A Look at Orphan Black- Season 3, Episode 4: “Newer Elements of Our Defense”

So much blood, so much loss, so much loss of freedom, and so much…Justin Chatwin? Let’s jump into “Newer Elements of Our Defense.”

The episode begins with Bonnie leaving the corn field and heading toward Finch’s farm.  She opens the door and finds it empty.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Sarah finds a bleeding Mark in the field

Sarah manages to slip out, pick up a gun, and heads into the field.  She finds Mark, badly wounded, but still alive.  The two make their escape just as two other men arrive to check the field.  Why is Sarah helping Mark?  Well, she’s all that he’s got at the moment.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Jonah Appleyard, played by David Fox, welcomes Gracie

Following this, Bonnie brings Gracie home and introduces her to Jonah Appleyard, played by David Fox, who took in the Proletheans after the fire.  Jonah is no stranger to Gracie, as he was there the day she was born.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena restrained after going berserk in her cell

Okay, Helena has one of the more interesting storylines this week.  Her tale begins with…well, her still stewing in her cell, but she’s got a plan.  She starts with tying a rope around her arm and then causes such a ruckus that she has to be subdued by some guards.  Dr. Coady soon joins the guards injects Helena.  Well, I’m sure that will work.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Donnie tells Alison that someone followed him

Meanwhile, Alison and Cosima talk.  Alison doesn’t feel that Sarah should be messing with these Castor people, but as Cosima points out, they still have Helena.  Plus, if their original genetic material really does exist, that’s the closest thing they’ll ever get to their own genome.  Then Donnie rushes in and looks rather worried.

He was out making deliveries and noticed a car following him.  He’s thinking that it could be police related, not this election business.  Alison isn’t too worried, but just in case, the two will just move any incriminating evidence out of the house.

Sarah and Mark arrive at a home that appears to be empty.  Mark refuses any medical attention.  The bullet that hit his stomach went through and hit muscle tissue, but nothing vital.  The bullet in his leg, however, is still there.  He’d do it himself, but that could kill him.  Sarah will have to do it, but in exchange, she’ll want some answers.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena searches the compound, sees doctors operating on Castor clone

Helena’s arm is like a dead fish.  The scorpion tells her to get moving before the drugs start to settle in, so she starts exploring.  After all, to escape the first box, she has to know what the second box holds.  Helena makes her way through the facility and eventually sees people heading in and out of what looks like a medical room.  Upon closer examination, though, she sees that the doctors are experimenting on a Castor clone…

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Miller finds Helena passed out on the floor

Back at the cell, Miller finds Helena’s bed empty, but then sees that she’s just asleep on the floor.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Sarah fishes the bullet out of Mark's leg

Sarah isn’t keen on digging into Mark’s leg to find the bullet, but she still wants to know about Helena’s location.  Mark explains that he was on a mission for over a year.  HQ is mobile.  If his people have Helena, she could be anywhere.  In addition, his people had intel that Johanssen stole samples back before the project was shut down, but Mark didn’t find anything.  Sarah manages to feel the bullet, meaning that it’s not embedded in the bone.  With a pair of pliers, she manages to fish out the bullet.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Alison and Donnie find Lionel, played by Gavin Fox, at their home

Back with our favorite drug dealers, Alison and Donnie have some unexpected company.  This is Lionel, played by Gavin Fox.  He doesn’t work for Marci- he’s a messenger.  While, yes, Alison paid for the drugs, they weren’t Ramon’s to sell, and Ramon himself was working on consignment when he suddenly dropped off the radar.  Whatever the case, Lionel’s boss wants a meeting, so Alison and Donnie will need to find a babysitter tonight.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Felix finds Cosima pining

Felix interrupts Cosima’s conversation with Scott on synthetic sequence to discuss an important matter at hand: how Cosima is coping since her break-up with Delphine.  It can’t be going well since she’s wearing a sweater that makes her look like she’s been mounted by a llama, has on expensive perfume, has pretentious French cigarettes, and even Eskimo pie.  These are apparently signs of pining.  Huh.  Who knew?  Though Cosima is expecting a call from Sarah, Felix wants her to come with him to Bobby’s for a drink.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Gracie sees red

Gracie is getting ready when she suddenly finds blood leaking from between her legs.  Bonnie knocks on the door and lets Gracie know that she wants her to meet the others.  When Gracie doesn’t immediately come out, Bonnie tries the door and finds it locked.  Luckily, Bonnie is the key master.  I’m not sure why she has the keys since, as far as I know, this isn’t her place.

Now that he doesn’t have any more bullets in him, Mark is able to have a coherent conversation with Sarah about his upbringing.  The clones were raised together and not permitted any outside attachments, but then Mark met Gracie.  He didn’t run off with her because the clones are trained for hunting people.  Doesn’t matter now.  Whatever Johanssen stole is gone.  When Sarah asks what Mark found, she gets no response and notices that Mark has passed out.  She calls an ambulance.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Rudy prepares to head to the hotel

At the same time, Paul receives information about the hotel and makes his way there.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Alison reunites with her old high school boyfriend, Jason Kellerman, played by Justin Chatwin

Later that night, Alison and Donnie wait for Lionel to arrive.  When he does, he lets the two know that the boss wants to talk to Alison alone.  She heads to the truck and comes face to face with her old high school boyfriend, Jason Kellerman, played by Son Goku himself, Justin Chatwin.  Alison dumped this guy, but then he heard from Lionel about a couple named Alison and Donnie Hendrix that muscled in on Ramon.  Anyway, Alison promises that if Jason returns the pills, she’ll have his money back within the week and can even double Ramon’s weight.

Over at the hotel, Sarah, who managed to find the box, finds Cosima and lets her know that Mark was undercover for the military and Johanssen was Professor Duncan’s lab assistant at Project Leda.  She sends a picture of the box’s contents to Cosima, who zeroes in on the February 18th date: “S.C.N.T. Successful.”  S.C.N.T. stands for Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, which is how you clone.  This would mean that Johanssen used the samples to try and make more clones.

If he succeeded, then that child would have the exact same DNA as the Castor original.  But then, Sarah isn’t looking for tissue samples- she needs Johanssen’s son.  Plus, he would need embryos, someone to carry the child.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Gracie loses her baby

So the Proletheans mourn the loss of Gracie’s child, but Bonnie has everyone leave so she can chew Gracie out on her own.  Gracie has betrayed the family.  God wanted to punish her, so He cursed her and took the child.  The only reason she was welcome was because of the child.  As such, she won’t be welcomed back there again.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Mark finds Sarah at the hotel

Sarah gets an unexpected surprise from Mark.  She tells him that they can’t find the Castor samples because Johanssen used them to make a clone.  All they need is a little bit of DNA from the son.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Mark and Sarah at the grave site

They arrive at the house where Henrik and Bonnie lived, but have to go around back.  Johanssen said that he and Bonnie had had a child before Gracie, but it didn’t survive.  Sarah’s gonna have to dig that baby up.  Mark doesn’t get why Sarah is so dead set on saving someone who tried to kill her, but Sarah knows that Helena was only trained to be a killer- she’s not a monster.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena makes a key out of a bone

Helena, meanwhile, manages to fashion a key out of a bone.  How she managed to do this is beyond me, but hey, she is an assassin.  Maybe she learned it at the academy.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena finds a captive Castor clone

Anyway, she lurks through the compound and heads back to the medical ward, where she makes a gruesome discovery: Castor has been operating on another Castor clone, this one named Parsons.  What’s worse is that his brain is completely exposed.  Parson’s eyes widen and he grips Helena’s arm, begging her to kill him.  Helena, in a bit of mercy, plunges a scalpel into Parson’s brain and ends his suffering just as officials arrive in the room to subdue Helena.  This is a very strong moment that I’ll get to later.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Rudy confronts Sarah

Sarah finds the box, but then Rudy finds her.  He wants the box and begins to go through it, giving Sarah the perfect opportunity to whack him with the shovel.  She rushes into the barn and hides, but Rudy eventually finds her.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Mark and Rudy talk

When Mark enters, Rudy knocks Sarah out.  With Mark wounded, Rudy notes that he could end them both, but he doesn’t.  The two come to a truce, but Sarah’s still there and they need to tie up loose ends…

“Newer Elements of Our Defense” was a very good episode.  It solved an issue I’d had up until this point, which was how uninterested I was in the Castor clones.  We’ve heard of similarities to the Leda clones, but we now get to hear it through Mark’s words how they were kept in isolation and raised to be machines.  It’s a life of solitude that clones like Helena can relate to, which is what binds the two groups together.  They aren’t, at their cores, bad people; they’ve just missed out on the more normal upbringing we’re accustomed to.

We get to learn a bit more about Mark, as he’s in a vulnerable state and has no choice but to rely on Sarah to dislodge the bullet in his leg.  For a moment, even though the two don’t get along and he doesn’t want to accept the idea of them being siblings, Mark sees Sarah as a necessary ally.  They’re both in the dark about their ongoing quests- Mark doesn’t have all the information needed for his mission, while Sarah is looking for any clue she can find on finding Helena.  What draws them together is that they’re both missing something vital.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Bonnie admonishes Gracie

This episode also heavily dealt with the pain of loss, whether the loss of personal freedom, as seen with characters like Helena and Parsons, the loss of a child, as is the case with Gracie, or the loss of a relationship, as we see with Cosima.  They each have different ways of coping with their situations, but don’t always land on their feet.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Gracie learns she is not welcome anymore

Gracie unfortunately ends up losing her child, which is upsetting, but it’s not her fault.  She found herself thrust in a situation she didn’t fully understand with Mark, and Bonnie believes that this is God’s way of punishing her for disobedience.  Gracie’s loss is as much spiritual as it is physical.  She was the family’s last hope, but she faltered in her responsibility and must suffer the consequence of being exiled.  However, I think this is a major blessing for her.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Felix and Cosima at the bar

I don’t have much to say about Cosima’s pining, but I do find it strange that she is pining at this particular point.  Since the break-up with Delphine, she’s been fully committed to her work.  As such, if she wanted to pine, I figure she would have done so earlier or off-screen.  But here we see her in a funk- a perfect situation for Felix to help.  If anything, I do like him encouraging her to put herself out there.  He tells her that she’s really looking for who stays in her heart forever.  Given the losses the clones have faced, it’s a real motivation booster for her.  These moments are brief, but don’t have any real impact on the episode’s plot.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Alison speaks with Jason

Neither does Alison’s, but it’s still enjoyable to watch.  It’s interesting that Ramon’s connection would be a character we’ve never heard of before, but one who has a past connection with Alison.  Justin Chatwin is fine in his first appearance and I’m interested to see what the show will do with his character.  Oh, and how many references to Breaking Bad are we going to have with this storyline?

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena about to kill the captive clone

Helena has always been my favorite clone because she seems to be the most complex.  However odd or strange she may be, she’s still very tactical in her approach.  She ties a rope around her arm to cut off circulation and even manages to fashion a bone into a key.  As aloof as Helena can be, she’s still very smart.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena kills the Castor clone

And though she’s ruthless, she still has a heart.  Helena has been trained as an assassin to act without hesitation, but we see her put in a challenging situation when she finds Parsons, who is in a constant state of pain, but is unable to do anything to help himself.  Helena’s goal was to escape, but rather than ignore Parsons, she sees some of herself in him because they’ve both been left to suffer.  Rather than ignore him, she commits a mercy killing to relieve Parsons of his suffering.

Tatiana Maslany is great in this scene as, with few words, she makes Helena completely understand Parsons’ situation and how she could easily wind up in this same state.  This isn’t a kill committed out of anger or frustration, but out of care.  She’s so empathetic to Parsons that she would rather put him out of his misery than let him live one more second in pain.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Sarah gets the bullet

Sarah’s still getting to the bottom of this mystery, but she proved herself effective in warding off Rudy for as long as she could, finding the information on the clone DNA, and retrieving the bullet from Mark’s leg.  Even though Alison doesn’t want her spending time around these folks, at least Sarah has proven time and time again that she’s capable of defending herself.

“Newer Elements of Our Defense” gave some depth to the Castor clones and gave some growth and character development to Helena after keeping her confined for so long.  While Cosima’s scenes didn’t add much, both those and Alison’s separate storylines were still enjoyable to watch and I’m looking forward to seeing where we go next.

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