Thursday 7 May 2015

Orphan Black – You’re just as fierce as she was.

Orphan Black: 3x03 Formalized, Complex, and Costly.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. 
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961
Nothing is ever just one thing, and this episode is filled with relationships that cross boundaries, that are complicated because they aren’t just professional, or aren’t just private, but a mix of the two. Art worked with Beth, but he also loved her, and now he works with a woman who looks just like Beth, and needs him the same way she did. Mark was sent out to infiltrate the Proletheans for Castor, but he also loves Gracie, but Gracie is also pregnant with Helena’s child, which could be a puzzle piece in figuring out how to heal his brothers. Rudy is a Castor soldier, and Virginia is his superior, but she is also the person that he refers to as mum – his only family, apart from his brothers, his parental figure, on an entirely different level than Paul, who is only above him in the hierarchy of the military. The fall-out of having these kinds of relationships is clearest with him, the dichotomy and contradictions of it. Coming back from having lost his brother, but equally having transgressed against the rules, and gone off mission, he stands to attention like a soldier but is chastised and then later consoled like a son.
This contradiction seems to be inherent in both Leda and Castor. The clones are products and soldiers, they are trademarked, they have their purpose, but they are also someone’s children – adopted and raised by parents, or taken in and protected by the woman who calls herself Virginia. They are treated as a commodity, an asset, but are at the same time emotionally anchored in their relationships. 
In the context of this, the prevalence of death in this episode becomes even more haunting. Beth is alluded to several times, but her death began this whole show. Cosima can have a conversation with Art about how much they miss her, and Art can share his intimate feelings for her with Sarah, but Sarah herself never knew her, she just saw her jump. As entertaining it is to watch Scott struggling with and Cosima excelling in taking apart Seth’s body, for science, the way he died is a horrifying foreshadowing of what might be in store for all the Castor clones, and it is a variation of what Cosima has been fighting this whole time. Seth’s illness escalated more quickly than was previously seen, and the illness itself is common enough that the Castor clones have protocols in place in case it occurs on the field. 
And then there is Mark, trying to break free from all his boundaries. He thinks that Castor will leave him in peace if he delivers what they are so desperately looking for, and he also assumes that Henrik, who apparently stole some of the Duncan’s original research when he left and joined the Proletheans, left these materials with a known associate. He is eager to deal with Castor and provide what they need, so eager that he overlooks the very real threat that Gracie’s family still poses to him – because it is never a good idea to discount the power of true believers. Sarah and Art are looking for Mark, and in the process set things in motion that bring Mark’s location to the attention of Gracie’s mother. 
Grace: The problem, Mr Finch, is your lack of faith in us. We Proletheans make fast friends but fearsome enemies. Shall I disrupt my mother’s grave to tell her that you are holding out for your thirty pieces of silver?
Grace is a fascinating character to watch. She never knew a world outside her father’s ideology, and she is grappling to comprehend it now and find a place in it – she is still very much informed by what she knew (referencing the bible – the thirty pieces of silver for which Judas betrayed Jesus), but also shaken to an extent, because of what Henrik did to her against her will, and without any intervention by her mother. When Sarah reveals to her that Mark is a clone, it’s not really clear if she is more shaken because he has been lying to her, because he betrayed her trust in him, and their intimacy, or because the idea that clones are abominations is too deeply rooted for her to forget. 
Sarah: My kid and yours are gonna be cousins! I know that you’re carrying Helena’s baby.
Grace: That does not make us family.
Sarah: Why? Because we’re abominations?
Grace: I don’t know what to think anymore.
For the Proletheans, deciding who belongs and who doesn’t was an essential part of ideology. It’s why Mark’s betrayal is such a transgression – because family is defined narrowly, as something pure. This is how Gracie’s mother gets back into her daughter’s head, who has nobody to trust after she finds out about Mark’s betrayal. “We’re not like other people. We have a purpose. We still have purpose.” (which is an interesting thing to say, considering that the clones have purposes too). 
What does family mean? What does it mean, not just on a biological level, but in terms of strategies, alliances and emotions, that the male clones are brothers to the female clones? So far, the Castor clones seem to approach Sarah and Helena like miracles, useful, but not as humans, exceptional for their resilience, for their biology. Does it make a difference that they are branches from the same tree? 
Mark: Mrs Johansson, please.
Bonnie: We shared everything with you, Mark. Our home. Our hearts. Daughter. Now you answer to us.
Mark: Please. I love her.
Bonnie: Not like her mother.
Random notes: 

“It’s Lieutenant Commander.”

Alison’s story, still painfully disconnected (although it will be interesting to see how she’ll be brought back into the fold): her business is going very well, she is masking it by handing out free soaps, she has increased prices, and she very openly links it to future votes. Marcie is concerned enough that she offers the Hendrix’ a good deal on a house in a different school district – and quite possibly, concerned enough to become dangerous to Alison. 

Sarah talks to Alexis, the midwife, who reveals to her what exactly Henrik did to Helena and the fact that Gracie is carrying another one of Helena’s children. 
Virginia: We are one budget review from oblivion.
Paul: They can’t shut us down. I served with these men. We owe them.
Virginia: If you protect them, I can cure them, just buy us more time with the director.
Who is the director? The easiest explanation would be that Castor is a secret military programme and therefore somehow ties into the show’s equivalent of the CIA, and we are about to see the Castor equivalent of Leda’s Topside (state, not corporate).

Cosima: God is this all we are? Some neurons and axons and a few pounds of grey matter. 

Rachel is an example of how very vulnerable not just the clones but everyone is if the neurons and axons go wrong. She suffers from aphasia after Sarah’s attack, and Delphine, true to her promise, has erased her from history. 
Doc: Sadly the Rachel Duncan Topside knew has passed. Plane crash.
Rachel: Delphine? I… finished?
She is still essential because of what she knows, but it is now locked up in a brain that has forgotten how to express itself verbally. 

“You are the ugliest Mark yet.”

Helena promises Paul she will kill them all, and I genuinely hope she gets to.   


Cosima and Scott discover that the male clones suffer from a neurological disease – along with the reveal that the original male and female clones were siblings, this just opens all the questions. Is it a coincidence that the disease sped up in Seth’s case? Is it controllable or triggered? Is it intentional? If both Leda and Castor are so eager to find the originals, they must not be affected – would it be too far out there to speculate that perhaps Sarah is an original, and that an equal exists amongst the male clones, unaffected but hidden in plain sight?

No comments: