[This is a review of Orphan Black season 3, episode 9. There may be SPOILERS.]
Orphan Black goes international this week as Sarah, Felix and Siobhan all pack up and head off to London (or whichever part of the Toronto area that could pass for London during filming) in order to find the Castor original and put him in the ground, thereby sentencing the Castor clones to die of their defect. There are probably merrier reasons to travel abroad, but at least Siobhan gets to stop off for a pint and a quick song at her favorite old pub.
There are now so many different entities and motives present in Orphan Black that it’s becoming a little difficult to keep track of them all: Dyad, Topside, Dr. Nealon and Rachel, the Castor clones and their mysterious military unit, Siobhan and her people – and that’s without even getting into other factions like Pouchy and his gang. This week brings back Topside chess piece Ferdinand and his faithful muscle Bulldog, but it’s hard to find characters intimidating while simultaneously trying to remember who they are and what they want.
This has been a characteristic of Orphan Black‘s third season so far, with high stakes and tension communicated by the actors and audio-visual cues rather than making sure that viewers are clear on exactly what the stakes are. The most grounding element in this season has been the Leda and Castor clones searching for a way to cure their respective illnesses, but that search has been dwarfed by the blizzard of characters and sub-plots.
In short, Orphan Black is messy but still pretty entertaining, if only because it’s fun to watch the latest troubles that the Clone Club get themselves into. For honorary Clone Club member Donnie, his latest troubles involve getting beaten up by his wife’s high school boyfriend and watching Helena’s “babies” get taken as a ransom when Pouchy decides that he wants his drugs back. Unfortunately for Pouchy, Helena doesn’t take kindly to having her babies stolen and Alison’s children threatened.
With her sisters off handling their own drama, Cosima is facing inner turmoil after Delphine’s digging reveals that Shay used to be in the army, and somehow neglected to mention the fact. With the rat who gave Project Castor the tip about Professor Ethan Duncan’s book still at large, Delphine decides that the rational thing to do is to storm Shay’s apartment and threaten to kill her and make it look like a suicide.
Delphine’s anger (at least, part of it) turns out to be misdirected towards the end of the episode, when it’s revealed that Gracie sold the Leda clones out to Castor in exchange for being able to see Mark again. Even as Sarah draws closer to the Castor original, Rudy is given new reason to be desperate as the logic test confirms that his defect is kicking in and he doesn’t have long to live.
The identity of the Castor original is a neat little mystery that’s spun out well in this episode, first with the clue that the donor was a criminal with a long sentence and then with Siobhan’s reaction when one of her old friends whispers the name in her ear. The eventual reveal that the person both Castor and Leda are looking for is Siobhan’s mother seems unlikely to just be coincidence, and its cool to see Orphan Black once again drawing its sci-fi elements from real-life phenomena like chimerism.
Assuming that she survives, Kendall could prove to be a really interesting character. Already she’s demonstrated some of the personality traits that she handed down to the Leda and Castor clones, and seeing an older, tougher amalgamation of all the series’ main characters could be a lot of fun. Also, the fact that she’s the original Leda donor means that Sarah is, biologically speaking, Siobhan’s mother. That certainly explains a lot.
There are a lot of fraying plot threads still left to be tied up in next week’s season finale of Orphan Black, but ‘Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow’ does an effective job of moving the key pieces into place for a final clash between Leda and Castor. Now the only question is, how many people will make it out of that clash alive?
Orphan Black returns to BBC America next Saturday @9pm with “History Yet to Be Written.” Watch a preview below.