Feminism, Queerness, and Dead Lesbians: It’s an “Orphan Black” Season 3 Roundtable!

Orphan Black ended its third season with a bang. A literal bang. Orphan Black shot Delphine Cormier in the chest! Due to an overload of other recaps, a plague on my house, and camp camp camp, I wasn’t able to finish recapping season three, but we absolutely have to talk about it, because it was shocking and wonderful and horrible and lovely and heartbreaking and shocking some more. Joining me for a roundtable discussion are the incomparable Laura Mandanas and Cameron Glavin, who has Cosima’s exact tattoo on her arm!

Let’s talk feminism, queerness, and poor Delphine. Ready? Yeah, us either, but we’ve got to do it anyway.

So. The Castor clones. Do you think they added or detracted from the show and the show’s overall feminist themes?


You’re going to give my screen time to who?

Laura M: I had a tough time with the Castor clones! Mostly because I had a hard time telling them apart. That scene where Rudy and Seth were creepily swapping places before they took that chick’s hair? Yeah, I totally missed what was going on until I saw them both on screen at the same time. I’m not sure if this was an issue with the acting, the costuming, or me generally not being able to tell white dudes apart, but it was a real struggle for me. I also didn’t find any of their storylines particularly engaging.

My main feeling is that I’m relieved they didn’t take too much time away from Tatiana Maslany being on screen.

Cameron: I wasn’t thrilled about the Castor clones, mostly because I was so worried that they were going to ditch the Leda storyline, focus on them, and become oh, every other sci-fi show ever. The whole big compelling thing about Orphan Black for me has always been that it’s this clash of complex, diverse female experiences, not as told by a brooding macho man (*cough* Paul *cough*).

I think the Castoes just became a thing to move the plot along. If you took out the whole Castor storyline, the Topside/Neolution twist could have replaced season three.

Like Laura, I had a hard time telling them apart until I knew what I was supposed to look for. The only thing I liked the Castor clones for was as a commentary on toxic masculinity and rape culture. Even so, I’m not sold on them. I’m infinitely happier that they didn’t overtake the Leda plot than anything else.

Heather: Yeah, I’m with you guys all the way. When Castor was revealed at the end of season two, I looked over at my girlfriend and I could tell we were both wondering who was going to set fire to something first. Look, I don’t like Angel or Spike or most of the time even Xander, okay? Plus, I thought it was fully delusional to assume any other person on earth could do even five percent of what Tatiana Maslany can do. I was predisposed to hate the Castors! I do feel like they took up way too much time that could have been used to explore more stuff about the Ledas we know and love, and Ms. S, and also Felix. Felix got the shaft more than any other character this season. Also, at the end of the day, all of them besides Mark are dead, so what was the point, kind of?

However! I’m agree for sure, Cameron, about the way the Castors showcased the dangers of toxic masculinity, which is one of the most feminist things the show has done, and I can’t ever remember seeing it on TV before. I think they also highlighted a lot of the grossness with rape culture, and the criminal justice system’s horrible responses to rape culture. The show never backed down on calling what the Castors were doing rape, either. And then to sort of equate rape culture with STI-based biological warfare, both in dialogue and in visuals, I thought that was some pretty shocking/compelling writing.

It could have taken up about 10 percent as much time, though.

I felt like this was the most unapologetically feminist season yet. What do you guys think?


I’m sorry, what’s a “Paul”?

Laura M: I like that Sarah stopped ping-ponging around between different problematic men in her life. Helena’s pregnancy storyline and Siobhan’s… everything felt very overtly feminist to me. But Alison is still sort of cat-fighting with another woman. Delphine turns into a 2D scary stalker type. Cosima was too busy being sickly and having breakup drama to make major contributions to the investigation. (Well, she did contribute, but I feel like Scott did more this season.)

The season wasn’t not feminist, but I’m curious why you thought it was the most feminist, Heather.

Cameron: I’m with Laura on this one. I think they took huge leaps ahead of other shows when it came to addressing rape culture (pretty sure I actually cheered at Helena’s line to the dying Rudy) and how fucked up that is and that’s hands down amazing. But I think the character development got lazy and I had a hard time reconciling for that. Everyone just seemed pretty static from the end of season two. Helena’s development seemed hinged completely on her being pregnant and hallucinating talking scorpions, which doesn’t seem very revolutionary to me? Her Thing is still to function as an adorably homicidal monster carting around a canister of babies. I feel like the only characters who had any development were Donnie (I want to care, but I don’t), Siobhan, and Sarah. Donnie’s development was almost solely in accepting Helena as he does the other Leda clones. Sarah’s was in accepting Castor as a brother, but they’re all dead now, so…

But I can ride high on the whole taking down rape culture one line at a time thing for a while.

Oh, shit! And Krystal! The Elle Woods of Clone Club. Vacuous, blonde stereotype or secret intel compiling genius?


Pupok would have hated you too.

Heather: The Elle Woods of Clone Club, omg! You are so right!

In addition to the rape culture commentary, I thought this season had some other hugely feminist threads weaving it together. It actually reminded me a lot of Mad Max and early days Wonder Woman, in that the central theme of this season was Women as Life-Givers vs. Men as World-Eaters. In both Mad Max and Wonder Woman, you see men raised up in this culture that insists on violence, sexual aggression, and a complete lack of emotions. Juxtaposed to that are these women who express strength and courage in really hardcore physical ways, but also are empowered by their super smarts and uncommon compassion and (most of all) their ability to lean in on and rely on each other to form a collective of kickassery. And to really drive that point home, you’ve got men hurling havoc and death at a helpless world, while women at different stages of motherhood fight back and bring literal life to the world. I thought that point landed so poignantly with dying Rudy trying to tell Helena that they are the same, right, because she was raised as a killer too. And Helena, pregnant with her science babies, lays down beside him on the floor and, in a show of compassion he could never match, pets his head and says, “No. You are a rapist.”

What a gorgeous fucking juxtaposition.

But on a more micro level: Alison’s story, to me, wasn’t just about her winning a school board election. It was about her stepping out of her role as a submissive housewife whose autonomy had been stripped away by Dyad for her whole life, and building her own empire. Like, yeah it was kind of the plot of Weeds, but it was Ali who had the business acumen, Ali who had the confidence to make promises to scary dealers (and deliver on them), Ali who won an election; even the way Ali’s scenes with Donnie were framed, she was in focus in the foreground, and he was behind her, at least slightly out of focus. OR they were framed as equals, as partners, which, when you think about that compared to season one Alison, is like bang-the-drum remarkable. For me, this season was about Alison taking control of her own life in her own small world, which is the ultimate triumph for her.


Holy doodle, I’m Nancy Botwin.

I think Delphine’s journey was similar. My struggle with her was never whether or not she loved Cosima. I felt like she loved Cosima immediately and without exception or reason. My struggle was whether or not she was an unwitting pawn in Leekie’s game. So seeing her stepping outside the rules of romance, outside the rules of Dyad, outside the rules of Topside, and duplicitously working the system that once held her under its thumb — because of her love for another woman! — was so satisfying to me. Delphine did it all for her love for Cosima, and I think the show plainly wanted us to know that because they put the words right into Cosima’s mouth to say to Delphine before she died. And oh! How she died! “Give my love to your sisters” was superfluous because Delphine’s love for Cosima’s sisters caused her to literally sacrifice herself, walking like a fucking stately queen to her own death, as a last act of bravery to keep Cosima and Sarah and Alison and Helena and Krystal and Rachel safe. Delphine, too, was without autonomy in season one, and in the end, she was master even over her own death.

And Ms. S! And Krystal! I’ll talk about Helena more in a minute, because I think she became my favorite TV character ever this season.

You’re right on about Sarah, Laura. Her character was infinitely better when she was threatening to kill Paul and sending Cal to the frozen tundra so she could focus on saving her sisters.

What do you think about the decision to have the main love story of the season be a queer one between Cosima and Delphine and Shay? That felt pretty revolutionary to me.


I come from a show where everyone’s gay but me, I’m just curious.

Laura M: I didn’t like the pair’s chemistry, but I agree with you that it was a big deal to make this the central romance!

Cameron: I’m a Cophine shipper for life. So this is a hard question for me. I love Ksenia Solo, but I love Delphine more. This is totally biased and unfair. But to answer the real original question: Yes. I totally think it’s a big deal to have a queer triangle as the main relationship focus.

Heather: I thought the show was really smart to cast Ksenia Solo as Shay. Really smart. And I do think it was remarkable that the romantic emotional punches this season were all strategically placed around this queer female love triangle. I only wish it hadn’t taken Cosima out of doing the work when it came to saving her sisters, you know? (She could have done both if the Castors hadn’t eaten up so much screen time!)

Who was your favorite clone this season? Why?

Laura M: Alison’s storyline doesn’t tie into the bigger plot as much as the other clones, but I love her a lot. I think she has a good heart and very, very poor decision making skills. I appreciated the comedic relief she provided!

Cameron: Ugh. Alison kills me in the best way. I think my favorite clone this season is Helena. I’ve always kind of liked how inaccessible she is—I feel like it’s harder to understand her because of her upbringing at her morals, but I think that makes her exploration of her new family and surroundings more interesting. Especially her relationship with Sarah and Mrs. S. She’s such a mama bear to her sestras, but still pretty unpredictable. You should not threaten babies.


A dream is a wish your heart makes.


Just one, I’m a few, no family too, who am I?

Heather: Helena. Helena times a hundred million bazillion. I pretty much burst into tears during the finale when I realized that clone dinner scene in Bubbles was basically exactly what Helena had dreamed when she was trapped in that box in the season premiere. Surrounded by her family in a hyper-color paradise eating all the sugar and eastern European delicacies Alison could bake. Helena, to me, is the apex of what humanity can aspire to be. Beaten down, bloody, broken, betrayed. Yet, somehow, her love and her loyalty are bigger than all that. She has more capacity for grace and compassion than all the other clones combined. She’s chaotic, but she’s Chaotic Good! This is Helena’s entire character summed up in one sentence, and my own personal dream for the manifestation of my feminism: “I break free my sestra. Now, Ms. S is my new mother and I live here and make soap and teach children karate.”

What did you think about the decision to kill Delphine? Does it fall into the Kill Your Gays trope, or have we, as a culture, moved past that trope because of the exponential growth of the number of queer characters on TV? (Does it matter less when they die now because there are more of them?)


I just wanna make ghostly pseudoscience with you.

Laura M: I am very upset about this! Delphine had the best hair! In terms of the story, I really didn’t care for the direction they were taking her in. But did they have to kill her? Why couldn’t she be shipped to Iceland too? Or England? Or a Prolethean farmstead? We’ll see what Season four brings, but I feel like her death will inevitably serve as a kick in the butt to Cosima to drive some tragic plot point forward. I do think it fulfills the trope.

Cameron: I’m still processing this. I’m not okay. When she said, “Give my love to all your sisters” I knew it was going to happen and I knew that knowing that wasn’t going to make it any more okay. Again, I thought the writers got really lazy with her. In seasons one and two, I felt like there was a push and pull of Can I Trust You or Nah? Do I Like You or Nah? And this season they took away all of the softer qualities they cultivated for her (and her beautiful curly mane) and just said JK SHE’S SO COLD SHE’S BELOW ZERO DEGREES KELVIN.

I don’t think her death was justified. I don’t think it served much of a purpose other than to be a cliffhanger and to get rid of Evelyne Brochu’s character. So, yeah. I totally think it falls into the Kill Your Gays trope, more-so because the Delphine/Cosima relationship canon drew in so many queer viewers. The writers messed with viewers on Twitter about it, too, in saying that Cophine would be even more of a thing by the end of the season. IS THIS IS WHAT YOU MEANT, WRITERS?

But on a more chill, reasonable, totally not emotionally attached to fictional characters level: From what I understand, they couldn’t book Evelyne Brochu for season four because of scheduling conflicts because I guess she got a title role in another show NBD. Regardless. I hold out hope for Delphine’s return. That was NOT a fatal shot. No body, no confirmed death. That’s what I’ve learned from TV.

Heather: I think the show (purposefully, systematically) did everything right about killing Delphine. They let her go out as a hero who proved her love to Cosima after beating some asses and getting real gross with Rachel’s empty eye-socket. They killed Paul, the handsome straight white guy, who was really her counterpart in every way, in terms of love interests on the show. And they brought in another queer character, which felt like an acknowledgment that the writers know queer representation matters, and a promise that they aren’t going to sideline Cosima’s sexuality because Delphine is gone.

With my head I can see all that, but goddammit, man, it broke my heart! I can’t believe how much it broke my heart!

How would you compare this season, overall, to the other two?


And then aunt Helena ate twenty-two bowls of Jell-O and lived happily ever after.

Laura M: This was the weakest season for me. I found the plot to be complex without purpose and I was frequently annoyed by what was happening. There are so many threads dangling from the first season and a half — are they ever going to address how the clone club first came to meet, for example? I don’t feel like the writers have a clear plan and the fact that they kept adding these weirdo twists made me worry that this is going to end up like Lost.

Get back to your roots, writers! Please rewatch season one! I want more of that.

Cameron: AGREE. Helena’s still carrying around that canister of frozen eggs, Cosima has been dying for all three seasons now (eventually the other non-mirror twin Ledas will start showing symptoms, right?), Kira’s still a lizardbaby from outer space but now with snowmobile privileges, Rachel… I don’t even know with Rachel. Now the Neolutionists are making this grand return. I was originally consoled by the fact that they’d decided on a five season run because I figured that they probably knew where they were headed with all of this. Now, I’m not so sure.

I felt like this season was all about surprising us and not engaging us with a solid plot or theme. There were good lines and moments, but it just does not compare with the seasons one and two.

But the real question: Where’s Tony?

Heather: I don’t think anything’s going to ever compare to season one, but I liked this season a whole lot more than season two. It had a focus the second season lacked, and it eased up the pace so we could delve more into character studies than get hammered over the head with PLOT PLOT PLOT, which was a huge problem last year. Like the writers thought if they just kept the pace as breathless as possible, no one would stop to question the science or the sci-fi logic holes. I mean, you’ve got the best character actor working in television today; why in the world would you sacrifice pathos for plot? I’m glad the Castors are gone though. I’m sorry we wasted character development time on them. I hope Mark and Gracie skedaddle into the sunset and we never have to see them again.

Okay, sestras and brother-sestras, your turn! What did you think of Orphan Black’s third season?

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. I’ll be honest: I did not understand the vast majority of what happened this season. I just have very strong feelings about Delphine ugh I hope you’re right Cameron but I reaaaally doubt it. :(

  2. I feel like I agree with so much of what all of you said and don’t necessarily have anything new to add, so I’ll talk about Krystal. I’m SO glad that Krystal is alive and hopefully that means she will be in next season!!!! I was a little confused about what they had done to her when she was abducted, besides the identity switch for Rachel to escape. Like, I was worried they had actually made her brain dead or something! Poor thing. Anyway she makes me smile a lot and I love the comparison to Elle Woods. She’s also a secret genius, I think, definitely like Elle. Also have you see this edit of Krystal doing Cher from Clueless’ nails? You all need to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=14&v=puKAee_8_MA

    Ugh, I’m still upset about Delphine. Ugh </3

  3. p.s. Mark is for sure the last Castor clone right? Can we get Helena to make sure the rest are eliminated? #misandry

  4. actually it s been confirmed by the creators that Castor (and Ari Millen)will continue season 4, which sucks, because I feel no connection to Mark or to any of the Castor clones. I wish they bring back Tony, that the male clone we want !!!!!

  5. It took me a while to warm up to this season,mostly, because I was used to the other two seasons giving me whiplash from watching.
    But overall, I must say, I liked the slower pace, the character development, etc.
    They cashed in on the character building they did the last two seasons:
    Helena hugging Gracie? Who would have thought that that would even be an option for either one of them ten episodes prior?
    Donnie and Helena bonding? Who would’ve seen that coming?
    Orphan Black is a family show like no other. It explores kinship on so many levels, that I keep losing track. Mrs. S who keeps wanting to off her mom, but is ready to slay any and everyone whenever anyone endangers her adopted granddaughter?
    Who has the grandness to apologize and basically adopt Helena after selling her out?
    Gracie and her baggage?
    The sestras being sestras, but at the same time, the castors not being their brothers?
    I must say, that I like the Castor involvement for that reason, that they counterbalance the strong bond the sestras have built.
    Because it is NOT about genetics, family is, and Castor illustrates that beautifully after genetics have brought the very unlikely family on the other side of that equation together.
    I liked the nerdy science stuff, too, the chimaera, the prions, etc.
    And Delphine!
    The puppy went to play with the dobermans to protect her loved ones.
    And got bitten in the end.
    I loved Delphine to pieces this season, the way she tried to harden hersef for Cosima, and still fell victim to the one or other make out session..
    the way she accepted her death and made the rounds to say her goodbyes, how she kept looking over her shoulder, how she kept her back straight..
    Very, very well done.
    Gut punchingly well done.
    And so full of Love.
    I don’t think Delphine was slain in vain.
    It was a long way coming, because we knew from the beginning, that Delphine was playing pretend in very dangerous waters and this is not a show about puppies.
    It made her character and Cosima and Delphine’s arc come full circle, which started at “You gotta love my sisters.”
    Delphine, like Helena really learned about Love and Loyalty in the course of the past three seasons and died for that knowledge in the end.
    Not a trope.
    Especially not after they unceremoniously killed the main character’s Love interest off without much ado.
    Anyways, my most favorite clones this season were Krystal and Beth.
    Beth because she was the most surprising guest appearance and she portrayed another part of this intricate family web the writers have woven:The part of those gone, who still are with us in our hearts.
    The way Art expressed his Love for and regret over Beth through helping the sisters, sadly, did not get enough background and development for me to really feel it, but maybe we’ll get a little backstory next season.
    And Krystal, because she comes across as this blonde fairy spirit, her sweet attitude was a nice dropback against which to set the other sisters.
    Things have gotten a bit grim since season one, that featured a laid back Cosima and aloof Alison.
    I wasn’t as aware of that until Krystal stepped onto the screen.
    But of course, she,too, has another, deeper, smarter side.
    Can’t wait for her character to be more fleshed out next season.
    All in all a very well done season, I can’t wait to rewatch it,and catch on to all the things I missed the first time around.

  6. Am I the only one who has zero love for Delphine? I mean, I was cheering at her death because I’m hoping they can bring in a love interest for Cosima that I actually like…

    • i agree. Delphine was always shady and overbearing for my taste. I never understood what a smart girl like Cosima really saw in her with all of her manipulating. It was so obvious.

  7. I had a weird sensation with this season. I think we all know that OB it has a good number of loyal fans, but it doesn’t have a huge number of viewers.

    This season looked like it was an intent of attracting more public, with the Castor boys and such of number of plots, subplots and things going around that my head was spinning from time to time. The thing is that, most of the times, you use this kind of tools on season 1, not on season 3.

    About Delphine, she was so so hot in a really scary way. And yes, I’m still denying she’s dead until I can see Cosima crying her eyes out on the next season. Until then, she’s recuperating in a nice little clinic in Côte d’Azur.

    And yes, Heather, I agree with you, Helena was by far the best and my favorite clone. SHE’S THE BOMB.

  8. Heather, in the last paragraph you meant Mark and Gracie, right? Or did you want to hurt me on purpose and make me think about the terrible end of Lexie Grey?

    I quite liked this season, I think it was better than the second and I was very surprised that I didn’t hate the Castor clones as much as I thought I would.

    I’m not the greatest fan of Delphine, but I like her with Cosima and I’d still like to see the two of them together at the end.. are we sure she is dead? No, right? However, if that’s the last we get to see of her I don’t think her death falls into the Kill Your Gays trope, and I loved that the last thing she says to Cosima is “Give my love to all your sisters” (I think it’s connected to the “You have to love all of us” that Cosima said to her last season.. ok, now I’m gonna cry).

    Am I the only one who really loves Donnie? Still laughing for the “Fist me”.

  9. Delphine seemed WAY too accepting of dying, is my problem. Why didn’t she tell Sarah and Cosima everything? Why not get Mrs S’ help to try and run? Why leave Cosima just when Cosima realizes what a jerk she’s been and wants Delphine back? Delphine just seemed like “Welp, I’m gonna die. So long guys!” I understand if Evelyne was leaving the show and they needed to write her off, but at least do it in a smart way!

    Otherwise it was a good season over all and justified my admiration for this show. I was very worried about the Castor plot but it never dominated the show like I feared it would. It really was a midpoint for the series, ending some storylines and laying out the new ones for the final half. Graeme Manson has said that this story will be finished after five seasons so this right here really is half way.

    Oh and Ksenia Solo is a regular now and will be back next season!

  10. Oh and about Delphine not telling Cosima stuff at the end, it seems to me that Neolutionists with MOUTH WORMS is something Cosima and Sarah should be warned about!!!

  11. One of my first thoughts was… Felix must be shipping the blue clone phone to Tony ASAP.
    I saw the castor clones as expendable.. like Clonestach (I wanted that to happen) and that other military one that did nothing but stand. I loved Helena this season, and I also loved Alison (and eventually Donnie). And I’ll go with Cameron, no body = Delphine is not dead!

  12. Lol… “Mark and Lexie”. Freudian Slip, Heather? Don’t we all wish they would’ve skedaddled into the sunset.

    Thank you for this discussion. I always appreciate your insights :)

  13. At first, I was mad about their decision to kill Delphine but once I heard that Evelyn was the star of another show it made more sense. Sure, they could have shipped Delphine off somewhere but I wouldn’t buy that Delphine would just up and leave Cosima or Dyad for that matter. Then again, we didn’t actually see her die on screen. There is always the possibility that we will find out she was been held off-screen by another character for a future return date.

  14. I find the fact that they tried to replace Delphine and Cophine extremely disrespectful and insulting to the characters, the story and the fans. Cosima started to date Tinder girl just few days after she said she loved Delphine and she just started a relationship with her just after 2 hours they met. It’s incredibly sad that they completely invalidated the love of Cophine that was the main love relationship in the show and was the real love of the show. It’s like queer people just want sex and love doesn’t really have a meaning to them, the important is that they have their “scratching post”, i found it really insulting like one queer character can be replaced by another queer character like if they are just interchangable and have actually no value as people, their only value is that they are queer so one queer character can be replaced by another one and it doesn’t make a difference. They think that we are so shallow and stupid that it’s enough to show two women making out without building up an actual relationship, disrespecting the feeling of the other relationship and the other character, in this case Delphine that sacrifice everything for Cosima and we are sold to that shit. From what we saw in season 3 it looks like Cosima never cared or loved Delphine, even when Delphine was crying in front of her, basically saying her goodbye she did nothing to stop her, she never did anything for Delphine except intentionally hurting her and then she came back from the death because of her love for Delphine and it was enough a few week to forget her and replace her. What they did with Cosima and Cophine this season doesn’t make any sense, it was just queerbaiting at its worst.

  15. I can’t stand the Castor boys. I think the show is veering dangerously close to being more about plot than character, and for me that’s the death knell for a show, especially one with such an engaging lead actor and fantastic secondary characters.

    I DID like the twist that Mrs. S is actually related to Sarah (and all of the seestras), and I really loved how Cosima could calm Mrs. S’s mum. Great stuff there.

    I can’t really even talk about Delphine yet. I am not okay. Yes, this falls under the “Dead Lesbians” trope as a whole (the slaughter of queer lady characters in the last year has been stunning), but in the show’s self contained universe, it’s made up for by the intro of Shay and we still have Felix and can we please have more Tony again?

  16. ‘Felix got the shaft more than any other character this season.’

    *whispers* That’s what she said.
    But for real, he needs some action next season.

    I’m strangely okay with Delphine dying. And I agree with the Castors turning out to be quite unnecessary overall.

    Best scene: Sarah and Beth.

  17. It’s late but here goes… I really disliked this series tbh. Didn’t think Delphine’s death was justified but then, I never liked Cophine so I don’t care that much. Don’t like Shay either. Helena is pretty much the only thing that’s going to get me to tune in next series because I’m finding the plot nonsensical now. I was also REALLY annoyed by how they had characters give Cosima comments about her dreadlocks. You literally don’t have more than a handful of POC but you make Alison’s mother make a comment using an outdated and offensive term (and yes, I understand it was supposed to show what kind of character she is) but to a white person?? It really highlighted the lack of diversity on the show which is becoming an issue for me. The shining light of the series for me was heterosexual!Canadian!Felix (hot) and my darling Krystal. Oh and that twist with Mrs S and her mother.

  18. I liked this season. The back half was definitely the strongest part, though.

    Also like hell Delphine is dead. Come on, you all remember the Helena bait-and-switch, right?

  19. As a whole this season was off to me. I feel like they tried to throw too much at the audience to distract from the fact they had no plan. The Castors seemed pointless, Felix was sidelined, and the love triangle was silly. I would prefer Cosima to just be single and focus on a cure. How is she even still alive? Lol The instant change in Delphine’s character in the first episode was jarring and I was hoping we would see what happened to cause it. Hopefully now that they’ve killed her they can piece together what she was doing all season as a way for Cosima to get closure. The crazy ex angle bothered me too because I feel like that’s more of a trope than her death. I will admit I find Delphine to be incredibly attractive so I’m sad to see her go but if they were going to continue this arc with her being apart from Cosima and cold it’s probably for the best.

  20. I feel like season 3 of OB is going to end up being a lot like season 6 of Buffy: underwhelming, with moments of greatness, and ultimately necessary to connect the beginning of the show with its end. Also, the Trio and Castor are very similar in a lot of ways.

  21. This is all really great, and the line “Kira’s still a lizardbaby from outer space but now with snowmobile privileges . . . ” is possibly the best summation of the character ever. But I think the second portion misses the big picture. It comes off as not liking that Delphine got possessive or Alison was in a catfight because it ‘detracts from the feminism of the season’ (very paraphrase).

    Delphine got possessive because she was overtaking the life of an asshole; it’s very All About Eve, and her usurpation and power is what corrupts her.

    Alison got into a catfight with another woman because that’s the sort of thing suburban culture fosters. It must be noted Donnie got also into a catfight (first more symbolic, then actually a literal slapfight) with another dude. It’s a function of their entrenchment in suburbia, not a lazy characterization of ‘women being catty.’

    Taken in their various contexts, neither Delphine’s stalker fatale vibe nor Alison’s cattiness detract from the season’s or show’s feminism, or even those women as overall ‘strong female characters’ (which of course doesn’t mean ‘not flawed’). Just like Felix having things often used as lazy and negative shorthand (very posh gay dude who sometimes flounces, wears silk robes, has stereotypical gay man hand gestures, engages in a lot of casual sex) does not at all paint gay guys in a poor or cliched light – not just because those people do exist, but the key difference is he’s not being played as a caricature – some of the female characters embodying certain tropes sometimes seen to be ‘negative’ and exclusively female doesn’t mean the show is engaging in lazy writing. None of these women are being played as caricatures or stereotypes of women amongst no other women or some other one-dimensional women, they’re being presented as individuals amongst a vast tapestry of other women. That’s the crucial difference.

    • Oh, this is such a thoughtful analysis! Thank you for commenting. That’s a really excellent point about Donnie and catfighting.

  22. I was never very critical while watching this season… as with both of the others… mainly for two reasons – that it’s so unusual to get such an overall-great show to mark out over, and that I’m not generally very critical while I watch stuff (just kinda absorb it like a sponge unless anything’s particularly jarring). So no problems going along; however, looking back’s another matter (especially after having read the other comments).

    I adored the line where Helena said “no, you are a rapist”. Because just as a thing to have be said to a character like that and I was all like “YES! He bloody is!”. Having said that… I think it might’ve helped the point if she hadn’t raped Henrik last season. Maybe she meant habitually versus one-time… or more likely she thinks the quality of the victim’s character alters the nature of the rape’s ‘acceptability’ (both being differences, for sure)? She’d be wrong in the latter case but, well… characters get things wrong. And my goodness me have the clones ever got some terrifying personality traits among them (and how great the show is written that I love them despite or even partially for those serious flaws!).

    I still say in this Helena is a favourite, damn, hell she’s a murderer too… especially when she gutted Amelia after she wasn’t even hardly in the show at all, I wanted to hate her so much… how do they make me like her? Circumstances, I guess, along with charm – growing up like that making someone seriously messed-up meaning seriously (no hiding it while stating it, and with all the consequences). But… that was the point with that scene with the dieing Castor, right? A difference… which at the time watching, totally worked for me but now, fridge logic, and it kinda really doesn’t…

    I was hoping for Tony to reappear, so he could maybe do something? Because in the one episode he was in, he did feel rather a token character, full of stereotype, needing some more dimension to him, or reason to have a place in the show. So now I’m hoping they’ll give him that maybe in season 4? Rather than being an inconsequential “hello I am trans, viewers this is a boy trans how exotic right? okay goodbye on a literal bus”. Make this character have meant something.

    It was a clever neat little red herring to deflect from the Castor bit leading into season 3, but… yeah, still. This guy = trans guy + suggestive incest-like-sorta weirdness with Felix… and NOTHING else? They gotta give him something else, come on. Take up with ‘escaping from crime’ thing, go with that a bit maybe. Never really found out much, there. Especially to do with what on earth Paul had to do with it? Yeah I really thought they’d bring that in in series 3 (and especially with killing off Paul). Series 4 hope.

    About that… I liked how Paul ended up being an illustration of being always on a fence, never really totally going one side or the other – ending up inevitably forcing him to in the end, to his demise. The problem of the falling raindrop heading for an exact middle of something. At some point it MUST go one direction or another…

    They kinda did it again a bit with Delphine, though, which felt less necessary. The way she hovered over contemplating what to do with Shay AFTER being reliably informed of her non-betrayal-ness… felt a bit of a cheat because it suggested “ah, you see – cold jealous bitch after all!” but then totally didn’t follow up on that suggestion and instead just reversed it. Which, as cool of a moment at the time as it was, just begs the question why make the suggestion in the first place? I dunno. Just felt a bit cheap, like if they were gonna go with it they should’ve gone with it, and if they weren’t then they shouldn’t’ve started to.

    I loved Donnie and Alison and especially, especially Beth. That was a surprise! Very emotional, refreshing. Krystal was refreshing, too. Nice to see a proper acknowledgement of how bad all that thievery really is, too. I remember cringing last season (or was it first? can’t remember) at when Sarah and Felix casually stole that phone in Olivier’s club, because I’ve had mine stolen, and it messed up my life so much at the time, and all I could think was “most people unless they’ve been through the same thing won’t understand that”. Did love how they finally properly put in that perspective. Krystal seems really interesting, too.

    Felt myself feeling sorry for Rachel, too. Another murderer-rapist… how the hell this show does that? But just goes to show the power of context and moments, I guess… the way everyone was enjoying torturing her eye so much, coupled with a bit of personal experience of not being in full control of one’s body (along with seeing loved ones not in full control of theirs)… an effectively clashing, uncomfort-making battle of disability abuse versus hateful character… have to come down on the abuse being worse. Doing it to a bad person doesn’t make what you’re doing okay… a recurring theme, eh! Which made me really adore Scott for being horrified at it and refusing to follow suit with it. Probably my favourite character overall this season.

    I did like that there were so many callbacks (even if a lot of stuff didn’t exactly end up getting resolved)… never thought I’d see Pouchie again… definitely not Beth.

    I’d say Beth’s bit was the best scene, but I think for me it was beaten out in the last episode by Ferdinand being so Ferdinand. So effective… in a show with SO many creepy characters for one reason or another, he manages to top it and the really unsettling part is… suddenly, in a snap OH! and he’s on OUR side now. *shivers*

    A subtle bombshell. Huh. That’s a thing.

    I agree there still wasn’t enough Cosima, or… at least, too much passive Cosima. Although I adored the Alison-centric episode about all the clashes happenstancing together at the same time, for doing the not-really-done thing of taking the old overdone “character has big problem = all other characters must drop what they’re doing, because the universe operates on ‘one thing at a time’ rules”, having Cosima basically scald Alison with it, and then show up to find oh, actually Alison has big major problems too! that now I’ve put myself in the middle of. So hmm yeah that was a great bit where she wasn’t just being lovesick or actual-sick or… science-monkey… which, did that even happen this season? I can’t remember. Did she science-magic things? I don’t recall an instance of it… seems odd now to think of it (not necessarily a bad thing; just weird how I didn’t notice before now).

    The Castors I didn’t see as taking up too much of the show, myself. I got really confused at first to tell them apart, too, because mainly there wasn’t much looks-wise. Juxtaposition with Tatyana’s work might be a ridiculously harsh lens, but, I’m not entirely sure it was the acting or the less-diverse costuming to blame at all… I’d say, the nature of those clones… brought up in the military, they are GOING to be less diverse of course they are! It’s a contrast between the strains – an in-universe one, against the Lida strain. I liked there was a difference there (even if it was rather confusing at times).

    All-in-all, loved this season, just as much as the other two. There have always been some problems with the show. Still my favourite show. :)

  23. I agree with Heather about Delphine. It didn’t feel like a Kill Your Gays trope because narratively, the arc they’d made for her character made sense, it tied everything back together and Delphine being allowed her final moment with Cosima was gorgeous and excellent.

    To quote:

    “Paul’s last words to Sarah: “It was never Beth I loved.” Delphine’s to Cosima: “Give your sisters all my love.” Paul’s moment played like a reveal, and isolates Sarah as the recipient of his love. Delphine’s, however, plays as a payoff – to the conversation in Season 2, where she first tells Cosima she loves her. And when Cosima replies that she comes with a small army of clone sisters, Delphine says, “Then I love all of you.” On a Family Show, with a table of World’s Best People sitting in solidarity with the sisters they’re fighting to protect, this is the only declaration of romantic love that has any weight. This is not a show about boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, or husbands. Remember, Kendall Malone took away her daughter’s husband and gave her a little girl. This is a show about moms and daughters. Delphine loves all of them.”

    So while I was upset because I adore Delphine, it didn’t feel like a trope and I don’t resent it because I think it’s solidly the direction TV (and narratives generally) need to go, where all characters are allowed to live and die for the narrative and allowed to exist as honestly as possible. And really, her final scenes were ON POINT. So.

  24. I’ve loved Helena from the start, but I think it’s a little much what they did this season. Portraying her as a comical and at heart very good person is a bit…. she’s still a mass murderer, you know? Bad things have happened to her and she’s caused bad things to happen to others. I feel as if by removing any ambiguity to her she’s becoming less of a full person, which was what I loved about her. Even in season 1 you were forced to see some shades of person in her, and to engage with her on her own terms. It wasn’t what she did, it was why and how and her feelings were treated as valid and important. I feel that depth was a bit lacking this season.

    Which brings me to why I love this show and my own personal eulogy for Paul.

    Paul entered in season 1 and made me watch this show when I wasn’t yet hooked. I was suddenly fascinated. Because Paul was the ‘generic woman character’ of the show in every way. He had no depth, was boring, any opinion he had was treated by the show as whining, fixated only on his relationship… and the camera kept lingering on him in this very particular way. He got male gaze’d when no one else did! I thought it was so well done and interesting.

    My favorites this season were Rachel and Krystal, both of whom could have been easily dismissed as stereotypes. However, time and again, they force you as a viewer to look at them and not put them merely in the good or bad column (Rachel) or the superficial/smart column (Krystal). They are people making choices and trying their best.
    Rachel sells everyone out, but she’s the Bellatrix Lestrange of this whole thing, isn’t she? What other choice does she really have? She’s not welcome in clone club and they don’t have the resources to care for her anyway and Dyad is a death sentence. I certainly sympathized with her while still recognizing that her actions had terrible consequences for others.

    I really really love how the show treats these women like actual people and assigns their agency over their own life the highest value. Paul tries to co-opt Sarah and be her hero and the show treats it as totally gross. He’s not the protagonist of Sarahs life and it’s gross that he tries to decide her choices for her. I loved that it is explicitly treated as such. That scene with Paul and Cal was so gross and the show never backed away from these two dudes being disgusting as they are making choices for someone else without so much as consulting them.

    As for Delphine… I expected they’d kill her from the beginning of the season and was thrilled they did. I have no love for her (or her hair, sorry). Her purpose was just gone and I felt that the combination of Cosima being deathly ill and the queer fandom fervor around her were the only reason she was still around. Anyway, I hope Cosima gets more involved with the science and the main plots again. This goes quadruple for Allison. Unless Shay shows herself to be super fun and kickass I don’t really care about her either. I wish there would be a love interest that challenged Cosima a bit more – and that the challenge was not ‘how shady can you get?’ as per Delphine. I want someone for her that is awesome and pulls her into things as opposed to her flitting between her lab and whichever nesting situation.

    Anyway, too many feelings not enough time.

  25. 1. Liked Castor more than I though I would. While I would like the show to be Leda clones all the time, it’s not really fair on Tatiana, who was already working 17hr days. Castor were only really prevalent in the first half of the season, and they killed off other villains already so they kinda just took their place. I did find the storyline a little pointless now they are all dead, but did love the way they used them to explore their themes. I would quite like to see more Mark actually.

    2. I’d say it’s about as feminist as season 2, way more than season 1 (one of the reasons why I’m one of the few people who love S2 and 3 more than 1, which was flawless but small in scope). Disagree about Delphine becoming 2D. In fact I think she was always a pretty 2D character untill this season, where she finally got some interesting stuff. She got a similar arc to Paul but was given WAY more (which is kind of awesome right?) and never saw her as anymore stalkery than she was in S1 (She spybanged Cosima come on)

    3. I dunno if it was revolutionary, but I did enjoy it. Love seeing the differences in the two relationships, and the fact that they never tried to make 1 more legit than she other, even if she was clearly always in love with Delphine.

    4. Helena is one of the best characters on tv period. But my heart always says Sarah. I think it’s the way she dresses.

    5. No, for a few reasons. Firstly, I think OB does a great job of treating it’s queer characters excatly the same as the straight characters. Which is all we really want right? Sadly that means that sometimes they will die. God knows they’ve killed off a lot of straight white men already. Secondly because EB is too busy, they simply cannot be expected to keep writing their show around the availability of a supporting character. The fact they did this season is great. And hell they still might. Which brings me to: I don’t think Delphine is dead. Not yet anyway. I think she’s in limbo and if the schedule permits, I think they absoulutely will keep her alive. And lastly, while her death may drive Cosima’s plot foward, at least it will be a lesbian character’s story. If it were another show her death would be used to make Paul sad lol.

    5. It’s hard for me to rank seasons. I love them all in different ways. Ulimately I love the in you face feminism of S2 & 3 over the more inherent stuff in season 1. Season 1 was pretty much flawless, I much prefer the character work in later seasons 2. S3 for me had the most emotional moments (The deaths, the Beth scene, Helena and S, leaving and then coming back to Kira, Felix and Rachel, Felix and Kyrstal, Kendall and S , Cosima and Delphine in ep8, etc etc) and I guess the downside was the fact that the military storyline seems a little redundant now it’s over.

    Anyway thanks for taking the time to do this. Love this show and love reading everyone’s opinions. 1 think I do have to disagree with is Helena’s Scorpion adventures being meaningless. To me, her eating the scorpion was a beatufully visual way of showing Helena facing her fears and overcoming everything that was built into her during her abused life. Her coldness, her survival instict….she ate that damn scorpion in order to go back to Sarah, even if it meant being recaptured.

    • I think the bi-erasure would be on the part of the show, though, and our round table is just reflecting that. They killed her for “lesbian” behavior which, while she loved a woman, was effectively her identity. Hypothetically

      Also, there’s no “dead bisexual” trope

      • Also behaviour doesn’t dictate sexuality, so she could still be lesbian and have done stuff with Leeke… I mean, she said herself, that she never much thought about sexuality at all before falling for Cosima, so… and you know what the world’s like, so… yeah I don’t think we really know her sexuality. Lesbian seems as-fair an assumption as bisexual, to me.

        Yeah the show did kinda just fail to deal with all that, though, and hope it goes away. Watching the first season with her moment being sensual with Leeke seems really… odd, now. Out of place. Because they didn’t expand on it, like, at all.

        Knowing the show’s attention to detail, however, anything’s possible to come up and be explored later on, who knows. Dream sequence (like with Beth)… historical reveal… things being read-over as-though the person was here reading them… many possibilities, even if she is dead.

      • no ”dead bisexual” trope? yeah.. because there are no bisexuals to be seen. like ever (except for sex phantasies or snarky side comments)

        and yes, it’s the shows fault, that they haven’t made time for this topic so far – however: autostraddle not reflecting on that isn’t their fault.

        also: “lesbian behaviour”? are you kidding me?!

  26. Praise your wisdom, Heather, your commentary about why this show is such a beautiful feminist gem is always ON POINT.
    I can never explain why I love this show so much, or why I’ll pretty much forgive mistakes the writers make, but then you write it all for me and I want to yell “YES YES YES”.

  27. BUT we didn’t see Delphine die, we only saw her get shot.

    The fact that she was so accepting of the situation just isn’t logical. So I’m firmly on Team Cophine until I see a dead body/her death is confirmed by another character next season.

  28. If Delphine is actually dead, I was super disappointed in her death. I was offended that Paul got a huge hero death while Delphine died alone in a parking lot. I would have felt a lot more satisfied if Delphine and Cosima had been able to have a proper goodbye and if Cosima had been aware that Delphine was in extreme danger. Which is why I am hopeful that Delphine is not dead.

    I felt offended by the writers’ belief that they can just replace one queer character (Delphine) with another queer character (Shay), without developing the second queer character at all or bothering to make us invested in her.

    • Yes this! I don’t hate Shay. I want to like her. But she’s no Delphine, and her romance with Cosima pales in comparison to Cophine. I don’t think Cosima needs another love interest so soon. Let her process dammit!

    • Didn’t Paul’s death seem more superficially heroic, though, while Delphine’s seemed more actually-heroic? As in the theatre of heroism versus the realism of it… I thought that was a thing, there…

    • I don’t think she’s a replacement. Shay just reads so rebound to me that I don’t take her seriously as a love interest. Hot sex, baths, massages, etc. It’s all very healing with no spark or real connection – nice after a painful breakup, but I don’t buy it as a long term thing. Plus I still don’t trust her!

  29. “Yet, somehow, her love and her loyalty are bigger than all that.”

  30. Heather you’re ability to understand TV never fails to astound me. I agree with everything you said! I’ll just say it felt kind of cheap and forced to add Shay just so Cosima wouldn’t be without a love interest after Delphine was gone (but not dead, nope never dead). Like I think they could’ve waited and added her in season 4 after Cosima has had time to process Delphine’s mysterious disappearance.

    Also to Laura and Cameron, I challenge you two to sit through half a season of Once Upon a Time and then ever again complain about this show or it’s loose ends.

  31. Helena has always been and will always be my favorite clone. She had me the first time she said “sestra.” And I about DIED when she hit on Donnie. He looked like he was about to pee himself!

  32. Spoiler alert article title! I had to watch the finale a week late and I was scrolling through autostraddle and all of a sudden OH NO WHAAAAAAAAAAT

  33. I love delphine so much… She had perfect hair which is almost impossible… Possess BBC don’t kill her off

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