Orphan Black Review: “Gag or Throttle”

Out, vile jelly!
Where is thy lustre now?
King Lear, Act III, Scene vii

More long-unseen characters return as the Neolutionists move to harvest Kira’s eggs.

We see flashbacks to Rachel’s past, as she casts her eye on joining Clone Club.

Title: “Gag or Throttle”

Cast and Crew

Director: David Frazee
Writer: Renée St. Cyr

Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning/ Cosima Niehaus / Rachel Duncan / Alison Hendrix / Helena
Maria Doyle Kennedy as Siobhan Sadler
Skyler Wexler as Kira
Stephen McHattie as P.T. Westmoreland
Matt Frewer as Dr. Aldous Leekie
Rosemary Dunsmore as Susan Duncan
Calwyn Shurgold as Hell Wizard
Josh Vokey as Scott
Cynthia Galant as Charlotte / Young Rachel Duncan
Kevin Hanchard as Art Bell
Andrew Moodie as Simon Frontenac
Ari Milen as Mark
Kyra Harper as Dr. Virginia Coady
Scott Wentworth as Dr. Ian Van Lier
Zoé De Grand Maison as Grace Johanssen
Eileen Sword as Sister Irina
Elie Gemael as Hashem Al-Khatib

Premise

The Neolutionists move to harvest Kira’s eggs, Alison returns, and Rachel has to choose sides.

The clones and their associates cleverly uncover Westmoreland’s true identity.

High Points

The gradual build to Rachel’s final act of defiance, from her childhood, to the opening, uncomfortable examination, to the mise-en-abyme reveal regarding her eye, to the glassware and drinking, to that final, cutting moment.

Low Points

The situation on the island appears to have settled more easily than should have been the case, given what we saw last week.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 6/6

Story: 5/6 The story feels fragmented, but each sequence has integrity. Rachel is front and center, as we learn more about her past. Her parental issues are a kind of Oedipus complex that Freud never imagined.

Arrow could learn a lot about how to use flashbacks from this episode.

Acting: 6/6 Maslany had to keep character even though two of the clones change their attitudes and appearances this week.

I feel for Kevin Hanchard, who once again gets reduced to third spear-bearer to the left.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, “Gag or Throttle” receives 36/42

5 replies on “Orphan Black Review: “Gag or Throttle””

  1. zocalo says:

    Definitely agree on the highpoint; I thought Rachel’s flashbacks were *really* well done and the juxtaposition with her current situations achieved in minutes what might require a whole series worth of character development for some other shows. It’s always been hard to feel much sympathy for Rachel other than by making an allowance for her upbringing, and even then she remains cold and complicit, but her realisation of the truth of her situation and sacrifice that resulted from it have changed that considerably, and might even make some form of redemption and induction into Clone Club an acceptable outcome.

    Not sure about the island as a low point, although there’s not a lot of other options in a generally strong episode (other than the waste of the third spear-bearer, perhaps), as it kind of depends how much time passed off camera while Cosima was making her way back to the mainland. We don’t get to see or hear via exposition what happened, but the improvised fortifications imply some kind of struggle between Westmoreland’s firearmed faithful and the (presumably) mostly torches and pitchforks bearing unbelievers. That’s only going to end with any a choice between either siding with Westmoreland or starving and freezing to death with no way off the island since Cosima took the only known transport, and the presense of the guards imply that process was still on-going which seems realistic enough. Maybe some expo about the stakes between Rachel/Coady/Westmoreland ended up on the cutting room floor?

    Hands-down most creepy possibility: Given the expected arrival of Kira’s eggs, what does Coady need a sample of *that* from a Castor for?

    Still looking like they are intending to somehow tie up as many loose ends as possible, with two more returning characters this week and a resolution for a couple more. Still missing a couple of players though; Kira’s father, Cal (free of Game of Thones commitments having been abandonned in Slaver’s Bay, Essos) and Bell’s partner Detective Enger, who seems to have served her purpose and just dropped out of the show. Perhaps some of the remaining “guest” clones will get a nod at some point too, or even Helena’s beau, Jesse? Ferdinand appeared in the preview for next week, so I guess he’ll be paying his dues for MK at some point…

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      They want his genetic material for reasons similar to why they want Kira’s. His is just a little easier to get.

      As for the island, they certainly showed that things had been fortified between episodes. But everyone in the house seemed very comfortable, and they had no qualms about wanting to send Kira there. It seemed at odds with what we watched last week.

      It was the best “weak” option in a strong episode.

      • zocalo says:

        Yeah, I know what they want the samples for, but they were also talking about surrogacy which could require that two sets of samples be combined first – unless they genuinely intend one half to come from the male partners of the surrogates, which seems unlikely given what we know of Neolution. Then again, given the equivalent for the Castor and Leda clones, I suppose it’s still a step in the right direction.

        No issue with the choice of the weak point. I think the outcome we saw was pretty much inevitable, it was just that we didn’t get to see it (which is reasonable, given practicalities of filming and passage of time) or get any explanation other than that there had been a struggle, fortifications has been built, some time had passed, and it was now mostly resolved. The destination is fine, skipping over the journey without so much as a mention when there were at least a couple of opportunities to do so, not so much – although if it was a choice between that and one of Rachel’s scenes ending up on the cutting room floor to make the episode length, I’m definitely happy they went the way they did.

  2. Jethro says:

    I saw the Rachel thing coming from a mile away and it was still awesome.

    My low-point was Alison’s new hair!

  3. lost says:

    You know, the behaviour at the house isn’t so much out of character even if the insurrection isn’t completely handled yet. It also wouldn’t take long to dig in and fortify effectively against that kind of mob given that the house appears to be the only permanent structure and probably controls the services for the rest of the camp.

    Indeed, I think we have just seen the exact reason why the camp isn’t more like a modern village. I may be giving the producers too much credit here, but it seems to me that keeping the camp at the level it is at makes it a lot easier to put down an insurrection of any kind, especially given the balance of power with regard to weapons and training.

    I do have to wonder how many little bits of exposition ended up on the cutting room floor due to runtime concerns. It could be that they did have a few bits that mentioned things but they ultimately cut them for pacing or runtime and (again, maybe too much credit) gave us, the viewers, credit for understanding that things happened off screen.

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