Email Roundtable #49 – Orphan Black, or, “Waking State of Confusion and the Pursuant Ranting Inevitable”

This week Kerri and Katie attempt to discuss the penultimate episode of season three of Orphan Black.

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Kerri: Well, Katie, here we are, one week away from the end of Orphan Black season 3, and I have no clue what the hell is going on! The conspiracy and mythology this season has become exhaustingly convoluted. Maybe you can help me out. I do know that, in this penultimate episode, in the big reveal, we find out who provided the DNA for both the Castor and Leda clones. It turns out to be Mrs. S’s mom (which, I dunno, at this point is a bit of a letdown). And then there’s something called “Topside” that I’ve basically ignored caring about until it was brought up again in this episode. What is it? Why should we care? Why does the guy in the glasses talk to Hot Delphine about it? Who is the guy in the glasses? I mean, I remember when Sarah-playing-Rachel almost strangled him to death when they were having kinky sex until Hot Delphine stopped them but, other than that, I just can’t seem to keep up. Are you having as much trouble as I am, Katie? What did you think of “Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow” (gawd, these episode names)?

Katie: Well, from one confuzzled blogger to another, let’s attempt to break down these mysteries. First off: Mrs. S’s mom absorbed her twin in utero. Cool, that’s easy to understand. Then Mrs. S’s mom was in prison – pre-1980’s – because she killed S’s boyfriend. Weird. Then a scientist dude, who I think is now dead (probably that guy that liked birds and I think his house burned down) was looking for a prisoner who had eaten his or her twin in utero. Then what? I don’t understand the science. (edit: Grandma S is a human chimera, which means she has 2 sets of DNA. Here’s a link to someone who does understand.) Actually, I don’t even understand what a Castor Original is. All I knew was that Sarah was looking for it. Ok, so Original Scientist gets some Original DNA and starts making clones out of it. Mrs. S wants to kill Castor/Leda Original because Castors are evil, but Sarah wants to keep her alive because Leda Original will help fix their defect. And presumably Castor’s defects, too.

Will they take Grandma S back to the States?

Kerri: Yes, I’m sure they now plan to take Grandma S back and get Cosima to do some science on her.

Castors are the Mark-faced clones. The boy clones. Of that I am sure. We are supposed to be shocked because Mrs. S’s mommy is a woman and the boy clones are boys. But, you know what? It’s all so confusing that I’m not shocked. Not even a little bit.

Because this episode was so caught up in its love of the conspiracy, it was decidedly not for me. It made me long for last week’s episode, “Ruthless in Purpose, Insidious in Message” (seriously, these names!). There were some nice, real human moments in that episode and the introduction of Krystal, aka Manicurist Clone, who I would love to have seen more of. Plus, we didn’t have a scene where Mrs. S reunites with her band (why was that necessary?)

Katie: That was embarrassing. I felt like that scene was fan service for Maria Doyle Kennedy’s band.

Kerri: Moving away from the conspiracy, what did you think of this episode?

Katie: One more thing I don’t understand before we get to talking about the episode as a whole – how is it that Sarah and Felix are ahead of the London thugs, or Topside, or whatever? Sure, they have Mrs. S’s contacts but if the Topside dude knew about Siobhan’s friends, they should have found Original Castor a long time ago.

To reiterate what you said, there was too much plot and not enough human stories in “Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow” (are these names a joke?) Cosima doesn’t seem like she’s dying anymore, so the urgency to fix the Leda’s defect is gone. Sure, Castor Clone Seth needs to find Original Castor to “fix their glitch” but Castor sucks, so who really cares if they die off? … Next episode we’ll probably find out why we should care.

For me, Orphan Black is kind of like watching football. I know which team I’m rooting for – who is good and who is bad. I understand that a touchdown is good, but if they make a weird little obscure play, I don’t understand how that advances the action.

What did you like about this episode, if anything?

Kerri: There was one line of Felix’s that I thought was hilarious but I’ve long since forgotten what that was. Helena killed Pouchy and his hench-people which I didn’t exactly “like” but certainly moved things forward. Donnie’s line to Helena about making a “Dad decision” was so subtle and funny and a perfect character beat for him. The Donnie/Helena relationship is working its way toward something I feel might eventually be fun. I think that was it.

Can we talk about Cosima (or “Casino”, as G calls her, which will never not be hilarious and adorable to me) for a minute? Cosima: dying when necessary. Cough, cough. I fucking love Cosima. But I have come to realize over time that her character is garbage. Why can’t Cosima run around and escape from bad guys and do the things that the other Clone Sisters do? Has she been outside…ever? Is it because she’s “dying”? Or, because she needs to be at a computer in case something comes up that needs Googling? I call bullshit. Cosima’s always been the exposition queen but now she’s the exposition queen and the one that has “romantic relationships”. I like romance, I like lesbians, I like romantic lesbians! I’m a huge “shipper”. Huge. I want everyone to always be in the state of almost getting together with another person. But this relationship with Shay is a huge bummer to me. Shay is not a real person. Shay is some person’s fantasy. Who’s fantasy, I’m not sure. Shay says things like, “I’m a prairie girl who couldn’t stand the winters” and wears a floppy hat and a matching turquoise set of bra and panties and does, like, Reiki or something for fun. Shay opens the door without pants on. NOT REAL. No matter how fucking bohemian you are or pretend to be, you don’t do that. But, wait, don’t worry, Shay has SECRETS. Maybe Shay is the mole. Because everyone is always fucking INVOLVED in the conspiracy on this show. I was momentarily happy when it turned out that Gracie was the mole. But I’m not convinced that Shay isn’t still somehow part of the conspiracy (after all, she is military. Is that short-hand of some sort for the love interests on this show? Are the good ones always vaguely “military”? See, Big Dick Paul and Good Guy Cal). Because everyone is always INVOLVED.

Katie:  What a HUGE problem – that everyone is involved in the conspiracy. Whenever someone is “revealed as being part of the conspiracy” the audience is like “DUH, because everyone is involved.” I think you’ve pinpointed why the “Castor Original is Grandma S” reveal is so disappointing, because of course S is directly involved. Of course.

I love Cosima, but she should’ve died last season.

I’m sorry my responses are as convoluted as the plot of Orphan Black, but one other thing, WHO IS MOLE-ING TO WHO? The monitors of the Leda clones used to report to Leaky & Dyad (Allison and Donnie still report her menstrual flow to Dyad, which I thought was a pretty funny scene. Actually, I’m digging Allison & Donnie a whole lot this season) but now the clones are being monitored by the military? And the military is monitoring Dyad?

Where is good guy Cal? He was military, right? CALL CAL! Wait, no, he’s probably involved.

Kerri: I agree with you about Donnie and Allison. They’ve been the best part of this season.

Yes, that’s one thing we’ve talked about in private but haven’t really written about, that we both feel Cosima should have died last season. The stakes would have been high, there would have been real, human emotional investment, it would have made Hot Delphine’s move to the dark side all the more powerful. But Cosima is still alive. Orphan Black isn’t a show that kills off beloved main characters at every turn (ahem, Game of Thrones) but it is a show that benefits enormously from humanity. I don’t actively want Cosima to die but I think it would have been powerful. It would have made the search for a cure all the more important.

Beyond that, I think there is another problem with the show this season, Sarah is no longer the main character. I didn’t realize it until late into this season, but she’s not really our centre anymore. All of the clones seem to be on equal footing. I liked the show more when Sarah was our guide and there was a smattering of Allison, Helena and Cosima thrown in here and there. I liked the exploration of Sarah’s life, figuring out how to live in this crazy world as a clone. But the creators seem to have decided somewhere along the line that all of the clones were so great that they needed to have equal screen time. Are they bored with Sarah?

Katie: Speaking of making the cure more important, do we know why Cosima is the only one getting sick? Besides the fact that Sarah and Helena are super-clones? Beyond wanting to save their sister, they must want to protect themselves from the illness, just like the Castor brothers do. There needs to be more sister-time! We need to see what is important. There haven’t been nearly enough sister/sister scenes this season.

Kerri: You’re so right, Katie. If Cosima is sick and other clones have died from this mysterious sickness then it follows that at some point Allison should also get sick, right? Allison is definitely not a super-clone because she can’t have kids. So, I’m guessing at some point she’ll get ill. But we don’t know. We so don’t know. Can you use straight talk once in a blue moon, Orphan Black?

Katie: Kerri, let’s do something fun. Let’s make a list of things we’d like to see in the finale episode. I have no idea what’s going to happen, so I’m just going for wish-fulfillment here.

1. A scene with Sarah and Helena where they eat something.
2. Let Felix get on with his life.
3. No one dies. Someone goes to real jail (with the help of Art.)
4. Seth almost dies and goes to Sarah for help.
5. They replay that scene with Donnie and Allison twerking in their underwear in full.

Kerri:

1. Cosima and Hot Delphine, just once more, for old-times sake.
2. No clone dance parties or any dance parties, for that matter. I love dance parties but Orphan Black does not do them well.
3. Good Guy Cal returns from banging Daenerys in Mereen or wherever the hell they are (don’t tell me, I don’t care). He brings Dead Eyes (Kira) back with him but she’s different somehow. Maybe more psychic.
4. Rachel’s new eye can shoot lasers.
5. The whole episode is a sit-com that takes place in Bubbles. Allison and Donnie are the main characters. Hijinks ensue when Helena puts too many bubbles in the soap! At one-point the whole shop is full of bubbles. The episode ends with Helena saying, “Oopsie-daisy”.

I just noticed that we’ve both been mostly circling around each other’s questions. Probably because we don’t know any of the answers. I don’t know who is mole-ing who or why the military is involved or if anyone knows where Art’s former partner is (is she dead? Did she retire?). I do know that I still like the show even if it is no longer the emotional thrill-ride it was in season one.

Katie: For as much as I’m confused and as much as I gripe about the show, I’m certainly still enjoying it too. And Kerri, I’d love to answer ANY of your questions, but I honestly have no frickin’ clue! I’m feeling a very Lost vibe right now – as in, there are so many mysteries and so many loose ends, that I just grab ahold of the ones I understand and forget about the rest.

In conclusion, what I understand about the arc of season 3 is that the Castor clones are dying and they want to cure themselves. The Castor Mom Lady works for a quasi-military organization that wants to make all women sterile, and they are using the Genetic Thinger that the Leda clones have as a weapon against All Women. You’re right, Sarah isn’t the centre of the show anymore. I didn’t even mention our Sister Clones once in that description.

Well here’s hoping the finale episode answers a few of our questions, but knowing Orphan Black, many more will be raised. Will Sarah make it out of London alive? Will the Castor/Leda Original once again let her genetic material be used in the name of science? Will Hot Delphine and Cosima do it once more, for old-times sake?

One thought on “Email Roundtable #49 – Orphan Black, or, “Waking State of Confusion and the Pursuant Ranting Inevitable”

  1. Pingback: Clip Show | The Golden Age of Television

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