That title sure puts you on edge for this episode, doesn’t it? Well, it was a good warning, because this episode was one of the most suspenseful ones to date. Alison got a starring role, we find out more about the clones’ secrets, and we re-emphasized the importance of family, especially when it’s your clone family. Spoilers after the jump!
This episode was pretty packed: lots of heartbreaks and revelations. We’ve finally crossed the midseason point and I think this episode clearly stands as our midseason climax. I was a bit worried when this season began that it was getting too complex for itself, but since then everything has been directed toward a more streamlined trajectory. And now, with “Certain Agony of the Battlefield,” I think we’ve hit an emotional peak.
Without further ado, let’s jump in.
This week’s episode was titled “Scarred By Many Past Frustrations”, and it’s totally on point, as it seems the story is structured around how our characters are reacting to and growing from their Past Frustrations. How?
Well, that’s spoilers. Hit the jump for more.
As we all hopefully know by now, Orphan Black is a super intense show about clones. For the first two seasons, at least, those clones are a host of wonderfully well-realized personalities played by the inimitable Tatiana Maslany. As such, the clones are primarily (though not all) cisgender, heteronormative, conventionally attractive white women. The feminism of the show may be limited, but within these narrow confines, the show effectively critiques the patriarchy and its commodification of female bodies and agency. Like the show’s limited feminism, patriarchy is also a fairly limited term for the systematic oppression of women by men. Orphan Black shows us how women are affected by the patriarchy and how women can also be complicit in furthering the patriarchy’s systematic oppression.
Although the show is shot from the point of view of its female protagonists, it’s clear that the clones are fighting against an institution that claims ownership over their bodies and tries to interfere in everything each clone chooses to do—which is a nice allegory for the patriarchy. As this great post on Girls Like Giants says, the patriarchy in Orphan Black is metaphorically represented by the Dyad Institute, which stands for corporate/government policy, and the Proletheans, who represent the religious patriarchy. This post will just focus on the Dyad Institute. It’s pretty creepy stuff, and the Dyad Institute’s involvement in the clones’ lives illustrates the many ways in which the patriarchy affects real-world women’s lives.
Spoilers through Season 2 of Orphan Black after the jump!
Birthday near Christmas, Cosima had said. That sucked. Did it? Delphine wanted to say, Who says I am a Christian anyway? to expose the bias of her charge’s mind, the part that assumed blonde white French girls must have grown up with a cross on the wall and a midnight mass to go to instead of staying up for Santa.
Who says I am a Christian anyway? She thought about it. It was too revealing. She kept her mouth closed.
The subject leaned across the table, eyes wide and made even wider by the dancing reflections on her glasses. Influence of external conditions, Dr. Cormier thought. The subject’s myopia, induced by long nights reading under the covers with a flashlight, was well-documented by now; she had no need to make note of it. But make note of it she did; her eyes traced the thick line of the frames and the thick line of kohl underneath, the lashes and strong brows and tan skin making up a perfectly unique, perfectly identical organism.
Maybe, Dr. Cormier thought, if she stepped back she would be able to see the subject for what it was. A scientific miracle, a first step on the moon, a perfect copy. Maybe looking too closely, with Cosima leaning across the table so far her wrap sweater threatened to steal a sip of wine for itself, distorted the full image, like looking at the shape of puzzle pieces and forgetting the picture they comprised.
I love Orphan Black, but I’ve always been a little iffy about Dr. Delphine Cormier, Cosima’s girlfriend and monitor. Cosima fell instantly for Delphine’s French accent and blonde curls, but, you know, sometimes Cosima makes bad life choices. Delphine was quickly revealed to be an employee of the Dyad institute, someone who worked directly for Leekie, but she claimed that she really did love Cosima. Were we supposed to buy it? I wasn’t so sure, especially after it looked like she and Leekie had been in a relationship, or were at least seen in a compromising position. Was Delphine lying? Or was she telling the truth? By the end of Season 2, the writers had pushed us firmly towards the latter, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that it was all a poorly written version of the “I don’t love girls, I just love you” trope. And because the show is mostly from the point of view of the clones and their allies, we got very few scenes from Delphine’s perspective to help us clarify the situation. Fortunately, fanfiction can be from any perspective the author wants. Enter today’s fanfic rec: Experimental.
Just a few days ago, GLAAD released their 2014 Studio Responsibility Index, an annual survey inaugurated last year to grade major Hollywood studios on their representation of LGBTQ+ characters. Sadly, the results aren’t pretty:
Out of the 102 releases GLAAD counted from the major studios in 2013, 17 of them (16.7%) contained characters or impressions identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. In most cases, these characters received only minutes – or even seconds – of screen time, and were often offensive portrayals.
Ouch! Those are some low numbers. And the surveyors weren’t content with stopping there—they asked film professionals why this might be happening, but got differing answers from each side of the problem. As their introduction says: “From Hollywood executives, we repeatedly heard ‘We’re not getting scripts with LGBT characters,’ while screenwriters told us, ‘The studios don’t want to make films with LGBT characters.'” Some blame can probably be assigned to both parties, but while Hollywood is entrenched in its struggle over whether or not it’s profitable to produce stories with well-written queer characters, television is far outstripping its silver screen cousin.
And here we are, Clone Club, at the second season finale. If you were hoping for some answers, you’re probably watching the wrong show. But if you were looking for some crazier twists than ever before, you’ve come to the right place. And as Mrs. S. would tell you, it certainly helps to know your mythology. So let’s dive right in.
Spoilers after the jump.
Holy Tilda Swinton, folks. If you’ve felt like the last few episodes have lacked that special kind of mind-blowing twist we all have come to know and love from Orphan Black, this week you’re in for a treat. While we still haven’t seen hide nor hair of Helena, and spend next to no time with Alison (our usual source of comic relief), what we do discover more than makes up for it. “Variable and Full of Perturbation” couldn’t be a more apt title. I can’t say any more without running into some serious spoilers, so without further ado, here’s the jump.
Overall, this week was a pretty info-heavy episode. We get lots of answers about the Duncans and Project LEDA, but as always, the new information raises even more questions. Cosima’s situation gets more intense, we catch up with Alison’s adventures in self-improvement, and Helena gets some quality screen time.
Let’s dive down the spoiler-ridden rabbit hole.