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Orphan Black: Why the Castor Clone Hate Is Missing the Point

They might not be good guys, but Mark and his brothers have been great additions

Sadie Gennis

The introduction of male clones on Orphan Black has been a divisive issue with the show's passionate fan base. The addition of five (and counting) male clones means that all of the sestra's story lines have become inextricably wrapped up in Castor drama, which many fans do not appreciate.

All of this vitriol directed at the Castor clones (Ari Millen) is baffling. Since its premiere, Orphan Black has explored issues of personal agency and institution, and what it means when the latter asserts control over the former. The Castor clones are the rational next step in this discussion.

Unlike the Leda clones (Tatiana Maslany) - who were, at the very least, allowed the freedom of individuality - the Castors have been imprisoned by their DNA from birth. From the second they entered this world, the Castor clones have been drafted into a life of military service that values conformity over autonomy. Much like Helena, they are victims raised to be weaponized and stripped of any free will. The only real power they get to feel is when they are given permission to assert their power over others, something Rudy and Seth particularly take to with disturbing glee.

TV's most important political debate is happening right now on Orphan Black

It's unclear exactly how much the Castor clones understand about what their mission is working toward - weaponizing their glitch rather than fixing it - and yet they would die rather than question the roles in which they have been placed. That's because the Castor clones are mere cogs in the machine, rather than the real villains. If the female clones represent the way the system victimizes women, the male clones represent the dangers of assuming the system is righteous. Their biggest fault is their blind faith in their mother, Dr. Coady, who manipulates their love and restricts access to information to keep her perfect little soldiers (and lab rats) in line.

It's no wonder that Mark - the rare Castor to have actually spent time interacting with the outside world (albeit a psycho religious cult) - is the only one to express any autonomous thought. Once free from the repressive control of Project Castor and Coady, Mark was finally able to discover who he really is - not just who he has been told he has to be. And though it would be a long journey before Mark could ever become a hero, the wool has been lifted from his eyes and curiosity can be kryptonite to any institution.

Orphan Black airs Saturdays at 9/8c on BBC America.