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Orphan Black struggles to give all of its clones equal attention

Tatiana Maslany and Ari Millen are sad they didn't get to hang out with any other Tatiana Maslanys or Ari Millens. / Ken Woroner, BBC America
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So that was perhaps not the best episode of Orphan Black to watch during dinner. Between Rachel’s eye exam, the decomposing Leekie, and Sarah’s unfortunate oral exam, this episode was really chockablock with disturbing sights. It would be remiss not to give credit to the prop department, though: That decomposing head really did look like Matt Frewer in a particularly quease-inducing way.


Meanwhile, it was time for the return of everyone’s favorite subplot: a Castor clone! Yes, we’ve got a survivor of the great Castor die-off of Season 3. It’s the finicky Ira, who’s joined Rachel to live out some bizarro world version of a happy family. And he’s settled quickly into the role of creepy, jealous brother, cruelly pointing out that Rachel is growing facial hair due to hormone treatment and getting upset with her for angering their mother. That guy is one passive aggressive insult away from going full Norman Bates. On the other hand, he does seem like a pretty weak foe for Rachel, who gets one of the all-time great villain lines this episode, with “Sarah Manning and her people have outfoxed us again.” Between that and the eye patch, she’s basically a Bond villain, right?

Despite some bright spots, this was an oddly disjointed episode. The show always goes through extreme tonal shifts, given that all of its main characters are living in different genres of TV. But somehow there was both too much and not enough going on in this episode. The entire dentist subplot doesn’t serve much end besides bringing Ferdinand back into the fold (much as James Frain is always a delight) since the Neolution dentist villain is introduced only to immediately die. And as amusing as the Hendrix household is, we don’t have any concept of what’s going on with them right now. Alison won an election last season, and she and Donnie took out a drug ring with the help of Helena, and yet this episode, the one that gave them the most time to shine, was mostly about them doing something in service of a Sarah plot. Meanwhile, Cosima is about to get marooned off in a magical child plotline.

That’s not to say there’s no value to taking brief holidays into Hendrixland, which provides almost nonstop comic highlights, the best of which might be Donnie’s tortured description of what happened to Leekie. Kristian Bruun has been a highlight of this show ever since they brought Donnie into the fold. Much like Jordan Gavaris, he works well with whatever clone he’s paired with, and the tentative friendship he’s forming with Helena is paying constant comedic dividends.

The Sarah plot, as much as it’s a bit directionless (and baffling. Why does she trust the evil dentist at all?), also develops into some nice character work for her. Throughout the show, she’s been on the run so consistently that there’s a certain fascination to just watching her go around being herself, even if it’s probably a more determined version of her than existed prior to Clone Club. Sarah is…kind of cool? This has always been an aspect of her that comes out the most strongly in respect to Felix, as it does again here. She’s perfected that brand of aloofness that makes people want to tag along after her, as Felix usually does, while never having to offer that much in return. Whether his current rebellion results in her changing the way she treats him remains to be seen, but in the meantime, we can all enjoy guessing who Adele really is, since he found her and connected with her suspiciously quickly. She was awfully curious about his mother.


The reintroduction of Rachel and her odd family is probably the strongest runner in the episode, not least because her mother reaffirms, bluntly, what Neolution is all about: They’re trying to make a more perfect human being. Not to get super critical or anything, but so far, they’re not great at it. No one tell Susan Duncan, though. She gets awfully mean when you insult her.

Stray Observations

  • “Now go rent a jackhammer.” “Maybe we should just buy one.” Donnie and Alison have the best fights.
  • Was Susan’s “She’s had an unfortunate series of guardians” the most explanation we’re going to get about why Charlotte is no longer with Marian and Topside?
  • Magical child plotlines are generally (hot take!) extremely stupid. But now I kind of want Charlotte and Kira to meet and hang out.
  • Speaking of Kira, is anyone teaching her math or spelling or whatever? She’s definitely school age, and all she does is hang out with various random adults while her mother is off almost dying repeatedly.
  • Brief as it was, it was nice to see Sarah mourning Paul. I know people have pretty mixed feelings about the character, but it’s good to see the show acknowledging that losing him would hit Sarah hard.
  • As nasty as that eye pigment treatment was, did anyone else notice how much the color swirling resembled the show’s opening credits?
  • “She’s a scientist and a lesbian. She’s not going to let it slide.” Don’t try to pull one over on Cosima, guys.

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