Tuesday, May 26, 2015

RECAP: Orphan Black 3x03 - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

Whew! After a weirdly long absence, you can rest easy, my chickadees. We are back to recapping. I wish I could give you some solid explanation of why I missed the past couple of weeks, but I can't. I literally just didn't feel like it. I know, I know. Shame on me.

But, we're back now, and in good time. Things are really starting to heat up for the season and we're beginning to get a glimpse at the themes. Namely, it's becoming more and more clear that this season is about family and the things we will do for the people we live. While it's arguable that this is the theme of every season of Orphan Black, since the show is largely about family, I think it's especially prevalent this season. Here we see the clones starting to grapple with their definitions of what family means and in almost every case, they find that their explanation is too narrow. It needs to be wider and include more people.

And this is an interesting stance for a show to take. I mean, we're all used to the idea that family trumps all in the big prestige dramas and that we should be prepared to wage bloody war for the sake of our families and all that, but it's incredibly rare to find a show that emphasizes how much our understanding of family should and must be inclusive and eternally widening. I think it's interesting.

So, without further ado, what happened in episode three?

Well, like usual, we pick up very shortly after the drama and chaos of episode two. Kira and Cal are gone (off to Iceland), and Sarah is still stuck in Toronto, trying to clean up the mess that is her life so that she can safely be around her child. And part one of the cleanup involves disposing of Seth's dead body. You remember Seth. He's the boy clone with the mustache who had to be mercy killed in Felix's hallway. Well now he's in Felix's tub.

Which is definitely not the best place for a dead body to be, since Felix's flat is constantly getting raided by the police. As a case in point, in walks Art, right on time, and pushes past Sarah to see the body. She rightly points out that they didn't kill him, but it doesn't really matter to Art. A dead body is a dead body and he's a cop. He should really be calling this in. I mean, he doesn't, but he should.

Instead, Art lets Cosima and Scott (via skype) figure out what to do. Cosima and Scott insist that they not dispose of the body just yet, because Seth's brain is actually really scientifically important. If they have his brain, they can potentially figure out what was wrong with him. Also, by examining his genetic sequence, they can hopefully come closer to unlocking their own.

Which leads to a hilarious sequence in which Cosima and Scott saw open Seth's skull to take out his brain. While Cosima is gleefully curious and barely notices how she's covered in blood and guts, Scott is pretty close to being sick all over Felix's plastic-wrapped bathroom. As Felix points out, go easy on Scott. He's not a hardened criminal like the rest of them yet.

[And this brings up an aside of making me think about all of the crimes committed on this show in the past two seasons. Felix means it as a joke, but, yeah, at this point the clones are absolutely definitely hardened criminals.]

Anyway, while Cosima and Scott reenact parts of Frankenstein, Sarah heads off with Art. He has a lead on a Prolethean who might know what happened to Helena. Or rather, who might know what happened to Mark who might know what happened to Helena. Convoluted.

The woman, who is that horrible midwife we met last season, has been shunned from the community for her part in Helena running away and killing Henrik and burning down the farm. Still, she's not particularly interested in helping Art and Sarah. She calls Sarah and abomination and insists she doesn't care what happens to Helena. But she does tell them that Mark and Gracie slipped out together in the farm's truck. And that means that Sarah and Art can start tracking them.

Speaking of Mark and Gracie, they're still cautiously navigating their new marriage. Mark is understandably paranoid and crazy, but because he won't tell Gracie anything it's putting a strain on them. Finally, after she convinces him that they can have sex and it's okay because they're married now, he admits that they've come to this particular town for a purpose: there's a man here who Henrik knew and who kept things for him. Mark has to find those things. He's been a spy all along and been trying to find these things for his bosses. Once he does, he and Gracie can be free.

Gracie's a little upset about this at first, but she rallies quickly. Mark's plan to talk to the farmer basically just involves murdering him. Gracie can be a little more discreet. As Henrik's daughter, she manages to go to the farm, talk to the creepy farm man, and get the box from him with no trouble. Only once she gets back to the motel room, Mark is frustrated to find that there's not tissue samples in there like he thought there would be. He's sure Henrik had them and hid them. But where?

So Mark goes out again and goes off to talk to the man himself. Meanwhile, Art and Sarah have already swung by the farm (having successfully deduced that Mark is going after one of Henrik's associates). They get the brushoff, but stay in town just long enough for Sarah to spot Gracie at a diner. She slides into the booth and drops some pretty harsh truths on Gracie: Mark is a clone, like them, and she needs to find him.

Elsewhere, the terrible midwife lady bargains her way back into the Prolethean's good graces by telling Bonnie (Gracie's mother) exactly what she wants to know: where the hell Gracie is.

It's no surprise then that when Gracie goes back to her motel room she only has just enough time to hide the box full of secrets - the ones that Mark threw aside when he realized there were no tissue samples - before her mother appears in the doorway. Bonnie is full of motherly words and wisdom for her daughter. How Mark used her abused her tricked her and took advantage. Which...maybe he did? It's unclear. But what is clear is that Bonnie wants to bring Gracie back into the fold. Whatever it takes.

Sarah gets to the farm where Mark is "interrogating" the farmer and has to field a not exactly timely phone call from Cosima that nevertheless gives her important news: the Castor clones and the Leda clones are genetic siblings. In other words, the original donors were siblings and so the clones are all siblings. The Castor clones are their brothers.

Coming on Mark, Sarah immediately uses this information to her advantage. He doesn't want to believe it - probably because it's easier to dehumanize someone when you don't think of them as family - but he has to admit that it's probably true. Also, he doesn't get what he's looking for from the farmer.

Mark is about to leave, to take off and grab Gracie and go, when another truck pulls up. It's Bonnie. She's not happy with Mark, not happy at all. And she makes her feelings known very loudly, with several rifleshots. The episode ends with Sarah cowering behind a door so Bonnie won't see her and Mark probably dead. Fun episode.

All of this, however, did gloss over what Alison and Helena were doing all episode, so let's backtrack and get to them. It's interesting how the storylines are rather distinct right now, with everyone kind of doing their own thing. Helena's storyline, for example, was mostly a placeholder, a reminder that she's being locked up by the Castor boys. She's pissed and dirty and hungry, making angry remarks to Paul and Rudy when she sees him, but there's almost nothing she can do.

We do get a little more information on the boys, though. Paul and the boys' mother, Dr. Coady, have a very frank discussion about the Castor clones' health. Simply put, the defect in their neurology that makes them go crazy sometimes is getting much worse and they're no closer to a cure. Paul has to go down to Arlington (Virginia?) to convince some very important people to keep funding them, while Dr. Coady continues to word for a cure. And that cure has got to come from the original tissue samples Duncan got from the clone donors.

Which means that Dr. Coady needs Rudy out in the field again. They're getting kind of low on boy clones, it seems, and Rudy and Miller are the only ones who can go after Mark. Miller's needed here - wherever here is - so Rudy will have to be washed up and sent out again. After he gets some quality time with his mother, of course.

And on the exact opposite spectrum of reality, Alison and her campaign to become school trustee continue to be completely insane. She and Donnie have really taken to the drug selling business, disguising their wares in orders of homemade soap. They can sell the soap to nice suburban soccer moms without it being suspicious, and they have a legitimate cover for their newfound monetary success. Win!

So much of a win, in fact, that Alison's rival for the school trustee position comes by their house to try to convince her to drop out. She dangles an offer of a very nice house in a different district in front of them, hoping Alison will take the bait. Obviously she doesn't. If there's one thing Alison and Donnie Hendrix are good at, it's being competitive. Also crime, apparently.

Rachel, who is still alive and recovering very impressively from getting a pencil shot through her eye and into her brain, has only one scene in this episode. Here she's identifying pictures on cards for Dr. Nealon, and her aphasia appears to be improving. She learns that she is dead to the outside world, that Delphine took her place in DYAD, and that Rachel Duncan functionally no longer exists. But more importantly, we learn that Dr. Nealon clearly knows more about Castor than he admitted earlier. He shows Rachel a picture of the Castor tattoo, clearly trying to see if she recognizes it. And we have to wonder how he does.

Finally, while we did technically see this storyline, it's worth mentioning that this is the episode where Art's clearly lingering issues about Beth finally come to a head. Namely, he admits that he was in love with her, and that seeing her go into a tailspin tore him to pieces. He was the one she called the night she killed herself, and he didn't pick up. He thought it was the pills, that she was spouting more crazy crap, and then she died. He hasn't forgiven himself for that, not by a long shot.

Like I said above, this episode is about family and about expanding that definition to include people you might not want in your life but need to learn to love anyway. Gracie had to face some hard truths when she discovered that the child she's carrying, the genetic offspring of Helena and Henrik, is Sarah's niece. That Gracie will one day have a child who is Kira's cousin. And Mark has to reckon with the fact that he has sisters. A lot of sisters.

This is the episode where we can clearly see how we need family, to keep us going and to pull us together, even when we don't want to admit it. I actually really love this about Orphan Black. Since the first episode of the first season, this show has been about coming to grips with who you are, but it's also been about opening up your heart to let other people in. 

We see that really clearly with Sarah and her ever changing relationship with her sisters, but also in the way that Felix and Mrs. S have come to love and care for the other clones. The way that Gracie became Helena's "sister". The way that now we're finding out how much we are all really family after all.

I love that. And I can't wait to see what they do with it.

Also, poor Mark. Having to wait another whole episode to find out if he survived the cornfield...


  1. The woman, who is that horrible midwife we met last season, has been shunned from the community for her part in Helena running away and killing Henrik and burning down the farm.

    In fairness, I have to question how that's her fault. (Y'know, I'd love it if Alexis had a twin, so Tatiana Maslany had to be Kathryn Alexandre's body double for an episode).

    He was the one she called the night she killed herself, and he didn't pick up. He thought it was the pills, that she was spouting more crazy crap, and then she died.

    Damn. It explains why he helped cover up the Maggie Chen thing. And it reflects rather well on him, given what Sarah did, that he moved quickly into helping her - though that could also be in memory of Beth.

    So does this make Art the grumpy brother-in-law?

    1. I would really definitely enjoy seeing the behind the scenes footage of that.

      I like Art as the grumpy brother-in-law. I'm down for that. And I like how they bring up this plotline, but then don't linger in it. They don't shove it down our throats. It's just, "Yeah, Art was in love with Beth. But she's dead now and he's trying to honor her memory by helping her sisters. Moving on!" I appreciate that because it honors the emotion of it without making Beth's story all about Art.

    2. It also doesn't make Art's story all about Beth. He wants to do right by her memory, but by not dwelling on it they allow his relationships with Sarah, then Helena, then the others to be their own distinct things.