Orphan Black Season 3, Episode 4
“Newer Elements of Our Defense”
Posted by Kayti
Orphan Black embraces the ickiness in Season 3, Episode 4 (“Newer Elements of Our Defense”). Seriously, I spent this entire episode flinching and/or hiding behind my hands. In itself, this is neither a compliment nor an insult — at least from me. I don’t seek out unsettling gore in TV, but I am also not turned off by it. For me, it’s all about how this viscerality is treated, i.e. how it’s being used to tell a larger story and, in that context, Orphan Black gets full marks.
“I know you don’t trust me, but I’m all you got.”
Yay, Mark is alive! And he and Sarah teamed up! And by “teamed up,” I mean Sarah and Mark bonded over DIY surgery — aka Sarah sticking her fingers into Mark’s bullet wound to try to feel the bullet. Though Sarah seems to have some kind of familial sympathy for Mark, she doesn’t do this for nothing either. She barters her steady hands for answers about Helena’s whereabouts. ( This is why Sarah is the most effective clone.)
“Oh my god. Is everyone else’s life this chaotic?”
Last week, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure how long I would enjoy Alison’s story because it was so disconnected from the larger clone plot. I take it back, Orphan Black. Can you ever forgive me for doubting you? Give me more of Alison and Donnie as drug dealers because it is great. This week, the two hit a potential snag when the local drug kingpin contacts them, confiscates their stash, and asks for a meeting. In the kind of genius hyperbolic suburbia twist that Orphan Black is so good at, it turns out that the kingpin is actually Alison’s high school boyfriend.
Jason Kellerman is very impressed with Alison’s marketing skills (soap? genius!). Also, if the long gazes they share are any indication, these two still have some serious chemistry. Also, Alison’s mother gets another mention. We’re ready to meet her now, show.
“I pine for no woman.”
Cosima is actually totally pining for Delphine, and it is very sad. Luckily, Felix has deemed her the clone currently most in need of his guidance.
In other news, Cosima is still feeling good from Kira’s stem cell treatment, which is always good news, and she is still trying to crack the code Duncan left in The Island of Dr. Moreau. With the help of Sarah’s own investigation into the original clone source, Cosima pieces together that the genetic material was used to create a baby by Prolethean jerk Henrik, who was Professor Duncan’s lab assistant. Gracie’s mom, Bonnie, seemingly carried baby Abel to term before he died. Or so the grave behind Henrik and Bonnie’s old house claims. I have other suspicions…
OK, manic theory time: Could Felix be Abel? This show is all about connections. Mrs. S. has stayed surprisingly tight-lipped about whatever happened in London. We always assumed it was Sarah she was mainly protecting by fleeing the country, but what if Felix was the bigger target? This would kind of be my dream come true. I’ve been waiting for Felix to get a larger plot for a while now, and that usually only comes hand in hand with some clone drama (unless you’re Alison). On the other hand, this would make the kiss Felix shared with Tony even more awkward, and the timing of all of this seems a little wonky. Thoughts?
In other news, I still covet Cosima’s coat:
Meanwhile, Gracie’s mother is still THE WORST. After collecting a scared, pregnant Gracie and bringing her back to the new Prolethean camp (the home of a blind doctor who apparently delivered Gracie), she completely abandons her daughter when she miscarries. Given what we’re starting to learn about Bonnie’s tragic backstory, maybe there was a time when Bonnie had empathy and compassion, but that time is not now. Bonnie didn’t even let Gracie change out of the nightgown stained with the blood from the child she just lost — the child that had been forced upon her by the parents whose job it should have been to protect her — before telling her the only reason she had been welcome back was the baby.
Now that the baby is gone, Gracie is on her own again. Frankly, this is potentially the best thing that could have happened to Gracie. The Proletheans have never valued Gracie’s life or wishes. Now, she can go hang out with Felix and the Leda Clones. (But really.)
“I will be as quiet as church mouse.”
Though Helena may be naive in some of the ways the world works, she is highly competent when it comes to life threatening situations. This week, she crafts an escape plan that involves using her pants drawstring to tie off her arm and stop the effect of sedative drugs and fashioning a lock pick from her dinner. Because she is awesome.
But it is not Helena’s lock-picking skills that make her so great. It is the empathy and strong sense of justice she has managed to hold onto despite everything that has happened to her. Sure, sometimes Helena does bad things, but — unlike some of the characters on this show — she really seems to be trying to be good. She wants to help the people who need her help and hurt the people who hurt others. This manifests in one of the most unsettling and beautiful scenes of the episode: Helena forfeiting her chance to escape in order to put Parsons, one of the Castor clones Dr. Coady has been experimenting on, out of his misery. She literally stabs him in his exposed brain and it is so tough to watch, but also so moving?
Between Mark’s bullet-riddled leg, Helena’s dead arm, Gracie’s miscarriage, and Helena stabbing Parsons in the brain, this episode was particularly viscerally-affecting. Something Orphan Black does much better than most shows. It’s not often that TV shows can effectively break through the desensitized wall of the modern TV viewer, but Orphan Black does it. With its pencils to the eye and its artificial inseminations, this is a show about invasions — of body and self. On both the figurative and literal levels, Orphan Black nails it. More, please.
- “I don’t need you dying on me, brother.”
- “Why are you sweatier than usual?”
- “Stick it in first. It will hurt less.”
- Allison easily lifting the buckets of soap when Donnie could not. You have to lift with your legs, Donnie!
- “Sorry, I’m not really the homemaker type.”
- “Do you remember what happened last time you had a gun in a car?!”
- “I’m not going to let an app decide who I love.”
- “What am I really looking for?” “The one who stays in your heart forever. No matter what.” Felix and Cosima are such romantics.
- “You’re a shit mother.” Helena, telling it like it is.