Orphan Black is a show about fighting — fighting to live, fighting to find the truth. There's a lot of brutality in fighting, but this week was bent on a kind of violence we haven't seen yet. Ever since the Castor brothers came on the scene, the sexual violence against women has increased exponentially.
Castor is the male clone project we just found out about, and we've been unlucky enough to follow two psychos, Seth and Rudy, almost exclusively, up to this point. Last week, Delphine showed Sarah how they forced a Leda (female) clone into the trunk of a car, and this week we see them sexually assault a woman in a hotel room.
Well, what we actually see is the threat of sexual assault as she cowered against the headboard the bed, sheets pulled up over her body, realizing with horror that she's in the presence of two men instead of the one she came in with. Later in the episode, we find out she's reported the incident to the police, and is severely traumatized. It's weird — we don't get any of the sinister details, but the implied violence is somehow worse.
The violence the Castor boys bring with them is a pretty stark contrast to the violence we usually see on this show — is it an intentional contrast for a program concept dominated by women in strong roles? Even last season, when Sarah was being held against her will by Daniel, he's brandishing a knife, clearly attempting to cut her up and not initiate any sexual violence.
This season is different. The Castors bring with them a sort of hyper-masculine aggression that frames their sexual aggression as well. One woman is stuffed in a trunk, another is intimidated (and assumed to have been assaulted); even Helena gets waterboarded by the military Castor and Kira is held captive for a minute. It's a noticeable shift. Sexual violence has nothing to do with being a clone, and everything to do with being a woman.
Danielle Henderson is a lapsed academic, heavy metal karaoke machine, and culture editor at Fusion. She enjoys thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality shape our cultural narratives, but not in a boring way.