Orphan Black: “Newer Elements of Our Defense” Review

orphan black season 3Another Saturday, another episode of Orphan Black—and this one was pretty fucking awesome. I was a little concerned after the last episode, but “Newer Elements of Our Defense” managed to introduce some, well, newer elements of the show, while still keeping things heart-poundingly suspenseful.

Spoilers after the jump, as well as a trigger warning for gore and body horror.

I’m not sure why Henrik’s wife Bonnie didn’t kill Mark when she had the chance—surely she knows that a headshot kills better than a shot to the side? My only guess is, as we saw Prolethean guys come for Mark later, she might have wanted to take Mark back to the Prolethean base and interrogate him. Either way, I’m glad she didn’t kill him, because we would have missed out on an utterly fantastic brother/sister scene with Sarah and Mark as Sarah tried to get the bullet out of Mark’s leg with only her fingers and some pliers. Sarah didn’t save Mark out of the goodness of her heart, though; in return, she demands to know where Helena is. Mark only tells her that their base is mobile and he doesn’t know where it is now. Though he may be lying, Sarah and Mark make a compelling case for the Leda and Castor clones being biological siblings — they have the same intensity, and their scene felt like the first time a Leda clone and a Castor clone have been honest with each other. I hope they get more together in the future.

orphan black gracieGracie, meanwhile, is welcomed back to the Proletheans with open arms—at least at first. After her mother gives her a dress to change into, she suddenly has a miscarriage. Bonnie loses no time in telling her daughter that she was only welcomed back because she was carrying Henrik and Helena’s child, and now that she’s lost it, she’s lost the only value she had to the Proletheans. She’s kicked out, and in the preview for next episode, we see her at Art’s door. I’m actually really excited this is happening—I’ve always found Gracie really compelling, and I love that when Helena was there, they bonded a little. And despite Gracie trying to kill her, Helena was always sympathetic towards Gracie (telling her that her lips would heal, telling her she should eat). Orphan Black still isn’t the greatest with characters of color, but it’s always been great at showcasing different kinds of female strength—yes, we have the badasses like Siobhan Sadler and Sarah, the ruthless CEOs, the scientists, the housewives, but by focusing on Gracie, Orphan Black shows a clear parallel to Helena—a girl who was also strong enough to withstand and escape cultish indoctrination, but who suffers quietly, rather than externally. I can’t wait to see where this goes from here.

Speaking of the Proletheans, Sarah goes back to the hotel and roots through the box of information that Gracie and Mark recovered, and quickly discovers that Henrik had actually been Ethan Duncan’s lab assistant. (This probably explains why Henrik calls the clones “miracles” rather than abominations, as opposed to other Proletheans like Tomas.) Sarah sends some pictures of the notes to Cosima, who tells her that a clone was successfully created—and there’s a picture of a pregnant Bonnie in the file. She figures that Bonnie must have carried this clone to term, and Mark takes Sarah to where the Johanssens used to live so she can dig up the dead Johanssen baby. (First gore and then  dead babies. I’m sorry, Sarah.) Pretty much the instant she finishes, Rudy shows up and tries to kill her. Mark, however, pulls rank on Rudy and tells him to stand down. It looks like he’s going to take Sarah back to the Castor base along with the dead Castor clone baby.

orphan black helenaThough she’s still a Castor prisoner, Helena’s handling things pretty well—she gets herself out of her cell by acting crazily violent, and the soldiers put her in the infirmary, where she quickly sets about finding a way out. She fashions a lockpick tool out of a pork bone using her teeth (hardcore) and escapes from the infirmary. It looks like she could have had a clean shot out, but she stops to look at another Castor clone, Parsons, who’s being gruesomely experimented on by Dr. Coady. Parsons begs Helena to kill him, and like a wild-eyed angel of mercy, Helena does. This triggers the alarm, and soldiers rush in to put Helena back in her cell. It was a great bit of acting from Tatiana Maslany (as usual) and an even greater character bit for Helena, showcasing her agency, her sympathy, and her fuck-you-Castor mentality all in one go.

Alison again wasn’t important to the plot, but I have to mention her briefly: the drug dealer who Ramon worked for demands to meet with the Hendrixes as they’re selling his product, and though Donnie comes proudly armed with a gun, it’s only Alison the dealer wants to talk with. Lo and behold, the dealer is actually an ex-boyfriend of Alison’s who Alison apparently dumped back in the day. He’s still clearly into her, though, and their chemistry is off the charts. I was sort of hoping that the drug dealer would be another Castor clone, maybe one that had escaped from the military, because that would connect Alison’s little bit of Canadian suburbia to the overarching story, but this is pretty interesting, too. I can’t stand Donnie and it’s clear that Alison can manage things without him. Will there be some romance in the cards here? We’ll have to wait and see. Catch you next week!

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