Orphan Black / Screen

Orphan Black: “Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow”

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of Orphan Black‘s third season, mainly because I’m not quite sure what’s been accomplished or what the season has led toward. As the penultimate episode “Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow” should be lining everything up for a resolution in the finale episode and getting me hyped up for the conclusion. It’s no secret that the show has become less and less appealing with each season, but I’d still expect the show to elicit some kind of excitement on my part. Instead I’m just left feeling irritated.First annoying instance is Shay/Cosima/Delphine. Cosima doubting Shay’s honesty is even more disappointing because it sends Cosima right back to where Delphine said she would be, begging for her help in exposing the truth about Shay and seeing what she’s up to. Sometimes, very rarely, the show succeeds at selling Delphine and Cosima as a romantic and even somewhat tragic pairing, but this is not one of those times. Delphine storming into Shay’s apartment and threatening to kill her and make it look like a suicide, is cringeworthy even before we find out that Shay isn’t the spy but that it’s a lovestruck Gracie, eager to reunite with Mark. But kudos to Evelyne Brochu, who manages to sell Delphine’s cold drive to commit murder and her anxiety after she realizes her mistake.

It’s a relief honestly for Shay not to be a spy since that’s a cheap and easy way for the show to keep her tied to Delphine forever. There’s no shaking hers and Delphine’s romantic connection so the show having to make narrative leaps to make other romantic options unavailable would just be sad and not up to the show’s level. That being said, I don’t anticipate Shay being all that open to reconciliation now that she knows that Cosima somehow pointed Delphine, and all her murderous intent, in her direction.

Second annoying thing is a big part of the show’s clone mythos, as Siobhan, Felix and Sarah find the Castor (and the Leda!) original in London. Before they can do that, there’s singing and torture and lots of sneaking around, which isn’t half as fun as it should be. The return of Ferdinand manages to be somewhat exciting, if onyl because I have no idea what his job actually is. He works for Topside, but doing what. He seemed relatively spineless (though certainly gross) when we first met him, now he’s murdering people willy-nilly in the hopes of beating Sarah to Kendall Malone, who Sarah plans to kill even after Siobhan decides to back out.

When they find Kendall, we learn that she’s not only Siobhans’ mother but also the person who killed her husband John in that barfight. Both of which just made me very tired.  The Orphan Black mythos has been complicated for a while, almost unnecessarily so and including Siobhan’s mother in the proceedings just feels like another something to add to the pile. She is the Castor original, having absorbed a male twin in the womb and having two cell lines as a result so there’s that. At least we’re done with the stepping stones to actual important pieces of the puzzle, but the show just seems to be contorting itself to make connections where there don’t need to be. The only other show I currently watch that does that is Pretty Little Liars, and as fun as that show can be, it’s tiring over there, too.

There’s more interest in the mythology than the characters, which simply doesn’t work on a show like Orphan Black which has such great characters at its disposal. There’s an attempt to make Kendall Malone more important to the characters by having her be Siobhan’s mother, but that feels more like an overwhelming plot development than anything else. And Siobhan’s thirst for vengeance after John’s murder is toothless, at least on our end. There’s little to grab onto in this moment with nothing linking us to John. This season marks our first time ever even hearing of him, and his murder being such a fuel to Siobhan’s anger at her mother feels like nothing.

Not annoying so much are Helena and Donnie. Nursing his wounds after his fight with Jason and hiding from Alison, Donnie has to contend with Pouchy after Jason revokes his good word and has Pouchy wanting his pills back. Taking Helena’s frozen eggs as collteral and then threatening Alison and Donnie’s kids has Helena turning against them and killing them all. Her bloody exit from the warehouse is horrifying, a nice juxtaposition from the humor of her posing as Alison. It’s a fun moment for the show, to have Helena doing her own part in the clone club’s daily lives and joining her other sisters in painfully pretending to be one of the others. And hers and Donnie’s new partnership is one of the season’s best and most surprising elements.

Helena’s the one with the most character of the episode, as she bonds with Alison and Donnie’s kids. Her new fondness for them, and the threat to their lives, is what compels her to kill the drug dealers. That, and her tender caretaking of Donnie has much more in the way of emotional heft than anything else the episode cranks out.

Stray Observations

  • Delphine’s face after getting her call from Cosima seemed to imply she was interested in going “single, white, female” after all.
  • I’m annoyed by the assumption that Helena’s whole personality is going to change just because she’s going to be a mother. That’s a very simple and sexist way to look at things, and I’m glad Helena’s violent tendencies aren’t going to disappear because she’s pregnant.



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