Orphan Black Review: 'Community Of Dreadful Fear And Hate'

Sunday, 31 May 2015 - 12:39PM
Orphan Black
Sunday, 31 May 2015 - 12:39PM
Orphan Black Review: 'Community Of Dreadful Fear And Hate'
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Last night's episode of Orphan Black took a break from the larger mythology and shone the spotlight on Cosima and Alison, who have been relegated to supporting player status this season. The episode was sweet, sentimental, and hilarious, although occasionally heavy-handed and featuring much more sitcommy clone hijinks than usual. It was fairly jarring for the show to default to light-heartedness after last week's tragic, intense episode, but on the plus side, there were too many amazing one-liners to count, with winners in every subplot:

Mommie Dearest

"Donnie! You came too."
"Your mother is having a heart attack." "A real one?" "I don't know. What? Why?"

For better and for worse, Alison's mother was exactly what you'd expect her to be. Freezing cold, withholding, and painfully critical, her presence demonstrates the "nurture" that turned Alison into a very different brand of clone than her genetic sisters. Occasionally the dialogue between Alison and her mother was too hamfisted; Alison explicitly tells the audience her problems with her mother when it was obvious from the very first scene. But overall, the dynamic between the two characters was interesting and necessary for the writers to explore, and the stellar acting saved even the clumsiest scenes.

Clone Sitcom

"You need bangs. Bangs that say unhappy, sexless marriage."
"Alison, that girl was mulatto. She wasn't? Well, I will never understand that hairstyle."

I've always loved episodes in which the clones pass as each other, mostly because it's truly amazing to see the nuanced shades Tatiana Maslany can afford the layered portrayals of Alison as Sarah, Sarah as Rachel, etc. Pretending to be another clone is an easy source of drama, but in the past, the stakes for these imitations have always been high enough that it didn't feel quite so sitcom-ish.

Between Cosima's "lesbian" slip and Jason kissing "Alison," the clone hijinks were much more contrived and silly than usual, with mixed results. On the one hand, the episode was funny and a light-hearted respite from all the death and tragedy, but last week's episode was the best of the season, and the fact that "Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate" hardly dealt with that fallout at all felt unnatural.

Since there was such a strong focus on the comedic elements of the show, the Sarah/Helena/Mrs. S. scenes stuck out like a sore thumb. The scenes themselves were fine, but it was difficult to be as invested in the confrontation as we should have been when we only checked in with them every fifteen minutes or so. The writers attempted to integrate the disparate plotlines by cutting between Sarah and Mrs. S.'s family bonding and Alison's "mother hen" speech, but this felt extremely heavy-handed to the point of being trite.

Donnie is the Jesse Pinkman

"There are not two Pouchies, darling."

Donnie gets the envelopes for the drug suppliers and the school trustee campaign mixed up, because once again, this episode was like a 90's sitcom. He also demonstrated that he should leave the dirty business to Alison, because he clearly doesn't have the stomach for it. When Jason says he "should have brought Alison" along rather than Donnie, Mr. Hendrix gets all huffy and jealous, while the audience can only nod and say "YUP." Luckily, this show of stereotypical male ego seems to be nothing more than a show for Alison's ex-boyfriend, especially considering the recent (and awesome) revelation that he changed his last name.

The Secret Language of Cyclops

"Felix humiliated her. Plus she scares me."

Rachel's recuperation is taking longer than I would like (although that probably makes it a little more realistic), but it's always entertaining to see how much power the character wields, even in her current state. That being said, how many times are the writers going to use the "I'll only talk to Sarah" gimmick? I know she's fertile and special and all, but come on now.


-I always liked Cosima and Delphine, but this stalker ex-girlfriend is not a flattering color on Delphine. I suppose this could be considered to be consistent with the sketchier aspects of her character from the first season, but it's making me ship Cosima and Shay more and more.

-Until now, Marci Coates was just your average, passive-aggressive suburban villain, but this episode proved that she's actually the worst. Luckily, Alison had the perfect passive-aggressive response to Marci's blatant homophobia: "Was that an intolerant comment?"
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