“We do terrible things for the people we love. Stop asking ‘why?’, and start asking ‘who?'”
“Certain Agony of the Battlefield” is exactly the kind of episode this season needs. It’s a thrill ride from the first second to the last, an hour brimming with tension and history and energy. It brings many of the show’s plots together, delivers answers to burning questions, and tells a compelling story in and of itself, and it’s easily one of the best episodes this show has produced.
An essential aspect of this episode’s propulsive, purposeful nature is the fact that truths are revealed and sides are seemingly chosen. “You’re the worst of them because I don’t even know where you stand,” Sarah spits at Paul early on in the episode, and it’s a key idea here because an “us vs. them” mentality has played out many times throughout the series. Once it’s revealed, however, that Dr. Coady is sterilizing women and attempting to weaponize the defect, Paul chooses his side; in a thrilling sequence to close off the episode, he helps Sarah escape, reveals his love for her, and decides to go out the ‘ol “have a grenade in your hand” method. While it’s certainly a bit disappointing that the show waits until his swan song episode to attempt to humanize him, it’s still a valiant effort by the writing staff and by Dylan Bruce. Farewell, Big Dick Paul.
As mentioned, one of the truths revealed here is of who Paul really had feelings for. History is coming into play at every point throughout, and as Paul says, “what happened to Beth….I will carry it with me forever”. However, true clarity in the past brings clarity in the present, and as he reveals that “it wasn’t Beth I really loved”, we can see in his face that he knows exactly what must happen now, in the present. This is Paul’s humanity shining through, and it stands in stark contrast to Dr. Coady’s warped sense of humanity: weaponizing humans–through the defect–in order to wipe out other humans. The benefits and drawbacks of science are swirling around in the same pot as the inherent humanity of these characters, and interesting ethical questions are being raised as a result.
Aside from all that, one of my favorite scenes in this episode is the one between Felix and Rachel. Finally, the former makes his way into the central storyline, and it’s a brilliantly acted scene for Jordan Gavaris. All that bottled up rage bubbles to the surface here, and his “No one is coming for you because no one cares!” is a gut punch of a line. Considering the fact that Rachel’s had ample time to think about her past actions, it’s a huge character moment for her as well. The various worlds of Orphan Black are all colliding in the center right now, and it sure as hell is fun to watch.
– “Yeah, fff you, too.” I love Felix.
-Alison and Donnie twerking is one of the best things I’ve seen on TV in a while. While I do want them to enter the main storyline at some point, it’s great to have some levity once in a while. It does take a little away from the sustained tension of this hour, but again, the twerking is worth it.
-Interesting: the clones have the same protein, but for the Ledas, the epithelial tissue is affected. For the Castors, the brain is affected. The show’s definitely delving into the differences between the two genders of clones here, and there’s certainly something to be said.
Photo credit: Orphan Black, BBC America