Orphan Black: Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est

Posted on May 18, 2014

Orphan-Black-Season-2-Episode-5-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOTatiana Maslany in BBC America’s “Orphan Black”


We’re not afraid to admit it: We’re a little confused.

But we’re supposed to be, right? The show’s going off in so many directions, with so many secrets and competing agendas that our confusion is a result of the masterful storytelling on display, which is designed to keep the viewer on their toes and questioning everything at all times, right? It’s not because it comes on at wine o’clock on a Saturday night and we’re an old married couple, right?

Fine. We were a little heavy-lidded by the end and perhaps not as sharp as we should have been. But we have a good excuse! Wine!

To be fair, we’re pretty sure most of what we’re confused about really is by design. It all comes down to this for us: we have absolutely no idea what side anyone in this story is on (aside from Sarah and Art – and the jury’s still out on him, as far as we’re concerned). Hell, we’re not even sure what the sides are. Mrs. S., Dr. Leakey, Delphine, Cal, Paul, Donnie – that’s a LOT of wild cards in one story. And this isn’t us being paranoid; every one of those characters has or had deep secrets and questionable associations and agendas. The only ones we might give a pass on are Donnie and Delphine, but don’t hold us to that. Clearly, this is a story where people can turn on a dime. Henrik and his crazy family are clearly a bunch of bad guys, but they’re obviously not the only ones. We thought Rachel had shades of gray to her – and perhaps she still does, in a Ben Linus kind of way – but she tipped over into some serious villainry this week; putting Felix on the hook for a cop killing and threatening Cosima’s health – and her life, really. And in the long tradition of genre villains with Received Pronunciation accents, she has a weird and disturbing sex life.

Seriously, that was the least-hot use of Paul in his underwear we could have dreamt up. Paul in his underwear in a vat of cold chicken soup. Maybe. Paul in his underwear being attacked by raccoons. Paul in his underwear, which is on fire. Paul in his underwear full of po- okay, then. Mission accomplished on that front. Our point? Rachel’s one crazy, nasty bitch. More than we realized, we think. There’s a reason we brought up Ben Linus. She reminds us very much of him; a revolting user and abuser who might just have a backstory complicated enough to make us understand her motives once we learn more. 

And like so much of this show, even that sex scene had a feminist undertone to it, in a twisted sort of way. There’s nothing particularly eye-opening about a “woman on top” sex scene, or even one where the woman is dominant. But this was written and portrayed exactly like any number of villainous sexploitation scenes going back decades, in countless films and TV shows, where the bad guy manipulates an unwilling damsel into sex. Except this time, the person in charge was a woman, slapping around her unwilling partner, sticking her hand in his mouth, groping his body like a piece of meat. If the genders were reversed, there’d be no question that we were looking at a sexual assault. And we’re not even making the argument that this wasn’t an assault; just that it’s kind of hard to do so when we don’t understand either character’s motivation yet. In other words, Paul consented to this, but we have no idea why he did so; mainly because he’s one of those people in the story who’s impossible to pin down. 

And then there’s Cal. We knew it. He was too good to be true AND he had a military connection. Seems he also has a bunch of money, weapons and fake IDs hidden in that RV which is “not in his name,” as he told Sarah last week. We thought that meant some other benefactor owned it, but it turns out it means he owns it under a different name. Duh. Should’ve seen that one. We really hope Cal’s not bad, though. Sarah, and especially Kira, could use the break. And besides… SOOOOOOO CUTE YOU GUYS AMIRITE. Dreamy.

We realize this is not a very serious critical review. Sorry, it’s Sunday, this show pushed all our diva buttons AND it gives us man candy, to boot.

Before we check out to take a power nap in preparation for writing tonight’s Mad Men review, we’ll say that the team really seems determined to snag Tatiana an Emmy nomination this year, writing in scenes that take your breath away with the emotion on display. That’s good of them to do. We totally support it. It’s too easy for people who don’t watch the show to wave away the raves about her acting by reducing what she does to techniques and trickery. Between last week’s horror-filled final moments and this episode’s rip-your-heart out tearful final moments, they’ve really given her the space to spread her wings and wow the audience. We get to see both the depths she’s capable of mining and we get to see her do it by playing a scene against a radically different character, also played by her. In other words, from a narrative perspective, the scene in the empty loft wasn’t particularly necessary. It didn’t make a lot of sense and there were a dozen ways to get Sarah, Art and Helen to that point without it. But it sold the hell out of the bond between these two women and it got Art fully on board in a way he probably wouldn’t have been if he didn’t witness that interaction with his own eyes. We’re fine with the way the show’s zipping all over the place and we’re even fine with scenes like this one, that don’t make a whole lot of sense. We can’t accuse of this  show of spinning its wheels or taking too long to tell its story. If they want to take a moment and give its hard-working star a clip for her Emmy reel, we’re happy to sit back and watch her go to work.

Also (and continuing the tradition of this not being our classiest TV review ever): Show of hands from the gay guys in the audience who wondered just what the hell Colin was doing pouring lube into his hands while both of them were still wearing pants? Anyone?




[Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA]

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  • gayle

    I am going to need someone to explain the science stuff to me because, when Leakie was talking to Cosima, that is where I really got confused. The lab fire destroyed the research regarding their origins but specifically did the scientists do to their DNA in the first place? They are not complete copies of one another, which is why Sara could have Kira?

    The Sara/Helena road trip is going to be insane but amazing at the same time. I am starting to like Helena more and more each episode but I am not sure if it is because I so badly want her to have retribution on everyone who has hurt her or because Tatiana Maslany as Helena is memorizing to watch.

    • CPT_Doom

      I think the idea is that LEDA took a human genome (perhaps from Rachel’s adoptive mother) and added synthetic DNA to it and then cloned the result. Without the original genome, it would be nearly impossible to determine where the synthetic DNA was, and therefore what could be causing the infertility and Katja-sickness. That’s why Kira and Sarah are so important – as the only mother/daughter pair, it implies Sarah is different in some way (and so Helena could be as well), perhaps from a natural mutation of the DNA, and using that difference could help the scientists pin down the DNA problems. I think.

      As for the acting – it’s simply astounding. As one commenter put it on the Entertainment Weekly recap, how do they get the same actress to appear skinnier when she’s Rachel? The scene between Helena and Sarah? Absolutely Mindblowing.

      Even more impressive was Jordon Gavaris. It was hard to watch that scene with Paul (although Paul-as-sex-slave was kind of hot) because of the real terror Gavaris gave Felix. It was very reminiscent of the shower scene last week, and I think it is a tribute to this show and the actors that both scenes were so realistic.

      • gayle

        Okay thank you. Science is not my thing and as much as I adore Cosima I rarely understand what she is talking about.

      • QJ321

        So glad you mentioned the skinnier thing. I was thinking it was my imagination. And out of all the weird or gory scenes they have shown (including last season’s tail slashing), the one I could barely watch was Felix with Paul. I was so scared for Felix – Gavaris really made me feel the panic and terror. It made me feel sick.

      • Spanx & high heels?

    • jayKayEss

      I had the same reaction. We can sequence their DNA to the point where we can decode a message written in ASCII and a serial number… yet we can’t find the differences between them all?

      • I wrote a response earlier but I included an external link that I think has prevented my response from going up.

        From what I understand about one cloning method (and there are a few, but this is how Dolly was made): you need a donor egg, which has its nucleus removed and replaced with the genetic material from the “original genome”. When this cell begins to multiply you can get transcription errors (mutations) in the DNA – so you could get differences in the clones just because of this. If you have a copy of the original genome, you could compare that to the DNA from the clones and find some sections of clone DNA being slightly different to the original (likely transcription errors) while other sections could be radically different (likely the splicing Leekie spoke about).

        Also, if this donor egg cloning method is what was used for out Orphan Black clones, the modified cell retains the donor mitochondrial DNA. Sarah (and Helena) would have mitochondria matching the donor’s DNA, and so would Kira. The Dyad institute are interested in Sarah and Kira because the mitochondria from Sarah’s egg donor are present in her cells and in Kira’s cells (and we have no idea if all the clones were created from a single donor’s eggs or if there were multiple donors). There can also be incompatibilities between the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes (or rather, the proteins that are expressed from the genomes) that can lead to disease – although we’re yet to find out if this is the cause of the sickness that affects the clones.

        • Ifeoluwa Olokode

          I’m geeking out over the science you’re so eloquently explaining. Makes me miss my undergrad Genetics class. Who woulda thunk you could get a Genetics/Reproductive Bio lesson in the comments of a pop-culture blog? Love the diverse backgrounds/intrests of the BKs!

          • I like how what I understand of the science of cloning (I completed a microbiology major as an undergrad) makes sense on the show. e.g. Episode 6’s remark about the spindle protein problem was absolute gold!

        • Javacat7

          Thank you for this.

        • decormaven

          Great explanation. Many thanks.

    • kimmeister

      I like Helena’s reaction every time Sarah calls her “meathead.”

  • Eclectic Mayhem

    Can’t read this yet but I’ll be back! I’m very late to the Clone Club but I’ve just spent the last couple of days shotgunning Season 1 and now I’ve got Eps 3,4 & 5 of Season 2 to watch.

    • Rottenwood

      To quote the great philosopher Cosima Niehaus: “welcome to the trip, man.”

  • GeoDiva

    Allison has always been my favorite clone, but after last night Helena is closing in. I agree about all the confusion on where everyone stands, especially after seeing the preview of Hot Paul and Mrs. S. together!! WTF! However, I have such faith in the creattive team that I am just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.
    I do think that we will see the shades of grey in Rachel when they find The Swan Man and she is reunited with her “father”. That might be the only thing that will get to her. Otherwise she will be just a one-dementional cold ass bitch and I can’t see the show runners falling short on that.
    Also if Tatiana does not win the Emmy this year…..her performance is not just about the smoke and mirrors aspect of the show. I always have to remind myself that all these women are the same person. It’s f’ing Amazing! Thanks for covering this show TLo!

    • heybethpdx

      Keep in mind that Mrs S. & Paul met last season at her house, when Sarah brought him around – why they’re intersecting now I have no idea, but there may not be a lot of backstory there.

    • elirt

      I think Rachel will go ape shit when she realizes her “dad” abandoned her. If we thought she was crazy now, it’s about to get rowdy!

  • Sobaika

    “Pretty sexy dirty Rachel. Like my mother.”

    To be honest, I’ve been getting lost lately in all the corporatey sciencey machinations (aka the plot) but with The performances and one liners are so stellar that I can’t even complain about it.

    • Lucía Gavello

      “These…. I like”

      I love Helena so hard <3

  • Shoelover1512

    The fish cult is freaking insane! When Gracie was in the cell with her mouth stitched closed that was painful to watch. Although the scene with Paul and Felix was more painful to watch. The terror in Felix was heart wrenching.

    And spot on with your comment of “Hell, we’re not even sure what the sides are” I seriously am not even sure who is good and bad anymore since the agendas are still so hidden.

    • heybethpdx

      I freaked OUT when they showed Gracie – who even does that?!? It’ll be interesting to see where her character goes, as that treatment surely turned her off from cooperating with them further.

      • berkeleygirl

        Who even does that? Varys on Game of Thrones.

        • heybethpdx

          Ah! I’m not watching GoT but I’ll brace myself when I finally get around to it 🙂

  • asherlev1

    I honestly read that scene with Paul as rape. It – he consented, I suppose, but it read as coerced consent to me. He was passive and blank-faced in a way that made me think he was just going through the motions to keep himself ALIVE. IE he’s been following Rachel’s orders for a while now in order to keep himself important, and I saw this as an extension of that.

    PS I just want to chime in with the others that Jordan Gavaris killed it in that scene with Paul.

    • Alanna

      Unfortunately, him being passive and blank-faced muddies the issues, to the point that I couldn’t tell whether or not he was truly consenting. The actor is pretty but, well, not exactly that nuanced. A better actor would’ve made that much darker and more complicated in showing what (I assume) the writers intended. Alas!

    • RussellH88

      Yeah, I read it as rape too. He cares about Sarah, she’s ordering him around, and he can’t really do anything because they have dirt on him.

      I don’t really think there’s any question.

    • korilian

      It’s not entirely clear why Paul is hanging around. They have dirt on him, but it’s as yet unknown if he’s being blackmailed into working for them and was then approached by Siobhan, or if he’s been plotting with Siobhan all along and wants to be there. I suspect it’s the first.

      I think the whole discussion of wether or not Paul can consent doesn’t really matter though. Rachel believes that he cannot refuse her and has no qualms about taking advantage. So I’d label her a rapist regardless of what Paul might be thinking. And lets not forget that Dyad has been pressuring people into having sexual relationships with the clones under false pretenses for years!

    • marlie

      I sort of agree. I wouldn’t have necessarily called it rape, myself, but he’s clearly doing it out of a sense of survival and/or obligation.

    • Leah Elzinga

      He “consented” in a similar way to how Joan consented on Mad Men… as in, only out of a need to survive.

  • MissMariRose

    *Raises hand.*
    And so much lube, too. I mean, that was really overkill, unless he was preparing to send Fe down the laundry chute.

  • JP

    Yes, I totally went, “But they still have their pants on!” (still a totally hot scene, though)

    I don’t know why, but I love that I can’t keep anything straight on this show. Drink more wine and enjoy the cray-cray, I say.

    • aesteve212

      I loved the music montage before he comes over too! But yes the whole thing kind of silly near the end of the scene.

  • Lattis

    So – 3 things:

    1. My husband showed me the youtube clip of “my cat saved my son” a couple of days ago. It was creepy seeing a dog looking pretty normal walking up to a boy and then *bang* quick as lightning it attacks. That scene in Art’s apartment with Helena sitting at the table eating . . . she’s like the dog. She gives the impression that she’s glad to be eating, and she’s cooperating, then *bang* . . . I love watching scenes with Helena. She is so feral.

    2. I like how completely they realize the home apartments of the clones – Rachel’s cold, rich digs, Fe’s cluttered, creative, eclectic space etc. Sarah has no place of her own, and it makes her character more unreadable. I like that.

    3. I’m curious how they schedule shooting the scenes and makeup changes for Tatiana. She must spend hours in make-up some days.

    oh and also 4. Yikes! they sewed that girls lips together and put her in solitary and . . . yeesh, that is one ghastly cult.

    • jayetyler

      Somewhat off-topic, but I’ve seen that clip. The dog is not walking casually but stalking. (And I say this as a dog lover. I had a dog w/aggression issues when we adopted her & I could see all the same characteristics; if you know what to look for, you can tell the dog is going to attack/act out before it happens.)

      But yeah, the lips sewn together thing freaked me out. (Plus locking her in solitary confinement; who does that?) Last week I hated the Gracie character for trying to kill Helena; this week I just felt terrible for her. Was the woman talking to Hendrix Gracie’s mom or another sister wife/cult member?

      • MilaXX

        I know this is odd, but the creepiest thing about the Proletheans this week was the guy bringing Grace the milk in the bottle. I mean, I get that her lips are sewn together, but everything about these people is about fertility. So the guy giving Gracie that milk just felt extra squicky to me.

        • muzan-e

          The unavoidable metaphor.
          The Stockholm overtones.
          It was deeply unsettling for me as well, and I am beyond desperate to see Helena unleashed on those horrible human beings with a balisong and some serious firepower.

          • Qitkat

            And thus a new word is added to my vocabulary, that is one seriously wicked knife, I have the feeling I have seen one in a museum or elsewhere.

        • Whereas I found the tail-end of Mark and Grace incredibly endearing!

          Mark’s nearly always been presented as “evil” to us when tracking down Sarah and “nailing” Tomas, but we’ve been shown glimpses of his crush on Grace in previous episodes. I suspect Grace knows that he cares for her, which is why she looks so upset when Mark toes the company/cult line about confession, ceasing to drink the milk and glaring at him. I was a bit worried when he kissed her, but there’s a shift in mood and the music soundtrack changes to a soft piano as he makes contact. When he whispers, “Doesn’t matter to me what you did,” I think he genuinely means it, and I’m hoping that if Grace is forced to carry the embryo that that could be a breaking point for Mark and they leave the cray-cray cult.

          • kimmeister

            The kiss creeped me out because it was directly adjacent to her swollen, punctured lips.

          • marlie

            I didn’t see it as endearing; I wondered what his agenda was. None of them seem genuine or trustworthy in the least.

      • Agreed about the dog – as soon as it sees the child from behind the car you can see the ears go forward in an attack-arousal sort of pattern, and then stalk.

  • Alanna

    For what it’s worth, Yahoo TV did a really interesting interview with the show’s hair/makeup designer, about how he uses styling to differentiate the clones and show their personalities. Disqus won’t let me post a link, but go to TV-dot-yahoo-dot-com and search for this headline: ”

    How ‘Orphan Black’s’ Hair and Makeup Wizards Split One Actress Into Five (Very Distinct) Clones”.

    • Qitkat

      Thanks for this. Fascinating. I didn’t understand the explanation for Cosima’s wig but it is so believable, I want someone to give me that look 😉

      • kimmeister

        The whole “I built a cage” thing was like Greek to me too.

  • Man Dala

    “The team really seems determined to snag Tatiana an Emmy nomination this year, writing in scenes that take your breath away with the emotion on display”. I couldn’t agree more, and I had exactly the same thought. The scenes where Sarah and Helena interact in this and last episodes are absolutely magnetic, and one loses track that it is the same actress playing both roles. You can clearly see two actresses on screen.

  • Pinwiz

    If I learned anything from this week’s show, it that you should be eating powdered dounts while watching instead of drinking wine.

    “These I like.” – Helena

  • Qitkat

    Gotta get off, gonna get
    Have to get off from this ride
    Gotta get hold, gonna get
    Need to get hold of my pride

    When did I get, where did I?
    How was I caught in this game?
    When will I know, where will I?
    How will I think of my name?

    When did I stop feeling sure, feeling safe?
    And start wondering why, wondering why
    Is this a dream, am I here, where are you?
    What’s in back of the sky, why do we cry?

    Gotta get off, gonna get
    Out of this merry-go-round
    Gotta get off, gonna get
    Need to get on where I’m bound

    When did I get, where did I?
    Why am I lost as a lamb?
    When will I know, where will I?
    How will I learn who I am?

    When did I stop feeling sure, feeling safe?
    And start wondering why, wondering why
    Is this a dream, am I here, where are you?
    What’s in back of the sky, why do we cry?

    Gotta get off, gonna get
    Need to get off of this ride
    Gonna get on, gonna get
    Gonna get on where I’m bound

    • Lattis

      Curse you Qitkat! This song has been stuck in my head since I read your post! : )
      (really fits the show though – good call)

      • Qitkat

        Come sit by me, we’ll drink wine and sing the song together 😉

  • formerlyAnon

    I watched this for the first time with a friend yesterday, so if you think YOU are lost! It became clear I need to watch the entire back catalog, or give up on it. (Also, you don’t have to be a gay guy to have questioned the timing of the lube.)

    • MilaXX

      Yes, start from the beginning. It’s worth the binge watch.

  • Glam Dixie

    All I could figure re the lube was maybe Felix was supposed to be dropping trou while he was dumping half the bottle into his hands but possibly we were supposed to be so distracted by the sexy and the interruption/police that we weren’t really supposed to be paying attention to that as much as we obviously were.
    Also, Helena’s, “Got you, Art” was awesome. I did miss crazy Allison this week but looks like she has some good stuff coming up next week to make up for it.

  • Rottenwood

    I don’t mind the convoluted, shadowy plot – its par for the course for a show like this. My only issue is whether the writers have a resolution worked out. If they do, AWESOME. If they don’t, and this becomes another X-Files or Lost where they’re running around in circles without a map, well, then we’ll have a problem.

    I could watch Maslany read a take-out menu, so the show has many pleasures beyond tight plotting. Still, I just want to see one sci-fi epic actually unravel the lunacy in a satisfactory way.

  • MilaXX

    I love this show. It totally goes balls to the wall wacko each week. I agree there is no way to figure out what side anyone is on yet I trust the show to come together and make sense when the tine comes. I was touched by the sheer terror on Fe’s face when Paul pulled out that gun as well as the bonding of Helena & Sarah. Speaking of Kira. So is the kid a telepah? this is the second time she just out of the blue knows when someone is coming. I do not trust Cal. I guessed that the RV would turn out to be registered under an alias. but he had that whole hidden panel with what looked like several fake ID’s and currency.

    • Abby

      I put Cal more in the trustworthy column than the untrustworthy column. He obviously has a complicated past, but Rachel mentioned he might have anti-corporate tendencies. I don’t think there’s any “might” to it. His partners betrayed him by selling the pollinating drones out from under him, and he’s clearly unhappy that his invention is being used to destroy life instead of creating it. I also suspect that Dyad or one of their subsidiaries has the contract that uses his drone technology to supply the military.

    • “I love this show. It totally goes balls to the wall wacko each week.”

      Ha! I completely agree!
      “It’s the so-called normal guys who always let you down. Sickos never scare me. Least they’re committed.”

    • Badriya Al-Badi’a

      I have faith in the apparently psychic Kira’s judgement–she clearly trusts him, calling him daddy and putting on a good show for the police who came to the RV. That’s not to say he might have complicated issues or backstory, but I think he’ll come through for Kira and Sarah in the end.

      • elirt

        Good call – Kira’s spooky people reading skills is definitely something to consider in the “is he evil?” question.

  • berkeleygirl

    All I can day after last night is that Tatiana Maslany is one of the most mind-glowingly gifted actors not the planet. Especially in the scenes with Sarah and Helena, I realized that I have virtually forgotten that it’s the same actor in the role. Her complete immersion into each clone has reached the Daniel Day-Lewis level. Forget that each looks totally different, but they each have their own unique little tics.

  • Man Dala

    I loved Felix’s “coitus interruptus” scene to the soundtrack of Tear for Fears’ “Head Over Heels”.

  • majorbedhead

    I have FINALLY caught up on this show and ohmahholyhell, people! I have been raving about it to everyone. EV. ERY. ONE.

    I am so confused, but I enjoy the confusion, if that makes sense. It’s such a roller coaster. I have a feeling I’m going to have to re-watch the whole series again, kind of like I had to do with the bloody River Song story line in Doctor Who. It’s going to be the only way I can make sense of it.

    • Javacat7

      Nothing to see here.

  • decormaven

    Such a crazy week I never got around to reading this recap. Good observations from everyone; this show is doing well at keeping us all on our collective toes.

  • sparkle_burnout

    guys, you need not be a gay guy to wonder about the lube thing. . .