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Orphan Black 3x4: Newer Elements of Our Defense


Orphan Black 3x4: Newer Elements of Our Defense

Previously: The original Leda and Castor donors were  siblings, and Mark gets shot by his mother-in-law, Bonnie. 

OH HAI, guess what was renewed for another season? Clone Club lives to ride another day! I'm not really surprised at all; despite this show's small (but devoted) viewership and my wavering interest in Season 3, I think this show will continue as long as Tatiana Maslany wants to do it.

I wonder if the writers think that way, too, since the whole season is filmed before an episode even airs. Like, do they write the season finales with the security that another season is pretty much guaranteed? Thinking back on the previous two season finales, NO WAY would those have been satisfying series enders. And as a series ages -- especially one that's both so high-concept and criminally underviewed as this one, even with the shaky episodes of late -- I do hope that the writers have SOME master plan vision for the endgame and that they're not running out of gas. So it'll be interesting to see what the future has in store for this show.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Onto the episode at hand!

Clone Club Chronicles

After having just shot Mark, Bonnie and her shotgun emerge from the cornfield to search the barn (with a Confederate flag inside, lovely), only to find... nothing. Sarah, who had been hiding out in there, sneaks out and into the cornfield, where she finds a not-dead Mark. (I should have known better than to assume death without seeing a corpse. That, and how very few multi-episode clones have actually died. (Only Seth and sort of Beth, if her posthumous mentions count, come to mind. How helpful that they rhyme!) Plus: nutso as they are, Proletheans still probably frown upon murder because God.) Due to her intense devotion to all things family, Sarah skedaddles with Mark before Bonnie's cronies can find him. 

Bonnie doesn't seem too concerned about losing Mark, because she has Gracie and the "blessed child" back again. The Proletheans have moved in with old Dr. Jonah Appleyard, who was the delivery doctor for Gracie. His medical expertise is deffo needed, when Bonnie discovers -- after barging into her grown daughter's room because she dared to lock the door -- that Grace has been bleeding heavily. Once the miscarriage has been confirmed, Bonnie solidifies her bid for Worst Mother of the Year by scolding Gracie for losing their "legacy" and banishing Gracie now that she's no longer a baby incubator. 

Meanwhile, Sarah and Mark stop at an abandoned house to attend to Mark's wounds. Mark needs Sarah to take the bullet out, but she won't do it without getting some answers. The Castor clones were all raised together with no outside attachments like parents or monitors. Having been away from Castor HQ for a year, Mark has no idea where it even is now, since it's mobile and it could be anywhere. (A sandy, desert-y anywhere nowadays, as we viewers have seen.) Mark was sent to infiltrate the Proletheans due to intel that Henrik had stolen the original sample before Project Castor was shut down, which was what Mark had been after back at the barn.

When Mark drifts into unconsciousness, Sarah finds the motel room key in his belongings and heads out to look for the sample. She also calls Mark an ambulance, so she's not, like, totally ditching him. (So thoughtful!) No genetic material to be found, as Mark had learned before her, but Sarah finds papers listing Henrik as Ethan's lab assistant at Project Leda. She also passes his notes along to Cosima, who pieces together that Henrik had successfully created a clone from the original Castor sample: a son that Bonnie had carried. 

Little does Sarah know, Rudy's headed to Mark's motel room as well. But who should beat him there but Mark himself! Sarah lets him know that he couldn't find the original sample because it'd have been used to create Henrik's son. Mark has an idea of where to find him: Henrik and Bonnie's first marital home, behind which their baby son Abel was buried.

Time for Sarah to do some grave robbing! (Although is it still called grave robbing when what's being stolen is the body itself? (Wiki says, no, it is not.) Gotta admit, I was expecting the little coffin to be empty (DRAAAAMZ, he's aliiiiive!), but nope -- little tiny baby skeleton. At this point, Mark's completely conked out -- the perils of body snatching with someone who's just been shot, HOW UNRELIABLE -- so Rudy's been able to easily sneak up on Sarah.

When Rudy doesn't take her offer to trade baby bones for Helena, Sarah hits him with a shovel and runs away. He catches up to her pretty quickly, and it looks like game over for Sarah until unlikely saviour Mark wakes up and joins the party -- the kind of party in which he tries to pull rank with Rudy and prey on his black sheep status (dirty pool!). Rudy's tempted just to kill them both with no one being the wiser, but Mark calls his bluff and the two share a brotherly embrace instead. (I was also expecting someone to be shivved in this hug -- thanks, The 100! -- but it's just the run-of-the-mill variety.) Now that Mark and Rudy have made nice and made up, it's back to looking like game over for Sarah. 

Back at Castor HQ, Helena hatches a plan to escape. She causes a ruckus in her cell -- at one point hurling a bucket of shit at the guards, omg how I love her (see, this is why you spring for indoor plumbing for your prisoners!) -- forcing Mother to sedate her and have her brought to the infirmary. Which Helena anticipated, as she had tied her arm off beforehand to buy some time before the drug kicks in. Wandering the base in stealth mode, Helena spies Mother with a Castor clone that's been strapped down into a chair, before passing out herself. 

When Helena wakes up, she's back in the cell -- but not for long! Our crafty girl has been making her own lock pick, slipping out of her cell and returning to where the strapped-to-a-chair Castor clone -- Parsons -- is being held. Upon closer examination, Parsons' scalp has been cut open, with his brain flapping in the breeze and hooked up to surely nefarioius machinery. Parsons has enough awareness to beg Helena to kill him, a risk that Helena's scorpion subconscious, Pupok, says is not worth risking her own freedom. But Helena, that ol' softie, does Parsons a solid... by scrambling his brains with a scalpel! Mother's the first on the scene, and Helena gives her a piece of her mind* ("You're a shit mother!") before being taken down.

*OH NO, the inappropriate puns have returned. But at least Rachel's were earned. Sorry, Parsons.

Out in the 'burbs, Donnie's paranoid that someone's been following him on his drug deliveries -- er, campaigning on Alison's behalf, yes, that's totally what he's doing. As a precaution, they start moving the incriminating evidence elsewhere -- in clearly labelled tote boxes, obvs (to a storage locker, suggests Donnie, with a Breaking Bad name-drop! (Although I hope Donnie knows that Walt isn't really someone to emulate... )). They're intercepted by a shady dude whose boss -- aka Ramon's old boss -- wants to meet with them.

At the clandestine parking lot meeting (is there any other kind?), the boss man only wants to meet with Alison. That's because he turns out to be her high school boyfriend, Jason (hi, Justin Chatwin!) -- Alison's last (and maybe only other?) serious relationship before Donnie, and someone that her notoriously difficult mother had always liked. Alison forges a new business relationship with Jason, but not without him expressing a tinge of regret at their past romantic one. The Hendrixes have survived booze, murder, and drugs, but can they survive an ex?

Over at the Fortress of Attitude, Cosima's still stuck on deciphering Ethan Duncan's notes in Dr. Moreau. She's also stuck on Delphine, which has been affecting her right down to her wardrobe choices (Felix's take: "It's like you've been mounted by a llama", "This jumper absolutely reeks of pine", "Yeti-like sweater".). Having seen quite enough of the post-breakup wallowing, Fee drags a sartorially upgraded Cos to a bar, where he proceeds to set up a Tinder Sapphire dating account for her. Because if you can't be with the one you love, Move On Dot Org. (But obvs, we all know Cosima-Delphine can't possibly be over yet.)

Clone Crush

My first instinct is to go with Alison, for always having her eyes on the prize. (The drug kingpin's my high school bf? Sure, let's catch up! But let's also make a new business deal.) But there's a haunting elegance to what Helena tells Parsons: 

Helena:  We've both been abandoned by our families. Left to suffer. I will make it go away. No more pain, little one.

... riiiiiight before she lobotomizes him. A regular angel of mercy, this one. And I love the cut from Dr. Appleyard telling Gracie that a mother-to-be needs to eat and Helena eating. OH, and the shit bucket! I take it back; Helena unequivocally wins.

Maximum Maslanys

Two phone calls for Clone Club (Alison-Cosima, Cosima-Sarah), but Mark and Rudy get to share the same screen. As much of a treat as it is to have Tatiana Maslany act with herself, I bet it's a welcome relief to have someone else take a crack at that heavy lifting.

While not at Maslany level (but honestly, who among us could be?), Ari Millen does a decent job of playing Mark-Rudy differently than when he played Rudy-Seth previously: the former being antagonistic and adversarial, and the latter having been a closer (maybe a little too close) and more playful relationship. 

Felix Felicis

Fee's dating advice for Cosima is perf. Obvs.

Felix:  Oh God -- not love, darling. Not love. I'm talking about a scratching post. Something to rub yourself up against.

A master of casual dating, Felix knows that Cosima has to start somewhere to find what she's looking for. 


Leda vs. Castor

Major setback for Leda, with both Wonder Twins captured by Castor. The Soldier Castor finally gets a name (Miller), poor Parsons has been put out of his misery, and Mark and Rudy are coming home. 

Cloned Quotes

Alison (to Donnie):  What's going on? [...] Why are you sweatier than usual? 


Helena:  I will be quiet as church mouse.

Helena the super stealth!

Alison:  Did you just shush me?!


Alison (to Donnie):  Do you remember what happened last time you had a gun in the car?

Alison saying what everyone was thinking.

Donnie:  'Sup, bro. 

I like how Donnie greets all criminal associates this way. 

Donnie (after Alison gets frisked):  I'm good. I have touching issues.

Looks like Donnie already has prison rules down, should he and Alison end up in the big house. NO TOUCHING!

Biggest "OMG DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?!?" Moment

I don't know if I've been desensitized, but I didn't really have a reaction of jawdropping shock to anything this week. Even with digging for a bullet in someone's leg, digging up a baby grave, and digging around in a brain. (Although upon second viewing, the scalpel in the brain really is a strong candidate.)

Curiosity Killed the Clone

•  Which has worse security: Castor HQ or The Flash's S.T.A.R. Labs? At Castor HQ, prisoners are left unguarded immediately after they tried to escape, WHAT.

•  Now that the Proletheans have lost Gracie's miracle baby, will they go after Helena for hers? Or will this be the end of the line for them? I like that the show didn't just wrap up everything Prolethean with a tidy bow at the end of Season 2 and was done with it, but I'm also ready for them to GTFO anyyyyytime now.

•  The show definitely needs a touch of levity, but providing comic relief seems to be Alison's only contribution to Clone Club lately. Not that it wasn't before, but she was worked into the storyline a lot better in the past. When will it stop feeling like Alison and Donnie are on a completely different show?

•  What's up with the lack of screentime for half of the main cast? Tatiana Maslany might be the show, but this season has pretty much given the new characters screentime by taking it from ones that have been around since the beginning (Mrs. S, Delphine, Paul -- who was also sidelined for much of Season 2, in favour of more Cal). But can't we have them ALL??! Maybe the show's reaching a saturation point with the number of characters it can juggle. 

Next episode: Project Castor works on developing a gene therapy for their clones, Gracie gets integrated into society, Cosima goes on a Sapphire date, and Sarah becomes cell block buddies with Helena.

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.