Tuesday, June 23, 2015

RECAP: Orphan Black 3x09 - Meet Mommy Dearest

I'm having so many feelings about the fact that this show is over for the season that I'm not sure I can hold it all in. This episode and the finale have been wonderful rollercoasters, but I think what I like best is how they're really not so much about the science or the terrifying revelations, though they have those, but about reinforcing how much these women have become a family. And I love that. That's why I watch the show, the whole reason. 

This episode in particular really seemed to be about motherhood. What it means to be a mother and what it means to have a mother. We saw Sarah and Felix grappling with the revelation of their mum's former life, the life she had before them, and then we saw Mrs. S dealing with her own mommy issues. Meanwhile, Helena had to figure out what kind of mother she was going to be. Mommies everywhere, and all of the plots were about really interesting topics. This is a good show. There's almost something comforting now about finding themes like this, because you know they probably won't let you down. Ah.

So, with no further ado, let's get on with the penultimate recap of season three.

Last episode ended with the realization that Sarah, Felix, and Mrs. S were headed off to London to track down the Castor original, and, according to Mrs. S, kill it. Well, kill him, as the Castor original would have a be a person, right? But Mrs. S is hardcore compartmentalizing. She knows that Castor isn't going to stop with its plan of global domination through forced sterilization (catchy), and if they get access to their original donor, they would be basically unstoppable.

The other little tidbit that no one brings up but I hope everyone remembered, though, is that we already know that the original Castor and Leda donors were siblings. So if we can find Castor, then that means we have a decent shot at finding Leda, and that means that Cosima might not die horribly. Yay!

Off to London our little duckies go, while Helena and Gracie crash with Alison and Donnie, and Cosima unleashes a fully enraged Delphine on her new boo, Shay. All in all, the episode has a much higher content rating than this show usually manages, but it's also surprisingly heartwarming too. Sort of. I mean, as much as an episode that involves the brutal murder of a drug cartel can be heartwarming. Which is more than I anticipated.

Yes, as you may have guessed, the drug thing just really isn't working out for Donnie and Alison. While Alison is off finishing her campaign for school trustee, Donnie wakes up, covered in bruises and cuts in the stockroom at Bubbles, clearly having passed out after his fight with Jason. Then one of their drug lord's thugs comes in and demands back the pills they sold to Alison and Donnie. See, they were only allowed to sell because Jason vouched for them. In light of the fight, Jason has removed his endorsement, so the dealers are removing their drugs.

The thug grabs everything he can find in the shop backroom and demands that Donnie bring the rest to their warehouse meetup. Unfortunately, "everything he can find" includes the nitrogen canister of Helena's eggs. Donnie has no idea what it is, but we do, and it's really funny/awful to see it grabbed as part of a drug dispute. Like, dude, you have no idea what you're dealing with. Just walk away.

Anyway, with Alison mostly out of the way doing campaign stuff all episode and Gracie going off to a doctor's appointment, Donnie only has to get past Helena in his quest to hide what happened and make sure his family is okay. Fortunately for all of us, Helena is very perceptive and catches him sneaking back into the house. She gives him some of the bruise ointment she made as a child (after the nuns beat her, because Helena's entire backstory is tragic and messed the hell up), and tries to make him feel better.

Only she ends up freaking out when she learns that the goons took her eggs, and after she explains what they are to Donnie, he gets upset too. He decides to go down to that warehouse, with the rest of the drugs, and bargain for her eggs. Helena urges him not to, since, seriously, Donnie isn't winning any fights, but he insists. "This is a husband decision and it's about the family. That includes you, Helena."* My heart freaking melted, chickadees.

So Helena and Donnie go off to retrieve her eggs and make this right. Helena slips into the least convincing Alison costume of all time - and it's somewhat comforting to see that she's still a terrible chameleon - but Donnie makes her wait in the car. Maybe because she's so different from Alison that even being literally her clone would make it hard for people to see a resemblance.

Donnie goes in and bargains unsuccessfully for the eggs and for his and Alison's money back. He manages to get the eggs, but nothing else, and things are about to turn really ugly when Helena decides to insert herself. What follows is a hysterical conversation in which Donnie tries to explain why his wife is suddenly Ukrainian, Helena tries to act like she thinks Alison would, and the drug dealers are mostly baffled.

But the whole premise pays off in a moment when, having given back their eggs, the drug lords yell at Donnie and "Alison" that they better not get back in the drug game, since these people know where Gemma and Oscar go to school. That's right, these jerks just threatened Alison's kids. In front of Helena. It is on.

Helena shoves Donnie out the door with her eggs, and turns to the bad guys with the single eminently quotable catchphrase, "You should not threaten babies." Then we just sort of hang out in a cold parking lot with Donnie for a minute until Helena reemerges, covered in blood and holding a knife. It's a great callback to earlier in the episode when Helena was teaching Gemma to fight and kill but Gracie walked in and told her she doesn't do that anymore. She's going to be a mother, so she walks a different path. Only, as it turns out, sometimes being a mother means embracing your inner psychotic killer, if it means keeping your kids safe. I guess. It's really hard to pull a moral out of this show, okay?

Donnie and Helena head home where she cleans up and he processes the "refund" she got for him - as in, she murdered all the drug lords and stole all of their money. Donnie hides it in the freezer, and perhaps the kicker of the whole plotline is when Alison finally comes in, complaining to Donnie of the crazy day she had. Oh honey. You have no idea.

Speaking of really crazy days, Cosima is reeling from the realization that it must have been Shay who sold her out to Castor and got the book stolen. The file Delphine gave her reveals that Shay was actually in the military for a while, which she never mentioned, and this seems pretty conclusive evidence. Cosima almost confronts Shay about it, but chickens out and instead sends Delphine to do her dirty work.

Delphine, as it turns out, takes to this job with alarming comfort.

Seriously, it's kind of horrifying how Delphine and her goons (she has goons!) barge into Shay's apartment, put it on lockdown, and interrogate her. I mean, Delphine has definitely embraced her inner psycho. She refuses to believe that Shay isn't involved with Castor and even goes to far as to imply that she's going to force Shay to slit her wrists (and feet) in the bathtub. Fortunately, Cosima, who has been lounging at Scott's place this whole time and trying to pretend none of this is her real life, calls with a very important announcement in time to stop that from happening.

That announcement is...that Shay isn't the Castor mole. Gracie is. Yeah, poor little Gracie isn't actually at a doctor's appointment today. Castor got in contact with her and promised that if she turned over the book then Mark would be okay. And for all that she resents the secrets he kept, Gracie loves her husband. She turned traitor, but she's not so horrible as to do it without telling them who's to blame. Gracie gets into a black car with Mark and that's the last we see of her. For now.

So Cosima calls Delphine, completely buries the lead, and gets Shay off the hook. Which leads to a hilariously awkward moment where Delphine has to sort of back out of Shay's apartment and pretend that she hasn't been psychologically brutalizing the girl for like six hours at this point. Whoops!

Finally, in arguably the most important plotline, or at least the one closest to the season arc, Sarah, Mrs. S, and Felix land in London and get straight to work.

If by "get straight to work" you mean go directly to the old neighborhood and hit the pub, that is. Which, it seems, is pretty accurate. This is London and Mrs. S is a punk - all her underground dealings are at pubs. They meet up with her contact who explains that the random string of numbers at the end of Duncan's weirdo nursery rhyme riddle is actually an old prisoner number and corresponds to an inmate. He'll look it up and they'll find Castor. He even provides S with a gun so she can shoot Castor, whoever he is.

While they're waiting for Terry, the contact, to get back, some old boys from the neighborhood turn up and demand Mrs. S join them for one last go. One last go at what? Performing! On stage! Because Mrs. S was in a punk band back in the day and that is the best news ever. She sings and it's great.

Unfortunately, while Mrs. S is performing and Sarah and Felix are dealing with the realization that their mother has had sex and is really good on stage, Terry is next door getting beaten to death by Ferdinand and his goon. You remember Ferdinand. He's the weird British guy who was going to help Rachel murder everyone. Well, he nearly kills Terry for not telling him that S was in town. And for all that S and kids rush to the scene when they get Terry's message, it's too late. He's dying. He just manages to whisper one last thing in her ear before he does.

And that one last thing apparently freaks her the hell out, because Mrs. S immediately tells Sarah and Felix to go back to Toronto. Right now.

Obviously, they don't. Instead, Sarah steals a dead man's phone, impersonates her mum, nearly gets shot, and ends up breaking into Castor's apartment in the dead of night. Oh Sarah. Never change. Felix has to stand guard outside, which is miserable for him, but means he's much less likely to get shot.

Inside the apartment is old and kind of sad, but pretty empty until Sarah stumbles into the bedroom and is set on by "Kendall Malone", the Castor original. And Kendall Malone is...a woman. Huh.

Even weirder, while Sarah and Kendall hold themselves in a standoff, the door of the flat opens and who should appear but Mrs. S, there to say the two most fateful words of this episode: "Hello, mum."

Yes, it would appear that Kendall Malone is the Castor original and also Siobhan Sadler's mother. Estranged mother. Kendall did a stretch in prison back in the late seventies - for killing her son-in-law with a pair of garden shears - and during that time she was found by Dr. Ethan Duncan. He was testing prisoners for "cancer research", but it was actually clone stuff. Anyway, he found Kendall because she is unique: she is a chimera, in that she absorbed her male twin in the womb and has two different sets of DNA. She is both Castor and Leda.

Which means that Mrs. S can't shoot her mother, much as she very clearly wants to. Nope! Kendall Malone is coming back with them to Toronto, whether they want it or not. And to make sure that Ferdinand leaves them alone, they blow the building up behind them.

Good ending. Good episode. Hell of a buildup to the finale. But while the London plot was suspenseful and cool and all revelatory and stuff, I have to say that I really cared most about the Donnie/Helena plot this episode. Because that was the plot that reminded us most of what this show is about: family. The family you choose and the family you don't. Seeing Donnie and Helena bond after he was questioning her right to stay with them just one episode ago does my heart good. Really. So bring it on, Orphan Black finale. I'm sure you've got some good stuff in store.

I mean, you'd better.

Remember the one time I said that Mrs. S was a rockstar? CALLED IT.
*As per usual, this is probably not verbatim. I'm bad at quotes.


  1. Well, kill him, as the Castor original would have a be a person, right? But Mrs. S is hardcore compartmentalizing.

    In fairness to Mrs S, depending on the cloning technique used, the originals may have been no more than zygotes.

    That includes you, Helena.

    Mine too. It's great how... wholehearted the family is becoming.

    She gives him some of the bruise ointment she made as a child (after the nuns beat her, because Helena's entire backstory is tragic and messed the hell up), and tries to make him feel better.

    And again, we only get a specific detail of Helena's abuse - as opposed to generally knowing her life was hell - when it's about her and her reaching out to someone over it.

    Helena shoves Donnie out the door with her eggs, and turns to the bad guys with the single eminently quotable catchphrase, "You should not threaten babies."

    I'd love one of the kids to pull the "my Auntie can beat up your Auntie" line at some point.

    Which leads to a hilariously awkward moment where Delphine has to sort of back out of Shay's apartment and pretend that she hasn't been psychologically brutalizing the girl for like six hours at this point.

    Euch. I wouldn't want to be either Cosima or Shay the next time they meet.

    1. I suppose that's true, but then it would be a lot harder to "meet" the Castor original. And where would they even find 30-year old zygotes? Ew. But still, that is a very valid point.

      I straight up got misty at that moment. I love family being family.

      Yes! That's such a good point. We only know about Helena's abuse on her terms, which makes it all about her and not about her abusers. Thus flipping the normal narrative in a really important way.

      I also really want a Kira, Gemma, and Oscar scene where they all bond over how nuts their family is. I neeeeeed it.

      Oh those crazy kids!

    2. Frozen, somewhere. But, I take your point.

      Someone elsewhere commented that the lead drug dealer was Pouchie, the one who had Vic's finger cut off. Is that right, because it would mean they can tell him his finger has been avenged.