TV Recap: Orphan Black, S03E09, “Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow”

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When last we tuned in, Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and Siobhan (Maria Doyle Kennedy) were taking a quick trip to London Town to track down the Castor original. And in true Orphan Black style, who it is, turns out to be someone unexpected.

Here is the episode 9 review of Orphan Black: Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow.

Canada stands in for a lot of American cities in a great many productions, including Stargate (all of them), Continuum, Fringe and Helix, to name but four. It’s the first time this reviewer has seen it stand in for London. But with the addition of a couple of cockney accents, a pub and the eponymous London Cab (the Hackney Carriage), it seems a reasonable facsimile. And substantially cheaper than going there in person.

Siobhan has made contact with her old buddy Terrance (Daniel Feathers) who trots off with the information gleaned thanks to Rachel in the last episode. He identifies a number amongst the gobbledygook, one which corresponds to those given to inmates of Her Majesty’s Prison. But while Siobhan takes a moment to do a quick singsong with her old band, Terrance is beaten to a pulp by goons from Topside (Dyad’s governing body, introduced for a scant 5 minutes at the conclusion of season two) who are also hunting the Castor original. Ferdinand (James Frain) returns (last seen in episode one) and this time he has a friend to dish out the physical abuse.

On the subject of fisticuffs, Donnie (Christian Bruun) is bruised and in pain after his close encounter with Jason (Justin Chatwin) and his life gets worse in so many more ways when he’s informed he has to return the drugs. They take Helena’s frozen embryos as collateral, which, upon reflection, was a bad decision. She accompanies Donnie to the handover and takes umbrage when the drug lord’s spokesperson threatens Donnie and Alison’s kids.

In all honesty, the Donnie and Alison storyline appears to have been included is to have a big payoff when Helena goes batshit.

Still, onward as they say.

Meanwhile, back in Dyad, Cosima thinks she’s identified the leak: her girlfriend Shay (Ksenia Solo). Except just in the nick of time, she’s called by Gracie (Zoe de Grand Maison). She’s still in love with Castor clone Mark (Ari Millen) and the price for seeing him again is to sell out her adopted family. Shay survives, Zoe gets to be with Mark and all’s right with the world.

Plots are being tied-up at a rate of knots by this point, and one wonders if there’s any more surprises available?

The writers don’t disappoint, for in a twist of coincidence and weirdness, it turns out Siobhan’s mum Kendall (Alison Sadler) has an intimate link to the story. And here, unfortunately, is where Orphan Black jumps the shark.

As Darth Vader (Dave Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones) says in Empire Strikes Back, “All too easy”.

It’s like there’s no-one else on the planet but the main cast and those immediately around them. Siobhan’s story with the clones has always involved her as a member of a tight-knit underground group (and this episode could easily have gone down the I.R.A. route, given the Irish angle). And that was more than enough. It gave her enough of a backstory to explore but not enough to compromise her as a character.

But now to introduce her mother as parent to not one but BOTH sets of clones? That’s the best the writers (this episode, Russ Cochrane) can do? Yes, make the reveal something interesting and special. No, don’t make it the parent of a main character who’s spent the last two seasons running around helping the Leda clones (played by Tatiana Maslany).

And it’s such a pity, for the overall episode, directed by Vincenzo Natali, looked great. The same can be said for the rest of the season. Everything but the plot works. And when the plot doesn’t work, no amount of clever direction or excellent acting can help.

So, anyway. Next episode is the culmination of the storylines this season. Sarah, Felix, Siobhan and potentially Kendall are on the run from Topside. Let’s see what happens next.

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