Review: Orphan Black Season 3

[Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.]

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Season 3 Summary

Mrs. S handed Helena over to Paul in order to keep the US government away from the sisters. Not liking her twin taken, and now knowing that Castor clones exist, Sara’s investigations land her in the grips of Mark and his brother Rudy, but only after learning that Castors are her brothers as well, despite this ruining the mythological origins of these characters as Castor is Ledas’ son in Greek Mythology. But they are family, and it’s enough to prod Mark into helping the sisters escape and destroy the government’s research after his mother, the project head, experimented on the twins.

Back in the city, the Castor boys succumb to rapacious urges, committing acts of rape and sexual aggression, all the while cataloging victims so the military can monitor them. Why? Well, Castor boys, much like their sisters, have fouled genetics–in their body lives a sexually transmissible virus. It came about as an attempt at immunization, allowing them to walk freely into war zones hit with a virus. The result was a brain disease that claimed their minds before killing them outright.

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Still working hard to discover the truth of their biology, Cosima, who’s healthy thanks to Kira, then once again succumbs to her illness, eventually turns to one-eyed Rachel to help decipher Duncan’s indecipherable markings in his copy of The Island of Dr. Moreau, leading the sisters back to the UK where they find the Leda original, who also happens to be the Castor orginal thanks to a vestigial twin.

At the climax of the season, the sisters are all reunited. Helena does away with Rudy, and Rachel is taken away to Europe by Neolutionists hiding within Dyad, tasking Delphine with hiding the clone original at the expense of her own life.

What It Got Right?

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Castor: I did not like the Castor inclusion at the start of the season. It was a nice reveal at first, though I feared there’d be less room for the sisters. This wasn’t the case and ultimately we only have two Castors to worry about: Mark and Rudy.
Rudy dominates the Castor story. Not only a great performance but writers did not hold back much. Rudy’s a casual rapist, puckish child, and violence-prone killer in a military uniform. Rudy even knowingly engages in an incestuous relationship with Krystal, a newly discovered Leda sister, and there’s an implied sexual liaison with Sara while hled prisoner in Mexico.

Rudy had few taboos. There are attempts at humanization. He’s largely shown as a mamma’s boy whose control is skittering away from him, and truly he is Dr. Coady’s favorite son. He even waxes nostalgic about his brothers living clustered together and how much he loves them. But unlike Helena, who is sisterly mirror image, or Mark who is his more stable counterpart, Rudy perfectly remains fixed as a villain whose rapes and murders are not allowed to be absolved, making him a character you love to see be evil and are glad to see dispatched by his own family.

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Delphine: Were Orphan Black a modern hero epic, I’d have to say the focus would be best placed on Delphine. Having developed from reluctant baddie, to invested love interest, and finally corporate power player, she’s experienced the most growth of any character on the show and is proved to be the deciding hand behind the sisters’ fate. And despite juggling Top Side, Dyad, the government, Neulotionists, Castor and the rest, she’s willing to put her love for Cosima aside and her own safety in order to keep the Leda sister’s safe. Though I can’t help but feel she got kind of a weak sendoff, she did the most this season with the least gratitude. For this season, she was the real hero.

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Helena: Motherhood is hitting Helena like a truck carrying nothing but bricks. She’s always fun and I’m drawn closer to the screen whenever she’s on. She’s gone through a mellowing throughout the season, became closer to the other sister’s, Alison in particular, and is generally becoming more domesticated. It’s nice to see a respite from her violent beginnings. He heart’s shown to be the biggest of the group when she’s able to lie with her brother Rudy as he dies, understanding that his biggest fear is being left alone, something she well understands.

What It Got Wrong?

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Neolution: If there’s a danger to Orphan Black’s continued success it’s the return of Neolution. When it first came about as a trend that following Alduous it was a nice quirk. But at the end of season 3 it’s revealed that Neolution is a full fledged cult with spies in every corner, influencing both Dyad and the government, some even undergoing corrupting experments that mutate the body. While this keeps in line with the show, it’s dangerous land to tread.

In season two of Dark Angel, a show that has essentially the same plot as Orphan Black–genetic chimeras created by the government, ranaway, and reunited, identifying as siblings with a shared, messed-up genetic line–we’re introduced to a cult. The Conclave were a cult dedicated to self-directed evolution through genetic tailoring with the aim of breeding perfected people, much like Neolution with a naturalist’s slant. In fact, one could argue that if you married Proletheans and Neolutionists you’d get the basic profile of The Conclave.

But why do I bring up Dark Angel? Similarities aside, of which there are many, The Conclave was the biggest nail in that show’s coffin. What began as a biopunk exploration of human experimentation by the governemnt went off the rails with this cult angle. It started as an exploration of family, freedom, and agency in a world where large forces try to keep them captive. Sounds familiar? What the inclusion fo The Conclave did was turn Dark Angel into a superhero beatdown between two factions of genetically-tailored super-people to fulfill some yet-to-be-explained genetic destiny. It was a mar on the show and continues to be the biggest gripe of this all-but-forgotten series according to fans. And it can happen to Orphan Black.

Egyptian inspired architecture, clothing and jewelry, vicious worms living in the mouth, whipping tails, bionic eyes–the marriage of the somewhat religious with the scientific has been explored in biopunk before and it’s known as being the point where the plot falls apart. Orphan Black’s stepping on to a minefield witht he return of Neolution. Let’s just hope they’ve got a map.

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Written by Daniel Rodriguez
Daniel Rodriguez is a freelance writer and author from New York City.

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