Welcome back to Orphan Black! Previously, four sestras joined forces to wage war against a faceless shadow determined to rip away their autonomy/destroy their lives, which looked like: Sarah Manning tracking down the Big Bad behind their cloning, beheading it, and watching helplessly as three other Big Bad heads grew back in its place; Alison conquering her booze-fueled bender habits and teaming up with her husband/former monitor to murder anyone who got in their way and bury their corpses under the garage; Helena eating a lot of candy and falling in love and trying not to get kidnapped and getting kidnapped and having her eggs harvested against her will and getting kidnapped again and also eating more candy; and Cosima researching a cure for her Leda Lung Syndrome while hovering near the edge of death while making out with her wicked smart and supernaturally beautiful girlfriend. Also, some boy clones came into play.
It’s a bright sunshiney day in Toronto, and Helena’s sisters are throwing her a baby shower. That is a lie. Helena is trapped in a crate, but she is dreaming of this baby shower and it is the sweetest and silliest and saddest thing you have ever seen in your entire life.
It’s Helena’s heightened, perfect reality and so all of her sisters (and brother-sestra) are outlines of who they really are, with Helena’s imagination coloring in the rest. Except for Sarah. Sarah is spot-on because Helena knows Sarah better than she knows herself. So Sarah needles Helena about being a meathead, and Alison has crafted literally every baby thing off of Pinterest (baby clothes and toys and cupcakes), and Kira is a fairy and very excited about the new monkey Helena is growing in her belly, and Felix is dressed like if Mad Men were a gay Disney movie and he was the Don Draper. While he grills marinated ox liver and babka, Cosima shows up dressed like a Ukrainian festival holding a basket of Ukrainian delicacies and talking about, “I’m way better thanks to science!”
Well, but like I said, Helena is actually stuffed in a wooden box, sitting in a warehouse. She wakes up and freaks out, and then, of course, a giant scorpion crawls out of her dress and starts chatting her up. The scorpion sounds like Marcel the Shell, but guess what? It’s played by Tatiana Maslany too. (The voice, I mean. That’s not Tatiana Maslany in a scorpion costume.) (Or maybe it is. Wonders never cease on this show.) The scorpion tells Helena she’s being tested again, and for some reason, this calms her right down. Also, he has a name and it is Pupok.
If someone doesn’t take Helena out for ice cream and also to fucking Build-a-Bear by the end of this season, I am going to have a fit.
Down by the river where Felix once hosted a fake funeral for Sarah, the two of them and Kira hang out and drink beers.
Felix: Kira, you don’t keep getting kidnapped by a many-tentacled leviathan that wants to disassemble your entire body. Why don’t you run off into the tall grass and play by yourself.
Sarah: It feels good to sit here and drink these liquors and not have anything to worry about.
Felix: I mean. Everyone you love keeps getting stalked and murdered by a seemingly infinite number of interchangeable straight white men with unknowable allegiances, but okay.
Sarah: Dude, I told you. Marion, that lady with the boy clones locked up in her basement and the tiny me-clone who lives in the cupboard under the stairs, she’s going to take care of us. She controls Topside and Topside controls DYAD and DYAD controls the people who keep killing us.
Felix: Sure thing. Hey, who’s that dark angel in the luxury sedan? Ah. Right. Delphine.
Delphine’s hair is straight now, but her swagger is not. She summons Sarah to DYAD to talk about the new ways she and her sisters are going to get killed to death this year. For one thing, Rachel — who is at this facility having surgery to remove that pen that was jabbed in her eye — is going to come after Sarah like a perfectly manicured wildcat, okay? And now Project Castor is in the mix. It turns out the boy clones are kidnapping the girl clones, as evidenced by a hotel surveillance video of a new Leda clone named Krystal making out with and then getting snatched by a Castor clone. Delphine wants Sarah to talk to Rudy, the Castor clone in captivity, and game him into spilling some secrets. Sarah wants Delphine to talk to her girlfriend.
Sarah: Hello, I am here to discover your secrets.
Rudy: I am here to leer at you and speak in riddles like a perverse Willy Wonka.
Sarah: I kicked one of your brothers in the face with my industrial punk boots, is a thing you should know before we get started here.
Rudy: That’s just one of the reasons you’re our favorite. The other, of course, is your functional uterus. If you’ll lean close enough for me to strangle you with these handcuffs, I’ll whisper some secrets to you.
Sarah: You can suck a camel nut. I only trust my sisters.
Rudy: Oh? You don’t trust DYAD, whom you’re now working for? DELPHINE, DON’T PRETEND YOU DON’T SEE ME, GIRL! I KNOW YOU SAW ME!
Rudy name-checks all of the people closest to Sarah, so she jumps out of her chair and tries to snap his neck, but Delphine is watching the closed circuit footage and orders her out of there right this instant. On her way out of his cell, Rudy tells Sarah to count her sisters.
First up, Sarah calls Allison, who is coaching soccer and yelling at the referees and honestly doesn’t have time for Sarah’s interrogation right now. She’s fine. The kids are fine. Everything is fine. So Sarah dials up Felix, who is hanging out with Kira and Cosima, and they’re pretty good too. Cosima’s not dying quite as fast as usual, at least. But Helena hasn’t shown back up and her bag is missing. Felix and Sarah agree to meet up at Mrs. S’s to make a plan to find Helena, which is like Inspector Gadget levels of dumb. Mrs. S’s house is a perpetual ambush. They need to burn that place down to the ground.
Sarah is prepping to bolt when Delphine appears behind her in a cloud of Chanel wearing one of those “who run the world?” Bluetooth things in her ear.
Delphine: I forgot to mention that in addition to Rachel and the Castor clones and the Proletheans and the regular old Canadian police, there’s another group of people after you.
Sarah: Don’t care, gotta find Helena. And you need to call Cosima! Christ, Delphine. It’s been like two days since she was resurrected and you haven’t even texted her.
Delphine: It’s Topside. They’re sending a cleaner in tonight.
Sarah: And by “cleaner,” you mean…
Delphine: Team of assassins. And if they find out about Rachel getting stabbed in the eyeball, they’re going to kill all y’all for sure.
Delphine: Grab your merlot and a blonde wig, stick a broom up your butt, and I’ll see you at six o’clock.
Sarah: No. No. No. Helena first. Your bullshit second.
Out in the ‘burbs, Allison is loading up the Soccer Starz shuttle with children when some new Aynsley wanders up to frenemy her, and be like, “And here’s a button because I’m running for the school board and I know I can count on your vote, Miss Drinks-a-Lot!” Allison does not have time to whip out the shivs she is no doubt hiding in the sleeves of her turtleneck and poke this woman in the gizzard, because Donnie arrives with all of his office supplies in a box because he has quit his job and lost his company car and he needs a ride home on the school bus.
Mrs. S shows up at her place before Felix and Sarah and gets the shit beaten out of her, as expected. It’s one of the Castor Clones. This one has a mustache. And he is glitching something fierce. I guess instead of problems with their lungs and their ovaries, the Castor clones have problems with their brains, and when they get stressed out, it’s like flashes of light in there and flashes of bugs and flashes of atomic bombs. Like TV static from the old days but also nightmare blips. The Castor clones are looking for Ethan Duncan too, for his specific science to cure them, but Mrs. S breaks the news that he’s dead.
She actually knew about Castor but she’s never seen one of the dude clones before. She’s unimpressed. Which is fair. You see four Tatiana Maslany-shaped faces in a room at the same time, everything else for the rest of your life is bound to be a disappointment. Finally, Felix and Sarah show up.
Sarah: The heck happened to your face?
Mrs. S: It was pulverized, as all faces are pulverized when they come to this house. But don’t feel too sorry for me, I have to tell you a thing that’s going to piss you off.
Sarah: Jesus, you’ve got more secrets than a wizard’s wand. What is it?
Mrs. S: I, um, traded Helena to Paul for some information to give to Marion.
Felix: Uh oh.
Sarah: YOU DID WHAT!?!??!!
Mrs. S: It was an in-combat decision, like enhanced interrogation techniques or setting a child on fire.
Sarah: To hell with your dumb face! I’m going to find Helena! You and your wartime morality can shove it up your tits!
Felix: …can I get you some tea?
Cosima is struggling to wrap her mind grapes around the power of Kira’s unicorn blood. She tries to talk to her about how her heart and brain and lungs stopped working the other day, and about how she was sort of hovering over her own body in the form of a spirit, but then Kira started reading that book of Duncan’s and she felt the magnetic pull of her physical body absorbing the pulsing energy of her soul, and then she woke up and now here she is. Kira’s like, “Relax, dude. It was my stem cells. I’m not some kind of paladin druid cleric or something.” And then she scampers off to do her coloring books.
At which time Delphine shows up looking for Sarah. I’m just going to go ahead and tell you right now it’s like your soul getting punched in the teeth, watching this scene, so go ahead and wrap some armor around your heart and get ready to throw up.
But hang on because first I want to say a parenthetical thing. At the end of last season, when the reveal was Project Castor, my girlfriend and I sat glaring at the TV for about 15 minutes and then went out to dinner and got a little drunk and were like, “EXCUSE ME” the whole time. The reason why is that Orphan Black is legitimately brilliant. I’m not being hyperbolic. This is, truly, a once-in-a-lifetime (maybe once-in-five-lifetimes) kind of television show. A lot of it is there’s no more Tatiana Maslanys. There’s just this one and what she can do is like watching real magic.
Okay, but the other part of it is we’re talking about a show that takes the patriarchy out of the ether and gives it a whole lot of one-dimensional straight white guy characters to walk around in, while shining a sci-fi-sized spotlight on these really big questions about female autonomy and the commodification of women’s bodies and gender and sexuality. This show takes some of the best and grossest things about Pretty Little Liars and cranks them up to eleven, because this is 10pm on BBC America and sex doesn’t have to be a metaphor. With the exception of Felix, the guys on this show might as well have been manufactured at a Man Factory. All of these vanilla buffoons. This is what it would be like if Wonder Woman brought TVs to Paradise Island.
Nearly every other TV show in history, Paul is the hero. Paul is the main character. Paul is running around sticking his dick everywhere he wants like James Bond and crashing through windows to save the day and condescending to Sarah or Rachel while solving their problems and fucking them. Right, and Donnie is whatever Kevin James character. And the female clones die so the men can learn lessons, and the female clones are exposition vessels, and the female clones are there to listen and be pretty. But no! This show is the opposite of that; it flips everything upside down, and instead of these male clones taking over, it is Delphine who has kicked it up to a completely new gear with new hair and new motivations that are twisty and complicated and loving and nefarious and queer. You could’ve knocked me over by blowing air through a straw in my general direction from five miles away during this episode because of Delphine. I love Cosima and Delphine, yes I do, but I also love that she’s leveled up in all areas, including the less puppy-like ones.
So. Delphine shows up and is looking for Sarah, but Cosima thinks she is there for her, and she’s so glad to see her, she gets the actual color back in her face for a second. But there’s a reason Delphine has been avoiding Cosima, and it’s not because she doesn’t love her. It’s because she loves her too much. She knows she’s got to call this whole thing off. See, because Cosima made her promise to love all her sisters equally, to make top level decisions to save them all, and Delphine knows that when she’s looking at Cosima looking at her, she’s only ever going to make the best decision for the woman she loves, even if it means she has to firebomb the rest of the universe.
Cosima tries to play it cool, like yeah, it’s all good, and she sees how it is, and Delphine’s minute is up so she’d better get going, and the scientific method and whatever. Like the hard ass she was before Delphine scampered into her life. But she’s gooey now, in her heart! So she also sobs, “I love you” and limps back inside.
Delphine loses it in the hallway, falling against the wall and crying her beautiful, French eyeballs out.
That’s good. That’s good stuff. Only Batman ever gets to do that stuff. Hardly ever the sidekick, and certainly never the lady one. The hero you need vs. the hero you want. It’s a great story.
Felix and Sarah go back to the river to drink more beers and talk about S’s treachery and figure out how to break into a super top secret privately funded military compound and rescue Helena. Delphine calls and promises to throw the full weight of her new straight hair superpowers behind the search for Helena if Sarah will just please come to DYAD tonight and pretend to be Rachel for like ten minutes. Felix is whispering, “Tell her you didn’t even finish high school!” And Sarah is all, “Fine. I’ll be your Rachel, but don’t fuck it up.” And Delphine is like, “You don’t fuck it up!” And then they race to see who can hang up on the other one first.
In Felix’s apartment, Kira is crawling around with a metal tank of some kind, which I thought was Cosima’s highly compressed oxygen situation that was sure to blow the literal roof off of this joint by the end of the season, but my friend (and Orphan Black OG) Valerie told me she thinks it’s Helena’s harvested eggs and the key to curing Leda Lung Syndrome because of unicorn stem cells like what Kira has in her body. That’s a good smart theory, right? I think she’s correct.
While Kira is playing with the tank, Scott shows up to see how bad Cosima is dying today, and it’s not too bad at all, actually.
Cosima: I’ve stopped taking French lessons though. Waste of time.
Scott: Right. See. Here’s the thing. This job is like one-half getting killed by science armies and one-half lesbian drama, so I think maybe I just want to stay in school.
Cosima: That’s because I haven’t shown you the cipher hidden in this pulpy sci-fi book that was the property of Duncan.
Cosima: So you’ll stay and work with me?
Scott: Until I am stabbed to death later this week, yes.
Cosmia: Word. I’m going to hide this book right out in the open here, in this apartment where the lock on the door is just a screwdriver.
In the ‘burbs, Allison tells Donnie he’s got to go back to work so they can pay their mortgage, but he has a better idea: He thinks she should go to work with her mom again at the store called “Bubbles.” She shoots that idea right out of the sky, and he’s just about to propose that they become a team of contract hit men when Delphine calls the ClonePhone.
Felix makes over Sarah to look like Rachel, but not before Sarah confirms for the sixteenth time that Delphine is going to help her with Helena. Felix settles on a white suit and gives Sarah a wig that’s like the Kohls version of Rachel’s Saks hair.
Sarah as Rachel meets with Ferdinand and pretty much the first thing out of her mouth is, “Castor kidnapped Helena.” But he doesn’t give a shit. He just wants to see Sarah and her magical ovaries with his own eyes and get going. Problem? No. Because Delphine has recruited Alison to stand in for Sarah.
She straight up goes, “Oi! Oi! Rachel!” And then tries and fails to keep Sarah’s accent during the interrogation. When Ferdinand starts feeling her up to see if she had her surgery yet, she loses it on him. Okay, and then Tatiana Maslany pretending to be one character pretending to be another character slaps her own self (who is pretending to be a different character pretending to be a different character) right in the face. And you feel the weight and hilarity of the whole thing because all four of these characters have distinct voices and mannerisms and personalities and, like, even when you’re just looking at their eyeballs, you know what is happening. You can see Alison’s eyes as Sarah’s eyes going, “You did not just slap me. And Sarah’s eyes as Rachel’s eyes going, “Look, I’m sorry, but what else was I going to do?” You can hear their very individual voices BY LOOKING AT ONLY THEIR EYES.
Gods balls, how? How does Tatiana Maslany do it? Don’t tell me to stop marveling about it because it’s season three. I will not and I never shall stop marveling about it!
Delphine pulls Ferdinand out into the hallway and explains that they were unable to remove Sarah’s ovaries because she is ovulating and they’ll get on with it soon enough. He makes plans to hang out with Rachel tonight, while they wait for the surgery.
Sarah: I’m just hanging out in Rachel’s apartment waiting for this dumb fuck to get here so I can probably claw him to death. You okay, Allison?
Allison: Rattled, but fine. Rehab and killing a person have steadied my nerves.
Cosima: We really can only trust each other.
Sarah: And Helena. We’ve got to find her.
Allison: We will. I’m going to decompress by listening to death metal while I scrapbook.
Cosima: I love you guys.
Sarah: Yeah, I love you too.
Allison: Me too. Talk soon.
Ferdinand shows up wanting to have sex and talk about Helsinki. It’s the code name for this thing that happened like ten years ago where some clones in Helsinki started acting out, so Topside went in and killed them all, and like 40 other people as collateral damage. That’s what Rachel was planning for these Toronto-based clones on account of them gaining self-awareness and falling in sestra-love with each other. And, in fact, Canadian Helsinki is underway right this second. A hit man is hanging out in Alison’s backyard, in fact. Realizing that she’s only got about five seconds to act, Sarah makes the split-second decision to 50 Shades of Rachel him, kicking him in the balls and wrapping a belt around his neck for sexual purposes. But actually for murder purposes.
While this is happening, Delphine is visiting Rachel in the hospital. She didn’t bring balloons or flowers or a teddy bear or a get well card. She brought only the fingers on her bare hands, which she uses to push on the bandage covering Rachel’s now-missing eyeball, so she’ll start talking about what she knows about Helsinki. There was this one time in an elevator when Delphine said to Rachel that if she tried to stand in the way of curing Cosima, she was going to take it personally. So now she’s seriously poking her thumb into Rachel’s brain and legit going, “I told you it was personal, bitch.”
After Delphine gets the deets on Helsinki, she flies over to Rachel’s apartment, bursts through the door where Sarah is strangling Ferdinand, and goes, “Get up, come on, stop crying, let’s go. Call off Helsinki.”
And he does.
Once he’s gone, Sarah whips off that wig and feels only a little bummed out that Allison has still killed more people than her.
And at Project Castor HQ, Pupok the Scorpion congratulates Helena for leveling up to a bigger box.
And at DYAD, the Castor clone with the ‘stache shows up to break out Rudy.
Next week: One of the Castor people tries to convince Helena that her sestras sold her out, and so she fuels up on Jello and murders every one of them.