Friday, June 5, 2015

RECAP: Orphan Black 3x07 - I Am Your Mother Hen

Is this? Are we caught up on Orphan Black? I didn't think it was possible. Hold me.

Enough of that. Anyway, we're finally caught up on the show, which is good because there's a new episode airing tomorrow and it promises to be ridiculous and amazing, as per usual. Oh, and for those of you keeping track at home, the "Which clone has the best hair?" poll has ended with Cosima squeaking by to steal the win from Sarah. So right on you, Cosima-lovers, and sorry all you Sarah fans. Better luck next time.

This episode made me extremely happy because it's validated my ongoing theory that this season of Orphan Black is, more than any other, about family and how that family can expand beyond what you ever imagined. I know that this is the theme now because Alison literally said that in a speech. It was very gratifying.

And overall family was the theme of this whole episode. Nothing that happened this week wasn't about family, except maybe Cosima's storyline with Delphine. But even that ended up being about family after all and the people we go to when we're in need. Basically, if you're like me and you just want everyone to pile into Mrs. S' house for a giant family slumber party and lots of cookies, this is the episode for you.

So, starting from smallest storyline to biggest, here's what happened this episode:

Rachel, who we learned last episode might hold the keys to unlocking Duncan's genetic sequence after all, is eager to get to work and "help" Scott. But Scott's not going to make it that easy for her. After revealing that he does indeed have a copy of Duncan's book, presumably what Rachel was looking for all along, he insists they have a cover for their decoding work. So now Rachel is trapped in permanent hell, being forced to learn the rules of "Agricola", a sort of Settlers of Cataan game on steroids, and it's hilarious. Mostly because Scott rightly insists she actually learn the game in case anyone comes in on them. Evil Scott. I'm impressed.

But of course it is still Rachel and as she regains more of her faculties she becomes ever more the Rachel we love to hate. She refuses to actually do any decoding for Scott and insists that she'll only spill her guts to Sarah.

Sarah, meanwhile, is safely out of the hands of Castor and definitely in Mexico. We're very sure of that now. She and Helena are holed up in a cantina full of pretty stereotypical Mexican extras so that Sarah can drink beer and Helena can sip her water and eat all of the food. But before they can get too comfortable they're surprised by a new face at the door. It's not Benjamin, Mrs. S' shady contact, it's Mrs. S herself, there to bring her lost little chickens home.

Sarah is happy to see her mum. Helena, however, is not. You might recall that Mrs. S is the one who traded Helena to Castor in the first place, and Helena has absolutely definitely not forgotten that fact. She takes one look at S and insists she's going to kill her, but not until she eats. She's way too hungry for murder now.

Poor Sarah has to sit by the bar and wonder if her twin is going to murder her mum, so the nice cantina owner gives her a stack of clothes and tells her to go take a shower and miss the drama. It takes Sarah out for most of the rest of this plotline, but that's really okay. Sarah does need a shower and it's probably really traumatic to watch two of the people you love most in the world vocally hate each other.

Well, the hate is actually mostly one-sided. Helena piles abuse on Mrs. S while she eats, and Mrs. S mostly just takes it. Helena really has no idea what to do with that response, since you have to assume that no one has ever done that to her before. Even more baffling, S apologizes to Helena and begs for her forgiveness. Mrs. S is sorry for what she did and wants Helena to know that. Helena is flummoxed, so she figures the best way to solve it is with violence. And punching. Mostly punching.

After a couple hits to the face not even Mrs. S can resist lashing back, but she immediately apologizes for the righteous right hook and pulls Helena into a hard hug. Helena resists for a minute and then, slowly, we see her go loose. She's being hugged. She's family. She's got a mum now. And that's about the point in this episode where I started getting teared up.

Sarah comes back, all clean and clearly wearing someone else's clothes, to find her mum covered in bruises and a split lip but positively beaming. She's going to be grandmum again and Helena is outside emotionally dealing with her newfound family. Mrs. S and Sarah give each other quick recaps of the weirdness in their lives (Paul is dead, Gracie's moved in, etc), before Sarah lays her head down on the bar in defeat. "I'm tired, mum," she says. And in that quiet grace we see that Mrs. S and Sarah's relationship has healed too. Everyone's family here and for once they have plenty of time.

On the less copacetic side of things, Cosima and Shay are still completely wrapped up in each other but still subject to interruptions from Delphine. This time she's at Shay's apartment, which is creepy, because she needs Cosima to pee in a cup. Also creepy. Delphine does have a valid point that Cosima's health looks to be deteriorating again, but Cosima is done giving DYAD and her ex free license to her body. She takes the cup and insists she'll bring it in later, but she probably won't.

Nope! Instead she's going to bring the cup to Alison and get her to pee in it. That way DYAD gets its healthy pee and Cosima can escape from her problems just a little while longer. Someone pointed out that this is a really irresponsible reaction from Cosima, and I agree, but I think that we can all see how irresponsible Cosima has actually been all season. She's the youngest of the clones emotionally, and you can see that. Last season she nearly died, so this season she's blowing off her responsibilities and wrapping herself in sex and comfort and pretending nothing bad exists. It's not mature or helpful, but it is understandable.

Also Shay is still sketchy as hell.

So Cosima goes over to meet Alison and get a pee sample. Meanwhile, Alison and Donnie are having a "big day." Today is the day when all of the little elements of their lives come together. They are giving their thirty-thousand dollar buy in to the drug lords that Jason represents, as well as showing up the open house that Alison has to appear at for her school trustee candidacy. She has to give a speech and everything. Plus, today is the day that she and Donnie are going to close on the purchase of her mother's shop, Bubbles.

Naturally, everything goes wrong. First, Alison's mother refuses to sign the shop over right away. She's worried about Alison going into business with her husband, who Alison's mom calls "Mr. Chubbs", and she thinks that this could mean that her precious grandbabies don't get the best advantages in life. Also she's supporting Marci Coates for school trustee. Cold, mother. Cold.

Remember last season when Alison calmly pointed out to Donnie that "everyone hates my mother"? Well I think I've figured out why. She might just be the most unpleasant character to appear on the show, simply because it's hard to stand such bitchery hidden behind such a polite smile. I am no longer confused about why Alison is the way she is. Not confused at all.

The next thing that goes wrong is pretty predictable but still funny: Alison and Donnie accidentally switch the envelopes containing her list of signatures that she needs in order to register as a school trustee candidate and thirty thousand dollars. So some drug lords get a bunch of "Vote Alison Hendrix!" stickers and signatures, and Sarah Stubbs, who is still around and very involved in her local community, gets an envelope with thirty grand in it.

Felix, who is at the open house acting as Alison's campaign manager because of course he is, wants to know what the hell is up, so Alison spills it all. She and Donnie are drug dealers, Donnie's being held hostage until they get him the money, Cosima is after her pee, and her mother is faking a heart attack. Felix is, understandably, a little taken aback. But he rallies really well.

So while Donnie makes nice to some Portuguese (or Brazilian - it's hard to tell) drug lords, and Alison tends to her mother's paranoia and need to emotionally dominate her daughter, it's Cosima and Felix who have to fill the gap. This is the first time we've seen Cosima impersonate one of her sisters, and it's hilarious. Mostly because it turns out she is terrible at it.

Seriously. Cosima is desperately near-sighted, bad at improv, and generally so uncomfortable she looks like she's covered in spiders all the time. Somehow she manages to bluff her way through Alison's life for a while, but it's not very fun for her. Oh, and an awkward moment where Jason - who has been entertaining Alison's mother with stories of them in high school - is so overwhelmed by stupidity and "emotion" that he kisses Cosima. She runs away to the bathroom and then stands there trying to wash the boy taste out of her mouth.

Cosima even ends up having to fake Alison's candidacy speech while Alison exchanges the money for Donnie, but that turns out okay. She runs offstage so that Alison can run back on, and Alison finally proves her worth. Her mother has spent her entire life telling her that she's a failure, that she didn't live up to expectations, and Alison is done with it. Her real family is the one that came out today to support her no matter what weird crap she's doing. Her family is Donnie and Felix and Cosima and Sarah and, yes, even Helena. It's the people who are sacrificing to help her.

Sometimes your family gets bigger, she says. Sometimes you find your house is full of people you didn't expect to have to love. But is the solution to get rid of them? To tell some of them to leave? No. The solution is to open your heart and find creative solutions to make it work. Family is about trust and love and caring for each other. Alison is going to make a great school trustee and it seems like she's also going to make a great sister.

Heck, her speech even convinces her mother to vote for her, which is very impressive. Unfortunately, little else about Connie Hendrix has improved, so Alison decides to drop the big one on her. She shows her mother Cosima and tells her flat out that they are clones. Which, hilariously, Connie refuses to believe. She figures that the IVF clinic just made a mistake and that Alison and "that girl" are half-sisters at most. Also she calls Cosima "mulatto" which is so entertainingly offensive.

Anyway, the upshot of the entire thing is that Alison thanks Cosima for her help but refuses to give over her pee. It's clear by now that Cosima wants it for something not actually legit, and Alison's not having it. She and Donnie are handling their own monitoring and while DYAD is sketchy, they fully believe it's invested in their health. Thanks Cosima, but we're not enabling you.

And it's a good thing too. Because when Cosima goes back to Shay's place for a bath, finally spilling her guts to Shay about having been sick and nearly dead recently, Shay gasps in horror as we see blood spilling into the bathwater. Cosima's not just sick, she's bleeding internally. Oh crap.

So, yeah. Good episode. Lighter episode, despite the ending, but a good one. It's so gratifying to see these women building a strong support network around themselves, and I love how the show really emphasizes that, for all that these women found each other because of shared biology, that's not what makes them family. What makes them family is their choice to love each other. Family is about choice, in the end, and I love Orphan Black all the more for making that clear.

Now we just need to bring Rachel and Mark into the fold and I will be a happy camper.

Such hug. Very feels.


  1. Nothing that happened this week wasn't about family, except maybe Cosima's storyline with Delphine.

    But don't we want Cosima and Delphine to be family? :)

    (Or I suppose Cosima and Shay if Shay turns out to be good).

    Shay gasps in horror as we see blood spilling into the bathwater.

    Hopefully this bodes well for that.

    Even more baffling, S apologizes to Helena and begs for her forgiveness. Mrs. S is sorry for what she did and wants Helena to know that.

    Yeah, in Helena's experience, that's not much different from saying erfixdevford vidfovdifid esewfahmilj.

    But it's great to see this from Mrs S. And it's great to see more and more people learning that it's not enough just to love one of the clones at the expense of the others.

    Something that didn't occur to me about the scorpion last time. It's the star about that parable of not being able to change its nature, even unto its own death. Which is the big fear - hers and everyone else's - that surrounds Helena, that she's too broken to ever change or heal. But in the end, she couldn't follow that pattern, at least not unto *sarah's* death. And now, not unto S's either.

    Last season she nearly died, so this season she's blowing off her responsibilities and wrapping herself in sex and comfort and pretending nothing bad exists. It's not mature or helpful, but it is understandable.

    And spent the whole time trapped in DYAD. Who aren't just invasive and frightening, but taint the science that's one of her life's passions. Thinking about them reminds her that every cell in her body is marked as property (even if it can't stand up in court, I can't imagine he makes her feel any less soiled).

    (They all have the patent, but I think Cosima's the one it gets to the most, having read the thing).

    This is the first time we've seen Cosima impersonate one of her sisters, and it's hilarious.

    It's also the first time it's not been Sarah-as-X or X-as-Sarah.

    It's so gratifying to see these women building a strong support network around themselves

    I think you should watch Haunter, starring Abigail Breslin. BUt on topic, oh yes. This show is filled with terrible abuses, and while beating up the abusers is worthy enough, it's the connections forged between the abused and those who care for them that are the real emotional counterweights.

    1. I mean, yes, we do want Delphine to be family (or Shay), but I don't think of them like that yet. They're just not quite to that point. Sort of how, despite how much I like Cal, I don't think of him as family either. Donnie is, and Felix and Art and Mrs. S, but the others have a ways to go yet.

      Dude, I'd totally forgotten about that parable. But you're very right. Helena's character development has been about her learning to change and forgive and be soft, against her "nature". That's a really good comparison.

      I do agree that Cosima is probably the one most bothered by the patent and the scientific angle of things. It must grate on her. But I think there's also an element to the idea that out of all of them, Cosima is the "youngest". She's the one who has least had to grow up, you know? Alison is probably second, or Crystal, but Alison has children and a husband and you feel like she's already in her life. Cosima feels sort of stuck? This is her first big job out of grad school, and it's embedded in a world she knows intimately and hates, studying her own DNA. I get where she might want to rebel.

      That is also true. But I like that it frames it more clearly that Sarah is good at impersonating her sisters. Alison is okay, but not great. As we saw in the first season, Helena is pretty freaking terrible, but can usually manage it. It makes sense that eventually someone would be awful at it.

      I have absolutely no idea what that show is about, but I will check it out. And, yes, it serves to keep our attention on the issues these women face, because we see them deal with those issues together. So much love.

    2. Haunter's a film rather than a series, so much less of a time-eater. But let's just say it unexpectedly scratches that same togetherness itch.