It’s finally Alison’s night to shine in this week’s episode of ORPHAN BLACK, “Beneath Her Heart.” In a tribute to the character who is simultaneously the least threatening and the second-most deadly, the episode centers on Alison and her journey in finding herself through her sisters and everything she’s done. It was a bit of an unusual episode in terms of set-up, focusing entirely on Alison and Donnie and only briefly clueing us into what was happening with Sarah, Rachel, and Kira. Despite the deviation away from telling all the sisters’ stories in the episode, though, it was a good one. In fact, of the three episodes of this season so far, I’d say it was the strongest.
While the episode didn’t give us much in the way of plot development for the overarching season story, it did demonstrate one thing to us that may be an invaluable piece of information, or may just be a really cool fun fact to know about Alison as a character: Alison is the only clone who can beat Rachel at her own game. She’s not physically savvy like Helena, and she’s not good at hiding and being on the run like Sarah, but she is devious and quick-thinking, just like Rachel, and she knows how to spin something to get the things she wants. Tonight’s episode really brought that to the surface and showed us that Alison and Rachel are two sides of the same coin.
This revelation is absolutely fascinating to dwell on, because it’s a connection I never would have made on my own, but after thinking about it, it makes so much sense. Alison and Rachel both have extremely strong mothering desires. They both have struggled with self-destructive coping mechanisms. They both crave being in charge, and they both are adept at manipulation. I wouldn’t be surprised if, like Helena and Sarah, Rachel and Alison are two peas from the same clone pod.
The best part of the episode was near the end when Alison stands up to Rachel, and shows no fear. Watching Alison fight fire with fire demonstrates a power within herself that Alison hasn’t shown before – up to this point, Alison and Donnie have fallen into everything that’s happened in their lives. This episode really brings to light exactly what Alison has to offer the Clone Club. She no longer needs to be the extra clone, separate from the others. My hope is that this episode is a launching point for that, pulling Alison deeper into the mix with Sarah and Cosima.
The episode bounces back and forth between the night Alison met Cosima and present day, where Alison and Donnie are trying to participate in their community fair while simultaneously being pressured by Neo cops to give up Helena’s location. It’s an interesting episode approach, one that we haven’t really seen since the episode in a previous season that followed Beth’s life before she died.
The night Alison met Cosima, she and Donnie were having dinner with their neighbors, Alison’s now-deceased best friend and her husband. In denial about being a clone, and not wanting to get entangled in everything going on, Alison gets high on some mushrooms with her neighbors. Meanwhile, Beth sends Cosima to meet Alison to convince her that she is a clone and that getting to the bottom of the mystery is important. After their meeting, while Alison is still high, she questions her life as a suburban mom. She thinks about how she could have had the life that Cosima or Beth had, and wonders why she chose to live such a small life as a soccer mom instead.
Back in present day, Alison is questioning her worth to the Clone Club. Under the watchful eye and thumb of the Neo cops, Donnie and Alison have been forced back into their ordinary routines, living everyday life in their suburban community as though nothing is wrong. Alison decides to go to the community fair, which is being run by a woman she hates, and after a few passive aggressive encounters with her gossipy neighbors and the now-widowed husband of her late friend, Alison is driven back into old drinking and pill abuse habits.
Alison quickly recovers and finds herself, though, when she learns that Neo cops are digging up the beheaded body of Neo scientist, Dr. Leekie, out of their garage. When Donnie accidentally overdoses on percocet while performing on stage at the fair, Alison finally stands up to her gossipy neighbors and forgives herself for her friend’s murder. With Art stuck between a rock and a hard place, Alison and Felix take Donnie home, and then Alison leaves to confront Rachel.
She tells Rachel that it’s Dr. Leekie’s body in the garage, and that there is DNA evidence of a castor clone as well. Alison demands that Rachel stand down, unless she wants news of the clones and evidence of Neolution to get leaked to the public through her and Donnie’s arrest for the evidence found in the garage. Rachel, realizing that she’s lost her advantage over Alison and Donnie, reluctantly tells the Neo cops to stand down.
With Helena’s whereabouts safe for the moment, and Donnie and Alison not under arrest, Alison tells Donnie that she needs to go away for a while, and take some time to see the kids and be by herself. So, that’s it. We might not see Alison again for a while if she disappears on a roadtrip for self-discovery. Or, she could be in the very next episode. Either way, I hope this isn’t the last that we see of this newly-minted boss of a clone that Alison has become.
Season 5, Episode 3 (S05E03)
Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 10PM on BBC America
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Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
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Tasha Cerny | Contributor