TV Recap: Orphan Black S03E05, “Scarred by many past frustrations”

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Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) is a magnet for trouble. In season one, she had boyfriend issues, was in trouble with the police and hunted by a Russian assassin (Helena, also Tatiana Maslany). In season two, she went up against a very powerful medical research company, Dyad, and a religious cult of crazies called “The Proletheans”.

Given her track record for getting into strife, you’d have thought she would take the hint and retire somewhere relaxing, like Beirut or Egypt. But no, now she’s been kidnapped by the dastardly duo of Mark and Rudy (Ari Millen), as the Castor Clones, and as discovered in the last episode, they’re the brothers of Sarah and her clonic cohort.

Welcome to the episode five review of Orphan Black.

There’s quite a bit of Helena action in this episode, and she’s in-turns, snarky and friendly. Her talking scorpion — which is a visual stand-in for her inner dialogue — has a few choice things to say about Sarah, who’s incarcerated in the adjoining cell.

Helena, unsurprisingly, has trust issues. She was brought up by Russian religious fanatics as an assassin, then kidnapped by another bunch of religious morons — the aforementioned Proletheans — and impregnated. While revenge was sweet, her life of acceptance, family and freedom was short-lived as she was betrayed by Siobhan (Maria Doyle Kennedy) to Paul (Dylan Bruce) at the conclusion to season two.

So believing that Sarah wasn’t behind her kidnapping isn’t really on the cards.

Meanwhile, in an odd break from Sarah’s leaps from frying pan to fire to blast-furnace, clone Cosima is out dating.

Have to say that this plot-line appears to belong in the same bucket as Alison and Donnie’s exploits into the supply and manufacture of class “A” drugs and related paraphernalia. In short, it’s a distraction from the main game.

It also turns the whole empowered woman ideal, discussed in last week’s review, on its head. Because far from being a strong, independent woman, now scientist Cosima is out of the lab in which she shines and in seedy bars looking for love, like every other female character in every other c-grade TV drama. It’s taken all of four episodes for the writers (in this episode, Russ Cochrane) to drop the ball and watch it roll away.

All that’s needed now is for scientist ex-girlfriend Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) to turn-up again and have a tiff with Cosima to turn this into a soap opera. At which point, this reviewer will be giving up on the show, despite it being renewed for a fourth season.

What’s missing here is drama, not of the “Queen” variety, but of writing. Any number of alternate storylines were available to be exploited, including the Castor Clones finding their brother had been killed and his brain removed for “research”, to a police investigation in Felix’s flat, to issues with the Dyad Institute for which Cosima works, to the Proletheans coming looking for revenge. Any of these could have upped the ante, but what we’re left with is stereotypes. And while the interaction with Felix in the last episode was amusing, Cosima could have just said “No” and handled the loss of Delphine in her own way.

So this is a wait-and-see storyline, despite the introduction of Lost Girl regular Ksenia Solo playing Shay, Cosima’s new love interest.

Another lonely girl is Gracie (Zoe de Grand Maison) who has miscarried, been kicked out of the Proletheans and turns up on the doorstep of Detective Bell (Kevin Hanchard). He hands her off to Siobhan as he’s got to go to work, rather than taking her to the more appropriate woman’s shelter. Still, it does make for some more distraction when Gracie gets hammered and dances to 70’s era Punk with Felix, before collapsing.

She’s got red-eye and it’s spread by the Castor clones. Detective Bell catches up with a woman who had a close and intimate encounter with them in episode one and she’s got the same condition. Perhaps this is a job for Cosima?

Meanwhile back at the ranch, which has turned out to be less middle-eastern and more likely somewhere in Mexico, Paul has returned to find Sarah incarcerated. He’s the most conflicted character of all of them, trying to protect Sarah and her child, whilst also working for the Leda Institute to watch the now deceased Beth clone, and also for the very military unit that was set-up to create the Castor clones.

By the end of the episode his hopes to protect Sarah may well be in the toilet, for she’s in even more trouble than before.

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