‘Orphan Black’ review: ‘Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate’ / ‘Ruthless in Purpose, and Insidious in Method’

After the dramatic events at the Castor compound in the sixth episode, the seventh feels like it was definitely designed as a breather.

It’s a pacy episode with a lot of racing around and a lot of focus on Alison’s storyline, but it never intends to get you to be too worried that anything big is going to happen. Even if some viewers might be able to get into the tension of whether Alison’s going to be able to get the money to the drug suppliers, whether Donnie will be safe, or whether Alison will be able to make her big speech, ultimately this is meant to be a lighter and more comedic pause after the shock of what came before it.

It doesn’t last too long, though, as the episode ends with Cosima bleeding in the bath and promises a more aggressive approach from Sarah when it comes to getting one step ahead of their enemies. Of course, the show can never allow the Clone Club to get too far ahead as the drama almost always comes from seeing them scramble to figure out what to do next, but it’ll definitely allow them to get information a little more quickly than they have been so far.

Very little goes to plan in ‘Ruthless in Purpose, and Insidious in Method’, but Sarah, Felix and Mrs S do manage to get something out of Rachel before she is able to sneakily escape with the help of Nealon. Those details will lead them to London, where they’ll hope to learn something that’ll get them closer to finding the Castor original so that they can find the genetic code.

Orphan Black 3 8 Alison Hendrix (TATIANA MASLANY), Gracie Johanssen (ZOE de GRAND'MAISON)

It’s a little strange that the Alison plotline has become such a focus in these episodes, when it really isn’t connected at all to the main thread of the season. The action in ‘Community of Dreadful Fear and Hate’ feels like a diversion, but it’s odd that the show continues to follow up the events quite so heavily in the following episode, now throwing Helena and Gracie in with the Hendrix family.

Maybe it’s just a way of separating out the characters before the finale, because while it’s a good bit of fun there’s definitely nothing going on in this subplot that feels like it’ll contribute to the real central conflict.

That’s a small criticism, though, because it is still entertaining and it at least gives us Cosima attempting to pretend to be Alison, in another spectacular display of Tatiana Maslany’s skills. And if that’s not enough, we soon get to see much more of Krystal, the other clone we briefly glimpsed earlier after she’d met the Castor clones.

This is another case of Maslany creating an instantly complete and compelling character, and in the space of an episode we go from getting to know and enjoy her presence to seeing her duped by both heroes and villains, before being captured as part of Rachel’s escape scheme. If she ever wakes from that coma, she’s going to have a long list of reasons to be angry.

Orphan Black 3 7 Sarah Manning (TATIANA MASLANY), Helena (TATIANA MASLANY)

The emergence of Krystal happens precisely because Sarah is now prepared to go to rather extreme lengths to get answers. She’s getting Felix to grab Krystal’s personal information so that Rachel will give translate the book full of vital information, and so that she can escape then country having taken on Krystal’s identity.

It’s all squarely in the darker end of the moral grey area, not to mention the fact that putting any trust in Rachel is a pretty terrible idea to begin with. It doesn’t surprise anybody that they can’t foresee the outcome, but there’s something heartbreaking about an innocent like Krystal getting caught up in the ensuing mess. Hopefully something will make Sarah revaluate whether taking so many risks is ultimately that much of a good idea.

It’s certainly interesting to see how the season is shaping up, though, as we can now look back on how the big shock happens just after the halfway point and how these two episodes are largely table-setting for what’s next.

The final pair of episodes will open with some of the main characters heading off to London in search of answers, and it’ll be fascinating to see just how much they’re able to find out, especially as the somewhat sidelined antagonists of Coady and Rudy are sure to not be far behind.

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Available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.

> Buy the Season 1-2 boxset on Amazon.

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