Subjects about which I cannot be reasonable: Cophine

(spoilers for anyone not all the way caught up on Orphan Black)

I don’t think any TV show has ever made me worry about its characters like Orphan Black. I’m not saying I’ve never been bothered by anything that befell the characters on Game of Thrones, the Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, the Sopranos, etc., but they never gave me anxiety. I knew bad things were bound to happen to some of them, and I was generally okay with it. OB, however, stresses me the fuck out. It’s a need to know that my precious babies are safe that keeps me watching. Even though, you know, they usually aren’t, hence the aforementioned stress.

I know. I know. Stories need conflict. But I would be so on board with an OB episode where none of the protagonists were in any kind of jeopardy. Hell, wrap up the plot in the season 5 premier, and give us nine episodes of them just living safe, happy lives. It would be dull, sure, but I think dull might be a welcome relief after the unrelenting assault of the past four seasons. It might repair some of the damage this show has done to the lining of my stomach. The Hendrixes slinging soap in the suburbs. Sarah doing mom stuff with Kira. Helena learning the tow truck business with Jesse. Art back to working garden variety homicides. Felix painting and partying. Siobhán…I don’t actually have any idea what a normal life for Siobhán looks like. And of course, Cosima and Delphine making crazy science together.

Which is what I worry about the most. I worry that Orphan Black’s showrunners don’t understand that they are not. Allowed. To fuck. With them.

As a rule, I don’t ship. I’ve always regarded the phenomenon with a certain amount of bewilderment, even before there was a word for it. As an X-Files fan back in the 90’s, I scratched my head at all the fans who were so desperate for Scully and Mulder to hook up. I’ve always been more or less content to let the storyteller put characters together or not as they saw fit. I’ve never understood this compulsion to force them into these romantic pairings. I’m not against it, and I’d never presume to tell anyone else how to be a fan, I just never got it.

The Orphan Black season three premier made me get it. After half an episode of following Delphine around, thinking “When the fuck are you going to go see Cosima? Go see Cosima! Do it now!”, she finally goes to see Cosima…and it’s a devastating sucker-punch to the gut. We get to watch Delphine struggle to keep her shit together as she deliberately breaks the heart of the woman she loves (and her own in the process). We get to watch Cosima’s elation turn to bitter anguish. It’s excruciating, and knowing Delphine has her reasons doesn’t make it any easier. Cosima, squeaking a feeble “I love you” in a last-ditch effort to change her mind. Delphine, leaning against the wall, clutching her stomach and sobbing raggedly when she’s alone again. Jesus fucking Christ.

I just wanted to throw myself at the TV screen and howl, “NOOOOOOO!!! Stay together! I’ll protect you!*” I was not prepared for this shit. I mean, there were plenty of hints that something was amiss in the preceding twenty minutes, but I had willfully, obstinately ignored them. It was like surprise cardiac surgery with a rusty garden spade. I didn’t even cry the first time I watched it because I was too busy trying to remember how to breathe. That’s when I realized that I didn’t just ship these two, I was goddamn UPS.

(I would be remiss if I failed to mention that this scene would not have been the exercise in agony that it is if not for the extraordinary talents of Évelyne Brochu and Tatiana Maslany and the absolutely stellar job they do bringing these characters to life and making them feel so real)

And it aint like things have gotten much better for our ladies in the nineteen episodes since. They get back together for like a fucking minute in the season three finale, and then Delphine gets shot. They’re reunited at the end of the season four finale, and then this creepy old man says eight words to Delphine that make me hate him with an ardent fury I’ve never felt for a fictional character in all my days: “You won’t be allowed to stay with her.” WHAT?!?! AAARRRGGGHHH!!! You won’t be allowed to eat solid food when I’m done with your face, you prick! If you merged Joffrey Baratheon, Dolores Umbridge, and Captain Vidal from Pan’s Labyrinth into a single person, I would loathe that person less than I loathe this motherfucker. After suffering through all of this, I don’t think it’s out of line to suggest that we are owed a happy ending for these two.

Maybe I’m worrying over nothing. My concerns aren’t actually based on anything John Fawcett and Graeme Manson have said or done. They have, on at least one occasion, assured the fandom that we’ll be happy with how their story ends. But it’s really fucking hard for me to take that the way I want to take it for two reasons:

  1. Fawcett and Manson have been trying to soften us up for the possibility that Évelyne Brochu might just barely be in season five due to scheduling conflicts (come on, guys, you gotta lock this stuff down. Do they not have contracts in Canada, or are they just considered rude up there?)
  2. The purveyors of hour-long television dramas are apparently unaware that woman/woman relationships can end any way other than tragically (just google “bury your gays” or “dead lesbian syndrome” if you think I’m exaggerating)

I used to snicker at my wife every time she vowed to renounce The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones if they ever dared to kill off Daryl Dixon or Jon Snow. Not anymore; I get it now. Cophine is my dealbreaker. Orphan Black is high up on the short list of my all-time favorite shows, but so help me, if Cosima and Delphine don’t get their happily-ever-after, I will recant every kind word I’ve ever said about it.


*I did not do this because I was watching it with my wife, and frankly, she thinks I’m weird enough as it is. I don’t need her finding how how weird I really am. God, I hope she doesn’t read this.