Orphan Black Recap: Single White Female’d

By
Orphan Black
Episode Title
Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow
Season
3
Episode
9
Editor’s Rating
3/5

Sometimes science fiction makes me sad I’m not a scientist. Some of the greatest genre characters ever written were brilliant scientists (see: Dana Scully, Eleanor Arroway, Bruce Banner, Indiana Jones ... the list goes on). Their lives, while overblown to the extreme, are vastly more interesting and revolutionary than mine, and like so many fans, I often wish I could be real-life versions of these characters, or at least have some sort of understanding of what they’re doing and of exactly how impractical those things are in the real world.

Orphan Black, however, is not that kind of show (not anymore, anyway). I can’t tell you how relieved I am to not have a genetics degree, because if I did, it’s episodes like last night’s that would probably make me spontaneously combust. At some point, I am pretty sure Orphan Black stopped caring about the laws of biology, because nothing about last night’s major revelation sounds even remotely how science works, at all, and I barely remember from high school how DNA works. Thankfully, my troglodyte brain doesn’t have to tune that out and, as a result, had a really good time.

We’re all over the world at this point, so let’s break it down geographically again!

In … ???

Brief but important scene: Rudy has now delivered the book to Coady in some seedy, old hotel room (or safe house?), where she has sent the code to “their best cryptographers,” and continued to monitor his disease’s progression. He’s at the stage where they all started worrying about Seth: He balks at a logic question about purple poison pills. Time is running out for even the scariest Castor, who, lest we forget, has serious anger issues that are only going to get worse as his desperation grows.

In the ‘burbs …

Helena, bless her feral heart, is having a bit of trouble adjusting to her new life with the Hendrixes. Turns out “walking a different path” means you can’t teach Gemma how to gouge a man’s eyes out when she should be practicing her karate moves. Still, I feel like discouraging such an elemental asset to the Ledas' safety from being her bloodthirsty self is a bad idea. Obviously it works out well for Donnie and Alison this week: Our favorite feminist dad wakes up bruised and bloody on the floor of Bubbles’ backroom; he lies to Alison to keep her from learning about the embarrassing ass-kicking he suffered at Jason’s hands the night before. Later, Jason’s meat-headed crony stops by the shop to collect what’s left of their pill supply — since Jason no longer vouches for the Hendrixes with Pouchy, the druglord is done with them too. The drugs aren’t at the shop, so thug boy takes Helena’s nitrogen tank, which neither he nor Donnie recognizes, as collateral until they deliver the stash.

Meanwhile, a be-goggled Helena is in the garage making body butter, dancing and singing off-key to the Mamas & the Papas like the magical unicorn she is when Gracie leaves for “a doctor’s appointment.” Donnie comes home; when Helena sees his face, he gives her the old “ran into a post” schtick. She calls B.S. (“a post made of fists, I think”) and offers to help with a weird homemade paste she used to use in the convent when the nuns beat them (!) in exchange for the truth. He tells her about Jason and the drugs, and the tank — big mistake, of course, since now she wants to destroy a druglord.

So she tags along to Pouchy’s warehouse to return the pills and stays behind in the car for approximately five minutes, during which Pouchy and his mean niece laugh at Donnie when he asks to get both the tank and their drug-money deposit back, until barging in “disguised” as Alison. Pretending it contains their embryos (Donnie claims impotence, taking one for the team again!) the pair convince them to give the tank back, and they are about to walk out when Pouchy’s niece warns them against getting back into the game by threatening Oscar and Gemma. Another monstrous mistake — Helena shoves Donnie out into the cold and shuts the door on him and turns back to the niece to say, “You should not threaten babies.” Cut to a few minutes later, when she emerges from the warehouse drenched in blood, carrying a saw (?!?) and a bag full of Pouchy’s money. Her explanation: “I got a refund, we should go now.”

Helena miiiiiiight be the greatest character on television.

At DYAD …

While Shay is in the shower, Cosima, now unemployed, flips through her file, which contains random snippets of her life — credit score, Delphine’s stalker photos of the two of them, a photo of … .Shay in military fatigues??? This convinces Cos Delphine could have been right, so she goes to do shots of schnapps with Scott at his place (which is exactly what you do when you’re newly unemployed together) and talk it through. Shay knew about Sarah even though Cos swears she doesn’t talk in her sleep, and she’d told her about her illness, which seems to seal the deal in her mind. So she “eats shit” and goes to apologize to Delphine, who is still salty ... until Cosima trusts her enough to tell her about Sarah going to London.

So Delphine immediately whisks away with some bodyguards to Shay’s, where she promptly begins interrogating her about who she works for and threatens to slit her wrists and feet in the bathtub and make it look like a suicide. Two important items to note in this scene: One, finally someone on a television show calls out a beautiful person on how her seemingly underemployed ass could possibly afford a huge apartment like hers, and two, Shay accuses Delphine of going “all single white female” on Cosima, which of course is exactly what she ends up doing, because ...

It turns out it was Gracie, not Shay after all, who sold out the Ledas. Nooooooooo! You see, in exchange for the book, Coady’s military thug buds promised to reunite her with Mark, who she had seemingly decided isn’t so bad after all. Cosima calls Delphine just in time, before Shay’d been physically hurt, but Delphine can’t hide her disappointment. When she gets off the phone, she strokes the razor’s edge thoughtfully anyway ... wow, why you gotta do these characters like this, OB? What a weird, soapy mess.

In London …

Once they arrive, Sarah, Felix, and Siobhan spend an incredible amount of time in a pub where S and her fellow revolutionaries used to basically live. There they meet Terry, who once helped move Sarah around and now gives S a gun (she’s bent on killing the Castor original so Project Castor can’t get their cure and continue cloning/sterilizing women) and the intel that the number at the end of the rhyme, H46239, is an ID number for a prisoner who must have been imprisoned before the 1980s, because the cataloguing system was changed during that era. He leaves to touch base with a friend who can get him that prisoner’s information, and the gang all have a fun time drinking and hearing stories from S’s other old friends (apparently those of her now-dead partner John?) and watching Siobhan sing on the bar-band stage, for some reason?

Terry meanwhile goes to meet said friend, but who should he find instead? Ferdinand and his scary Lurch-y sidekick!!! That’s right, the cleaner with ulterior motives is suddenly back (which I guess is better than if we’d never heard from him ever again — continuity!). They literally beat the living daylights out of Terry in a montage soundtracked by Siobhan’s Patti Smith–esque performance, to get information about why Siobhan & Co. are back in London, when Sarah was supposed to be under lock and key at DYAD. Siobhan, Sarah, and Felix find Terry looking like raw, bloody flesh and lingering on death’s door; he stays alive just long enough to whisper something terrifying about the identity of the prisoner in Siobhan’s ear. It scares her so much she immediately says Sarah and Felix need to leave London ASAP.

Sarah, of course, will do no such thing, and she grabs Terry’s phone and Siobhan’s gun as Felix escorts her out of the building, leaving S with Terry’s body. Sarah calls Terry’s last dialed number pretending to be S and meet with the guy that night in his taxi; after some mild who-are-you-really conflict, we find out he’s Cassov, another of Siobhan’s friends who used to help hide Sarah as a kid and who got the identity and current address of the Castor original for Terry: it’s a former inmate named Kendall Malone who was imprisoned for aggravated homicide in 1978. (Of all the characters to essentially share a last name with ... )

Cassov drives them to Malone’s listed address, where they get out and Ferdinand suddenly slides into the back seat (so I guess Terry did give up this information) and slits Cassov’s throat. Well, that was a brief stint. Thanks for the intel, I guess? Our pal Ferdy then calls Delphine, on whom — to his delight — he now has dirt as well: She didn’t tell Topside Sarah had escaped DYAD. Since knowledge of his betrayal with Rachel was the only thing keeping DYAD free of Topside intervention, now Delphine is forced to invite Ferdinand to the institute to have a little chat, which as we all know will definitely turn out well.

Here comes that insane final scene: Felix is on lookout duty while Sarah breaks into Kendall Malone’s house. It seems empty, but just as Sarah gazes at an old framed photo of a woman and a baby, an old lady comes at her from behind with a knife. Turns out this tough old bird is Kendall Malone!! Then as they stand aiming their weapons at one another, Siobhan shows up out of nowhere. Kendall Malone is ... her mom!! Siobhan’s mom is the Castor original. Sorry, what? Oh, right, okay, because she “absorbed a male twin in the womb” so she “has two cell lines.” Mmm, yep. That’s the big reveal! Never mind how babies are made — eggs? Sperm? Who needs ‘em?

The one thing this does do, however, is provide yet another really great layer to the gender themes here: Malone, it’s revealed, was in prison because she killed her daughter’s boyfriend for “stealing” her away (Siobhan says that, in reality, she was “done with” her mom by 12 years old and was 17 when she left home with said boyfriend). Under the guise of doing “cancer research,” Malone says, Duncan came into the prison looking for “viable donors” and when he found her, used both of her cell lines. Which means she’s also the Leda original, which meeeeeeans they can’t kill her after all because they need her for their own cure. Man, everyone has parental issues on this show, don’t they? (Well, except Cosima, maybe.) And now someone is coming — Felix texts them the heads up — so sadly, Siobhan, today is not the day you get to shoot your horrible mother in the head and burn her house down with a pair of toaster waffles to destroy all the evidence. Alas!

Questions to consider:

Jason beating Donnie up was to reiterate his power over the Hendrixes, right? If he withdraws his support and gets them kicked off the team, doesn’t that mean that he’s not able to abuse his power over them anymore? What now? Can Helena beat him up?

Who has just arrived at Kendall Malone’s house? Do we think Coady’s cryptographers have cracked Duncan’s code and followed the trail right to their house? Seems unlikely, but …

We know from the preview reel that Delphine didn’t kill Shay after all, but ... what was the point of showing us her stroking the razor? Do we believe that Shay isn’t involved at all? I don’t buy it.

Why does every bully on this show seem to have thuggy bodyguards?

Did Siobhan have any female friends when she was younger?

How exactly do you clone two sets of human beings using genetic material from a single person? Please, if there’s a biologist reading this, do us all a favor and explain the plausibility of this in the comments.