I enjoy Orphan Black immensely, but there are several plot lines this season that make me a bit weary. For a show that is so heavily female focused and feminist at its core, it’s strange to see forced pregnancy and sexual assault become major plot points for our central characters. Of course, it does give the show an opportunity for social commentary, which they have done to a small degree on these issues. If these topics are going to be tackled I suppose a writing staff that seems to be as in tune with social justice issues is a good group of people to trust.
TRIGGER WARNING: This episode had a sexual assault and torture.
I just need to be blunt here: the Project Castor clones are weird and gross. We’re immediately introduced to a clone posing as a Special Ops who is trying to seduce a girl at his hotel room. This isn’t the weird or gross part. Consenting adults can do whatever they want to do in their spare time and it’s not my place to judge. The part that weirded me out came during their tryst when a second clone hopped into bed making it a surprise threesome and, to put it simply, a sexual assault. The girl did not consent to a threesome and was clearly freaked out by it. Being twins (or clones, in this case) does not make the consent automatic. Later, when the victim of the assault is talking to Sarah (who is pretending to be Beth) and Art, she indicates that the police wouldn’t classify it as rape because she consented to ‘the first guy.’ The only saving grace of this whole incident is that at least the show seems to recognize this disgusting act for what it is, even making commentary on how police handle these situations, but that didn’t make the incident any easier to handle. Still, I’m glad they included that line.
Helena’s story continues to concern me. Not only is she suffering from a forced pregnancy, but she’s now being water boarded on top of it. Her previous oddness is also being amplified by her continued hallucinations involving a talking scorpion and I have to wonder if she’s been suffering from this type of hallucination the whole time or this is a new occurrence. She’s always said peculiar things before, but now there’s a very clearly defined source of her bizarre tangents. Sure, we don’t know what’s causing the hallucinations, but we saw her thought process when she launched into talking about the peaches instead of answering the soldier’s questions. I’m not sure how I feel about the talking scorpion in the grand scheme of things, but I do know it’s one of the only parts of her story right now that doesn’t make me extremely uncomfortable. If the show launches into an ill advised commentary on mental illness, though, I may rethink this initial feeling. But so far this show has been very respectful and I hope they continue living up the high bar I’ve set for it.
Another part of Helena’s story that I’m feeling pretty positive about is how Sarah is so determined to save her. All of the clones are ‘sisters,’ but Helena and Sarah are actually twins. Their connection is even deeper than all the other clones for the simple fact that they shared a womb and divided from the same initial cells. When Sarah said “Now we find Helena and finish this shit,” I cheered. Sarah’s determination, heart, and ingenuity continues to be something to strive for.
Despite these concerns, I’m still immensely enjoying this show. This week had several amazing moments worth noting. First and foremost, it was great to see Cal again! Michiel Huisman has become one of my favorite actors on TV and every time he shows up he lights up the screen. I first ran across him in Treme, and now he’s on both Orphan Black and Game of Thrones at the same time. In his role on this show he plays Kira’s charming and caring father. He put his neck on the line for Sarah last season and has stepped into the role as Kira’s father easily, even though he hadn’t really been present for most of her life before Sarah sought him out. He also seems to have an understanding of Sarah far better than Paul ever did. While Paul still clearly wants what’s best for her, there’s something much easier and beautiful about how Sarah and Cal interact. I apologize to any Paul/Sarah shippers out there. Ship what you want, but I just personally find Sarah/Cal much more natural and comfortable. I do admit this could be bias on my part, though, as I’m clearly a big fan of Michiel Huisman. If I have a bias, that’s probably why.
Alison and Donny continue to be a fabulous comedic duo, which adds some much needed levity to every episode they’re in. This week’s biggest laugh came when Donny asked Alison to “fist” him. He meant give him a “fist bump,” but his bumbling persona just wouldn’t allow him to get even that right. I’m really glad they decided to keep him around after he quit being Alison’s monitor. I wasn’t the biggest fan of him to begin with, but he’s quickly become one of my favorite characters. It looks like their story is starting to parallel the plot from Weeds, though, which I have mixed feelings about. Alison is going to become a drug dealer in suburbia while trying to maintain her soccer mom persona, which is pretty much exactly what Nancy Botwin was. I only hope her plot doesn’t go as off the rails as Weeds did. The fact that she plans on using her position as a drug dealer to win an election makes me think we’re going to be headed in an extremely weird direction with her story. Better than Weeds, though, please? I can’t put myself through the torment that was Weeds‘s last two seasons again.
This is an extraordinary complex show with many different threads to follow, but overall there’s still a lot to be positive about. Despite all my concerns about how Helena’s storyline could veer into offensive territory, the writers keep showing that they understand a lot of issues and can remain respectful (and even provide social commentary) where it matters. It’s rare for me to trust a writing staff to this extent and I only hope they continue to uphold these standards.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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