Season 3, Episode 6: “Certain Agony of the Battlefield”
As Sarah dives deeper into Castor, Castor dives deeper into Sarah.
Has there ever been a more perfect episode? For my money, no. Never has an episode felt so flawlessly conceived and executed. If you only watch one episode of Orphan Black this season, it’s this one. At which point, your best bet is to watch it again. Then again. And again. Around the fourth viewing you’re going to notice that you still flinch at every shock, still ponder at every motive, and still go through a rollercoaster of emotion that varies from spellbinding personal revelations to absurd sequences of pure hysterical ridiculousness. You’re going to notice it’s still that good.
Where to start? The story; yet another atom bomb of information has been dropped on us as Project Castor’s “Mother” reveals the purpose of Leda and Castor’s genetic flaws. Simultaneously, the scope of this conspiracy is blown to even more shocking proportions. Every time you think you’ve reached the edge, the show teaches you just how small a piece of the puzzle it is. Orphan Black is not running out of secrets any time soon. Yet despite the ever-increasing scale of things, Sarah finds herself once again the center of it all. The key to everything. They’re never going to stop coming after her.
The acting; the most impressive performances from every single member of the cast. Paul’s rebellion, Delphine’s transformation, Gracie’s new beginning, even Scott and Shay are showing new sides. As for the leads; these are going to be the tapes Tatiana Maslany and Jordan Gavaris send in for their Emmy/Golden Globe nominations, and these could win it for them. Incredible scenes that poke and probe into deep emotional places within each character. At once both revelatory and captivating, these scenes showcase the full extent of each actor’s remarkable abilities. These aren’t just good Orphan Black scenes, these are phenomenal acting scenes, period. Take note young theater hopefuls, these will impress your drama teacher.
The production; daring, cryptic, and yet crystal clear. Hallucination sequences have a time-honored tradition of featuring experimental filmmaking, and Orphan Black is no exception. Still, it never feels like the process is overshadowing what’s going on within the scene. Every component works together towards a common goal, as a result, you can follow everything, even if you’re not entirely certain what it means. The logic of the madness leads you through. Also, expect many gifs of Donnie and Alison in their underwear twerking/throwing vast quantities of money around in slow motion. This is gonna be a thing.
Clone of the Week: Beth Childs
Of the dozen clones and characters Tatiana Maslany plays, none has yet earned her a major American acting nomination. She has been a punk, a scientist, a suburbanite, a feral lunatic, a coldhearted monster, a man, and a scorpion. And she has rocked every single one. But of all the clones and costumes, the one most often ignored is also one of the most important; Beth Childs, the woman whose identity Sarah stole in the very first scene. We’ve heard so much about Beth, we’ve seen Sarah pretending to be Beth, we’ve looked into Beth’s secrets; yet we still know so little about this person who plays such a big role in the show. It’s such an unexpected surprise to see Beth in person, but in only a single scene we become as fascinated with her as we have any of the other clones. Instantly we want to know more about the woman we thought we knew so much about, but Beth’s destiny may be to forever remain a mystery.
Episode Score: 10.0