudy just leaves him lying there, so Sarah (Tatiana Maslany, a multitude) and Felix drag him upstairs so he can bleed out in Felix’s tub.

Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) shows up and sees the body. Sarah immediately tells him, “First off, it wasn’t us.”

Sarah Skypes Cosima and shows her and Scott (Josh Vokey) the body. Cosima wants the brain. She’s coming to get it.

Art, who should be doing real cop stuff now, wants to help Sarah find Mark. Off they go. Later, he reveals to Sarah that he was in love with Beth Childs. This explains a lot about why he’s so involved in solving all the mysteries the clones bring him.

Mark and Gracie kiss
Mark and Gracie are honeymooning

Mark and Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) are holed up in a motel, being honeymooners between making sure they aren’t followed. Mark confesses he’s still in the Army and wants to find Willard Finch (Nicholas Campbell) because he knows that Henrik Johanssen, Gracie’s father, stored something at Finch’s.

Finch talks to Gracie
Gracie gets the goods from Finch. He’s a horrid old lech.

Gracie goes to Finch’s and returns with a locked strongbox.

The inside of the strong box
Just useless paper?

The box contains notebooks and paper, which Mark dismisses as useless. Probably a big mistake there, buddy. Mark wants something cold, like a tank. (I keep yapping about cold tanks that are as yet undiscovered by anyone, but where is it getting me?)

Paul (Dylan Bruce) delivers Rudy to the military camp. Rudy apologizes to Mother Coady (Kyra Harper) who chews him out for killing Seth. He says, “I had to put him down – protocol.”

Rudy sucks his thumb
Rudy cuddles up to Mother

Later she hugs him and we discovered how fond he is of his thumb.

Dr. Coady tells Paul he has to delay the folks in Washington who want to shut them down because their weapon is defective. She tells him she can cure the soldier boys if she has more time.

Helena
Helena in a cell

Helena is locked in a cell. So much for Dr. Coady being all warm and friendly. Helena tells Rudy he’s the ugliest Mark yet. Helena tells Paul she’s going to machine gun him down one day. She seems calmer and her friend the scorpion isn’t in this episode. She’s keeping a sharp eye on everything going on around her.

soap with pills hidden underneath
We’re selling soap now

Allison and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) are manufacturing soap in the garage, which they use to disguise the pills they are selling all over the neighborhood. Donnie thinks they should have become drug dealers long ago, they are making so much money. But – you want drugs from the Hendrix machine, you gotta vote right in the school trustee election.

Marci
Marci stops by the garage for a face off with her opponent

Alison’s election rival Marci (Amanda Brugel) stops by the garage to attempt a bribe. She offers the Hendrix family a great deal on a piece of real estate. Alison tosses the deal back at her. It’s in another school district. Devious, Marci, but Alison is twice as devious.

Rachel in a big bandage
Rachel is in the hospital

Rachel is in therapy for her aphasia. She’s a bit limp and passive, but when she realizes Delphine is now in charge of Dyad, we see a spark of the old Rachel.

Alexis, the midwife
Call the midwife

Alexis the midwife (Kathryn Alexandre) gets another turn in front of the camera (she’s also the mostly unseen clone double) when Sarah and Art find her as part of their search for Mark.

Alexis tells Sarah that both Helena and Gracie are carrying Henrik’s miraculous babies. Alas, she’s still a true believer. When Sarah and Art are gone, Alexis runs to Bonnie Johanssen (Kristin Booth) and rats them out.

Cosima, Scott and Felix work on Seth's corpse.
Debraining Seth

Cosima and her minion have increased the mess in Felix’s bathroom by removing Seth’s brain from his body.

Sarah finds Gracie in a cafe where she and Art stopped while searching for Mark. She tells Gracie that the baby she’s carrying will be Kira’s cousin. Then she shows Gracie a photo of the other boy clones. Gracie freaks out because she thinks the clones are abominations.

The strong box under a bed
The box is hidden by Gracie

Gracie heads back to the motel, hides the strongbox under the bed, and packs to run. The honeymoon is so over. She looks up to see her mother at the door. Momma Johanssen wants to find Mark, and Gracie tells her where to look.

Cosima looks at lab results
Cosima in the lab

Back in the lab Cosima – who is coughing again – realizes from the genetic markers in Seth’s brain that the boy and girl clones are sisters and brothers. Holy DNA, Batman. They are family!

Sarah gets the big news bulletin from Cosima just as she sneaking into Willard Finch’s barn. Mark is already there. He’s managed to scare Finch into having a heart attack while trying to get him to talk.

Sarah tells Mark they are brother and sister. He has to care about Helena now, because she is his sister.

Bonnie with a rifle
Don’t argue with the lady with the gun

Mark runs to find Gracie. He’s almost to his truck when he’s shot in the leg by Mrs. Johanssen. He crawls into a corn field. She follows. Sarah, hiding in the barn, hears another gun shot.

Some Thoughts

Nicholas Campbell
Nicholas Campbell

One of the advantages of being old is you remember how actors looked long ago. Like tonight’s bad guy Willard Finch. He used to be scorching hot, as I recall.

Felix has a lot of cleaning to do. His apartment is a bloody mess. Kira’s blanket fort is still intact. What is he going to do with the majority of Seth still ensconced in his bathtub? Much of the plot hangs on when Felix cleans.

Much of the plot also hangs on what’s in the undiscovered tank of liquid nitrogen, the strongbox under a motel bed that nobody in the cast will stay in again, and the still unread “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”

Now that the clones know the original genomes came from a sister and brother, are they going to be united in the search for an answer to their defects?

The cliffhanger of the final gunshot was somewhat ruined by a preview of next week showing a live but bloody Mark.

The Title Quotation

From Dwight Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation in 1961.

In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Orphan Black: Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done

“Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done” is episode 9 of season 2 of Orphan Black. The stakes are raised to the highest level for Cosima and Kira. Story wires stretched to breaking characterize the episode.

Allison

Lacking a boat, what would Dexter do?
Lacking a boat, what would Dexter do?

Allison (Tatiana Maslany, one of many)  and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) provide some comic relief in a fairly dark episode by deciding to jackhammer up the garage floor and bury Leekie.  Allison turns out to be handy with a jackhammer. Midway through the burial operation, Vic (Michael Mando) arrives talking bullshit about recovery. When Allison chases him off, he goes outside and climbs into a big, black police van.

Vic comes back later and peers into the garage windows. Donnie grabs him and threatens him with Allison’s pistol. Since becoming an accidental murderer who buries bodies in his garage, Donnie has learned how to put a pistol on safety and he’s grown a pair. He takes Vic out to the van where Detective Deangelis (Inga Cadranel) is lurking. He tells them to stop harassing his wife and takes a photo of them together while threatening to get Deangelis fired for her behavior.

When a filthy Allison and Donnie put the finishing touches on the wet concrete in the garage floor, Donnie draws a heart in it. Allison admits, “I’m more attracted to you than I’ve ever been.” Hiding murder victims is a bonding experience for the happy couple who “do it nasty” on the big chest freezer where once Leekie turned to ice.

Helena

Meanwhile back at the Prolethean compound, Henrik (Peter Outerbridge) is shooting fertilized eggs into Helena’s cervix with what looks like the same long metal tube he uses on cows. The nurse who helps with the implant, Alexis, is played by Kathryn Alexandre. This is the first time we’ve seen her face, although Kathryn Alexandre has been working hard on every episode of Orphan Black because she’s Tatiana’s double whenever more than one clone is in a scene. Hello there, Kathryn, love your work.

I received a sign from God about what Dyad did
I received a sign from God

After the fertilization, Alexis takes Helena to the nursery. Helena bonds instantly with one of the children. She listens to Henrik tell a story, after which Alexis tells the children it’s naptime. When the little girl Helena bonded with lingers to feel Helena’s hair, Alexis is cruel to her. Helena shoves Alexis against a door frame and promises to gut her like a fish if she ever does anything like that again. Helena once knew a nun who was mean like that – I’m guessing that particular nun has trouble seeing these days.

Henrik tells Mark (Ari Millen) that he is expected to marry Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) and be a father to the babies she will bear. There’s also a military connection with Mark, who turns out to be AWOL.

We see Gracie, feet in stirrups, with Henrik peering into his own daughter’s vagina and implanting his own babies in her as hymns play in the background. Hymns. Not Gracie’s babies. Henrik and Helena’s babies. Gross in so many ways.

Gracie and Helena bunk in the same room while the eggs are taking hold and Helena learns that Gracie is carrying her babies. Mark comes in and Helena says, “You love her like puppy but you let him make her brood mare.”

Helena and Gracie decide to run away. Henrik stops them. Helena grabs Henrik while Mark and Gracie run. Helena straps Henrik to the same table where she and Gracie just were. Henrik’s feet are bound to the stirrups and his arms are bound to the bed. Helena does something to Henrik with the long metal rod used for inseminations. He doesn’t like it a bit, but Helena gets a good laugh out of it. Funny how men think they can do anything they want with women’s bodies, but when the situation is reversed they scream bloody murder. Then Helena sets the whole compound on fire and takes off.

Cosima

Cosima grows sicker and sicker. She’s wearing an oxygen tube and coughing constantly.

Skyping with the girls
Skyping with the girls

Sarah can see during a Skype call how badly Cosima is doing. She realizes how crucial Kira is to saving Cosima.

In the Dyad lab, Duncan (Andrew Gillies) is there as Scott (Josh Vokey) puts together a bastardized computer system to read the old floppy disks. Duncan has the keys to decrypt the data in his head, and he’s only revealing the keys to the parts of the puzzle they need to help Cosima. He refuses to let them have it all, which is a good thing since nobody at Dyad can be trusted. Cosima watches. And coughs.

Rachel, Delphine, and Sarah

Rachel plays Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) like a master manipulator. She calls her in and makes her interim director in Leekie’s old job. She assures her, “We need to convince Sarah we have no designs beyond that treatment,” and sends her to Mrs. S’s place to once again plead for bone marrow from Kira.

Rachel goes into a dark room where a martini waits. It is a ritual she’s reenacting. She watches old videos of her loving family, her happy childhood. She laughs, she cries, she slaps her own face and mutters.

Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Benjamin (Julian Richings), Felix (Jordan Gavaris), Sarah, and Kira (Skyler Wexler) continue to hang at Mrs. S’s house. Mrs. S knows a clinic, not Dyad, where they could take the bone marrow. They ask Kira if she is willing to do it. She says yes.

Kira at the clinic
Kira at the clinic

All of them head for the clinic. When Delphine returns to Dyad with the bone marrow, she finds Rachel has been using her office. On her computer she sees something about Benjamin and Dyad. Delphine returns to the clinic, calls Sarah out to her car to speak without being overheard, and tells her about Benjamin.

Inside the clinic, Sarah enters and picks up Kira to carry her away. When Felix intervenes, she drugs him and we realize it’s Rachel disguised as Sarah. Seconds later the real Sarah reenters the clinic and Mrs. S snaps to what’s going on. It’s too late. Rachel’s taken Kira.

Delphine confesses
Delphine confesses

Delphine tells Cosima what she’s done, how she was played. At least we now realize where Delphine’s true loyalties lay.

The episode’s final scene explains Rachel’s internal tantrum from the last episode after she found out she was barren by design. It explains her ritualized watching of videos from her own childhood. The scene of her crazy sex life was a mere warmup glimpse into Rachel’s warped mind. Rachel is dangerously wacko.

Kira wakes up in a pink room. Far too pink. Rachel introduces herself and Kira withdraws from her. Rachel is the first clone Kira has been afraid of. Kira is cognizant of things that no one else gets, so her cringing away from Rachel says a lot. Rachel assures Kira that she will grow to like it there, just as Rachel herself did.

What Do We Know?

We ended season 1 with Kira missing. Surely we won’t end season 2 the same way. My fingers are crossed that Kira is rescued from Rachel’s mad clutches and Cosima is on the way to healing before season 2 ends. That wouldn’t leave much tension to pull us into season 3, however. Since I do want a season 3, I must accept the idea of a cliffhanger in the final episode. I just don’t want that cliffhanger to involve Kira or Cosima. How about it, Orphan Black, can you pull that writing feat off for me?

We know for sure that the Proletheans and Project Leda were somehow aware of each other, that Mrs. S was aware of both from the start. We don’t know what the military connection is yet, but there is one. We don’t know who or what the ferryman that Carlton mentioned a few episodes ago is. I’m almost 100% sure that Mrs. S is on Sarah’s side, on Kira’s side. And I’m almost 100% sure that Delphine values Cosima over Dyad.

It’s that almost that worries me.

The Francis Bacon quote for this episode is from The New Organon or True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature

It would be an unsound fancy and self-contradictory to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried.

Orphan Black: To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings

The “To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings” episode of Orphan Black brings Sarah some answers, but everyone is still suspect and no one can be trusted.

Sarah and Helena (Tatiana Maslany squared) are in a pickup on their way to Cold River. Helena refuses to tell Sarah where it is, because she knows Sarah won’t need her if she does. The scenes between Sarah and Helena grow more and more charming as Helena is revealed in greater depth. They spend the night in a tent and Helena asks Sarah about Kira – she wonders if she could have children, too. She says, “I am very good with children.”

Sarah wants to know what the Prolethians took from Helena, but Helena claims she doesn’t know. When they turn out the lantern for the night, we see Paul (Dylan Bruce) lurking in the dark outside their camp.

There’s a hilarious scene of Sarah and Helena driving. “Sugar Sugar” comes on the radio. Helena sings along with enthusiasm. Sugar is her thing, indeed.

What Tatiana Maslany does with Helena in this episode is masterful. Her uninhibited off key singing, her playfulness in the tent, her vulnerability when she asks about babies, her growl of a laugh later in a bar scene, her unbridled sexuality when she’s attracted to a man, her brutality when threatened – Tatiana’s bringing Helena into personhood with so much affection and skill. That Tatiana Maslany can do that with Sarah, Allison and Cosima still floating in her head is just amazing.

Inga Cadranel
Allison is stuck in rehab.

Allison is still in rehab. She’s reluctant to participate in group. The door opens and into group walks Victor (Michael Mando). You remember Victor: Sarah’s former boyfriend who got his finger chopped off for a drug debt and who Allison maced in a parking lot. Yeah, that Victor. He’s all Zen now, full of the wisdom of recovery. When Allison threatens Donnie’s (Kristian Bruun) privates because he failed to bring the kids to visit her, Victor steps in to defuse the argument. Later we learn that Victor is actually in cahoots with Detective DeAngelis (Inga Cadranel). She promised he won’t go to jail for his crimes if he rats on Allison.

Allison, incidentally, can handle a basketball with one arm in a sling.

Take your medicine and don't ask where it came from.
Take your medicine and don’t ask where it came from.

Cosima gets injections from Delphine (Evelyne Brochu). The injections may or may not be helping her. Delphine hired Scott (Josh Vokey) to come to Dyad to do gene sequencing. I haven’t previously mentioned Josh Vokey, who is fabulous as a naive geek, because the character wasn’t central, but he takes a central role in this episode. He reveals that he knows the samples he’s been given are clones, but he doesn’t realize that Cosima is a clone. He figures out that the stem cell injections Cosima is getting came not from a clone but a female relative. Perhaps a daughter. Is that daughter spelled K-I-R-A? We don’t know. Dephine makes Scott swear not to tell Cosima this news.

Sarah and Helena arrive in front of a church. It’s the church in the photo of Ethan Duncan, the Swan Man. Sarah instructs Helena to wait in the truck while she goes inside to investigate. Sarah finds photos of a building. The church deacon (Jane Spidell) tells her it was the Cold River Institute. Cold River is closed and all the records are in the church basement. The deacon also identifies the photo of Ethan Duncan as “Mr. Peckham” and mentions that Maggie Chen was also digging about in the old records. Sarah finds lots of info about the clones, but nothing about Andrew Peckham in the records.

Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) emptied Helena’s locker and took all the contents to Felix’s (Jordan Gavaris) apartment for help digging through it. A phone call from Sarah gets them looking for someone named Peckham, and they give Sarah an address.

Helena, of course, did not wait obediently in the truck while Sarah was doing this. She goes into a bar, starts drinking, almost breaks the finger of an asshole who thinks he can have her just because he wants her, and takes a liking to Jesse (Patrick J. Adams) who is nice to her. Both Paul and the Prolethian errand boy Mark (Ari Millen) watch her every move in the bar.

Helena's boyfriend
Helena’s boyfriend

When Helena and Jesse start kissing, asshole breaks in and wants a turn. Helena beans Mr. Asshole with a pool ball, tosses him on the pool table and climbs on with the intention of poking out his eyes. Helena gets arrested for smashing heads in the bar. In the police station she asks for her boyfriend. She’s told she’s been released and can leave with her sister.

When Helena looks up to see her sister, it’s Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison), hiding her inflamed suture marks from the police with a hand over her mouth. Gracie and Mark tell Helena they have her babies and she agrees to go with them. Mark gives her Jesse’s baseball cap. I think he gives it to her to try to gain her trust, but it has the name of Jesse’s business on it, which may come in handy later.

Sarah leaves Helena to the cops and goes to Peckham’s house. Who opens the door but Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy). Good heavens, is there anything Mrs. S doesn’t know? She’s wearing a Pussy Riot shirt. Someone who wants to hurt Sarah wouldn’t wear a Pussy Riot shirt, would she?

Mrs. S knows all
Mrs. S knows all

Mrs. S is trying to get Andrew Peckham (Andrew Gillies)  out of his hoarder’s horror of a house, off to somewhere to do her mysterious bidding. When Peckham sees Sarah he looks her over with great interest, decides she isn’t Rachel, and asks to be taken to Rachel.

Is it Andrew or is it Ethan?
Is it Andrew or is it Ethan?

He cannot be taken to Rachel, however. He’s been hiding from Dyad for 20 years because Aldous Leekie killed his wife Susan and took over the LEDA project for Dyad.

What was LEDA doing?
What was LEDA about?

Sarah wants to know what Project LEDA was all about. Peckham/Duncan tells her it was a proof of concept experiment to see if they could actually clone a human and because they “wanted girl babies.”

While Sarah and Peckham/Duncan are talking, Siobhan goes outside and confronts Paul. Yes, she knows who Paul is. Everything Mrs. S does in this episode is so momentous, we have to go to commercial immediately after. Her every line of dialog is a bomb dropping. She tells Paul that the hoarder inside in his filthy kitchen talking to Sarah is the only hope that any of the clones have and that Paul better back off and let them go.

Kudos to Kathryn Alexandre and the Faces We Never See

Kathryn Alexandre
Kathryn Alexandre

Kathryn Alexandre is Tatiana Maslany’s acting double. She plays whatever clone is opposite Tatiana in a scene. When we see Helena and Sarah in a scene together in a truck or a tent, we have to remember that it was filmed twice. When we see Sarah in the driver’s seat of the truck, the actor beside her doing Helena is Kathryn Alexandre. They film it again with Tatiana in the passenger seat doing Helena while Kathryn Alexandre sits in the driver’s seat and plays Sarah. In the finished version, we never see Kathryn’s face.

It’s time to acknowledge how important Kathryn Alexandre is to Orphan Black. When we see chemistry, warmth, and closeness between Helena and Sarah, it’s actually something happening with Tatiana and Kathryn. Not just the warm fuzzy scenes, but the fight scenes, the dangerous scenes, the funny scenes. If they have to film it 2 times, 3 times, 4 times, to get all the clones in a scene together, Kathryn is there giving Tatiana a partner to act with and react to.

Much of what we see in Orphan Black is illusion, built from brilliant editing, brilliant makeup and brilliant acting. When we see it as a finished piece it is so perfectly executed it’s hard to remember how it was created. Let’s step back from the illusion and look behind the curtain to praise the hidden people who build the show. Here’s to Kathryn Alexandre and everyone else we don’t see in Orphan Black. You are all awesome!

The quote from Francis Bacon for this episode comes from the 1623 De Augmentis Scientiarum:

For you have but to hound nature in her wanderings, and you will be able when you like to lead and drive her afterwards to the same place again.

Some images from IMDB © Jan Thijs 2013. Some screen shots from BBC America.