Orphan Black Review: “Formalized, Complex, and Costly”

You’re the ugliest Mark yet.

A drug dealer runs for school trustee, Rachel works at recovery, a devout mom goes on a homicidal spree, and a clone tortures a Ronnie Hawkinsesque rustic. Orphan Black also manages to out-gross The Walking Dead, with a charmingly hilarious scene of brain surgery on a corpse. Meanwhile, Grace learns the truth about her husband, and Cosmina discovers a shocking fact about the Castors.

Just another week with Clone Club.

Title: “Formalized, Complex, and Costly”

Cast and Crew
Director: John Fawcett
Writer: Chris Roberts

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning/ Cosima Niehaus / Alison Hendrix / Helena / Rachel Duncan
Jordan Gavaris as Felix Dawkins
Ari Milen as Rudy / Mark / Castor Clones
Zoé De Grand Maison as Grace Johanssen
Kristin Booth as Bonnie Johanssen
Kristian Bruun as Donnie Hendrix
Kevin Hanchard as Art Bell
Amanda Brugel as Marci Coates
Dylan Bruce as Paul Dierdan
Josh Vokey as Scott
Nicholas Campbell as Willard Finch
Kathryn Alexandre as the midwife


The Proletheans re-enter the story as we (and the Leda Sisters) learn more about the Castor Clones. Meanwhile, Alison begins her drug-fueled run for suburban school trustee.

High Points

Allison and Donnie currently occupy a plot that has no apparent connection to anything else, but it manages to be amusing and entertaining.

And, once again, the show finds the humor in dead body disposal.

Low Point

I hope we’re going to get an explanation for why Paul and Mark did not apparently recognize each other when they met last season. More generally, if we learn the creators are entirely improvising the developments this season, I’ll be very disappointed.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6 The show returns to full-tilt bizarre this week. True Detective‘s countrysides were darker and gloomier, but they weren’t nearly this strange.

Effects: 6/6

Story: 4/6 The story arc builds, but the plotting this week felt scattered.

Acting: 6/6 Maslaney remains as good as ever, and Zoé De Grand Maison shows previously-unrevealed depth as Gracie.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6 Despite the insistence the show takes place in a Generic-verse, much of this week’s doings transpire in Halton Region, which rests, in reality as in this show, a short country drive from Toronto.

In total, “Formalized, Complex, and Costly” receives 36/42

4 replies on “Orphan Black Review: “Formalized, Complex, and Costly””

  1. Yeah, I had alarm bells ringing when it became clear that Mark and Paul ought to have known each other and the implications for there being a planned story arc. Possibly you could wiggle out of it by Paul not being cleared on Castor at that point but being briefed at some point following his initial encounter with Mark, but that seems a little sketchy too. I’m going to need to go back and review the scenes more closely, but at least some of them could still work as them just being aloof or maintaining cover – the scene in the bar when Mark abducts Helena, for instance.

    • According to several sources, the arc (for two seasons) was never originally intended to include the Castors, so we may be looking at something they’ll have to retcon or we’ll have to ignore.

      • Well, I took another look at the bar scene where we first see Paul and Mark together, and after Paul pegs Mark as special forces he then goes on to query which unit. For me that only works if Mark does not know who Paul is, but Paul *could* possibly know about Mark going AWOL and be playing coy to try and draw him out and/or come to the arrangement that they each take their respective target clone and then go their separate ways without bloodshed.

        Alternatively, maybe while Paul is working for Project Castor he really doesn’t have any any idea about the existence of the Castor clones at that point and is just out to retrieve data from Dyad, but gets briefed at some point later. Most likely that would be when he goes AWOL from Dyad but prior to the meetings with Mrs. S. and Marion Bowles.

        So yes, most probably a retcon, especially if your sources are correct, but not one that really breaks the plot too badly if the writers need to flesh out the Paul/Mark backstory at some point. Hopefully, it’s plain sailing from here on.

        • I agree. This is a workable situation, and I’m sure it has occurred to them that they should address it at some point.

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