Orphan Black: Conditions of Existence, Review

Another amazing episode and the series keeps us wanting more.

Doing this for five weeks now, it is almost impossible to do these things without almost stalkerishly gushing over Tatiana Maslany. The way she differentiates her many Orphan characters through body language and facial expressions is a sight to behold and a testament to her acting acumen, and at the risk of sounding like a repressed fanboy, GOOD GRAVY IS SHE HOT! Anyway, let’s try to do a review where the other characters receive some praise, shall we?

Let’s begin with Paul played by Dylan Bruce. Paul has been an expressionless side of beef for the previous four episodes of the series. As Beth’s boy toy, Paul was just something for Sarah to skin ride while she was pretending to be Beth, after the former cop’s suicide. Sarah’s physical relationship with Paul was really stretching the boundaries of morality, as every time the two made whoopee it was akin to rape as Paul did not know his sex partner was an imposter. This made the audience see Sarah in a darker light, as a woman who would sacrifice scruples to feed her appetites and enhance her con.

For the newcomers, when former cop Beth steps in front of a train, her exact double Sarah witnesses the suicide and decides to step into Beth’s life to drain her ample bank account, opening the door to a vast conspiracy in which Sarah finds out she is one of many clones.  Anyway, back to Paul. Paul did not seem to be adding anything to the plot, oh but the writers of this show are clever folk, and this was all to give the audience a false sense of security regarding Paul. He was such a nothing, flat character that there was no indication that he was part of the conspiracy. Turns out that Paul was a watcher assigned to watch Beth by whoever was responsible for the cloning. Now Paul’s status as a generic boy toy seems like a well laid out part of the vast web of lies Sarah and the Orphans must deal with.

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There is a great moment of medical horror in this episode when Sarah masquerading as Beth has another bout of the sex with Paul; she is experimented upon by whoever hired Paul as a watcher. This seems like poetic justice to Sarah who is making love with Paul under false pretenses not realizing that Paul was doing the exact same thing leaving the audience with a puzzle of complex sexual morality to unravel.  The show adds another level by postulating that Beth’s suicide may have been caused by her finding out that Paul was just a watcher, setting the stage for the idea that Beth deeply loved Paul and Sarah’s attentions towards Paul is now making a mockery of that star-crossed love.

Now, we move on to Donnie Hendrix played by Kristian Bruun, husband to soccer mom Orphan, Alison. Donnie was another nothing happening character, a generic suburban nebbish designed to provide a bit of comedy and context as Alison is drawn deeper into the conspiracy. Well, now it turns out that Donnie may be Alison’s watcher, setting off an awesome exploration of stranger in the bed suburban horror. Alison is suddenly thrust into a situation where she cannot discern the true threats of the outside world with the familiar sanctity of her suburban home.  Is Donnie the tubby loser that hides soft-core porn around the house or is he something far more sinister?

This leaves Sarah in a difficult position. If Paul was Beth’s watcher and Donnie Alison’s, than who is her’s?  This episode establishes an almost palpable air of paranoia as all the confidents and lovers in the  show’s loyalties are now brought into question. Felix seems like the only character that can be trusted, but the safer a character feels the more it feels like is a false sense of security around that character. Surely no one as fabulous as Felix can work for a shadowy super science organization? Or could he?

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Things getting to heavy? Well, thank goodness there is Vic played by the perpetually sniffing Michael Mando to provide the comic relief. Vic was Sarah’s coke dealing ex, when viewers first meet Sarah she had just stole a ton of coke from him. When Beth kills herself, Sarah pretends that Beth was her in order to hide from Vic and to drain Beth’s bank account. Vic, surprisingly, expresses genuine emotion over Sarah’s death beyond the loss of a small fortune in illicit drugs.  This episode sees Vic being forcibly brought to his boss, who proceeds to use a paper cutter to give poor Vic a fingerectomy.  A distraught Vic runs to a drug store for medical supplies where, of course, he runs into Alison, who proceeds to mace and taze the already hemorrhaging drug dealer.  This scene is a welcome respite for the sense of paranoid conspiracy vibe that permeates the narrative, but it doesn’t lessen the drama, as Vic, assuming Alsion was Sarah, confronts Sarah and Felix. So now, other parts of Sarah’s dark past threatens to derail Sarah’s truth finding mission about her past.

Sarah’s story is held together by her desire to reunite with her daughter Kira, ably played by Skyler Wexler. Kira is a brilliantly empathic little girl who was able to tell Alison was not Sarah upon first meeting her mom’s duplicate.  Now that Vic knows that Sarah is alive, and now that Paul is watching Sarah closely, there seems to be a constant threat to the totally likable child. If Sarah is to find any salvation, she must protect the only thing innocent from her past, Kira. Plus, one must assume that the offspring of a clone might draw interest from whoever made the clones.

Orphan Black continues to be an hour of well thought out drama that is not afraid to bring the horror in a sharply written, flawlessly acted, and wholly unique experience.

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The good:
Paul not being such a waste of a character.Science Orphan Cosima differentiating herself from the other Orphans, as she is revealed to be a lesbian (because God loves me.)


The bad:
No squirrel shit crazy Russian cloneNot enough Felix

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The ugly:
Vic now only has four options for the purposes of nose-picking.