Orphan Black Season Four is returning to our screens this week and I am stuck in a quandary. I have a list of favorite shows and Orphan Black has held steady at Number Two for the last three seasons. (My favorite “sestras” are Helena and Allison, and I’m Team Hendrix, if that helps tell you my perspective.) Tatiana Maslany is a gift to the world and probably the most talented and versatile actor on this planet. She is able to not only play ten distinct and separate clones but is also able to play a clone playing another clone to maximum perfection.
But even someone as talented as Tatiana Maslany cannot play all the roles (or can she?). At its heart, Orphan Black is about family in all its many forms — about sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, children and parents. Some of them are clones, some of them are biologically related, some of them are adopted. There is Sarah’s adopted brother Felix who becomes more like a brother to all the sestras. We also have Mrs. S., Sarah’s and Felix’s foster mom, and Beth’s old police partner Art (I love him and wish he were around more). Each one adds further depth and heart to the clones and to the plot. But none add more than Cosima’s ex-girlfriend, Delphine Cormier.
Delphine was a highlight for me in this last season of Orphan Black, which was certainly the weakest in terms of plot. There was the ongoing Neolution-Dyad plot and the Castor male clone plot, but other than that, everything seemed to be a series of artful yet disjointed sketches. It wasn’t terrible but there was a lot that could have been done better in terms of overall story and character development. I still have hopes they get out of their third-season-slump (which seems to have become an epidemic with TV shows lately).
But, I also have grave concerns and may stop watching this show on principle alone. By now, after the slew of LGBTQ+ deaths on TV and the backlash that started with the trope-ish killing of Lexa on The 100 (which I wrote about here), most everyone has heard of the Bury Your Gays trend. So where does Delphine’s situation fit into all of this?
If it turns out Delphine is alive, then all is right and I can proceed with loving my quirky and underappreciated Sci-Fi clone narrative. But, for the sake of this discussion, what if Delphine were dead? Would I write this show off as another unfortunate case of hubris bringing down a show? Not necessarily.
I assumed at the end of last season that Delphine was not dead…until Lexa was killed and Delphine started popping up on lists. Did they really kill her off in that manner? Is she really dead? If she really is dead, then how does that bode for the show itself? How about me as a viewer? Would her death be “acceptable” in the wake of all the other “unacceptable” LGBTQ deaths that have occurred at alarming rates these last two months, especially since it would have occurred last season?
If Delphine is really dead, this is their opportunity to make or break my continued interest. She was the driving force of the main plot that would lead us into Season 4; therefore her absence must be significant and have a huge impact on the future plot. If she is pronounced dead with a throwaway line and a montage of Cosima grieving or, even worse, forgotten about like Dr. Leekie, then I’m not interested in what they’re selling anymore.
Decisions, decisions. To talk quantum entanglement for a moment, Delphine is Schrödinger’s cat with Orphan Black Season 4 as the box. She is currently in a quantum supposition state: both dead and alive. So, will I continue watching if Delphine is dead? I’d rather not decide until after the box is opened.