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Janna is a staff writer for The Hudsucker. Born and raised in a small Ontario town, she made her move to Toronto for university and immediately fell in love with the excitement and pace of the big city. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from York University, specializing in editing and screenwriting. She currently works as an assistant editor for a television production company. Janna loves stories told in all mediums, especially film, and takes herself to the movies as much as she possibly can. She can generally be found taking a Zumba class, exploring some of Toronto’s lesser-known gems, or relaxing with her fluffy feline roommate.

Black is Back: “Orphan Black” – Episode 4 “Newer Elements of Our Defense”

Orphan Black is a critically acclaimed sci-fi series from BBC America featuring human clones. Its first two seasons garnered rave reviews, and its third season airs Saturday nights at 9/8c on BBC America and SPACE. Our writer, Janna Jeffrey, recaps every episode of the third season here on The Hudsucker. Orphan Black is back!

Beware: As this is a recap column, there are spoilers ahead. Read on if you dare!

Credit BBC America

In the previous episode, we followed Art and Sarah on their search for Mark, watched Mark try and track down stolen Castor tissue samples, and learned that the Castor and Leda clones are biological siblings. The episode ended with Bonnie Johansson pointing a gun at Mark and the sound of a gunshot, so if you’re anything like me, you’re dying to find out exactly who was on the receiving end of that bullet!

Thankfully, this show wastes no time. We open right back on the farm again, with Sarah hiding in the barn. Bonnie Johansson steps out of the corn field, which dashes my hope that Mark was the one who shot first. Bonnie moves towards the barn and looks around, and as soon as Sarah can get away with it, she takes off. She ducks behind Bonnie’s truck and finds the gun that Mark was carrying, and then goes after him into the corn field. He’s been shot in the leg and the stomach, but he’s alive. She’s in the midst of trying to help him when a truck pulls up, carrying more Proletheans. Sarah hoists Mark up and the two of them struggle through the corn field, heading for safety.


Bonnie drives Gracie back to the new home of the Proletheans. There’s a sad little moment of Gracie taking off her ring—you know, I mostly just feel sorry for Gracie. She’s been used by the Proletheans, married a man who lied to her, and was impregnated by her father’s child. Literally no one is looking out for Gracie. I really hope that changes—she’s a sweet girl. Anyway, once she’s inside, she’s greeted by old family members and introduced to a man named Dr. Appleyard (David Fox). He gets his hands all over her tummy and talks about the divine life she’s growing inside her. It’s creepy. Calm down, Dr. Appleyard.

We’re back with Helena again, and she’s tying a tourniquet around her arm while she has a little chat with her imaginary scorpion friend. You know, I’m really starting to like this little scorpion friend spirit animal bit. It’s both sweet that Helena’s imagination gave herself someone to talk to, and heartbreaking that she’s so alone and needed to do that. Once her arm is tied off, she starts making a ruckus: she trashes her room, she yells, she bangs herself against the bars of her cell door. Clearly she had an idea what was coming, because Dr. Cody comes in and sedates her by sticking a needle into her secretly tourniqueted arm. I love that Helena’s starting to fight for control and push back against her captors.

There’s panic at the Hendrix household! Donnie comes home and tells Alison that he thinks he was being followed while out selling, or as he puts it, “campaigning”. Alison’s mind immediately jumps to her own personal enemy number one: Marci Coates. Donnie, however, thinks it’s the police. To calm him down, Alison says that they’ll pack all their wares up and store them somewhere outside the house. There’s a great little moment of Donnie wondering if everyone else has chaotic lives like they do—Kristian Bruun really sells it. I love this little drug dealer family. I just wish their storyline would start weaving itself more into everyone else’s lives!

Credit BBC America

Helena’s staying in the hospital wing of the Castor compound after the outburst in her cell, presumably to be monitored while the sedative she was stabbed with is in effect. Her little scorpion friend encourages her to leave the hospital wing—she needs to scout the place out and figure out how to escape. Helena sneaks around the compound, struggling to fight against the drugs that are in her system. She spots a medical lab with Dr. Cody working on someone inside, and briefly passes out. Once she comes to, she manages to get herself back to the hospital room before Miller—the army Castor clone who’s been working for Dr. Cody in the compound—comes to check on her.

Sarah and Mark come out of the corn field next to an empty house. Sarah wants to take him to the hospital, but Mark refuses, so into the house they go. Mark tells her that the bullet is still in his leg, and she needs to help him get it out. Sarah wants to leverage her help for answers about Castor. He opens his own wound as Sarah questions him about Helena and about Castor HQ. Unfortunately, since he’s been on assignment for over a year and Castor HQ is mobile, he can’t tell her much. He also explains that Castor believes that Henrik Johansson stole tissue samples from them before Project Castor was shut down—that’s why he was with the Prolethans. Sarah has to slide some forceps into Mark’s leg to pull the bullet out, and it’s all very gross. It’s worth the grossness for the sweet moment after Sarah helps him, though—there’s a bit of a new bond between the two of them now.

Back to Alison and Donnie, who have packed up all their wares and are lugging them out of the house in rubber containers. They discover a man in their backyard, who Donnie recognizes as the man who was following him earlier. This guy is vaguely threatening—why does this show have so many vaguely threatening characters? —and tells them that Ramon wasn’t in a position to sell them his business. Now Ramon’s boss wants to have a meeting with them.

There’s a brief little scene where Felix interrupts Cosima as she’s poring over the Doctor Moreau book to tell her that she’s clearly pining for Delphine and forces her to go down to the bar with him. Cosima’s storyline is kind of bland right now, too. I know she’s the science clone and she was sick, but she’s well now—why can’t she be out in the world, more involved with what’s going on too? At the bar, Felix starts flipping through a lesbian dating site and tries to convince her to sign up. Cosima isn’t interested, but Felix just wants her to have some fun. It’s nice how concerned Felix is with the wellbeing of the clones—not just with what’s going on with Project Leda. His heart and levity is very welcome on this show.

Gracie, adjusting back into Prolethean life, is getting dressed when she discovers that she’s bleeding. Bonnie, suspecting she isn’t all right, forces her way into Gracie’s room and finds her bleeding and in pain. She calls for the midwife. Dr. Appleyard examins her, and tells her and all the other Proletheans that she’s lost the baby. Bonnie becomes enraged and tells Gracie that because she left their family, God took her baby to punish her. Now that the child is gone, Gracie isn’t welcome among the Proletheans anymore. God, this is killing me. Someone, please do nice things for Gracie already!

Credit BBC America

Sarah sews up Mark’s wound as he tells her about Castor’s background: they grew up together in the military and were kept isolated. No monitors, no attachments. Mark tells her that he’d thought that if he could find the samples, he could trade those for his freedom with Gracie. He tells her about finding something of Henrik’s, but doesn’t elaborate much. He’s clearly not doing too well, because he passes out as Sarah finishes sewing him up. She checks his pulse to ensure that he’s still alive, calls 911 for him, takes his motel room key, and leaves. She’s on a mission.

Alison and Donnie are waiting in their car for their drug meeting to start. Wow—there’s a sentence I wouldn’t have predicted I’d type back in Season 1. I love the character evolution on this show! Donnie has a gun with him for safety, which Alison isn’t so thrilled about; Donnie’s track record with guns and cars isn’t so great, as the deceased Dr. Leekie can attest to. A truck pulls up with two men inside, and the man from Alison and Donnie’s yard steps out. He pats Alison down, but doesn’t touch Donnie. He keeps Donnie outside with him while Alison goes to the truck to talk to Ramon’s boss. She gets inside, sits down, and… surprise! She knows the guy! His name is Jason Kellerman (Justin Chatwin), and he and Alison used to date in high school. They’re both surprised and thrilled to see each other, and do a little catching up. Jason wants to know why Alison has gotten into the drug selling business, but she doesn’t want to tell him—she wants to keep things professional. She tells him that if he lets her continue, she’ll bring in twice the revenue that Ramon did. With Alison’s attitude and determination, I wouldn’t doubt that for a second.

Sarah arrives at the motel and lets herself into Mark’s room. She digs around for a few minutes, finding the box of Henrik’s things rather easily. She starts going through the notebooks and discovers that Johansson used to work for Professor Duncan, back when Projects Castor and Leda were still running. She calls Cosima and fills her in, taking some photos of the journals for Cosima to see. Cosima reads through them and realizes that Johansson was using the Castor samples that he stole to make more clones. Sarah and Mark shouldn’t be looking for tissue samples—they should be looking for Johansson’s son.

Sarah packs up the information and stops off in the bathroom to wash her face. As she does that, we see someone slip into the motel room. Sarah hears the person, and draws her gun as she steps out of the bathroom. She’s disarmed easily and knocked down on the bed with the gun pointing at her face… and it’s Mark behind the barrel! He’s angry that she called 911 for him. Apparently he’s doing all right, given that he made it all the way to the motel. Sarah tells him what she’s found out, and asks him about Johansson having a son. A look of recognition dawns on Mark’s face.

Credit BBC America

Helena is back in her jail cell. She uses a bone from one of her meals to pick the lock on her cell door and let herself out. Her little scorpion friend urges her to escape and run to safety—she’ll be free! But Helena’s curiosity has other plans, and takes her to the medical lab she’d spotted earlier. The name on the file by the door is Parsons, and when she steps inside, she finds yet another Castor clone strapped to a chair. He looks incredibly distressed, and soon we see why: his skull has been cut back and there are two probes going into his brain. Ugh! Gross. The poor guy is clearly in pain. He locks his eyes on Helena and begs for her to kill him. Helena’s scorpion friend tells her to leave him, to escape, but Helena can’t. She identifies with Parsons—he’s someone who has been forgotten by his family, just like her. She promises to make his suffering and pain go away. Then she takes a scalpel and stabs him in the brain, killing him. It’s both compassionate and unsettling, and I love when Helena gets moments like these. Unfortunately, killing Parsons sets off alarm bells, and Dr. Cody arrives with guards who capture her and lead her away.

Sarah and Mark arrive at a house out in the country—Mark tells her it was Henrik and Bonnie’s first home. He takes her around back and they find a graveyard. Henrik’s first child is dead. Mark tells Sarah to dig up the grave so that he can take the corpse back to Castor, where they can examine its DNA to try and find the cause for the Castor clones’ disease. Sarah isn’t thrilled about the idea of digging up a dead baby, but with a gun pointed at her, she goes along with it. They talk about Helena, about why Sarah wants to save her and why Castor wants to keep her in captivity. Castor will do anything to find a cure. Mark isn’t doing so well anymore, and he’s fading in and out of consciousness. Sarah gets to the bottom of the grave and finds a box with the dead child inside. As she’s working, someone approaches them—the person checks Mark’s unconscious pulse and then takes the gun from his hand. It’s pointing right at Sarah when she turns around and discovers Rudy on the other end of it. Rudy creeps me out so much. Sarah tries to keep her cool and tells Rudy to take the box and exchange it for Helena back at the Castor compound. He makes her open the box to check what’s in it, and we’re treated to a lovely glimpse of an infant’s skull. Blech. As Rudy is examining the skeleton, Sarah hits him with a shovel and takes off towards the barn.

Credit BBC America

Sarah’s barely found time to hide when Rudy comes after her, searching the barn for her and taunting her about Kira. Seriously, all these people need to stop vaguely threatening everyone’s loved ones—it’s very unsettling. Rudy finds Sarah and has a knife almost to her throat when Mark appears behind him. Yay, Mark! He tells Rudy to stand down. It’s interesting to see Mark in a scene with one of the other Castor clones—it really magnifies the difference between Mark and his brothers, and shows more and more how good Ari Millen is at his job. Rudy slams Sarah’s head against the wall and then turns towards Mark. Rudy threatens to kill them both, and Mark gets all up in Rudy’s face to essentially call his bluff. Rudy backs down, and the two brothers hug. Mark sends Rudy off with the box and faces off with Sarah himself. Rudy reminds Mark that Castor doesn’t leave loose ends behind, and Mark moves towards Sarah, and… end of episode.

Whew! This was a good episode. It wasn’t as action packed as the first couple episodes of the season, but the story is moving along well and they’re putting the pieces together. My complaints of Alison and Donnie (and, to a lesser extent, Cosima) not being overly involved in the main storyline still stand, but I have faith in Orphan Black—hopefully they’ll bring everything together in the end. Seeing Helena try and take control of her situation in this episode was fantastic, and watching Sarah and Mark work together for a common goal was pretty interesting, too. It was also great to get another scene with two Castor clones together. Ari Millen is playing clones who are all very similar, which is different than what Tatiana Maslany has to do, and the more I watch him, the more impressed I am with his performances. The differences between Millen’s clones are so incredibly subtle, but they’re all there—and the more scenes we get between them, the more we can see the little nuances he’s built for each character. It’s really interesting to watch, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take Castor now that they have another sample to work with!


BEST LINE: Felix, while trying to convince Cosima to join online dating: “Nobody meets anyone in person anymore, darling. It’s the future.”

FAVORITE MOMENT: The moment between Sarah and Mark, after she gets the bullet out of his leg. There’s exhilaration from them both, having accomplished something like that despite the places they both come from, and they press their foreheads together in mutual relief. With the knowledge that they’re biologically related, that moment felt like a bit of bonding—like they saw each other as siblings, in that second. I love little character moments like that.

What did you think of this episode of Orphan Black? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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