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Orphan Black Recap Season 3, Episode 8, "Ruthless in Purpose, and Insidious in Method"

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Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 8, “Ruthless in Purpose, and Insidious in Method”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 8, “Ruthless in Purpose, and Insidious in Method”

Tonight’s episode of Orphan Black takes its name from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s description, in his 1961 Farewell Address, of the “hostile ideology” of communism: “global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method.” Setting up Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), Felix (Jordan Gavaris), and Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) to pursue “the Castor original” in London, marked by the misuse of a new clone, Crystal Godrich, by all concerned, it’s indeed an hour of cold-blooded calculations, embracing the realpolitik of expedient alliances, but from where I’m sitting there’s no ideology in sight. If “Ruthless in Purpose, and Insidious in Method” improves on the dire “comedy” of “Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate,” it nonetheless fails to suggest much more than madness in the method, as Orphan Black resumes its retreat into the realm of pure plot.

Orphan Black Recap Season 3, Episode 7, "Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate"

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Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 7, “Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 7, “Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate”

Be careful what you wish for. In my recap of last week’s “Certain Agony of the Battlefield,” I pleaded for more “multilayered texture” to “lighten the mood,” and as if part of some cruel trick, tonight’s episode of Orphan Black obliges with an hour of paper-thin comic contrivances, all topped with a generous sprinkling of mawkish sentiment. Absent the narrative crutch of imprisoned sestras and Castor conspiracies, “Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate” must stand on its own two feet, and the fact that it stumbles so badly doesn’t bode well for this shambolic season’s looming finale.

Orphan Black Recap Season 3, Episode 6, "Certain Agony of the Battlefield"

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Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 6, “Certain Agony of the Battlefield”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 6, “Certain Agony of the Battlefield”

Wracked by high fever, Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) slips into delirium midway through “Certain Agony of the Battlefield” and comes face to face with the origins of Orphan Black. Infected via blood transfusion with the Castor clones’ STD, she passes through a tunnel in her mind’s eye only to greet Beth Childs in a gauzily lit kitchen of the afterlife, where she receives a message from her late “sestra” to the tune of the straining score. “We do terrible things for the people we love,” Beth says, referring to the impenetrable Paul Dierden (Dylan Bruce). “Stop asking, ’Why?’ Start asking, ’Who?’” Thus freighted with delusions, dream sequences, flashbacks, and musical interludes, “Certain Agony of the Battlefield” strings together a series of arresting images, but by the time Paul unwraps a grenade from his palm in the final minutes of the episode, these flickers of style add up to little more than a placeholder for dramas still to come.

Orphan Black Recap Season 3, Episode 3, "Formalized, Complex, and Costly"

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Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 3, “Formalized, Complex, and Costly”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 3, “Formalized, Complex, and Costly”

“Formalized, Complex, and Costly,” President Eisenhower’s description of the technological revolution that accompanied World War II and the Cold War, is an apt title for tonight’s episode of Orphan Black, which hardens the narrative lacquer smeared across “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis” by throwing its full weight behind the ties between the Castor clones (Ari Millen) and their genetic “sestras” (Tatiana Maslany). There’s now no escaping the fact that the series is more or less bound to play out the curdled dramatics of the two groups chasing down their own origin stories, hemmed in all the while by Proletheans, corporate science, and military might. “Welcome to Clone Club,” Cosima says to Det. Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) early in “Formalized, Complex, and Costly,” but on the evidence of the third season so far, it may be time to bid Orphan Black farewell.

Orphan Black Recap Season 3, Episode 2, "Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis"

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Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 2, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 3, Episode 2, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis”

Tonight’s episode of Orphan Black, “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis,” comes all too close to the grievous error of which its title warns. Alone, the phrase, cribbed from Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, may suggest light at the end of the tunnel, but in context it’s the very sacrifices we make on the altar of expediency that set us up for disaster down the line. “To meet it successfully,” Eisenhower says of the Soviet threat, “there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle.” Suddenly consumed by the need to explain Project Castor, by its crisis of narrative, Orphan Black seems increasingly willing to jettison the rich characterization of the “sestras” in favor of constructing conspiracies, and “Transitory Sacrifices of Crisis” may be the show’s worst episode to date.

Orphan Black Recap Season 2, Episode 8, "Variable and Full of Perturbation"

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Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, “Variable and Full of Perturbation”

BBC

Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, “Variable and Full of Perturbation”

In “Variable and Full of Perturbation,” Ethan Duncan (Andrew Gilles) reads to Kira (Skyler Wexler) from The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells’s 1896 novel about a mad scientist experimenting with the creation of human/animal hybrids. “How does it go?” he asks Rachel (Tatiana Maslany) later, revealing that they read it together in bygone days. “The bit about how he’d be forgiven for hate, but not for irresponsibility?” The allusion to Dr. Moreau is a fitting complement to the Dyad Institute (after all, both interfere with human individuality in the name of some abstract, directionless “science”), but “Variable” is jumbled and strange. Two episodes from season’s end, Orphan Black appears no closer to revealing the puzzle’s final shape.

The most inexplicable and, well, delightful twist in “Variable” is the appearance of Tony, the Clone Club’s first trans man, played by Maslany with the Canadian-accented coarseness of a transient rough. Tony’s long, tangled hair and unfortunate beard belie a loyal, if somewhat randy, soul. It may be a measure of how much Orphan Black has won me over, warts and all, that watching Tony sidle up to Felix (Jordan Gavaris) for a kiss left me so discomfited. A protective pang sounded in my head when I realized that Felix sleeping with his foster sister’s lookalike was bound to end badly. In fact, the sweetest moment involving Tony comes when he’s off screen, as Orphan Black sneaks in a little instruction on the appropriate pronouns. “So, I got it right,” Art says. “She’s a trans clone.” “He’s trans,” Felix replies. “He’s, yeah.”