There was a lot of storm and stress in this episode, but hey, at least we got to meet a new clone! Her name is Jennifer, and, well…she’s dead, so that’s not really all that cheery either, come to think of it.
Anyway, for those of you keeping score at home, new clone Jennifer makes eight separate characters that we have now seen Tatiana Maslany play (not counting clones we only saw in photos). And we get to watch Jennifer’s video diary with Cosima as she slowly succumbs to whatever horrible disease Cosima now has.
Orphan Black began with Sarah witnessing Beth’s suicide—seeing someone with her own face die. And now Cosima gets her own version of that same experience. Fittingly, what impulsive, seat-of-her-pants Sarah saw was sudden and violent, whereas what watchful, scientific Cosima is now seeing is protracted and wrenching.
Beth’s death is what sent Sarah down the rabbit hole, and it seems we are now being warned that Cosima has only begun to scratch the surface of her own dark journey into the world of what it really means to be a clone. And of whom she can trust. After all, Delphine says that Jennifer died three days ago. Not months or years. That means that she has been there at the Dyad the whole time, dying, while Cosima was setting up her new lab. Delphine may reassure her that “We are telling you everything now,” but Cosima is too smart not to have serious reservations, regardless of whether Alison calls her up with misguided, drunken warnings.
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And then, not only does Cosima basically get to watch herself die on television, but she also performs her own autopsy? I’m no medical ethicist, but if you can’t perform surgery on a relative, you probably shouldn’t be able to take a scalpel to the abdomen of a dead woman who is wearing your face. That is some spooky shit right there.
Speaking of spooky, can we talk for a minute about Kira and her bordering-on-creepy intuitive intelligence? There are many reasons to admire the casting on this show (man, how good is Jordan Gavaris in this episode?), but Skyler Wexler is a tremendous discovery. She’s got these oracular eyes that make her seem at once absolutely vulnerable and eerily knowing. She looks directly at Cal and cuts through any bullshit: “Are you my dad?” And then a scene later, she is giggling about how much she likes his beard.
Cal is a mystery for now; he seems nice enough, but of course Orphan Black has taught us not to trust anyone who is sleeping with any of the clone sisters. His real role here is to show us the heretofore hidden faults in the Sarah-Felix-Kira triangle. Realizing how unstable her presence continues to make everything, Sarah wants a father figure for her daughter, and doesn’t even spare Felix a thought in that regard. Which is particularly ironic, because beneath the flighty, twinky exterior, Felix turns out to be remarkably responsible and centered. It is no coincidence that the clones used his loft as their clubhouse. He has become the glue that holds Clone Club together.
And so he isn’t just blowing smoke when he says, by way of an excuse for leaving, that Alison needs him. Who else does she have? Sarah Stubbs?
Had he been around, Felix might have saved Alison from this episode’s tailspin. Last week he warned her that she has a habit of jumping to conclusions about her monitor, and this one’s a doozy: Angie posing as a neighbor gets Ali’s spidey-sense tingling, and finding out that she’s not from the Dyad but rather a cop doesn’t prove much of a comfort, especially since Alison is carrying a murder-by-inaction around on her conscience. So she drinks and then sings very badly and then takes a dive off the stage right into her husband/actual monitor’s face. At least Felix is there now, hopefully to help pick up at least some of the pieces.
Sarah is totally missing out on this part of the story, the part where they are all related and have to be there for each other. And the show punishes her for it, wrenching her away from Kira and Cal and then throwing a truck at her.
If Orphan Black can be said to have a thesis, it’s that it is our families that make us human. Not our biology, not even our actions or our morals, but the relationships we forge with others. That’s how we know we’re people, and not just DNA.
Then again, this is basically the belief espoused by Henrik, the leader of the creepy Prolethean sect that has Helena. He wants to make her a “part of their family” in order to turn the “barely even human” creature created by godless science into a person with a soul.
We’re not forever defined by how we’re created, he says. It’s the flipside of Cal’s technology for saving bees, which was turned to murderous use as a drone weapon: the murderous and profane technology of Helena’s body can be made holy and salvific if he marries her (and, presumably, impregnates her).
We can only hope a less demented version of the life-affirming nature of family ties is right around the corner, because right now our clone community is as fragmented as it has ever been.