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Orphan Black: 107-108 Review


Reviewed by Adam James Cuthbert.

Episode 7. Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner
Episode 8. Unconscious Selection

Orphan Black has truly dealt a shock to the system with episode 8’s cliff-hanger: Kira is hit by a car. It’s never pleasant to see children be hurt. If Kira should die, it’d be an unspeakably cruel act of fickle fate.

Over the course of BBC3’s double-bill, much is divulged. Paul was blackmailed into working for the organisation over events in Afghanistan, placing him in the organisation’s debt. Paul’s contact, Olivier, meanwhile, is operating under a pseudonym: his real name is Kevin, and he has a raft of sexual warrants, which are unknown to the police (presumably, the organisation provided him with some form of protection). Olivier has underwent surgical enhancement, growing a tail, with the science the organisation has developed. Sarah and her clones are the outcome of the organisation’s experiments, their greatest achievement. Olivier is shown to be rather perversely attracted to Sarah, having never previously encountered one of the clones in the flesh, unbuckling his trouser belt, to show her his tail, in spite of Sarah’s vocal disgust. Olivier owes a club called Neolution – which has a ‘techno’ atmosphere; attracting peculiar sorts, interested in body modifications – the same name as the science Doctor Leekie had promoted. The connections between the two are later solidified, when Olivier reports to Leekie, with Leekie, it seems, ultimately being responsible for the organisation’s human cloning project: he meets with Delphine personally to inquire about her progress with Cosima.

With Paul held captive by Olivier, Sarah comes to his rescue, with Helena providing assistance. Helena continues to be a mesmerising, and almost sympathetic, character. We learn that she resides on a ship in a harbour, and receives priestly guidance, as well as instructions, from Tomas: to kill the impostors; as Tomas puts it: “The path to the shepherd is through the sheep” – her route to God is through murdering the clones, Tomas instilling in Helena the belief she is the original. Helena has a religious background: she was raised “pure” in a Ukrainian convent. Helena’s characteristics appear childlike at times, and she is shown to live a lonely life: she dreams that she and Sarah are friends, and holds an imaginary conversation with a photograph of Paul, having broken into Paul’s house, as well as taking emotional investment in Kira, through a letter she wrote to her mother, and photographs of Kira. Sarah herself comments on whether or not Helena is actually fed by the people Tomas is associated with, suggesting they see her only as an instrument to their ends. When Sarah, believed by Olivier to be the killer of their subjects, is bound, Helena appears, switching places with Sarah, but not before threatening to asphyxiate Sarah unless she gives Helena the name of a “sheep”. Helena attacks Olivier, and places him in a compromising position, intrigued about his tail. She subsequently cuts it off.

I had earlier suspected there was a subtle attraction from Cosima to Delphine, so it’s a happy coincidence my suspicions were confirmed: Cosima is infatuated with Delphine, confessing her homosexuality. Delphine later engages in coitus with Cosima, finding the opportunity afterwards to search through Cosima’s possessions, for any information she has, altering Leekie to her discoveries. Tensions mount between Cosima and Sarah, with Cosima ignoring Sarah’s warnings about Delphine.

Alison, suspecting her busybody neighbour Aynsley is her monitor, decides to meddle in Aynsley’s life by having an affair with her husband. Alison reveals she’s divorcing Donnie, on account of being unable to maintain deceiving him. She fights Aynsley, and becomes an inebriated, emotional wreck. Growing closer with her foster mother, Sarah uses Alison to help explain the situation to Mrs S. Through Mrs S, more of Sarah’s background is unearthed. Situated in the socio-political context of Thatcher’s Britain (which sounds positively dystopian from Mrs S’ descriptions: “England was burning. Maggie Thatcher firing all barrels at Ireland, the Falklands. She sacked Social Security, went after the immigrants, the poor, the unions”), Sarah was one of many children delivered to Mrs S and other women through the pipeline of a man named Carlton. According to rumours, some of those children had been the subject of medical experiments. Carlton, prior to his imminent arrest, had pleaded with Mrs S to protect Sarah, suggesting Carlton may have been aware of Sarah’s origins.

The series continues to be riveting entertainment, and I’m anxiously anticipating future developments.


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