Review Scorecard: Orphan Black 'History Yet to Be Written'

Sunday, 21 June 2015 - 12:11PM
Orphan Black
Sunday, 21 June 2015 - 12:11PM
Review Scorecard: Orphan Black 'History Yet to Be Written'
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Welcome to our review scorecard, where we (semi-arbitrarily) assign points to the parts of an episode that we loved and hated, the parts that worked and the parts that definitely didn't. We'll weigh more significant aspects of the show with more points, either positive or negative, and tally all the points up at the end for a final score that will reflect the quality of the overall episode.

The Good

Rachel's new eye +1
As if we needed another reason to be terrified of Rachel, her new eye makes her look like half a bionic werewolf.

Art's back! +1
His welcome reappearance reminds me just how much he's been underutilized this season, but his presence was still a breath of fresh air.

Malone's British insults +3
Malone was cantankerous in a hilariously English way throughout the episode, calling Scott a "toothy git" and Cosima a "pikey, with that hair." Brilliant.

The explanation of chimerism +2
I don't know enough about chimerism to know whether it's realistic that the Castor and Leda DNA would present as someone who looks neither Castor or Leda, but genetic chimeras do exist in real life, and it makes enough sense in layman's terms that the exposition was worth it.

Dr. Coady calling Alison "the soccer mom" +1
True to the character, the moniker sounds simultaneously disparaging and fear-stricken.

"We're kind of over the whole 'bad copy' thing" +10
The dynamic between Cosima and Malone was hands-down the best part of this episode. Malone and Mrs. S. both handle their problems with hostility, violence, and/or sulphuric acid, but it was Cosima's warmth and empathy that ultimately melted Malone's reserves.

Although Malone ostensibly rejects the "mother-sister" position in the Clone Club, she and Cosima reach an understanding as human beings. Just as Cosima's privacy has been violated time and time again, Malone's DNA was taken without her consent all those years ago. Orphan Black centers around women's loss of agency regarding their bodies and reproductive rights, so Malone was the "original" both literally and figuratively.

Felix is a badass +3
For once, Felix got to graduate from clone support to kicking a door down, and he was more surprised by his own badassery than anyone.

"Why do weird things keep happening to me?" +2
Welcome to Clone Club, Krystal.

RIP Rudy +5
It makes complete sense to set the Helena monster loose on Rudy in a clone cage match, if only so she can say things like, "You are winding down, my toy." But even better than the fight itself was the tender moment between Helena and Rudy directly prior to his death. The image of the Castor clones "piling up in a corner like puppies" was incredibly endearing, and Helena's response, "When I was nine, I was made to shoot puppy," was just Helena being Helena.

The dinner scene +5
It was a little jarring to have such a sentimental scene directly after all the Castor drama, but they've earned a little R&R, and it's always welcome to see all the clones in the same room. Between the sisters' ode to Beth and Alison's well-deserved school trustee win, this was a perfect emotional capper to the season. And bonus points for Alison's WASPy discomfort with Helena's "ethnic cake."

Delphine's death +10
We didn't see a body, but word on the street (or from Graeme Manson) is that Delphine is really dead, and this was a fitting farewell for the character. As I've said in previous reviews, her characterization has been a little spotty this season, but the prediction, "you won't live through the night" was suitably ominous without being overplayed, and the death scene itself was quick and dirty, unsentimental and wonderfully ambiguous. Her last words, "What will happen to her?" probably referred to Cosima, but really could have referred to any of the sisters. Will the sisters survive and persist by sticking together, or will they, like Beth, ultimately be destroyed by the truth surrounding their existence? This question gets to the heart of the show, and served as a devastating goodbye.

+43 points

The Bad

The return of Jesse -3
I'd be happy if this meant that Helena and Donnie won't be getting together, but this entire subplot was cheesy and out of place. The character was a very charming one-off, and I'm always happy to see Patrick J. Adams, but bringing him back feels like the writers overplaying their hand. 

The Shay/Delphine anticlimax -3
It would have been far too melodramatic if Delphine had killed Shay after discovering that she wasn't a mole, but last week had the distinct feeling of leaving us on a cliffhanger, and then Cosima just finds Shay perfectly fine in her kitchen. Lame. 

Mr. S. drama -2
The dialogue between Mrs. S. and Malone was subpar when they weren't trading insults. "I loved him, and you took him away from me." "He took you away from me!" Orphan Black is better than that soap operatic nonsense.

Dr. Coady is fooled by Mark pretending to be Rudy -1
Mothers know how to tell their twins apart, especially mothers who diligently note and scientifically analyze their children's every move.

Unfulfilled potential -10
This was a perfectly solid episode, but a disappointing finale, mostly because no finale could hope to tie up this overly busy season. Several plot threads were left underdeveloped, such as Alison's possible feelings for her ex-boyfriend and Sarah's difficult decision to send Kira away, which was resolved far too neatly at the end. The whole idea of weaponized sterilization was horrifying when it was first introduced, and then mostly left by the wayside.

But worst of all, the lack of tension surrounding the final confrontation with Rudy just reminded me that the writers dropped the ball on developing this potentially fascinating antagonist. The anecdote about the Castor boys piling up like puppies particularly served to demonstrate what could have been; we could have spent this season watching the Castor boys interact with each other, learning about the subtle differences between them, unpacking their wildly dysfunctional relationship with their truly horrendous "mother." But instead, we got a (pretty awesome) fight between Rudy and Helena, and that was it. RIP Castor (except for Mark), we hardly knew ye.

Neolutionist-gate -10
Oh, Lord. There are so many shady organizations who have it out for our clones, I can't even keep track anymore. Dyad, Topside, Proletheans, and now the Neolutionists. I personally like when shows have complex mythologies, but this is getting too convoluted even for me. They need to pick an antagonist and stick to it, so they can spend more time on character work and developing their themes of identity, autonomy, and gender discrimination.

-29 points

Final tally: +14 points

This was a solid episode taken on its own, but it revealed many of the flaws of this overcrowded, mythology-heavy season. The expansion of the conspiracy raised the stakes considerably, but the writers will need to streamline if next season is going to pack more of a punch.
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Orphan Black