Alison Hendrix drunkenly mentioned her mother way back in Season One of Orphan Black, and now we finally get to make the soap-making mama, and she’s a delightfully horrible human being.
After all of the action and insanity of last week’s episode, it’s nice to cool down for a bit with a relatively low-key, Alison-centered episode. Of course, Donnie spends much of “Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate” in the clutches of a drug dealer who likes to cut off body parts, but for Orphan Black, those are relatively low stakes.
Helena and Sarah were reunited again last week, and while most of this episode centers on Alison, Donnie, and Cosima, we do spend a little time with the twins. They’re hanging out in a restaurant in Mexico, waiting on rescue from Siobhan. Helena is talking about killing Mrs. S when Siobhan herself walks through the door.
There’s also a vaguely psychic waitress who interacts with Sarah. Her function is mostly to get Sarah out of the room, sending her upstairs to shower and wash the Castor off of her. I don’t love the mystical cerveza slinger, but I’ll give her a pass since Kira exhibits similar intuitive powers.
Siobhan is done fighting Helena, so she decides to mother her instead. Helena gets a dose of Siobhan’s practicality, “Why don’t you tell me how you plan to raise this child?” But Siobhan also acts credulous when Helena tells her about her “boyfriend.” And when Helena starts beating on Siobhan, Siobhan is shocked by her own impulse to defend herself against the pregnant woman. After hitting Helena once, Siobhan pulls her into an aggressive hug, defeating Helena with affection. Aww, now Helena is another chicken under Mrs. S’s scary wings.
If Alison could see this exchange, she would likely wish (not for the first time) that Siobhan was her mother. We learn some details about Alison’s life before she realized she was a clone, but perhaps the most important thing is that Alison is the product of high expectations and low approval. It’s both depressingly funny and completely understandable that Alison is more willing to put up with Dyad at this point than with her own mother.
It turns out that Connie Hendrix (oh, Donnie took Alison’s name, and Connie will never let him forget it) has one very important thing in common with Dyad: she tried to mess with Alison’s DNA. No one is good enough for Connie except Connie herself, and when she was trying to conceive Alison, she asked for an “upgrade” on the sperm. She thought she was using donor sperm instead of her (now ex-)husband’s. Best of all, while Alison is trying to buying her mom’s soap shop (hoping to use it as a drug front), Connie casually reveals this tidbit of information, thinking it represents an act of love.
Now I can’t help but wonder: Was Connie only implanted with a clone because of her special request? Did some corrupt lab technician think it was amusing to give a woman obsessed with maintaining control an embryo that wasn’t genetically hers?
Let’s back up.
So Donnie and Alison are trying to buy Bubbles, a move that their drug boss, Jason Kellerman, agrees with wholeheartedly. Connie is being stubborn however, because she doesn’t want Mr. Chubs (she always refers to Donnie by his maiden name) to become co-owner of the business she built. Like Connie’s ex-husband’s DNA, Alison’s choices have never been good enough for Connie, and that includes Alison’s attempts at being an actress and her choice of husband.
And Alison has to deal with this while also contending with the usual dark sitcom hijinks that follow her around. For one thing, she has a major school trustee candidate event happening. Felix is her campaign manager, which is downright saintly of him given that it means interacting with people like Marci Coates.
Plus, Cosima shows up. Cosima and Shay’s sexfest is interrupted by Delphine, who shows up at Shay’s both as a relationship power move and because she’s worried about Cosima’s deteriorating health. She asks for a urine sample and Cosima decides she’s going to give Dyad Alison’s pee instead. Hijinks ensue.
To make matters even more complicated, Jason takes Donnie to meet with his supplier Pouchy (or as Felix calls him, “Pouchy as in the crime lord who cut off Vic’s finger”). At first, Donnie wins points with the guy’s niece by showing off his Portuguese.
But it also turns out that he brought the wrong envelop to the meeting. Instead of a wad of cash, Donnie brought the packet of candidate signatures. (Alison, you should really color code your binder clips.) Soon, he’s got his nose up against that infamous paper cutter while Alison and Jason scramble to recover the money.
So Alison is running around dealing with the money and her mother, which means that Cosima ends up playing Alison. (Thank goodness Alison made beanies part of her campaign swag.) Cosima isn’t a summer stock actress like Alison or a con artist like Sarah, and she’s Velma Dinkley levels of blind without her glasses, so she does a pretty poor job of playing Alison. She gamely blinks and grins at the camera during the candidate photos, but she unthinkingly outs herself as a lesbian when she tries to deliver Alison’s speech. It’s kind of great.
I actually thought that, when Connie revealed that she’d asked for a sperm swap, Alison was going to immediately march out the door, find Cosima, and haul her back to her mother. Something like that happens, but a bit later.
Jason Kellerman mistakes Cosima for Alison and kisses her on the lips. Alison seems kind of flattered when she finds out, but when Connie suggests that, someday, Alison might actually trade in Donnie for Jason, Alison decides she’s had enough. Hoping to punish her mother for her meddling, she drags Cosima out into the open.
I’ll admit, I gave a slightly surprised yip when Connie rejected the idea that Cosima was Alison’s clone by saying that Cosima was “mulatto.” But I shouldn’t be surprised that a) Connie would use an outdated word that falls under the category of “words other people can use to describe themselves but I would not personally use” or b) she completely rejects reality in favor of what she already believes. For everyone else, seeing the clones together has been a big, eye-opening moment, but Connie refuses to have her eyes opened, even when her daughter is there explaining the truth.
Back at Dyad, we’ve got Rachel, who is still dealing with parental issues of her own. Scott manages to get Rachel alone by agreeing to teach her game called Agricola, which is a real game, but which I keep treating in my head as a knockoff of Settlers of Catan. I know, I’m a philistine when it comes to German-style board games.
Rachel isn’t really interested in the game, though. She wants the copy of The Island of Doctor Moreau that Ethan Duncan gave Kira. While Scott isn’t as cruel to Rachel as Felix was last week, he does point out that Ethan didn’t give the book to Rachel, his social daughter. Instead, he handed it over to Clone Club, including Cosima, who takes after Ethan and his mad scientist ways.
But Rachel is still connected to Ethan through their shared secret language, and when he presents her with a photocopied page from the book, she seems to decode his symbols.
Hopefully, it will be enough to save Cosima, who is far sicker than she has been letting on. Interesting that it will take many of Ethan Duncan’s daughters to unlock his secrets.
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9pm on BBC America.