SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; Fargo; Continuum; Game of Thrones; Better Call Saul; Utopia; Under The Skin

Orphan Black Sarah Surrendered

The second season finale of Orphan Black, officially titled By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried, will probably be forever remembered as the Clone Club Dance Party episode by fans. The happy reunion was in the midst of an episode which started with Dyad being more horrifying than ever and major revelations at the end.

It was obvious that things were not going to go well when Sarah offered her unconditional surrender in hopes of being able to see Kira after her abduction by Rachel. This did not work out so well, with Dyad moving from consent (while handcuffed) to harvesting her eggs to wheeling her in for a forced oophorectomy. Fortunately Sarah did escape due to a combination of science and new allies, with Kira playing a part in both.

The reunion and dance party, reminiscent of Sarah and Helena singing Sugar, Sugar earlier in the season, provided a needed lighter moment in the midst of the episode. Tatiana Maslany must have been exhausted in playing all four clones together, and the scenes took two days to film.

Marian appears to be a valuable ally, but on this show you can never be certain where anyone stands. As if there aren’t already enough factions involved, now there is Topside. I always assumed that Project Leda was a mythological reference to twins, meaning Sarah and Helana, but the naming means far more with the revelation that Project Castor involves making male clones as soldiers. The importance of  Rachel watching the old videos of herself as a child became clear when we saw Charlotte, who was identical to Rachel (and the other clones) at a younger age. She was the only one of over four hundred attempts to repeat the project. Clearly Dyad is lacking needed information.

The episode ended well for Sarah who recovered Kira and escaped from Dyad, but poorly for Rachel who had a pencil propelled into her eye at high velocity, after seeing the second death of a father. We don’t know if she is dead, had brain or other damage, or will return appearing well next season with either a genetically engineered replacement eye or an eye patch. (I vote for the eye patch, and give her a parrot). We finally know the truth about Paul, as well as how far Mrs. S will go when she enabled the kidnapping of Helena in exchange for Paul’s assistance in rescuing Kira and Sarah. Things are more hopeful for Cosima, who I suspect will find her own cure from the notes from Dr. Duncan in the copy of The Island of Dr. Moreau which Kira pulled out. I also wonder if the container of her eggs left behind by Helena will provide needed genetic material.

We also have a  new set of clones to watch. It is doubtful that Mark realizes he is a clone, and certain that the Proletheans did not realize it, or they would have certainly treated him differently. There are also the clones now in the military (with at least one seen after Helena’s capture) as well as the one (a defective one?) hidden in Helena’s house.

Orphan Black Season 2 Finale

Orphan Black co-creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett gave numerous interviews. At times they were flippant, such as in giving the Death Star in response to a question as to where Helena was taken, or saying that Dr. Duncan’s notes were the Colonel’s secret recipe.  Other answers did provide interesting information as to how they got to the finale, and possibly what is to come. They told The Hollywood Reporter about their plans to introduce male clones, the decision for it to be Prolethean Mark, and how this changed the original plans for the scene when Mark and Paul met in the bar.

Let’s start with the introduction of the male clone. When did you decide that that would be the season-two endgame?

Graeme Manson: It was a plan that we had at the end of the first season. We thought it was a pretty good way to open a big door to a whole new dimension of the conspiracy and a nice throw to a new season.

Was there any serious thought over making the male clone someone other than Prolethean Mark? 

John Fawcett: We knew that we wanted to introduce a male side to the conspiracy. To some degree, we talked a lot about what the possibilities would be for that. It was important that the right decision was made, and we talked about everyone. We had crazy conversations about who the male clone could be. Ultimately, the decision was made that the story thread that made the most sense was the male clone would be Prolethean Mark.

Manson: And for a few reasons. One, it really doubled the end of the season back on the beginning nicely.

Fawcett: It’s a bookend. To be honest, the character of Mark wasn’t supposed to live beyond episode six. There was a whole plan for him to die quite violently.

Manson: At the hand of Paul!

Fawcett: There was a scene at the end of episode six where Paul and Mark meet up in the bar while Helena meets Jesse. We know that both these men are on Sarah and Helena’s trail respectively, and it was going to be a mano-a-mano showdown between the two of them in which Paul is going to murder, or kill, Mark. But through the first few episodes of the season, we realized that Ari [Millen] playing Mark was not a character we wanted to kill. He was doing such interesting work, and so we made the decision to save him, and right about that time, we were actually also making the decision on who we wanted to see the male clone be at the end of the film. A further little bit of interest in that, Ari actually, we kept that a secret from Ari, and he didn’t find that out until just before the finale scripts were passed up. Graeme had to call him and tell him.

They also said that, “Marion is apparently a new ally, so she’s important going forward. And Cal is pretty important going forward too.” Note the word “apparently.”

Fargo Finale

The finale of Fargo provided a degree of redemption for some of the characters. Early on my assessment of the show was that pretty much everyone on the show is an idiot except for Malvo and Molly. I did revise this to include Mollie’s father among the intelligent characters, but for most of the series he only had a small part. He was at  his best in the finale sitting out on the porch to protect his granddaughter by marriage.

With the jump ahead one year Lester was supposed to have ceased being the loser, but he still made major mistakes in confronting Malvo, not taking his advice to walk away, saying yes to him, and finally in guaranteeing  Malvo would be an enemy by hitting him but leaving him alive in last week’s episode.I’m not certain if Malvo’s plans from the start was to kill Lester after he helped dispose of the bodies. It is also possible that Malvo did see Lester as sort of an amusing friend and had no plans yet to kill him. Regardless, you cannot hit someone like Malvo, leave him alive, and then return to your home town.

In the finale it appears Lester was intended to portrayed as being smarter at figuring out how things will work in different scenarios. He figured out the FBI agent’s riddle, and more impressively out smarted Malvo at his home. Being shown as smarter than the loser at the start of the series was as close to redemption that Lester could receive. It was bad enough that he killed his first wife and later framed his brother and put a gun in a child’s back pack. The final straw was the manner in which he set up his second wife to get killed. Although portrayed as smarter in the end, he still was not smart enough to figure out what would happen when he ran out on the thin ice, although he was doomed regardless of whether he ran.

It was obvious what was going to happen to Lester when he ran out onto the ice, and I had a similar sense of dread when Gus went into Malvo’s cabin. I though he was smart the first time he encountered Malvo by backing away and remaining alive, and that going into Malvo’s cabin was as foolish as Lester confronting Malvo last week. Fortunately for Gus, Malvo returned wounded after his confrontation with Lester, giving Gus the upper hand. This was clearly intended to be his redemption for his cowardice the first time he ran into Malvo, but I initially didn’t see things working out this way as I saw Gus as being smart rather than a coward, not requiring redemption. Fortunately for Gus, nobody questioned how he shot an unarmed and injured man. We know that doing anything else would be unsafe, and Gus gets extra points for being smart enough to shoot him immediately, announcing that he figured out Malvo’s riddle but not taking any more time to explain. How many people have died in similar television confrontations due to not putting the opponent away immediately?

While the show centered around the anti-heroes Lester and Malvo, Molly was the hero of the story. Some reviewers have expressed disappointment that Molly wasn’t the one to take down Malvo, but that was really Gus’s story line. There was also some justice to Malvo’s demise being a combination of actions by both Lester and Gus. To Molly, Malvo was someone on the periphery regarding Lester’s story that she had virtually no actual contact with. I was a little disappointed that Molly didn’t come up with the definitive proof of both Lester and Malvo’s guilt by her own detective work as opposed to Malvo’s tapes providing the final proof. Still, Molly was proved right, and vindicated when told that she was to be made chief. The television show now paralleled the movie with having the pregnant police chief, even if Molly might not become chief until after she has her baby. Like Jerry Lundegaard in the movie, Lester Nygaard was confronted by the police in the jurisdiction each fled to, giving symmetry between the two in not having Molly be the one to capture Lester.

All in all it was a satisfactory conclusion to a self-contained story. Like Breaking Bad, the finale followed directly from the set up for the show with no surprises or gimmicks. The anti-hero met his expected doom in each case. As another example of how minor points were wrapped up in a tidy manner, the used car salesman who became Malvo’s final victim was seen earlier in the season. He wound up not buying life insurance despite Lester’s warning that you never know what might happen. On the other hand, we never did learn the fate of some minor characters, such as Lester’s brother who presumably would have been released from prison when the truth about the murder of Lester’s life was discovered. The money remains buried, as in the movie, and I suspect that it will turn up again if there is another season of Fargo.

Fargo billy_bob_thorton_fargo_ep_110_a_p

Speakeasy interviewed show writer Noah Hawley. Here are his comments on a possible future season and Lester’s fate:

I’d love to hear what you have in mind for the next installment.

Well, you never want to overstay your welcome. The question is, if there were another chapter to this story, what’s next and how do you do it? We wrapped production a week before we premiered. I literally just wrapped post-production on the final episode last week. So I’m excited to take a couple weeks and not think about it, and then come back and see if I can do something as good or better, which is really the only reason to do it, and FX agrees with me. They bought this as a miniseries and would be quite happy if this is it. That said, if I could find a way to turn this into something that continues to bring in revenue, everyone would be happy with that. But we’re all proud of the work we’ve done.

What was the significance of Lester getting swallowed up by frozen lake?

Nature corrected. That ending was in place at the end of the outline process. In the movie Bill Macy is arrested across state lines, not by Marge but by whatever random cops found him. I like the idea that Lester met his end somewhere that was totally unconnected to Molly or anyone who would take his death personally. We shot the show up in Calgary and we spent six months or so pointing the cameras away from the mountains, then we turned around and went up into the Rockies.

Continuum Kiera Brad

The season finale of Continuum airs tonight on Showcase (Friday on Syfy) but a lot more happened in last week’s episode, The Dying Minutes. Both Sonya and Kiera had complicated plans to pull off. I totally believe that the tech guy at Piron would have fallen for Sonya’s geek girl act. I can’t help but wonder if there will be another reset tonight, or at the start of next season, with a jump to another timeline following the certain death of Sonya, the possible death of Dillon, and the Freelancer blood bath. Or perhaps the action will shift up north, with Alec and Emily, Kiera and Brad, and at least part of Liber8 heading in that direction. The introduction of the Traveler adds yet more complexities. Does that mean that Wesley Crusher shows up next?

In an interview with TV Guide Canada, Simon Bary sounds like he is saying that Sonya’s death might be permanent, along with a conclusion of the Liber8 story line. He was also asked about the Traveler:

TVGuide.ca: Another huge episode. Following up on last week’s realization that nothing Liber8 could do would change history, Sonya allowed herself to be arrested and then detonated a bomb in the police precinct, killing herself and grievously injuring Dillon. Was her exit an homage to Kagame?
Simon Barry: In light of what had happened, this was one of the few plays that she had left, to be a martyr in the way that Kagame was.

TVGC: What was Lexa’s reaction when you told her what was going to happen to Sonya?
SB: Lexa is a real pro, and she understood that the only thing worse than being killed as a character is not being used well as a character, and I think that because we were in the position that we were coming to a conclusion in the Liber8 story that the opportunities for her going forward were not as interesting. When I mentioned it to her the first time, she was pretty clear that the opportunity to go out in a blaze of glory was something she not only thought was possible, but she liked it.

TVGC: I’ve enjoyed Sonya’s back story this season; learning about her past and how she became part of Liber8 has been really interesting.
SB: We knew early on that we wanted to fill in some bits and pieces and that this was one of our options. We definitely felt like, in Episode 7 for example where we see the Sonya back story, was one way for us to kind of honour the Sonya storyline. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have more opportunities to tell Sonya’s story. As you know on this show if somebody dies in the present, it just means that storyline may or may not be over. We certainly have many more stories about Liber8, before they went back in time, that we want to pursue in Season 4.

TVGC: You introduced another new character last night in The Traveler. Is he the first Freelancer? What can you tell us?
SB: The speculation, at least from Kiera’s perspective, is that the original Freelancer that she had been told about by Catherine, was sent back 1,000 years to set up this safety net and it had to start with one person. In The Traveler we thought it would be interesting to take that journey. And obviously given the technology that he has to be able to bring Curtis back, we are alluding to the fact that there is technology embedded within him that is related to time travel.

The show runners discussed the season finale and plans for the fifth season of Game of Thrones with Entertainment Weekly.

I also felt like the season finale of Orange is the New Black aired this week as this is when I finished the season on Netflix. No spoilers, but it was a very satisfying conclusion for several plot lines.

Defiance stated its second season with the season premiere primarily setting things up following all the changes in the first season finale, with little actual story. I have not decided yet whether I will continue to watch. Last year I finally gave in and watched later in the summer, after being underwhelmed initially, and did get somewhat more interested as the season went on.

AMC has already renewed Better Call Saul for a thirteen episode second season. The first season, to air in 2015, contains ten episodes.

The second season of Utopia finally appears on the U.K.’s Channel 4 in July. A trailer is above.

Ok, I admit that when I received this link to the nude scenes of Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin I couldn’t resist clicking.

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