[This is a review of Orphan Black season 3, episode 4. There may be SPOILERS.]
In the wake of last week’s revelation that the Castor and Leda clones are siblings – biologically speaking – “Newer Elements of Our Defense” sees a bit of bonding going on between brothers and sisters. Chiefly this takes place between Sarah and Mark, the latter of whom is not dead but merely has a few more holes than he’d usually prefer. Nothing says family time like digging a bullet out of your brother’s thigh.
The familial connection between the clones might be what it takes to make the Castor storyline really worthwhile, since up until this point the Castor clones have felt largely interchangeable (so much so that in last week’s review the existence of soldier boy Miller was erroneously forgotten). They’re still pretty interchangeable, but the knowledge that Sarah and her sisters are at war with their own brothers (sort of) does add an interesting new element to the show’s dynamic.
The Clone Club – even Helena – managed to form strong bonds with one another despite their different backgrounds and despite not meeting until they were already adults. Given how much both they and the show itself seem to value the importance of family, the enmity between Leda and Castor has quite the edge to it.
While Sarah and Helena are off moving the A plot along, Cosima and Alison are left behind the keep the home fires burning. Cosima hangs out with Felix to talk about her love life and occasionally offer up science-y answers whenever called upon by Sarah, and Alison is still living out her own version of Breaking Bad (which actually gets a shout-out this week, courtesy of Donnie) in a story thread that, for the moment at least, seems to be independent from all the rest.
In terms of Breaking Bad‘s plot progression, Alison and Donnie are somewhere around the latter end of season 2. Their neat little drug operation goes awry when it turns out that the business was actually owned by a bigger fish, and that big fish shows up to check out the new bait. The big fish is Alison’s high school boyfriend Jason, who thankfully doesn’t seem to be holding onto a grudge, but odds are 2:1 on him actually working for some shady clone-related corporation.
Meanwhile, Felix snatches a photo of Cosima and uses it to sign her up for Sapphire, a dating app that’s essentially Tinder for lesbians. The advisability of publicizing the face of one of the most-wanted scientific specimens on the planet aside, Felix really needs something to do rather than simply being the best friend/brother who provides support for everyone else’s problems. He’s an endearing enough character to warrant his own storyline, even if he’s not a clone.
Helena seems to finally have had enough of her perpetual abductee status and makes a couple of escape attempts, with the help of Pupok the imaginary scorpion (yet another Maslany character). The latter attempt is more successful than the first, but is cut short when Helena uses her window of opportunity to free her poor brother Parsons, who is sitting around with his brain hanging out as part of Dr. Coady’s research.
In an ideal scenario, the Leda and Castor clones would team up against the people trying to control their lives, use the genetic material of their original donors to cure themselves, and all skip off happily into the sunset . The show’s trajectory, however, seems more likely to continue facing the two clone teams off against one another. The Castors seem to have inherited some antagonist genes.
Other important developments this week: Gracie miscarried Helena’s baby and got kicked out of the Prolethean cult for good; Mark returned to the fold of the military; and, according to the preview for next week, he brought Sarah with him as a prisoner.
This season of Orphan Black seems to have a surer sense of direction now, but without a more frequent reminder of the Leda clones’ own ‘glitch’ (Cosima seems fine now) the hunt for a cure still doesn’t seem very urgent, which is a problem since finding the original donor samples is supposed to be the primary goal.
Orphan Black returns to BBC America next Saturday @9pm.