I'm Na and can u not
14 | Canada | EHSS
The 'I'm Na' thing
Hey friends! Look who’s finally back on the analysis train!
Friendly reminder to everyone that I made my video, but didn’t have time for all the analysis and so I’m doing separate write-ups, of which this is the first of many.
As for the topic at hand here though…
Well, well, well. This is a topic both myself and Jacq and I’m sure other people have addressed before and it’s something that’s always relevant so I’m going to let myself ramble here. I can’t go and dig up every writeup someone’s done on the topic, so I’m just going to summarize my own thoughts in combination with what feels like the general consensus on this idea here.
Here’s the thing about our clones — they represent three very important worlds. I’ve heard Jacq call them Street, Science and Suburbia, and that is important. These three worlds all have their assets.
- From the Science we get exposition dump, we get foundation to our mystery, we get conspiracy theories, we get organizations, we get labs and white-coats and everything you would expect from a clone show. We get your classic sci-fi elements.
- From the Suburbia we get dark humour, we get to relate, we get stark contrast to everything else, we get this hyper-realized world that hits close to home for many viewers, we get very real “ordinary” life and we get very real “ordinary” human fears.
- From the Street we get our indy tone, we get dark, we get gritty, we get danger, we get fast-pace and we get our story. We get something interesting that the everyday viewer likely doesn’t experience every day. We get action, and we get excitement.
These three worlds combine so beautifully to create such a unique tone that ultimately makes Orphan Black successful. Let’s all consider what would happen if we lost one of these clones (and by extension) these worlds:
- Street: Nope. Sarah Manning dies, we all die. Case closed.
- Science: If Cosima fades too far into the background, we’ll lose essential information. As much as I love Cosima, her primary role is giving us all of the information we need to know in order to draw our own conclusions as viewers. “But Melanie!” someone out there says “We could still get occasional information from Cosima if she’s in the background and only in an episode every now and then!” Well dear reader, I do realize that. I raise the counter point though that we are all already frustrated with the lack of time for Cosima character development and experience. If we stuff her into the background only to show up every third episode and exposition dump…well her entire value as a character goes down the toilet. And I don’t know about you, but Cosima’s a very interesting character that I would like to know more about. We can have characters like Rachel on the side, because her arc is primarily concerning with her character as opposed to exposition dumping for the audience and other characters. When we see Rachel Duncan, we’re learning more about Rachel Duncan. If we relegate Cosima to the background, we’ll just see a lot of her explaining things and then leaving. Also, less Cosima means less Delphine. And none of us want that. (A much better worded — and always relevant — explanation of why Cosima can’t die right here)
- Suburbia: I am a fervent defender of Alison Hendrix’s life and screentime on this show, that is no secret. My support extends beyond the bang-sisterhood and mutual love of white wine though. I would argue that it is the Suburbia that truly separates Orphan Black from the pack and makes it such a unique and fascinating show and story. We’ve had sci-fi shows with big corporations and white labcoats. We’ve also had sci-fi shows with street-wise thugs and shoot-outs in diners and running from cops. It is very rare though, that we have a sci-fi show with a suburban soccermom who tortures people with a gluegun. There is a reason that Alison was named one of the top 25 characters by EW this year. There is a reason that Variations Under Domestication won a whole host of the writing awards last year. There is a reason that Alison’s character has been met by almost universal acclaim — and that is because the Suburbia world as portrayed in contrast to the Street and the Science…that’s something that’s never really been done before. It’s fresh, it’s exciting, it’s unpredictable, and it’s relatable. Anyways, my point is that if we lose Alison, we lose a key part of why this weird little show is so appealing. We lose that unique edge, we lose the black comedy, and we lose the reality. If we fall too far down the street or science rabbit holes, we risk descending into cliche sci-fi/crime tropes. With the Suburbia element, we can keep on having plot points like the potluck or the musical or rehab…and those plot points are what makes this show so gosh darn fun.
Now, in my imagination I’m speaking to a big group of people right now and somebody just raised their hand in the back. “What about if one of those worlds is replaced by Helena or Rachel? Wouldn’t each of them bring something equally important to the table?”
Thank you listener, you raise a valid point.
I ask you all this very important question, can Rachel Duncan exist without Sarah Manning?
Think for a second. Of course literally, she is a person separate from Sarah. But can you really consider any elements of her storyline that are completely unrelated to Sarah Manning? Banging Paul — Sarah. Taking Kira — Sarah. Emotional breakdown — can’t bring Sarah to terms. All of that shit with Ethan — well guess who reintroduced Ethan into Rachel’s life.
My point is, Rachel is a subset of Sarah’s story.
Rachel can’t exist in her own world as a character at this current point, because everything she does is tied to Sarah. Rachel is too interconnected to Sarah’s world— and Cosima’s to an extent. Nothing is really entirely her own. At least not enough of her own at this point to justify an entire third of our main storyline. Alison on the other hand has a completely unrelated musical, ice skating lessons, neighbourhood potlucks, accidental stranglings of neighbours….things like that. Cosima brings that essential science exposition, as well as our token romance element with Delphine. These are things that, theoretically, would and could exist without the presence of Sarah Manning (but as I’ll get to later, still can’t in reality.)
I’m not saying that Rachel doesn’t have the potential to get to that point, but it is going to take some work and a lot of development of her as a character separate from Sarah. And I’m not sure we have time for that.
Now, that development is the kind of thing we saw from Helena in season 2. We started to see Helena have adventures separate from Sarah — everything with Jesse and with the Proletheans and…yeah there was a lot of distance in a good way. My issue with Helena being a so called “main clone” ultimately comes with what we would lose if we lose Alison or Cosima. At the end of the day, we are still going to get the needed dose of Helena’s world — especially with the upcoming assumed prominence of Mark/Gracie in s3 — with Helena in the role she is in currently. If we sacrifice our Science or Suburbia for just more Helena…I feel strongly that we would lose a whole lot more than we would gain.
If we were to trade in Helena for say, Alison, our tone would shift dramatically. Things would be a lot more serious. Yes, Helena does bring humourous moments to the show, but they aren’t funny in the same way Alison Hendrix burying a body in her garage is. Helena is fundamentally dark, and not in a “bang my husband on top of a freezer in our dark garage” way.
We also have to remember that to an extent Helena, and definitely Rachel, are kind of antagonists. Again, I know Helena made progress towards redemption and all that in s2, but at the end of the day she’s not a “good guy” in the same way that Alison and Cosima are. There’s something thematically and structurally nice about having these three main protagonists, the conflicted hero-villain on the side, and then the batshit crazy evil one. Having those two side clones, Helena and Rachel, be intimately connected to Sarah feels so symmetrical and nice. It just feels balanced and right.
Now, ultimately I’m not saying we can never kill off one of our main three clones. There may come a point in the story where that is necessary. We’re going to require some significant tone shifts and setups before that point however in order to maintain some semblance of what the show is, or it’ll have to happen within the final stretch of episode where everything is just going down in flames. I am adamant on how we can’t kill Sarah with any narrative left in the story though — much in the same way that Rachel’s story can’t exist on the level that Alison and Cosima’s do, Alison and Cosima’s can’t exist on the same level as Sarah’s.
Sarah manning is our hero, through and through.
So yeah, that’s a lot of long rambles on character analysis and development. I think it’s important though, because as much as I want to see more of Rachel Duncan and Helena, I’m not willing to sacrifice the important things that Alison and/or Cosima bring to our story.
Sarah becomes more of a classic heroic figure… Several of the other clones experience growth following their mistakes, as well — but Sarah shows the most dramatic character progression. (io9)
Just when the night is darkest, he shines a light. And a new life begins.
they look down at each other’s lips at the same fucking time k i l l m e
Friend: "I finally watched Orphan Black and I think it’s pretty good."
Me: "OH GOSH LET’S DISCUSS THE PARALLELS BETWEEN HELENA AND SARAH AND WHAT ABOUT THE COMPLEX INNER TURMOIL OF ALISON’S CHARACTER AND HOW ABOUT THAT CRAZY SCIENCE”
Friend: “Uh -“
Me: "ORPHAN BLACK ORPHAN BLACK ORPHAN BLACK"
Friend: "Okay, just -"
Me: *kicks down front door, jumps into a rocketship, flies into the sun* ORPHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK
“She has chemistry with herself.”
- my favorite quote about Tatiana Maslany (from The New Yorker)
Orphan Black AU: DivergentDauntless (the brave) / Candor (the honest) / Amity (the peaceful) / Abnegation (the selfless) / Erudite (the intelligent)
“Abnegation has fulfilled our need for selfless leaders in government; Candor has provided us with trustworthy and sound leaders in law; Erudite has supplied us with intelligent teachers and researchers; Amity has given us understanding counselors and caretakers; and Dauntless provides us with protection from threats both within and without.”
Just a reminder:
If you’ve gone your entire life without wanting children, and then you slowly begin to develop the desire for them, that’s ok.
Also, if you’ve gone your entire life wanting children, and then you slowly begin to question that desire, that’s ok, too.
There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind. I feel like this doesn’t get said enough.