Orphan Black “Formalized, Complex, and Costly” Review (3×03)

2 May


“The boy clones are our brothers.”

Thematically, Orphan Black is oftentimes on point, posing questions about family and love and care in the face of danger. At its best, the series’s exploration of the sestras can deliver some of the most poignant, entertaining, and endearing moments you’ll ever see, and it’s when we return to this shared bond between them that the show becomes truly great. However, the writers do also have a penchant for attempting to juggle too many plot points at once, and there’s certainly a very scattered feel to the beginning of this season. Although I have confidence that it’ll all come together, not quite everything is clicking right now.

Case in point: the reintroduction of the Proletheans, who are far from the most interesting characters in the show. It’s clear that the writers want to tackle a religion vs. science debate here–e.g. the word “abomination” popping up at several points throughout the hour and Mrs. Johanssen’s expanded role–but at the same time, it seems to be intruding upon the main thrust of the season. In fact, Mrs. Johanssen even fires a bullet into Mark at the end of the episode, and although we haven’t seen the body yet, his death would mark a premature exit from the story. Because Ari Millen is not the actor that Tatiana Maslany is and because the male clones are not as well written as the female ones are, it’s paramount that we spend enough time with the males in order to become invested in them; yet, they’re dropping like flies.

Still, though, the main arc of the season is beginning to shape up, considering the revelation that the male clones are the females’ brothers. It remains to be seen how the show will handle this storyline, but there are some intriguing avenues to explore here: parent-child dynamics with Coady and the clones, for one. It’s going to be more difficult to explore these ideas if you have half the male clone characters left, but the idea of bringing everyone together certainly fits under this show’s umbrella of thematic ideas. It’s family, after all, and there’s an obligation to protect and care for family that we see throughout the episode; for instance, we even see it with Gracie’s. “Your family cares for you, Gracie,” her mother tells her, “even as you refuse to care for yourself.”

Hopefully, this marks a gelling point for the season, and it’d especially be nice to see Alison and Donnie enter the main arc at some point. Their storyline is extremely entertaining and endlessly watchable, but once again, the show fires on all cylinders when its characters are working in tandem. Maybe after Alison’s done taking care of Marci Coates, she and Donnie can ride in and wipe out the Proletheans.



– “You are the ugliest Mark yet.” I could watch a whole season consisting of Helena insulting every Mark clone that she sees.

-I’m not sure I like the fact that Art was in love with Beth. Is that really an important addition to their dynamic?

-In case you didn’t know already, the actress who plays Alexis is Kathryn Alexandre, Tatiana Maslany’s double and an integral part of the show.

-The most fun scene in this episode? Probably Cosima extracting a brain. I’m really, really enjoying her interactions with Scott and Felix, although I do hope Felix gets a bigger role as the season progresses.

-I have my problems with the Gracie character, but kudos to Zoé de Grand’Maison for her work in this episode.

Photo credit: BBC America, Orphan Black

2 Responses to “Orphan Black “Formalized, Complex, and Costly” Review (3×03)”

  1. Hepburn3 May 3, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    Yes sadly and it is not really his fault Ari Millen is not as talented or nuanced of an actor as Tatiana Maslany is, very few people in truth are skilled actors in this world of entertainment most are just pretty to look at and can emote on basic emotion, it is kind of unfair that he has to go up against and is compared to Tatiana Maslany who is beyond talented. I will say this though I did/do? enjoy his Mark clone more so than all the others, not because we have seen him more but because he plays him with compassion (as seen with Gracie) and cold cruelty ( as seen when he was working for the Proletheans ). He does not have the skill to be more than one person at a time and that is usually just what actors are called to do play one character at a time. I do hope that Mark is not dead though.
    I LOVE Helena! I too could listen to her insult all of the Mark clones for a whole episode, which I hope that she does while she is eating at a buffet. 🙂
    Art being in love with Beth does not surprise me, they were close and were partners on the job, I did like that he said that they never acted on it but it does give more depth to why he is so invested in helping Sarah and her Sestras, and Felix. He feels a loss and guilt and is trying to make some atonement by being there for them all. I do not think it will take away from or throw a spanner into the plot.
    Alison and Donnie! I LOVE Alison! She is my favourite clone of them all (a close second is Helena) so many people say that they love Cosima, I think that is because she has funky dreads and is gay, I like Cosima but I never find her as entertaining she just seems to be a clone that moves point plots across the board and does not really do anything except the catch all science that is needed to explain something away. I find it a tad incredulous that she does medical doctor stuff as well as being a evolutionary biologist, she was originally more research rather than hands on now she is the go to medical authority. I know that she is very smart but this is just silly that she can does so many medical things when that is not her area of study.
    As for the science vs religion trope I find that really really tired and boring to be honest. I will tell you a secret PB, I am a Christian, I went to a private Christian High school and was taught… ALL THE SCIENCES!! Evolution too, it was taught as a fact in our school and was part of the curriculum. I also have a Masters degree so yes I having faith does not stop one from being part of and learning about our natural world,so seeing this plot point leaves me feeling rather cold.
    Ah back to Alison and Donnie, yes I love them and would happily watch a half hour sit com starring them! They should have their own web series! 🙂

    So now we find out that Lyda and the Castor clones are siblings! That is interesting and will take this story in a interesting direction, well I hope it will. 🙂
    As an aside I do wonder why that they called the female clone project Lyda, she was the woman raped by Zeus who was in the form of a swan ( egads that just creeps me out Zeus was a mega perv horn-dog) and gave birth to Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra, Castor and Pollux. Why name one clone group after the mother and the other after the son? I find this odd especially now that we are told that the all the clones male and female are siblings.
    Sorry that is just something that has bothered me about the plot. 🙂

    Good review and I look forward to next week and of course I am way stoked for POI this Tuesday!!!! It is going to be thrilling!!! See you then! 🙂
    Oh and good game for your Blackhawks! I hope that the Habs come back and smack Stamkos and his Bolts down! 😀

    • polarbears16 May 3, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughts on the science vs. religion conflict. I agree, it’s not exactly the best path to go down here because there’s just so much more interesting stuff outside of that. I also do hope Mark isn’t dead, because yes, Mark is more interesting to watch than Rudy.

      Excited for POI as well! Can’t believe it’s already the finale. And yes, maybe the HAwks and Habs will meet in the final. 🙂

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