Orphan Black Review: 'Newer Elements of Our Defense'

Sunday, 10 May 2015 - 12:33PM
Orphan Black
Sunday, 10 May 2015 - 12:33PM
Orphan Black Review: 'Newer Elements of Our Defense'
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Orphan Black got back into its rhythm in more ways than one this week, most notably in the jaw-dropping violence category. "Newer Elements of Our Defense" featured some of the most viscerally affecting violence in the entire show, in plotlines that served to highlight the parallels and compelling sense of kinship between the Castor and Leda clones. However, the writers still have a few too many balls in the air, and several characters are still marooned in their own, mostly irrelevant plotlines.

Orphan Black shows its brains

The most memorable moment of the episode came when Helena discovered a hapless Castor clone with a gruesomely exposed brain, who was being horrifically tortured by the Castor clones' "mother." He begs Helena to put him out of his misery, and in spite of the scorpion's/her subconscious's insistence that she should leave him and save herself, she kindly stabs him in the brain with a surgical tool. 

This was an arresting scene on a purely visual level, but it also served the greater purpose of drawing parallels between the Castor clones and the Leda clones, particularly Helena. Like the Castor clones, Helena has been physically tortured and cruelly experimented on for the express purpose of eradicating her identity. Sarah points out to Mark that, like the boy clones, Helena "isn't a monster," she's just "trained to be a killer." This connection is keenly felt when Helena tenderly kills her brother clone, while holding his chest and whispering in his ear.

This type of kinship is much more significant than the genetic connection that was revealed last week. Even beyond the more obvious parallels between Castor and Helena, the boy and girl clones are spiritual siblings in the sense that they have been denied control over any aspect of their existences. They were engineered for a specific purpose and used for others' ends their entire lives, gradually losing control over their bodies, minds, families, etc.

This more abstract connection between the clones could be felt between Sarah and Mark, who are both the relative "everymen" of their respective clone groups. They bonded for obvious reasons; Mark made himself vulnerable to her by allowing her to save his life, and then Sarah was forced to accept his help when she was nearly murdered by Rudy (yet again).

These confrontations between Sarah and Project Castor may be getting a little old (don't they care about any of the other Leda clones?), but the fraternity between Sarah and Mark made this more than the sum of its parts. Even more than the gross-out moment where Sarah fishes a bullet out of Mark's leg, the joking exchange between the two: "Just put it in hard and fast, it won't hurt as much." "You must be one hell of a first date," breathed fresh life into the clone groups' dynamic. The Castor clones may technically be this season's antagonist, but Orphan Black is too good a show to be content with simple othering.

"A storage locker! Like on Breaking Bad!"

I don't have too much new to say about Alison and Donnie. As I said last week and the week before, they're hilarious and wonderful, but it's difficult to get too invested in their storyline when it has nothing to do with the overall plot. Alison and Donnie can still have a Desperate Housewives-esque plot without isolating them from the rest of the story; I miss the days when Alison was killing nosy neighbors via garbage disposal because she was terrified that she was her monitor. Where did that go?

Pretentious French cigarettes and scratching posts

Cosima is still obliquely related to the overall plot as a result of her science whiz status, but she and Felix are increasingly in danger of suffering from Alison and Donnie syndrome. I'm curious to see Cosima try to navigate online dating next week, but could it possibly connect to the overarching plot? We'll see next week, but most likely, Cosima will be brought into the fold once Delphine/Rachel 2.0 gets back in the game.

Gracie's fall from grace

This is the part of the review that I almost forget to write every week, which is a bad sign. Gracie's story is tragic, particularly this week's horrific miscarriage (I maintain that pregnancy is the closest to a real-life horror movie that most of us will get), and yet it's still a little difficult to care about these people. But getting kicked out of the Proletheans will likely lead to more complex development of the Gracie character, which will not only be interesting to watch, but will give standout actress Zoé de Grand'Maison more to do.


-Best line of the week: "You lift from the legs, Donnie." - Alison Hendrix

-Project Castor's "mother" is becoming one of the most compelling parts of the addition of the boy clones, and the revelation that she allows her "son" to be horribly maimed was a doozy. Presumably, she sees it as a necessarily evil in order to find a cure for the neurological disease that will afflict her other children, but it's still incredibly dark.

-Speaking of which, I really hope that Project Castor has some other motivation other than finding the cure to their neurological defect, because that would be a little anticlimactic.

-Helena's "You're a shit mother!" was also a highlight. Happy Mother's Day, everyone!
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Orphan Black