#OrphanBlack — The sublime and the ridiculous.

It happened with TWD. It happened to Vikings. It’s happening over at GOT. Now Orphan Black has succumbed to the same eating itself from the inside prion disease— It’s come down with a bad case of the dreaded I can no longer suspend disbelief and enough already with the gratuitous violence.

Hear me out. Be patient. I’m making an effort to shape my many random thoughts into a coherent whole.

Orphan Black’s first season was to die for. It was astonishingly good. It was so good I am still of the opinion it was the best thing that’s ever existed in the world of television. Orphan Black, was, in a word, sublime.

Season two was less good. There were some low lows, as in the throwaway episode involving Tony, the transgender clone (who might be useful right about now even though he reminded me far too much of Sarah sporting a glued-on sparse beard and some fake junk in the shorts). Nevertheless, Season two had its redeeming moments, its highs, if you will, in particular the evolution of the Hendrix family, and the bittersweet tragicomic golden respite of a finale.

Season three has sorely tested my resolve.

Ask me why.


Spoiler alert! If you haven’t yet watched Episode 9, Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow, be warned. I will be discussing Episode 9 as well as events from previous episodes.


Let us talk twins. Monoamniotic twins are identical twins who share the same amniotic sac within the uterus. Typically they share a single placenta and a single umbilical cord. This is a serious situation that can result in the death of one or both babies. This is rare. In most cases even identical twins have separate amniotic sacs. Fraternal twins have separate amniotic sacs. Fraternal twins develop from two eggs. Identical twins develop from one egg which splits into two zygotes.

Therefore, dear writers of Orphan Black, before I move on to the other issues let me say this– while I realize the show is science fiction, it remained, more or less, within the realm of the possible. And that is critical for good science fiction, that it remain within the realm of the possible not matter how impossible.

However, this fantastic tale, that Siobahn’s mother absorbed her male (fraternal) twin has crossed a bridge too far.

Two reasons: A. If a fraternal twin, or a twin in a separate amniotic sac, is absorbed by anyone, it is absorbed by the mother and it would not change her chromosomal make up. B. A fraternal male twin would not have shared an amniotic sac with his sister in the first place.

A more believable scenario, albeit not commonplace, would have been to claim Siobahn’s mother is a rare and genetically precious true hermaphrodite. A true human hermaphrodite is made of both XX and XY chromosomes. Viola! Problem solved! (Or even more exciting, declare she is a sequential hermaphrodite – a child born one sex who can later become another. Like a fish or a snail.) Oh, and that kitchen? It was the same kitchen used in the Professor Duncan scenes.

But even more disturbing is the fact that the writers decided to make Siobahn’s mother our source material, a move which calls into question Siobahn’s role in, well, in everything.

I’m not a happy camper.

The series has overloaded the proverbial Clone Car this season.

clown car

Who has a bathtub in her living room and why does it seem to move from place to place?

Once upon a time Cosima made crazy science. Now she mopes around like a lovesick 1960’s adolescent pining after Ricky Nelson while Scott is forced to do the heavy lifting. Don’t get me wrong, I love Scott and I especially love his interactions with Cosima, but if anyone has a prion disease of the brain, it’s Cosima. If anyone is in urgent need of one of Dr. Coady’s stress tests, it’s Cosima. Her brain has been on hiatus all season long.

Why did Delphine break up with her in the first place? I never understood the justification. I decided it was nothing more than a plot device. Had to be. What better way to keep an eye on your subject than as her lover?

Why does Sarah insist upon playing amateur sleuth, aka, Nancy Drew, without the roadster? Backup, girl… and that doesn’t include Felix who thinks backup means standing in the middle of the street in full view of every bad guy from Castor to Pollux to Dyad to the Prolethians to the… Enough of this Sarah stands alone trope. The cheese is so overripe it stinks to high heaven. Sarah gets herself into one scrape after another. Not funny scrapes. This is serious business, fending off people determined to kill you, yet you keep doing it. The following is attributed to Albert Einstein: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. (Except he probably didn’t really say it. Appropriate quote all the same.)


How about you give Art a call once in a while? I love the Art/Sarah/Beth chemistry. The show is missing it. The show suffers from a distinct lack of Art.

How did Gracie learn about The Island of Dr. Moreau? For the life of me I cannot recall a single scene when Gracie saw the book, overheard a conversation about the book, knew the book existed… Before the clones decided to go all in on this only Kira, Cosima, and Scott knew about the existence of the book. Then I believe Sarah was informed about the book, and last but not least, Rachel discovered Scott had the book. It was only later, after Scott was threatened and the book stolen that Gracie might have had the opportunity to learn of the book and its significance. Therefore Gracie as traitor makes no sense.


And by the way, what a terrible misuse of Mark. A far better and more interesting use of the Mark character would have been to align him with Project Leda.

The Death of Paul. Was this really necessary? Yeah, sure, you gave him a heroic sendoff. Whoop-dee-doo. The Paul character morphed into a much more complicated, if slightly less appealing, character than he was in the beginning, while Sarah’s other love interest, Cal, remains a cypher. Dear writers, the show would be better if you’d kept Paul in the mix instead of blowing him to pieces. Besides, just like the writers of TWD did, you pulled A Shane. You took a great character, you assassinated his character, then you killed him off. Not. Cool. It’s easier to redeem a character in death than it is to write his redemption. Dear writers, you took the easy road. You’ve been doing that a lot lately. Stop it. The characters deserve better.

VILLAINS. Here’s where you’ve really jumped the Indominus Rex. A cartoon villain is boring. A villain, like a hero, must have an Achilles heel. Your villains have none. They see all, know all, are all powerful. Between the villains of Dyad, Castor, and the Prolethians, it seems the only people in the dark are the members of the Clone Club. C’mon. You can do better.


And now a word about the gratuitous graphic violence. Was it really necessary to beat Terrance to death? That scene was over the top graphic, pretty much unwatchable. How about this? What if, just sayin’ now, what if our villains had made a smart move… waited for Terrance to give Mrs. S. the information then followed her to the Castor original? No? Too complicated? And by the way- how do Castor and Dyad manage to co-opt every single contact Sarah and Mrs. S. make? Are they magical mind readers? Can they instantly transport themselves on their claw feet like the supernatural bathtub?

It makes no sense. In the beginning Dyad and Castor and the Prolethians knew nothing about the existence of Sarah Manning but now they know every single thing about her. And if they know every single thing about her and about Mrs. S., it stands to reason that both Dyad and Castor should have at least suspected the derivation of the original source material.

Plot holes. Sorry. Gaping plot holes.

P.S. By the way, if you’re trying to avoid attention from murderous cutthroats, don’t upload your profile and your picture onto a dating app, Cosima, AND don’t get up and sing in a pub, Mrs. S. Gratuitous scene, that. Yes, I know the actress can sing. I get it. But in Episode 9 we see nothing more than a few cutaway shots of Mrs. S. onstage. She sings a couple of lines. Well, we hear her sing a few words, and nothing more. It would have been better to let her sing her way through the credits. I say it was gratuitous because Mrs. S., Sarah, and Felix were specifically trying to stay under everyone’s radar. Like Tony’s random appearance, it was a way to showcase the actress’s talent without furthering the storyline.

P.P.S. Was it really necessary to Botwinize Alison? Seriously? Nancy Botwin she ain’t. And even Weeds lost its mojo after a few seasons. A few funny scenes with Donnie and Alison, but not necessary, although…

If you hadn’t gone all Botwin on our asses we wouldn’t have been treated to Helena behaving in oh-so-delicious Helena fashion, taking matters into her own hands, protecting her new family and her precious babies.


Sublime this season: Helena. Helena and Donnie. Crystal. (Waste of a great new character and I could say more but I won’t.) Rachel. Pity you didn’t take the opportunity to make Rachel an honorary member of Clone Club. With a nice bit of writing she could have made a deliciously evil twin.

Dear writers, step it up or Season Four will be a no-go for me.

4 thoughts on “#OrphanBlack — The sublime and the ridiculous.

  1. Roberta

    Have never seen the show so have no comment, although from your review don’t think I missed anything.

    Although I do feel for you as I have seen several shows that started out good and devolved into caricature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Sadly ”tis true, Roberta. Seems to happen to the best of them. Battlestar Galactica got while the gettin’ was good. They had one sort of down season. Otherwise it was brilliant.


  2. Marylin Warner

    I stopped watching before the end of season 2, Julia. I really liked season 1, but then I lost interest. So I was glad to read your post and not feel bad about missing out. I watched The Americans, totally involved with all the Russian-American details, until midway into the third season, but then I could actually predict what was going to happen. Maybe I just have a short attention span?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      No, Marylin. I think for most series two seasons works best. They seem to lose steam in the third season. I love Person of Interest but apparently CBS does not. They only plan half a season this next year and then, I believe, the show will be finished. I don’t mind the finish. I do mind half a season.



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