Orphan Black: History Yet to be Written

Posted on June 22, 2015

orphan black

Tatiana Maslany, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Alison Steadman in BBCAmerica’s “Orphan Black”

 

Possibly imaginary conversation between your two reviewers:

“Hey, let’s write a wrap-up of Orphan Black Season 3, since it ended so well after such a rocky start!”

“Agreed!”

“…”

“…”

“Oh, wait. Does this mean we have to explain what happened?”

Orphan Black ended its third season by hitting all the marks it should have been hitting all along, but that doesn’t mean the story was easy to follow in any way. There were conspiracies on top of conspiracies and a seemingly endless parade of conflicting agendas from a whole host of shadowy groups and/or people, any one of whom could turn on a dime and suddenly reveal themselves to be something other than expected.

In other words, none of it really made all that much sense.

Oh, we’re sure the more ardent followers of the show could piece together a summary that didn’t sound like nonsense or an unrelated series of and-thens (As in: “And then he said he was a Neolutionist and tried to strangle Delphine! And then a worm came out of his mouth! And then Delphine shot him! And then someone else shot Delphine!”) but for the most part, we gave up trying to figure out what the hell was going on and just enjoyed the parts that appealed the most to us. It became easier to do as the season progressed because, like Season 2 of Sleepy Hollow, we sense the show’s creators realized halfway through the season what wasn’t working and what they should be focusing on and abruptly started tailoring the story accordingly. A mid-season course correction.

That may or may not be the case, but there was a definite sense, about halfway through the season, that the people in charge realized the whole Castor storyline simply wasn’t interesting and the remnants of the Prolethian cult was even less so. Suddenly the old themes of agency and family hit center stage again after too long on the sidelines, and the story seemed to shift into Sarah once again taking control of her fate and that of her sisters by, well, being Sarah: bold, impulsive and aggressive when she needs to be. In other words, while there were still ridiculous amounts of conspiracies and agendas driving the plot forward, the focus returned to the sestras and their families. It’s only when you hand the entire show over to Tatiana Maslany that it really works. Every time the plot or even a scene moved away from whatever it is she’s doing, the show suffered for it. Which isn’t to say the supporting cast isn’t doing great work and isn’t important to the story. We don’t know if it would work at all without people like Felix, Siobhan, Delphine, and Donnie for her to play off. But make no mistake, this is the Tatiana Maslany Show, starring Tatiana Maslany, with special appearances by Tatiana Maslany and Tatiana Maslany.

 

Having said that, we’re actually fairly annoyed that the whole Hendrix family storyline was a total sideshow to the main story; a way to give everyone in that part of the story something to do and a place to stash Helena. And admittedly, it resulted in some truly fun Helena moments, especially when she saved her babies from the Portuguese drug ring, when she fought Rudy in the Hendrix’s garage, where so many people seem to go to die, and when she was reunited with her beloved Jesse. But Alison and Donnie as drug dealers? That whole school board election? Pointless. And a waste of time. We love that tightassed clone as much as Tatiana clearly loves playing her, but next season, they really need to circle this group of characters back into the main action more effectively. The Hendrixes have clear and distinct talents that they bring to the group now that they’re criminal masterminds. Just as Cosima brings the science, Helena brings the violence and Sarah brings the strategy, we want to see Alison do more than purse her lips and act flustered. Let’s see her scheme like only a suburban school board housewife from hell can. Let’s put her up against the ridiculously secretive Neolutionists and see what she can do instead of relying so much on Sarah and Helena to be the bold ones.

Oh, and can we please have Shay be the one who shot Delphine? Because then we’d have a reason to watch Helena rip her to pieces. Cannot stand that uber-femme with her crystals-and-lace, Pinterest-and-Etsy apartment and her oversized booties.

And speaking of girliness and crystals, is it too early to declare our love for new clone Crystal? Her fate seemed more than a little vague at the end of the season, but we sincerely hope she gets to meet her sestras soon. We are dying to see a Helena/Crystal scene.

So we’re back on board after wavering quite a bit earlier this season. We still think the story is more complicated than it ever needed to be, with far too many diversions and dangling plotlines, not to mention characters written into a corner, like Paul and Art. And we weren’t entirely thrilled with the closed loop of having the Original be Siobhan’s mother, which tends to make the story seem smaller somehow. And honestly, the Neolutionists were always goofy as hell, so we’re not sure how to feel about the “It was US ALL ALONG!!! reveal. On the other hand, we do miss the crazy days when the show had a guy with a tail running around, so maybe their return can bring back some fun to the story after the tediousness of Dyad, The Prolethians, and the Castor project.

 

Please review our Community Guidelines before posting a comment. Thank you!

blog comments powered by Disqus