Orphan Black: Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow Review

Mrs. S nurtures Sara’s nature. Here is our review of Orphan Black Season 3 Episode 9

One of the most constant themes of Orphan Black has been that of nature versus nurture.  This week it became apparent that Sara Manning (not to mention Felix) is who she is because of Mrs. S as this week’s episode was certainly Mrs. S’s time shine. She kicked some ass, she downed some pints, she sung some sultry rock songs, and she solved the riddle of the Castor clones parentage all in the penultimate episode of this season of Orphan Black.

Throughout the series, it has been rather obvious that Mrs. S knew more than she was letting on about the clones. It has been clear that there is a fascinating past to Mrs. S, a past that we have caught glimpses and teases of, but this week, a huge puzzle piece of that past fell into place. And first off, good on Orphan Black for allowing a woman of a certain age like Mrs. S to be more than just a nurturing mother figure. She is that, but Mrs. S is also a kick ass, black op types who has some fascinating friends and even a more fascinating history. We are talking The Most Interesting Man (Woman) in the World level of interesting as we got a peek into that history this week. Sadly, not all the figures from Mrs. S’s past survived the history lesson.

This week, Sara and Felix went home to London to try and find the Castor original, the scion of the male clones causing so much trouble. What they found was Dyad heavy Ferdinand on their tail and a conspiracy deeper than any of them could have imagined. Through it all, we discovered who the Castor original was and why Sara Manning is so key to everything. The Castor original was probably the last person anyone expected; it was none other than Mrs. S’s very own mom. So let that sink in for a minute. Sara’s grandma is the genetic donor to the Castor clones. If that ain’t enough, it was also revealed that the same rare genetic disorder that allowed grandma to donate genetic material to a strain of male clones also allowed her to be harvested for the Dyad clones. Yup, after all the hints, teases, misdirection, and downright lies, we finally know who the clones, both male and female, were created from. As reveals go, that’s pretty seismic.

Speaking of the male clones and revelations, we also learned who the mole was that was reporting back to Rachel. Yeah, I so believed that it had to be Shay. She was just too nice, too sweet, and too perfect for the rebounding Cosima to be true. When Cosima discovered that Shay has a military background (what? Self healing, chakra hippie chick was once a soldier?), it seemed more likely than ever that it was Shay that was reporting back to Rachel and Dyad. But no, like everything on Orphan Black, the identity of the mole was way more complex than it seemed. Shay was not the traitor, which made the fact that Delphine was about to kill her and make it look like a suicide all the more ironically tragic.

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The traitor was none other than Gracie, a girl who has been on a season long quest for redemption. Innocent little Gracie, who helped free Helena from the Proletheans, who only wanted to go clubbing a few weeks, back, who has been happily helping Alison make soap at Bubbles has been the one reporting to Rachel. I should have seen it darn it; Gracie was the only one Rachel could get leverage over. After all, Gracie is still married to and in love with clone boy Mark; wouldn’t she do anything to cure her beloved? So, Clone Club took Gracie in and was betrayed for her actions, Gracie even seemed remorseful about it, hugging Helena and bidding her a tearful good-bye. We will see the fallout of Gracie’s betrayal soon I’m sure, but the big question coming out of this week is-after Delphine found out that Shay wasn’t the mole, did Delphine still kill her? Hell hath no fury, after all.

We don’t know if Delphine committed bodily mayhem on Shay but we do know that Helena fucked shit up for many different folks this week, particularly those drug dealers that tried to cut off Donnie’s nose a few weeks back. With Alison away, things got ugly this week for the Hendrix drug business as the local drug lord’s goons came a calling. Poor Donnie was at a loss as the skell took his pills, his cash, and –Helena’s freeze dried babies.

Oh, shit.

Donnie did play the brave patriarch and attempted to negotiate for the babies and for the cash that he paid for the pills. He was given the babies but he was also given the ultimatum that if he didn’t allow the mobsters to use Bubbles as their money laundering front, then the gangsters would kill the Hendrix children. Did I mention that when this was threatened, Helena was there disguised as Alison?

Yes, they threatened babies. In front of Helena.

So needless to say that there are no more drug lords in town as Helena and a paper cutter sliced away the Hendrix’s competition in the drug trade. And yes, Helena got her babies back.

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The Donnie and Helena stuff truly made the episode, but what put this week’s installment over the top was the performance of Maria Doyle Kennedy who created a ton of nuances for her character this week. Kennedy showed that she can turn on a dime from sultry to immovable as we learned so much about her character’s past. A character like Mrs. S doesn’t come along every day, a tough as nails older female with a complex history who still retains a high level of sex appeal and charm, and Kennedy should be commended for delivering a once in a lifetime performance as Mrs. S, one of the most truly fascinating characters on TV.


4 out of 5