Orphan Black season 3 episode 3 review: Formalized, Complex, And Costly
Even in season 3, the gripping Orphan Black is more than capable of taking its audience by surprise...
This review contains spoilers.
3.3. Formalized, Complex, And Costly
On this week’s episode of Orphan Black, well…that was unexpected.
My favourite thing about this show, aside from Tatiana Maslany’s perfect acting skills, is that more than two seasons in, it still manages to surprise me in ways that make perfect sense in retrospect, but that completely blindside me as they’re happening.
It happens multiple times in this episode, first with Gracie. Gracie is someone I think about mostly with pity. She’s not someone I’d consider particularly brave or badass, which is in no way an insult; anyone who’d grown up in circumstances like she did would be reserved and meek. But when Mark needs to visit a friend of her father’s to see if he has the genetic material to help cure the Castor clones, Gracie steps up. And not only does she volunteer to do it, which is brave of her on its own, but she actually manages to be intimidating while doing it. I honestly didn’t think Gracie had it in her to be so scary, but the more I think on it, the more I see how perfect it is. For the very reasons I see her as meek, that is why she was so strong here. Mark is the physical manifestation of her freedom from that life. Of course she would be compelled to step up to the plate on his behalf.
Elsewhere, Cosima and Scott leap at the chance to study Seth’s brain, leading to my favourite scene of the episode as Felix teases Scott for having a weak stomach while Cosima cheerfully removes the brain from Seth’s skull. It’s so dark and disgusting and it’s played to absolute perfection by all three performers, not to mention some disgustingly perfect sound effects. In an otherwise pretty serious, hard-hitting episode, it’s a much-needed moment of horrible levity and I loved it.
Art insists on helping Sarah as she tries to get Helena back by following a lead to the same man as Gracie and Mark. Along the way, he reveals that he was in love with Beth and that she’d called him the night of her suicide. I never think about Beth much, even though that moment when she steps in front of the train is the catalyst for the entire show. Hearing Art’s confession reminded me that she didn’t just spawn into being on that platform; she had a life, and people who loved her. I didn’t expect to become sad over a character who died so long ago, but I absolutely did.
Later, Sarah manages to find Gracie on her own at a diner and inform her that not only is the mother of her baby in trouble, but Mark is a clone. Gracie is betrayed and disgusted that she’s married to an “abomination,” so when her mother finds her thanks to her former midwife, Gracie agrees with her mother that Mark has misled her and tells her mom where he went. Which leads to the two final, and biggest, surprises of the episode.
Sarah arrives to confront Mark just as Cosima manages to sequence Seth’s DNA. She immediately calls Sarah with the news: the Castor boys aren’t just clones. They’re their brothers. The original donors of the male and female DNA were brother and sister, making all the clones related. Sarah hangs up and throws this news in Mark’s face, but he refuses to accept it, insisting first that she’s wrong, and then seeming not to care what the DNA says; the Leda girls will never be his family.
It makes a lot of sense to use siblings for the DNA donation, since it will eliminate a lot of variables between the male and female clones. Siblings’ DNA is about as close as you can get with different sexes for the donors, so choosing siblings probably was a scientifically sound choice. But it poses the question of who is above even the Castor leaders and Dyad? It’s not a coincidence that they’re related, meaning a single entity presides over both Castor and Dyad. They both must report to the same person or organization.
Mark makes a break for his vehicle to head back to Gracie when a shot rings out through the air. As Sarah watches, horrified, through a window, Gracie’s mom shoots Mark in the leg and then follows him into a field where he begs for his life by reminding her that he loves her daughter. She counters that he doesn’t love Gracie as much as her mother does, and kills him. I’m still trying to get over the shock of it, to be honest. It’d be like killing Sarah Manning. She’s the first character Tatiana Maslany gave to us; Mark was Ari Millen’s first. To kill him off only three episodes into the season makes it feel like there aren’t many lines the writers won’t cross.
Elsewhere, Alison and Donnie start up their drug dealing business and it’s actually kind of adorable, which is a weird thing to say about drug dealing, but all the same: they are adorable at it. After the impression we got of Donnie early in the show’s history, I never would’ve thought that I’d find he and Alison to be a good couple, but I do. They fit each other well and genuinely feel like a team when they work together like this. I never would’ve predicted we’d be here, but we are, and I’m loving it.
My only real complaint is that it feels like we’re stalling on Helena’s storyline. She’s spent three episodes having only one or two scenes where she mostly sits in a cell and calmly threatens to murder everyone around her but never gets to actually do anything. It feels strange because I think of Helena as an “active” character. She’s a doer. She’s not a “reactive” character, who things happen to and then she responds, like how Sarah got sucked into Clone Club in the beginning. Helena is what causes things to happen, not the one things happen to. So it feels strange to just see her sitting in a cell, reacting to what’s being done to her without taking any action herself. I really want to see Helena get to do something soon. It’s been too long for her to just be sitting around, waiting for rescue.
Other than that, I loved the episode and it totally took me by surprise at multiple turns. What did you think of it? Where you as surprised as I was? Hit up the comments and let me know what you thought. Until then, I’ll see you next week!
Read Kaci’s review of the previous episode, Transitory Sacrifices Of Crisis, here.
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