A Look at Orphan Black- Season 5, Episode 3: “Beneath Her Heart”

An Alison-centered episode.  Before, I’d have an issue with this, but “Beneath Her Heart” was nothing but great from start to finish.  Let’s dive right in.

The episode begins with a flashback as Alison and Donnie serving dinner to Chad and Aynsley when Alison gets a call from Beth, who reminds Alison of the warning she gave her.  Though Alison wants nothing to do with the cloning discussion, so she hangs up the call.

Then Aynsley and Chad have a proposition for the Hendrixes: it’s time to shake things up, and not a four way, but shrooms.  Then Alison gets a text from Beth, who has someone for her to meet.  Alison decides to join in for the shrooms after all.  Cosima is parked outside and on the phone with Beth, and she’s hesitant about going in to meet Alison, but Beth wants her to enter and get it done.

In the present, Mr. Frontenac asks Alison and Donnie about Helena’s location, but neither of them knows where she is.  Frontenac considers Sarah and Helena priceless because of their makeup, but Alison and Donnie need to consider their worth because even M.K. had more value than Alison.

Back in the past, the shrooms begin to kick in as Alison gets a text from Beth to meet someone outside.  She heads out and gets the surprise of her life when she meets the other clone, Cosima, whom tells Alison that this was all Beth’s idea.  Though Cosima finds this fascinating, it’s hard to tell if she means that or if Alison is just tripping.  Beth proposes that the clones get together, but Alison heads back inside, unable to deal with this.

In the present, Alison and Donnie virtually join Felix, Kira, S, and Sarah, who are having a mini memorial for M.K.  Alison apologizes for not being able to do anything, but S wants everyone to lay low.  Kira, meanwhile, continues to give Sarah the silent treatment.  S figures the two need space, though Sarah at least wants to know what Rachel has done or said to Kira.  As S heads out, she tells Sarah and Felix to stay put.

Back with the Hendrixes, Alison happens upon some pills while Donnie is too busy thinking about their upcoming performance.  Alison wonders why she loves her sisters so much when they’re ruined her life, but Donnie says the clones haven’t done that.  Alison decides that she won’t be sidelined by Nona in regards to this fair.

At the fair, Alison heads in and attempts to take over, even though Nona Walker, played by Jayne Eastwood, has been told that Alison might try to undermine her.  For Alison’s sake, Nona doesn’t want to prove her right, so maybe next year Alison can do something.

No dice, as Alison heads into the auditorium and pops a few pills.  She then pours her entire container of pills into her bottle and leaves.  She then apologizes to Nona, saying she hasn’t been herself, and feels useless, so she hands her drink to Nona.  Then, Reverend Mike approaches and tells Alison to take solace, but Alison stops Nona from sipping her drink.

At DYAD, Rachel and Frontenac discuss P.T.’s book, and Rachel learns that Helena’s fetus indeed had a rapid recovery, so she figures Helena may be more valuable than Kira.  Frontenac decides to instruct the detectives to leverage Donnie.

Indeed, Donnie, now wearing a kilt for some dancing, gets a surprise visit from Art, Maddie, and two other officers who have a search warrant to search the premises due to some dead Portuguese drug lords.

Back at the fall fair, Alison tries to play coy and looks at the memorial to Aynsley.  Chad and his kids show up, though the kids aren’t in the highest of spirits.  Chad wonders if this is somehow his fault, as he had the affair with Alison.  Though Alison reminds Chad that they can’t change the past.

We then flash back to Alison still tripping as she contemplates her life decisions, but Donnie is fine with this normal life.  Donnie pinches his cheeks and wonders if their lives are lies, but Donnie, after checking Google for shroom trips, tells Alison that she’ll be fine in a few hours.  Aynsley and her husband beckon Alison to come outside.

Maddie, Art, and the other officers continue to search the home and confiscate his phone as well, though Donnie still questions why Art is so on board with this.

At DYAD, Rachel asks Kira about her car crash and says that it might not be just a miracle, but something in her genes, as Cosima once said.  Rachel then presents a gift for Kira: a mouse that has the ability to grow back its own skin.  How it can do that is the big mystery.  Kira frees the mouse and brings up how everyone has said that she shouldn’t trust Rachel.  When Rachel asks if she can, Kira gives no answer.

Back at Felix’s, Sarah rants and raves about Kira’s insubordination, so Felix tells her to sit in the chair while he gets back to some nude painting.

Alison confronts Ramone for ripping her off, but he’s adamant that he didn’t scam her.  He figures that Kellerman just took advantage of Alison, so Alison again figures herself for a failure.  Ramone offers a drink to take off the edge, and Alison turns it down at first, but finds herself drinking in Ramone’s truck anyway.  Or two or several drinks.  To further the spiral, Alison takes a hit of Ramone’s joint as well.

Back in the past, Aynsley and Alison look at the stars while discussing their dreams.  Even still, this is a great neighborhood, though if Alison feels there’s some other purpose, she should trust that.

We cut back to the present as Donnie finds Alison and Ramone bouncing in a bounce house.  The two finally get out of the house so the kids can go in, while Donnie tells her about the cops trying to tie them to Pouchy.  And there’s still the matter of the bodies buried in the garage.

Speaking of, Art spots Maddie sneaking off to snoop in the Hendrix garage to plant evidence.  He catches and finds her planting bloody clothes, and Maddie figures that Helena is the one who killed Pouchy since there’s clone blood on the crimes.  With this, Maddie figures Donnie can cough up Helena’s location.  And then Maddie brushes aside the carpet and finds the makeshift grave.  In no time at all, Maddie gets a jackhammer.

Donnie calls Sarah and updates her on the cops, including Art, searching their home while Alison has relapsed.  So Sarah and Felix are on the way.  When the call ends, Donnie drinks up and finishes Alison’s drink in one gulp.  Whoops.

Kira has brought the mouse home and asks S when Sarah will return, though Kira has no intention of talking about what she and Rachel discussed.  Fair enough.  Bed time.  When S leaves, Kira goes through ha drawer and takes out a pocket knife.

Chad finds Alison sitting by her lonesome and joins her to see how she’s doing, and she’s not doing well.  She then comes clean and admits that she’s responsible for Aynsley’s death, but Chad figures that Aynsley and Alison just had best friend problems.  That and Chad is confident that Aynsley loved Alison.

The two hug and Chad decides that moving forward is the best way to honor Aynsley.  Alison then goes off to see Donnie’s performance.

Speaking off, Donnie’s performance kicks off and it goes well until he gets woozy and eventually passes out.  Dancing will do that to you.  Alison and Felix try to help him up, and then Alison confronts the crowd, telling them that she’s a drinker and pill popper.  She calls the crowd hypocrites and admits that she’s given her heart to the community, but feels hurt for being pushed out.  She feels that she’s atoned for her sins.

And that’s when she spots ghost Aynsley in the crowd, sort of, and she admits that she’s part of a sisterhood.  That’s when Felix closes the curtains.

Meanwhile, Sarah arrives at the Hendrix household and gets Art’s attention so he can stop digging.  She apologizes for getting him involved, but Art demands to know who is buried.  That’s when Sarah admits that Donnie killed Dr. Leekie.

Sarah calls Felix and tells them that Rachel will come after them when she makes the discovery, so Donnie decides to give up Helena in exchange.  Sarah shoots down that suggestion, and Alison suddenly gets the idea to make herself useful as she leaves to meet Rachel at DYAD.

As Maddie hits pay dirt in the grave, Alison comes face-to-face with Rachel, who admits that she’s never paid much attention to her.  Alison admits that she’s been in this fight from the beginning and she’s still in it for the long haul.  She slides over her bag and inside the head of Dr. Leekie.  However, despite her hatred for Leekie, Rachel never killed him.  The other body is a Castor.

Rachel asks for Helena’s location, but Alison is fine with being charged for murder since this could all go back on her anyway.  She then grabs a phone and demands that the agents leave the Hendrix home.

At the same time, Maddie finds the body, but no head.  She gets a call from Rachel, who tells her to dispose of the bodies and restore the garage to its original way.  So Art doesn’t have to shoot her.

Alison is fine with whatever happens to her, but leave Helena alone.  While it would be of great joy if Rachel could strangle Alison right now, that would make them all too similar, so Alison leaves.

Back at home, Donnie congratulates Alison for going toe-to-toe with Rachel and not giving up Helena’s location.  But Alison still feels rattled and come a loose.  As such, she realizes that she needs to go away for awhile.  She’s not leaving, but needs to see the kids and get things in order.

Don’t worry, she’ll probably be back in time for the series finale.  She then gives Donnie his ukulele and he starts playing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

The two sing while, in an undisclosed location that looks like a convent, Helena writes in her journal.

When you think about the ongoing battle between Clone Club and their various enemies, most of the clones have an active role or part to play.  Sarah is at the center of everything, Helena is a trained assassin and can help with threats, Cosima deals with the more scientific issues, and even M.K. as of recent was of great use because of her hacking abilities.

But what about Alison?  More often than not, she’s on the sidelines.  And it makes sense- she lives in her own community, has a family, and still has to maintain some semblance of a normal life compared to people like Sarah and Cosima.  She and Donnie play more support roles and often have to be babysat by others.  Trouble often finds them, not the other way around.

Now there are exceptions to this, like Alison being suspicious of Donnie being her monitor way back when, but these two aren’t normally helping out with the greater story unless they’re asked to- and no way in hell would they volunteer if they don’t feel it’s necessary. So it’s interesting that Orphan Black would confront the question of Alison’s worth not just to herself, but everyone around her.

Granted, Mr. Frontenac saying that M.K. had more value than Alison was on the nose, but the point came across well nonetheless: when you get right down to it, what does Alison contribute to the other clones?  Sure, Alison has helped out in the past by housing Helena. I’m not calling Alison worthless, but she’s not in the thick of it compared to others.  Not her fault because, again, she’s got a life to maintain.

And this isn’t to say that she’s had it easy because she’s mostly on the sidelines.  When shit goes down, she’s still affected by it and her personal problems, as seen with her drinking and drug problems, have huge consequences both for her and everyone around her.  I say all this to say that Alison, while not as directly involved as the other clones, is no less complex than them and has put herself in harm’s way when needed.

For me personally, this is a strong entry for Alison’s character growth from the past until now, but also how I’ve come around to appreciate her.  When I first started this show, I hated Alison.  Her addictions and paranoia annoyed me to no end.  She’s still my least favorite of the main clones, but I’ve slowly but surely seen a lot of good in her, and I’m happy this show decided to give her the spotlight in this episode.

We see Alison trying to maintain that balance of a happy home life, but also remain involved with Clone Club.  In the flashbacks, Alison wanted nothing to do with the clones, despite Beth’s insistence.  And when she says to Donnie that the clones have ruined her life, I don’t think that’s just coming out of frustration.  I think part of Alison really believes that Clone Club has changed her life for the worse.

More than that, we get into Alison’s head and see not just her guilt over killing Aynsley, but her desire to do more with her life and feeling that she could do something else.  Not that she feels shackled down by her family or involvement with Clone Club, but perhaps Alison wants more beyond her reputation in the community.  Even if she’s not active with Clone Club, that doesn’t mean she’s not under pressure.

And it’s that same pressure that drives her back to drinking and drugs, if just to provide an outlet for her to throw away her cares for a minute and be carefree.  Addicts strive to stay clean when they’ve put drugs and alcohol behind them, yes, but there’s always that nagging temptation to relapse.  And with all Alison has endured, both internally and externally, it’s no wonder she cracks.

But this has reverberations not just for her, but Donnie as well since he ends up drinking her concoction.  And while it’s admirable for Alison to openly proclaim her drug selling past to the hypocritical audience, that was neither the time or place for it, humorous as it was. Maybe some time away would be the best thing that happened to Alison so she can get some clarity.

I never thought I’d find Alison as interesting as I do now, but it’s a testament to how she’s changed over time, not to mention the emotional resonance that comes through on this episode as a result of a strong performance by Tatiana Maslany.  I have to remind myself that Maslany is still playing the bulk of these clones, but she turns in what might be the best I’ve seen from Alison in the entire series.

Plus, Alison manages to one-up Rachel in their first and maybe only face-to-face encounter.  The cops leave her home and Helena’s location is kept a secret.  For someone who was thought of having less value than M.K., Alison got a huge win for the clones and got to walk away on a high note.

Everything else in the episode was fun to watch as well.  It’s rare that we see Sarah and Felix just bickering like they used to and Felix going back to nude painting was a nice callback to earlier seasons.  Plus, I appreciate that even though M.K. existed mostly as a ghost and off the radar, her death wasn’t swept aside or brushed over so everyone could go back to dealing with Rachel.

Speaking of, it looks like Kira is keeping secrets from both the family and Rachel, as she’s not being fully open to either side and maybe she does have her own, grand play.

Also, can we just appreciate Felix’s face when he first sees Donnie dancing?  That face speaks for us all.

“Beneath Her Heart” was a great episode of the season and fantastic episode for Alison in particular.  While it remains to be seen whether she’s gone for good or will pop in before or on the series finale, she went out with a bang as she called out the hypocrites in her neighborhood and got the upper hand on Rachel.  What better finish is there than that?

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