Welcome back, Clone Club. This week’s episode is centered almost entirely on Alison. During the last few seasons, Alison’s plotlines have functioned more like comic relief than anything else. She’s a sparkly, suburban foil to her darker, more serious sestras, and it’s easy for all of us (including the viewers) to not take her seriously. This episode changes that. Because it’s the final season, we’re actually getting an Alison-centric episode that explores the depths of her heart.
Spoilers, of course, for “Beneath Her Heart” below.
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!