‘Orphan Black’ Recap 3×7: You Owe Me Alison Pee

Welcome to Orphan Black: The Sitcom.

Orphan Black. (photo: BBC)

Welcome to Orphan Black: The Sitcom. Seriously, there were moments during this episode when I was expecting a laugh track. The music certainly didn’t help, with its bouncy Yakety Sax-iness underlining every madcap action. But mostly it just had a plot that depended on all the classic dumb comedy tropes: mixing up two identical envelopes, nearsighted girl forgets her glasses and bumps into everyone, oh and there goes mom faking a heart attack for attention again…

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Not that it wasn’t an enjoyable episode. It was great fun, and quite a relief after last week’s bloody mess. And it managed to drive the plot forward for all of the characters, even while concentrating on its least consequential one. (Yes, that would be Alison.)

What’s more, there has always been something sitcom-like about Orphan Black, no matter how gritty and gruesome it gets. Mixing up two identical envelopes is really only a short hop away from the show’s central plot device: mixing up two identical people. Which this episode does as well, of course.

The two changing places this week are Alison and Cosima, with an assist from Felix and a terribly goofy pompom-topped pink hat. Felix, supposedly to distract him from worrying about Sarah and Helena down in Mexico, but mostly actually as a plot contrivance to keep the slapstick in motion, has signed on as Alison’s campaign manager. He spends the episode trying to shepherd Ali through the events of a “candidate mixer” held at her old high school, while literally everything that can go wrong does.

First off, since Alison is tied up at the meet and greet, Donnie has to go with their new drug boss Jason to meet their supplier—who turns out to be Pouchy, the terrifying Portuguese drug lord who cut off Vic’s pinky back in season one. But instead of grabbing the manila envelope with $30,000 cash in it, Donnie brings the one with Alison’s candidacy paperwork. Pouchy is not amused. So he dispatches Jason to the high school, keeping Donnie as insurance and threatening to cut off his nose if his money doesn’t show up in half an hour.

Meanwhile, Alison and Donnie are in the process of buying her mother’s boutique soap store as a money-laundering front, because apparently Gus Fring is the only drug dealer on TV who can resist the allure of a little wash/clean/launder pun when finding ways to fool the government. But Mrs. Hendrix (yup, it turns out her name is Hendrix too, because Donnie took Alison’s last name when they got married) is getting cold feet about the sale, supposedly because she thinks Donnie will run the business into the ground, but really because she is manipulative, selfish, intolerant and cruel. Case in point: not only is she intending to vote against her own daughter in the upcoming election, she has a campaign poster for her opponent up on the wall.

So just as Alison is shaking hands, kissing babies and getting ready for her photo session, dear old mom calls and fakes a heart attack, forcing Ali to run back to the store.

Conveniently, this is when Cosima shows up, takes off her glasses to wipe off the condensation, and immediately gets mistaken for Alison. Cos is there to get Alison to pee in a cup. Not for any actual medical reason, mind you, but as a gambit in the strange headgames she and Delphine are playing with each other. In this particular instance, Delphine is asking for more of Cos’s piss, in part because there are troubling developments in her illness, but also so that she can have an excuse to stop by unannounced at Cosima’s girlfriend’s house. And Cos immediately and recklessly decides to give Delphine healthy decoy piss so she’ll leave her alone. But with Sarah and Helena both down in Mexico, the only available surrogate pisser is Ali. So she heads over to the high school of wacky hijinks with a specimen cup.

Felix, seeing an opportunity, subs Cos in for the still-missing Alison, who shows back up just in time to meet a desperate Jason. Ali sticks him and her mom in her old home ec classroom while she goes to get the money, and Jason charms Mrs. H into selling Bubbles after all.

Pouchy’s slightly-less-terrifying niece shows up demanding the cash, which she insists on counting extremely slowly, in Portuguese. So Cosima, still sans glasses, is forced to give Alison’s campaign speech for her. She stumbles through a few off-the-cuff lines, nearly makes everyone think Alison’s a lesbian, and then descends into a coughing fit. Because let’s not forget that she actually is really sick, and it’s super dumb of her to try to fool her doctors, no matter if they also happen to be her stalkery ex-girlfriend.

Alison tags in and gives a sisterhood-inspired speech that even has her mother changing her vote. Borrowing all of the tropes from the end of a high school movie, the strings swell on the soundtrack, and all signs point to everything finally being resolved: the drug dealers let Donnie go, Ali’s on her way to winning the election, Cosima changes back into her own clothes and can see again, Ali and her mother are reconciled, and the deal for the soap store is done. Everyone applauds. Yay for tied-in-a-bow plot resolution!

Except that nothing is actually resolved. The clones have now realized they’re still totally dependent on Dyad to stay healthy. Ali introduces her mother to Cosima, outing herself as a clone, and her mother just goes right into denial mode, and somehow manages to be racist about it in the process. Jason kisses Cosima thinking she’s Alison, which does not bode well for their continued three-way partnership. And Cosima, after revealing to Shay that she is very sick, starts hemorrhaging into her bath. One good speech clearly isn’t going to fix everything that is going wrong here.

Off finding their own semi-resolution are Sarah, Helena and Mrs. S, who spend the entire episode in a Mexican cantina, under the watchful eye of a possibly psychic proprietress, where S has arrived with papers to get them back into the country. Helena wants to kill Mrs. S for selling her out to Castor, and all S can really do is apologize. So Helena repeatedly punches S in the face, daring her to retaliate, which she eventually does, with a punch followed by a hug. “You’re among family now,” she soothes, and offers to help raise her child. This motley household certainly keeps adding new and stranger members.

And finally, Scott reveals to Rachel that he has Doctor Duncan’s coded book, offering to relieve Rachel’s mind-numbing existence squirreled away in the belly of Dyad if she’ll help him translate it. Under the guise of teaching her the rules of a marvelously nerdy tabletop game about medieval farm building, he gives her a copy of a page and she begins deciphering. But she won’t reveal what it means to anyone but Sarah. You know, the one who just jammed a pencil into her brain.

‘Orphan Black’ Recap 3×7: You Owe Me Alison Pee