Orphan Black Review: “Newer Elements of Our Defense”

Most of the cast find themselves deep in gothic territory this week, with cornfield stalking, grave digging, blood and vivisection.

Title: “Newer Elements of Our Defense”

Cast and Crew
Director: Chris Grismer
Writer: Russ Cochrane

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning/ Cosima Niehaus / Alison Hendrix / Helena / Pupok
Ari Milen as Mark / Rudy / Parsons / Castor Clones
Jordan Gavaris as Felix Dawkins
Kristin Booth as Bonnie Johanssen
Kristian Bruun as Donnie Hendrix
Zoé De Grand Maison as Grace Johanssen
Kyra Harper as Dr. Virginia Coady
Justin Chatwin as Jason Kellerman
David Fox as Jonah Appleyard
Josh Vokey as Scott
Natalie Krill as Patty


After escaping death in the cornfield, Sarah and Mark dig up a source of Castor DNA samples. Meanwhile, Alison and Donnie sink deeper into the world of drug-dealing, Gracie falls in and out with the Prolethians, and Helena hatches an escape plot.

High Points

Sarah makes a harrowing journey this week, and her surgery on Mark feels incredibly disturbing.

Helena’s escape plan actually requires staging and plotting; she does not merely feign illness and then make a break from a heavily-guarded compound. Her failure to get away results from one of the character’s finest moments. Helena the killer is sympathetic; Coady the doctor is not.

Low Point

I’m all for character development, but Cosima and Felix’s part in this week’s plot feels like a lot of filler, especially given that next week places us halfway through Season Three.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6

Effects: 6/6 We have some gruesome practical effects this week, and male clone interaction. Tatiana Maslaney’s characters don’t interact in the same space this week (I exclude Pupok, who only uses her voice).

Story: 5/6

I really hope the Hendrix plot is going somewhere. The other storylines intersect quite effectively this week. The Hendrix’s story has potential, but breaks badly from everything else.

Acting: 6/6 Maslaney proves particularly effective in her multiple roles. The Prolethians function as individuals, but they all manage to embody their creepy blend of old-time religion and futuristic science, with echoes of the Great Awakening, utopian religious cults, early twentieth-century eugenics, and modern genetics.

Emotional Response: 6/6 This week’s episode features many disturbing and jarring moments, but none feel gratuitous.

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6 We will see a Season Four.

In total, “Newer Elements of Our Defense” receives 38/42

2 replies on “Orphan Black Review: “Newer Elements of Our Defense””

  1. Lingering Questions: What do we know about Cosima and Allison’s adoptive families?

    • Very little. It seems quite likely they would have to have been involved some how though as presumably even as kids they would have been monitored and it seems too invasive a process to cover up with routine childhood medicals. Whether the story is going to explore that however is a good question – in their shoes I’d certainly be interesting in finding out what they knew and if any of it was of any use.

      I’m actually more curious about the Hendrix plot, which seems very odd, to say the least. As a secondary story arc it works, and certainly provides opportunities for both comic relief and tense moments to balance the main plot (as it should), but where is it going to tie in to the main arc? Unless Kellerman is somehow connected with Project Leda – a backup monitor candidate for Alison, perhaps – then I’ve currently got nothing. In typical Orphan Black style, I suspect it’s going to be something completely off the wall when we eventually find out though.

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