Saturday, June 20, 2015

REVIEW: 'Orphan Black' - Sarah Puts an End to Castor While the Future Remains Uncertain in 'History Yet to Be Written'

BBC America's Orphan Black - Episode 3.10 "History Yet to Be Written"

As Clone Club races towards the truth, Castor and Topside force Sarah to make uneasy alliances. But there is some rest for the wicked, when Donnie gives Helena an unexpected "gift," and the results of Alison's candidacy finally come in. Even as team Leda takes a moment to breathe, change is afoot and a life hangs in the balance.

There are so many different organizations and conspiracies at play in Orphan Black's grand mythology. So far, there has been Leda, Castor, Dyad, Neolution, the Proletheans and Topside. Those are a lot of agendas to keep track of. They have all been introduced in order to add more complications to the plot in the show's second and third seasons. The conspiracy stuff really has gotten too big for the show's own good. The focus was primarily on Castor this season. But everyone else still had some part to play throughout the year - especially in the season finale, "History Yet to Be Written."

This finale does have a lot of fun. All of these differing organizations are all converging in interesting ways because Sarah and Clone Club have the one thing that they all desperately want - Kendall Malone, the Leda and Castor original. That does allow Sarah to have a certain position of power. She's the one at the center of all of this. She is able to wonderfully handle the tricky situation. Both Castor and Topside are converging on Clone Club to get this crucial genetic material. Topside is the lesser of those two evil organizations. Sarah does have a history of being able to work around Ferdinand while Coady has caused her much more pain. Clone Club is also strongly aware of what Castor wants to do with this genetic material while Topside's agenda is largely unknown. That's what allows the final twist of the hour - that Neolution has been determining the direction of both Leda and Castor from within the whole time - able to happen. Sure, it's unclear what such a reveal means for the future of Castor, Dyad and Topside in the wake of its subsequent devastation. But it does bring the story back in a meaningful way to the creation of the clones and solving the mysteries of their own genetic structure.

Kendall is able to come into this final episode with answers and clarity. She is a colorful personality. But she also holds the truth about what was going on in Professor Duncan's mind all those years ago. She can offer cures to the defects in both Leda and Castor. She can present a future for so many different characters. Such power is simultaneously satisfying for the show while dangerous for the future. She is the most important person and needs to be protected. She is only stateside for a day before she has to be rushed back into hiding by her daughter and the rest of Clone Club. The team may have been able to eliminate the threat posed by Castor by working with Mark and Ferdinand. But there are still so many dangers in this world trying to hurt or exploit them.

It's thrilling watching Felix kick a door in, Helena battle to the death with Rudy, Siobhan pour a chemical bath for her mother and Delphine fighting for her life several times. And yet, the more personal moments are what allows the show to be able to get away with such increasing plot mechanics. Siobhan's husband may not have been great but she still has an understandable need to be angry with her mother for killing him. That anger was palpable throughout everything Siobhan did. And yet, the big conversation between Sarah, Kendall and Siobhan about how they all came together as a family was such an emotionally rewarding moment. Sure, a lot of it is Kendall explaining Duncan's exploits in the past. But it was still very satisfying to learn that Kendall was the one who helped direct Sarah to Siobhan in the first place. Kendall was the person who put this family together. That's an emotional moment that pays off in a profound way - especially in the end when the three go to be reunited with Kira in Iceland.

Helena having resolution with Jesse was never all that high a priority. And yet, Donnie bringing the two of them together again was a very strong end to Helena's story this season. That was such a nice gesture from him for what she did last week. Sure, her cleaning up his business with corrupt drug kingpins was horrific material. But it's still a strong and nice gesture that shows that Donnie has really come to respect and love this new clone seestra. Helena has really changed a lot since the first season. She is trying to do better because she's an impending mother. Sure, her pregnancy is very slow moving. She's not even really showing yet. But she's still capable of tapping into that dangerous side of her personality in order to protect her seestras. Her fighting Rudy is the only way to end this conflict with Castor once and for all. He is still her brother though. That allows for a moment of final respect before he passes away.

Cosima's future may be looking brighter because Kendall's DNA will offer her a real chance at curing her disease. That still might not be enough. The reveal about the Neolutionists means Cosima and Scott may no longer have Dyad's high-end equipment to analysis Kendall's blood and create a cure for both Leda and Castor. That's an interesting wrinkle for the future. But right now, everyone is hopeful that a cure can be made. That's the only reason that Mark helps Sarah and Felix when they barge into his and Gracie's hotel room. They can present him with a full life together with Gracie - not just a few months like the rest of his Castor family. Mark's betrayal means he's the last person standing from Castor. It will be interesting if he remains a big part of the show next season - or if any new male clones will be introduced after most were killed off this year. Mark doesn't have the defect's symptoms yet. That will buy Cosima some time to fully understand just how important this genetic material can be. But that also comes at the cost of her personal life. She has genuine love for both Delphine and Shay. She wants to apologize to Shay about her massive mistake last week. That may not be enough to mend their relationship. In fact, she and Delphine have more resolution by the end of the episode. But that also only comes about because Delphine has a reason to fear for her life and run - and may not be making it out alive.

But all of that personal devastation and the uncertainty of the future goes away because of just how hopeful Clone Club is in the end. After all her hard (and isolating) work this season, Alison won the race for School Trustee by 56 votes. That's a simple victory to celebrate. The whole election story this year didn't always work. But it was nice to have it as a win in the end in the face of all the uncertainty elsewhere. Clone Club is so strong when they are all together. That dinner table scene is so powerful because it's all the characters together celebrating, remembering and honoring the past while being incredibly hopeful for the future. They want to believe they have all the answers and several key allies when it comes to their forthcoming battle with Neolution. But the scene also suggests that as long as this unique family has each other, then everything will turn out alright. And that is a powerful use of imagery - even though the season doesn't end there.

The reveal about the Neolutionists does allow the show to go back to its weirder side. Once upon a time, Helena cut an actual tail off a guy on this show. Over the past two seasons, the show didn't really have a way to continue that story. So it faded into the background - to the point where one could easily wonder why it happened in the first place. Now, it's bound to have some relevancy again heading into the show's fourth season - to the point where some bug-like creature can be crawling out of a man's mouth as a weapon and have it make sense! Rachel didn't garner a whole lot of sympathy during her healing arc this season. But she will be the show's entry point in exploring the intimate world of the Neolutionists next year as they are being run Susan Duncan - who "surprisingly" is still alive as well. Her new eye suggests that she is already being subjected to experimentation. That should open up an interesting conversation with her mother over whether or not she shares such drastic measures towards evolution. It does bring a sense of returning to the clone's original creation beyond the search for answers in regards to the cure though. That seems like a strong direction to take the show in. But only time will tell if this twist will be worth it in the end.

Some more thoughts:
  • "History Yet to Be Written" was written by Graeme Manson and directed by John Fawcett.
  • Did Nealon really not think to remove Krystal's nail polish when he was having her pose as Rachel? Or did he really think everyone would just look at her face and just assume that she is Rachel? Also, why did she wake up if she was meant to keep suspicion away from what Rachel was really up to? And what did Delphine do once Krystal woke up? Is she still stuck at Dyad and basically a sitting duck for the Neolutionists?
  • So, is Jesse his actual name? Or is it still just what the towing company he works for is called? It's still not abundantly clear. Also, does this mean there will be more Patrick J. Adams in the future? Or will he have to eventually disappear too?
  • Castor targets Alison because they view her as the weakest (and most visible) link of Clone Club. No one should underestimate Alison - especially when she is working with her seestras. Though there was a few moments there where it seemed like she would be helpless because she had no idea what Castor looked like. So glad they didn't go that route.
  • So, Ferdinand's bodyguard was also a Neolutionist and he was able to tell immediately once Sarah exposed the truth. His death really wasn't that great because he wasn't really a character. Though everyone's reaction to it was pretty amusing.
  • So, who shot Delphine? And is she really going to die? It seems like an important time to truly kill some regular character off. That would help re-establish the stakes and urgency heading into Season 4.
  • So if Charlotte is now with Susan and the Neolutionists with Rachel being asked to be her new mother, then what happened to Marion? A simple byproduct of Michelle Forbes' busy schedule?