TV

'Orphan Black': "Ease for Idle Millionaires" Allows Maslany's Portrayal of Cosima to Shine

Cosima's brilliance and compassion are at the forefront of the latest episode (Photo Credit: Ken Woroner/BBC America ).

"Ease for the Idle Millionaires" pulls at the complex and interconnected plot threads, while giving Maslany endless opportunities to showcase her talent.


Orphan Black

Airtime: Saturdays, 10pm
Cast: Tatiana Maslany, Evelyn Brochu, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Skyler Wexler
Subtitle: Season 5, Episode 5 - "Ease for the Idle Millionaires"
Network: BBC America
Air date: 2017-07-08
Amazon

"Ease for the Idle Millionaires" marks the halfway point for Orphan Black’s final season, and it's a jam-packed, exciting, and moving hour that points to all that makes the series such a standout. Although featuring Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) and Rachel, among plenty of other non-clones, Cosima is at the center of the episode. Where "Beneath Her Heart" used flashbacks to reinforce Alison's strength and single-mindedness when put to a task (in this case, protecting her sisters), this episode uses the same technique to emphasize Cosima's inherent compassion and selflessness.

Much of the episode, as well as her backstory, revolves around Cosima’s curiosity. Her scientific mind is the perfect outlet for her natural interest in the world and the things happening around her, but she's also an innately empathetic person. Cosima represents the opposite side of the Neolution experimental mindset. Regardless of her curiosity, she never channels that inquisitiveness into hurting others.

Indeed, her curiosity is in direct opposition to that practiced by P.T. Westmoreland (Stephen McHattie), Susan Duncan (Rosemary Dunsmore) or Virginia Coady; her interest and her research has a natural stopping point when it encroaches negatively on others, particularly without their knowledge. Perhaps no other exchange exemplifies this crucial difference more than when Cosima learns that the man in the woods was once an orphaned boy named Yanis (Andrew Musselman) who was experimented on, imprisoned, and ultimately murdered in front of her by Westmoreland by the end of the episode.

If Cosima’s rejection of Neolution's approach is central to the episode (and the series), then Delphine's (Evelyn Brochu) constant working behind the scenes to secure Cosima's (and her sisters’) freedom is key to her being able to do so while also moving her own research forward. In a show where the main romantic pairings are either doomed from the start because of so many lies and secrets (Paul and Beth/ Paul and Sarah), played more often for comedic effect (Alison and Donnie), or just plain dysfunctional (Rachel and Ferdinand), Cosima and Delphine have been the romantic heart of the series since the beginning. While they're frequently separated -- often frustratingly so -- their devotion to one another, and by extension their combined dedication to Cosima's sisters, has been strengthened time and time again. So when Delphine pleads with Cosima to defy those who would destroy her and simultaneously vows "I will always work to protect you. And you will win," it's a declaration that calls back earlier moments, and cements their relationship.

The centerpiece of "Ease for the Idle Millionaires" is an awkward dinner at Westmoreland's. Crashed by Cosima and including Delphine, Rachel, Susan, and Ira (who’s hidden the knives), the dinner is filled with subtle threats, angry revelations, and Westmoreland's signature dismissive pronouncements ("What a delicate balance you have. The clinical and the humane"). What's most revealing about the dinner is Cosima's fearlessness in divulging her discovery of LIN28A, an isolated gene that heals itself, and Westmoreland's confirmation that it's the main source of research at Dyad involving Kira (Skyler Wexler). Kira -- and if the theory that it skips a generation, then Helena's babies too -- have the gene and Rachel's working on inseminating thousands of women with it. Ultimately, Westmoreland is looking for a way to extend his own life, although he couches the research in broader, grander terms.

Meanwhile, Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) continues her search into the background of Neolution and its main players. Scott (Josh Vokey) and Hell Wizard (Calwyn Shurgold) are leading much of the research behind the scenes and helping Mrs. S to connect Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and Adele with Delphine in Geneva, where's she’s jetting off to next. Delphine does find the time for a visit to Mrs. S's, where it's revealed that she wasn't the source behind Coady's location (which now makes that mysterious informant even more intriguing), but she warns Mrs. S that time is running out before Rachel begins her true experiments on Kira. Sarah has also decided to be much more honest with Kira about everything involving her and her sisters, in exchange for more openness from Kira about her sessions with Rachel.

Orphan Black is moving quickly now; it's understandable, as the end of the series is closing in. Although every episode continues to reveal more and more, with only five episodes left, there's still so much left to resolve. One thing that the series can count on, though, is Maslany’s stellar presence. This episode features her Cosima, who’s filled with so much genuine compassion for those closest to her, as well as those she barely knows; Maslany expresses that emotion beautifully. She's gentle, she's furious, and she's defiant, but it all comes from the same place, and Maslany is able to distinguish the way those emotions manifest themselves in Cosima, as opposed to how they're expressed in Sarah or Helena or Alison. It's a riveting performance.

In essence, "Ease for the Idle Millionaires" pulls at the complex and interconnected threads running through the series, setting the stage for the final half of the season, while also giving Maslany endless opportunities to showcase her incredible talents.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image