This week in television kicked off on Sunday with a fantastic season finale of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and quite possibly the most controversial episode yet of Game of Thrones. Monday and Tuesday featured a pair of ABC reality shows, as Dancing with the Stars crowned its champion (the very deserving Rumer Willis) and The Bachelorette aired a two-night season premiere. Wednesday night saw the end of David Letterman’s reign on The Late Show. And Saturday gave us one of the most emotional and shocking episodes of Orphan Black in the show’s three-year history.
While nothing on TV this week made me happier than Jake and Amy finally sharing a great kiss on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, there was nothing better than Paul’s final minutes on Orphan Black—even if they did break my heart in the process. After multiple seasons spent wondering where Paul’s allegiance lies and what’s behind his stoic facade, we learned the truth, and what a beautiful truth it was: Paul is a protector, and once he fell in love with Sarah she was always the one he tried the hardest to protect. He spent so long trying to help the Castor clones, but once he realized the truth of what was going on (and what a terrifying truth it was—planning to use their sexually-transmitted defect as a weapon and testing it on Sarah), he turned his fierce protective instinct toward the women who were harmed, especially Sarah. He was willing to die to destroy the science behind those experiments and protect Sarah and all the other women who could have been sterilized by the Castor clones.
Paul died a hero, and it was the most honorable death scene I’ve seen for a character in a long time. He died with love in his heart and a brave purpose filling his soul. All of his interactions with Sarah in this episode reminded me why I was once so captivated by their dynamic—because, in a world where Paul’s loyalties always seemed to be a mystery, his love for Sarah (which was never supposed to happen) became his primary motivating factor. It shouldn’t have surprised me to hear Paul tell Sarah that it wasn’t Beth he loved, but I was floored by his honesty in that moment. It was the most beautiful way imaginable for Paul to go out, and it was the perfect way for us to say goodbye to Dylan Bruce as an actor. His little smile after saying that line just about killed me.
This episode of Orphan Black showed us Paul’s heart, and it also showed us Mark’s. I loved the comparisons drawn between them in this episode. Mark’s honest confession that he loved Gracie perfectly paralleled Paul finally admitting to Sarah he loved her. And Mark’s desire to defy orders to avenge the pain he never meant to bring to Gracie humanized him in such a beautiful way. Both Mark and Paul were motivated by their love for women treated as pawns in Dr. Cody’s experiments, and I loved the way that connection was shown, especially in the final scene between them. Ari Millen absolutely destroyed me when Mark told Paul to make things right. The tears started then, and they didn’t stop until long after the final credits rolled. I was so sad to see Paul die, but his death scene honored his character and the actor who brought him to life with deep respect and understanding. But, of course, I wouldn’t expect anything less from Orphan Black.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?
Im so sad to see Paul go, but at the same time, the show has done a pretty good job at lessening our investment in him since season 1. While Paul’s death still had an impact, I really wish they had found a way to keep him more involved in the story. I know I wasnt the only one super invested in him at the beginning, and then he just kinda disappeared in order to make room for Cal. This is one of the few times on a show where I like both the Paul/Sarah and Cal/Sarah relationships equally. They were/are both so different. But now that Paul is gone it makes me want to go back and watch Season 1 again, because man, the chemistry between Paul/Sarah was smoking hot.
I dont think I ever really questioned Paul’s motives. It didnt matter where he was or who he was working for, I always felt at the end of the day he would give his life to protect Sarah, and thats what he did. There was never any doubt in my mind that Paul loved Sarah, but I am glad he told her, and I am glad they at least give him his time to shine in this episode before he left us for good.
I also am glad we have Mark as one of the Castor clones. He is the only male clone’s name I can actually remember, because his love and affection for gracie actually makes him feel human, and not just like a robot soldier. And Mark and Paul working together to help the women they love was perfect. I am actually surprised at how invested I am in seeing Mark and Gracie reunite.
You’re not alone in liking both Sarah/Paul and Sarah/Cal; as I was watching this episode I was thinking that this was one of the only shows (if not the only show) where I “multi-shipped.” Both of those relationships were so different, but both were equally compelling, at least Paul/Sarah was when it was given time and development. It felt weird to have him be so removed from everything in Season Two only to have him play such a big role again this season, but I suppose it’s the mark of great writing for an episode that it managed to make me care about this character and that relationship even after he and it were in the background for such a long stretch of time. And, like you, I really need to go back and watch Season One again because their chemistry was all kinds of wonderful.
I’m also with you on being thankful for Mark. While the other Castor clones feel interchangeable (with Rudy standing out only because he’s the worst of them), Mark has such a defined story and such a strong human side to him that he’s really the only one I care about right now. I really hope we get to see him reunite with Gracie before the season is done, and I hope she can accept him for who he is and accept his love for her.
I think you’re right about Mark being humanized and for me I appreciate the contrast against the female clones. It’s an overarching nature vs. nurture question. The Castor clones were bred for a specific point and purpose – to be weapons. They are suppose to be interchangeable which is why Mark’s capacity to find humanity beyond that purpose is interesting. Especially when placed against Sarah and her sisters who were all separated and raised sporadically giving us a cornucopia of personality but still yielding and interconnected core. I think that is why Paul and Mark’s exchanges were so important this episode and why it was deliberate and key to know that Mark chose to bring Sarah back to camp as a way to save her. It is also important for Sarah to witness that additional exchange when Mark clearly shows he’s on Paul’s side of making this all right.
For me, Mark’s humanity is not so different to Helena’s, only we as viewers came to it differently in the storytelling. I remember how afraid I was when Helena had Kierra but how all of Helena’s humanity rose out of her interactions with her. It was our window into Helena’s redemption. Just as Gracie is our window into Mark. These two much like Sarah, present free will in the context of the overarching battle of nature vs. nurture that lies underneath the plot as an ongoing theme for the show.
Without a doubt the entirety of this Orphan Black episode reinvested me in the show which was outstanding timing because I had been waning on the threads not coming together and that the pieces and separate storylines felt divided and without the interconnected nature that the show had its first two seasons. I have been a fan of Paul as a character since the moment he crossed my screen. I agree with Shauna that his chemistry with Tatiana was palpable. In fact I was in the small minority that resented the entrance of Cal (who I still don’t trust) because it deviated us away from Paul and it was one of the few instances in TV where I wanted the love triangle. Paul’s arc in this episode, in particular the parallels with Mark really got to me. I loved that Paul recognized himself in Mark and gave him the opening to speak freely and understand his motives. It provided Mark an outlet that didn’t feel like a betrayal and I think sets up Mark to finish what Paul started with Sarah. That final scene between Paul and Sarah was everything I waited for since they broke my heart in the elevator at the end of season 1. I am glad that if we had to lose Paul that it was in a way that crystallized his fight for what was right and that it set up a purpose for Sarah to move forward from in not merely protecting her sisters, but the newly established evils beyond Dyad.
My moment though still has to go to David Letterman. I grew up watching Dave and I truly believe even with the likes of Fallon, Kimmel and now Colbert that an era in Late Night has officially come to a close. What Letterman did, both initially at NBC and in even grander fashion at CBS was to look at the absurdity of fame, people inherently and find laughter. Whether it was his enlisting of the innocent owner of Hello Deli or taking over the drive thru of a Taco Bell Dave was fearless. Without Dave there isn’t a Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. That the close of his show was heartfelt and humble without being sappy was the epitome of Dave, a man who yearned to be the next Johnny Carson and instead became the unsurpassed David Letterman instead.
First of all, I still have the last Letterman saved on my DVR to watch with my mom (who has loved him since the start), so I now have even more motivation to watch it this week. 🙂
I also loved everything you had to say about Paul. As everything was unfolding, I just kept thinking how wonderful (but sad) it must have been for you to watch Paul’s story end the way it did. You never gave up on him, even when he was pushed to the background. While I’m not sure I can ever get behind a love triangle, I did find it strange that having Cal around meant Paul basically barely existed last season. I missed him, and I missed his scenes with Sarah (because, yes, the CHEMISTRY). I’m still holding out in my “Cal can’t be evil” camp, but if I turn out to be wrong, at least Sarah had one man who truly loved her enough to give up everything for her. (I hope she has two because she’s a fierce mama who deserves multiple gorgeous men loving her that much.)
Like you, I was particularly struck by the moment when Paul told Mark he could speak freely. It was a chance for Paul to connect with him not as a soldier but as a man who knows what it’s like to have his life changed by love that found him in the middle of his mission.
I have Lettermans last show on the DVR for watching as well. The only time I ever really watched was when I was visiting my Dad, but the thing that always surprised me was how defeated and uninterested he seemed sometimes with the show when you would hear him being interviewed by others, yet he never let that show when the cameras were rolling. He was a true professional, and I am in awe that he was able to bring energy to every show and every guest he had over his many years on TV. Cause man it must have been flat out exhausting. I hope he is able to enjoy his retirement!
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