Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Orphan Black - Newer Elements in Defense of the Family



There was a time I was very afraid for Orphan Black.  When season 2 concluded  I thought with the introduction of the male clones and a grand government conspiracy that OB would be lost in the weeds.

Why take the focus of Tatiana Maslany's Sarah and her clone club?  She's obviously the star of the show and anything else would cast a shadow on her efforts.  In an ingenious move, Orphan Black solved that little problem by making the male clones part of her extend "family."

As for the grand government conspiracy that threatened to dilute the show.  OB has kept that angle on a reduced scale.  Instead of a vast unknowable monolith, the government effort in Castor has been given a human face in that of Dr. Virgina Coady.  Even she is seen as a mother figure by the male clones so in that regard Orphan Black has kept things "in house" and at a family scale.

This has been a brilliant stratagem by Orphan Black and has kept the focus on the characters we love while allowing the mythology to expand while retaining it's foundation.


The only other thing that worried me was the reintroduction of the once dead Helena.

Helena was once seen as the wild child.  The psychopathic unhinged assassin.  But she wasn't beyond redemption as she too was brought into the family fold.

Now, as we've seen in the last episode, she forsakes her avenue of escape by conducting a mercy killing and tenderly soothing her victim by uttering, "Sleep now, lamb chop."  All because she was brought into the family to be with her "Seestras."

(Okay, she still has a bit of the killer in her and she did drag that blade across an exposed brain but this was done out of compassion!)

A Family Affair


The family dynamic was further explored with Sarah's ongoing drama with Mark.

The two aren't exactly seeing eye to eye and for the most part have different agendas but in a larger sense they are victims of the same circumstance and they are both in pursuit of keeping their respective families together.


In keeping with their goals, Mark and Sarah have forged an uneasy alliance.  The depth of which I don't think even they are aware of.    Superficially, Sarah needs Mark alive to help her find Helena and for his part Mark wants his fellow bothers to live on and was willing to let Sarah fish about for the bullet still inside him.

When both collapsed from their efforts it was telling they pressed their foreheads together.  Drawn together instead of repelled by the others agenda.

Mark and Gracie



The fragility of family got it's due when Gracie questioned her commitment to Mark when threatened by his disappearance and the reappearance of her mother.  Gracie's fears led her to remove her ring while Mark's led him to fidget with his wedding band.  It reminded him he had something to live for.

Donnie and Alison



The fragility of another marriage was hinted at during this past episode.

Alison and Donnie have never been closer thanks to respective misdeeds and now with their burgeoning careers as drug dealers.

However, evidence of a familial crack became apparent when Alison reconnected with an old high school friend that also happens to be the local drug kingpin.  It wasn't long before they found mutual ground and happily reminisced about the old days.

This does not bode well for Donnie as figuratively and literally in this scene he was on the outside looking in.

Gracie and her Mother


Lastly, and at the furthest end of the familial scale we find Gracie and her quickly evaporating family.

This is actually happening to Gracie on two fronts.  First she lost Mark and now she has found she has lost her baby.   Secondly, because of this "transgression" Gracie has been kicked out of what little family she had left.  Her ever shrinking Prolethean family headed up by her fanatical mother.


Because Gracie cannot continue the family line she has been banished.  The loss of the child is a crime Bonnie Johanssen will not tolerate.


There once was a time when Bonnie Johanssen seemed to be a loving and happy person.  The loss of her own son, Abel, has transformed her into a maniacal zealot so damaged she is willing to forsake her own daughter.


 It's ironic the terrible loss that Bonnie endured may actually succeed in repairing the lives of others.

The DNA from Abel's bones may go a long way into solving the mystery behind both lines of clones.  The "glitching" of the Castor clones and the illness of those like Cosima.  Of course, other powers will seek to exploit these finds for their own selfish personal gains. 

Orphan Black deserves full credit for keeping it's show on a scale we can appreciate.  They've kept their sense of perspective and rewarded their fans with a tight engaging plot unburdened by extraneous devices that would only bog things down and disaffect the viewers.

Odds and Ends


When Bonnie renounced Gracie from the Promethlean family I noticed a painting in the background of two horses locked in battle.


It reminded me the two headed horse logo The Castor group wears.  Do the two fighting horses portend a schism within the Castor ranks?  Or are the two horses fighting over something specific like the fate of Gracie?


Interesting the deceased Johanssen infant was named Abel.  Abel was seen as the shepherd of the two sons of Adam and Eve.  His older brother, Cain, led him to his death.  Was there an older brother to Abel?  It seems unlikely Gracie was the Cain to his Abel.  Perhaps as a shepherd, Abel wasmeant to lead the way and in his passing it drove Bonnie Johanssen mad?


"You are in a Red Forest."


Ha, the abandoned Johanssen home reminded me of that ramshackle house often associated with "The Witness" of 12 Monkeys fame.  The Johanssen place is in a little better upkeep.  But seeing it abandoned and cloaked in darkness gave me that 12 Monkeys vibe.

Orphan Black will return soon and we'll see which "family tree" is the strongest.


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