Orphan Black: Mingling Its Own Nature With It

Posted on May 04, 2014

Orphan-Black-Season-2-Episode-3-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOTatiana Maslany and Jordan Gavaris in BBC America’s series “Orphan Black”


This may have been the quintessential place-setting episode, but Sarah got to continue her streak of getting to sleep with really hot guys, so if it was more fractured than the best episodes of the series, at least we all got to vicariously wake up next to a naked Michiel Huisman.  That can’t ever be considered a bad thing. This is how you know the show is courting an audience of women. Someone recently asked us about the show, because they didn’t know anything about it, and before we knew it, we blurted out the phrase “Feminist Lost!” Which is kind of hilariously high concept, but the point is, it’s one of the rockin’est adventure shows out there right now and it is distinctly and sometimes aggressively female-centered in its point of view. In a remarkably refreshing twist on the standard adventure story setup, the women characters are all complex and active and driving the story, while the bulk of the men fall into three highly reductive categories: dull, evil, and/or hot. Felix stands alone, but then again, he’s probably the best iteration of the Gal’s Best Gay character we’ve seen in quite some time.  You add Cosima and Delphine’s relationship into the mix and it’s clear that this one’s going out to all the ladies in the audience. They’re not overt about in the marketing of the show, but in the creating of it, they’re definitely looking at women as their primary audience, and that’s a nice change of pace for a sci-fi adventure show.

Anyway, back to this week’s episode. We’re seeing what the plan is for season 2, now that the places have been set, and we’re liking the direction. Sure, it’s not great that Clone Club is largely broken up at the moment, but the three running plotlines of the three main characters(plus one)  are propelling the story forward nicely. First there’s Cosima’s deteriorating health and journey deeper and deeper into Dyad, which gets more disturbing the more she learns. Tatiana Maslany gave some wonderful reactions from Cosima as she encountered yet another clone and essentially watched her die, all on video; removed from it, yet deeply affected by it and attempting not to show it. “Don’t be a bitch.” We knew she was hardcore when we saw her cut open a body identical to her own and start digging around inside. Continuing the rampant theme of motherhood that permeates this story (and motivates most of the characters) we find out that the syndrome that may be killing the clones originates in the uterus and could explain why almost all of them are infertile.

Meanwhile Alison’s continuing Woman on the Verge routine, gets both more entertaining and a little sadder at the same time; a credit to the way Maslany’s interpreting the material. We still can’t help but love when Alison swigs from a tiny little liquor bottle and attempts to hold it all together, but watching her fall apart now is taking on a sense of the tragic. We hated that Felix left her last week (although we understood why he did it) but we’re thrilled to see that he ran straight to her when he realized Sarah didn’t need him and had no place for him. The creators know that Felix and Alison are one of the most entertaining relationships on the show but it took a little guts for them to have Sarah come out looking like such a user still, after everything she’s been through. But she is who she is and the creators aren’t going to shy away from the fact that she tends to use up the people around her and discard them. Even Kira called her on her bullshit this episode by reminding her that for all her bluster about not having a mom and dad, she sure didn’t mind abandoning her own daughter. Mrs. S is currently out of the picture and she barely raised a finger to stop Felix from leaving. If they were alone out in the woods, she would have begged him to stay, but she’s in the cozy cabin of the hot and rich guy who fathered her child so off you go, Felix. That’s bold, to present your lead character that way, especially if she’s a woman. TV currently loves itself some male anti-heroes, but it’s not always easy to get TV to love a female one.

And finally, there’s Helena. Never have we wanted this character to go on a bloody killing spree more than now. We hope she recuperates quickly and then finds creative and entertaining ways to turn that entire creepy ranch into a graveyard. Since it’s clear now that this branch of the Prolethians are some sort of polygamous fertility cult (how many pregnant women attended that weird marriage ceremony?) then what exactly is the reason for their dire need to get Helena pregnant? The only answer that makes sense to us is Kira. She’s clearly not a normal child, since she has a tendency to be one of the smartest and (sometimes creepily) observant people in any scenario, and apparently can bounce off the hood of a moving car and shrug it off like a cold.  Was Project Leda program some sort of attempt at producing brood mares for the next stage in human evolution? And was Henrik actually carrying her to the stall where we saw him artificially inseminating a cow? Because holy shit, that is BEYOND creepy and disturbing.

As for the newly introduced Cal, who’s the latest person to pick up Kira because Sarah got swept away from her again, we have some suspicions. That whole bit about creating drone technology that the military is using to kill people? That’s not a throwaway line. With the Proletheans, The Dyad Institute, and now this little bit of background story, we’re seeing the real boldness of the show (and why you probably wouldn’t see an American basic cable show quite like this): it’s tackling religion, science, feminism and the military all at the same time. It’s all  at the very heart of the story – and it never feels heavy-handed. Considering the fertility themes now being realized in a character’s rape and an attempt at forced pregnancy, it’s only a matter of time before abortion will be added to the mix. As we said, that’s a bold way to tell an adventure story. The fact that they’re pulling it all off quite well is partially what makes this all so entertaining for us.



[Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA]

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  • spititout

    Busy weekend with basketball keeps me from watching Orphan Black yet. But I could not resist reading TLo’s take on the new episode anyway! Thank you!

    • Twigg

      Well now you MUST go watch it, even if it’s only for Cosima’s impression of Leekie.

      • JanieG

        Maslany is an awesome mimic. Now I want to weave in “Great Scot, Ive created life itself!” in everyday conversation.

  • gayle

    Last nights episode was fantastic and creepy and sad depending on which clone we were with. There is no way Helena is not going to kill at least a few of the Prolethians by the end of the season. I love Alison and I need her to fully embrace her bad-ass side that tied Donny up in her craft room full stop. She is much stronger than this and is truly a force to be reckoned with at times. Cal is going to be interesting to watch between the drones and studying bee colonies, I don’t think he is involved yet but I think he will a good resource against Rachel down the road.

    • Oooh, I like your idea about Cal being a good resource against Rachael. I was so shocked that he was Kira’s father that I didn’t even think about the possibilities.

    • marlie

      I’m waiting for her to take out Mark. He creeps he the hell out.

  • MilaXX

    Last night was made me sad for all the clones. Even Sarah. However my sadness for her comes from seeing that she’s so selfish she can’t really see the damage she inflicts on others. The look on Felix’s face when he realized she didn’t need him anymore made me sad. Even though it meant he was returning to Allison who really does need him, it was sad nonetheless. As mentioned, poor Allison and barely holding it together. Have to admit I was kinda hoping she’d mace Angie when she suspected she was the replacement monitor. Cosima get the badass award to autopsying that other clone and keeping it together after speaking to Allison. Creepy cult people are gonna be in for a real surprise when Helena goes all Rambo on them.
    On a positive note, at least we didn’t have to see Donnie in his underwear again.

    • Qitkat

      Love the cute new avatar 🙂

    • Lattis

      Donnie in his underwear! Man, with you on that.

      • kimmeister

        Tighty whities, no less!

  • GeoDiva

    Love this show! I agree about waiting for Helena to go all “Helena” on that creepy cult. I read that we should not ignore that fact that Cal’s DNA may play a role in why Sarah could have a baby.

    • CPT_Doom

      My theory is that Sarah is fertile because she’s a twin. We know the women were created with some kind of synthetic DNA that is likely the underlying reason for the illness. But when an identical twin occurs the fertilized cell divides and the DNA is replicated. It might be that Helena got all the synthetic DNA while Sarah got a fully human copy. That would imply Helena is also infertile.

      As for the larger themes of the show, I am also impressed with his the show is handling deep feminist themes in a totally entertaining manner. The whole question of who owns women’s bodies is fascinating when you have women who have been patented and a relentless quest to literally capture Kira. I thought it was totally creepy – and brilliant – that the show paralleled the autopsy of Jennifer (a body anyone is free to use) and the “bonding” of Helena and weirdo religious cult guy, with both women in hospital settings and covered in white sheets being manipulated without any concept of consent

      I am so happy I found this show and totally agree with Felix that I don’t DO camping, although Cosima won the night with her Dr. Leckie impression.

      • Meri

        Well, with the myth of Leda, one of each set of twins was mortal and one was immortal. Helena seems to be immortal, and Sarah has a daughter. Since Mrs. S refers to both Kira and Sarah as Project Leda… how sure are we that Kira was a single birth?

        • heybethpdx

          I thought it wasn’t clear who Mrs S meant when she talked about Project Leda – it could be Sarah and Felix OR Sarah and Kira. I did not know the business about one of each being mortal & immortal, but I like that a lot with the “one to the church, one to the state” disposition of Helena and Sarah when they were born.

          If the other twin-set is Kira + 1, I guess her healing could indicate she is the immortal one; Felix, in his awesome pants-less lifestyle seems very of this earth to me!

  • Shoelover1512

    Poor Allison, I just feel so bad for her! Although I was happy she told Angie to basically F off.

    I would have liked to see Felix talk to Allison before her play just because she’s a falling apart mess.

    And I can’t wait for Helena to get her strength back and get some revenge. I know she’s crazy but man has she been surrounded by some f-ed up people, she never stood a chance!

    • TropiCarla

      I wanted Felix to visit her backstage also. Poor dear … I was expecting a crap performance from her, but she took it to the full-out extent with that swan dive. eek

  • Man Dala

    Michiel Huisman in a flannel shirt, all scruffy and living in the woods… Yas Gawd!

    • Inspector_Gidget

      It’s funny, I had to get over him playing one of the least likeable characters on TV (on Treme). Then he started popping up all over (Game of Thrones and now this!) and I had to separate him from that horrible first impression. Glad he’s breaking that mold.

      • Man Dala

        What about him as sexy Liam in Nashville?

        • Inspector_Gidget

          I’ve never seen that show. None of the promos make it seem interesting to me. Is it worthwhile?

          • Man Dala

            Only if you like country music VERY MUCH (I do). Or if you love Connie Britton’s hair (I do too). Otherwise it is a bad soap opera.

          • Inspector_Gidget

            Not a huge country fan, but Connie Britton’s hair could almost carry a series on its own.

          • Man Dala

            Yeah, the whole cast is relying on her hair to get the show renewed for a third season. Still in the bubble.

        • GeoDiva

          Liam St. Lucia! Miss him!

        • MartyBellerMask

          Season 1 had its problems, but I didn’t think it was *too* soapy. Season 2 is a different matter. They ramped up the soap AND the “morality”. So it’s been a while since I’ve watched, and it’s pretty much lost me, although I cannot guarantee I won’t binge-watch the last few episodes at some point in the future.
          I do like the music though, and I’m not a big country fan.

          And Liam is HOT.

          • Man Dala

            I hate how they assassinated Scarlett’s character (not only metaphorically but almost literally) in Season 2. She has been unbearable to watch, and I have been wishing she is written out of the show for most of the season. It is a shame, because Clare Bowen is such a talented singer, as demonstrated in the Nashville On The Record concert (I recommend you watch it, it is available on YouTube in its entirety). I also wished that she spoke with her normal voice, and not with that stupid accent she puts on for the show.
            The whole Ted/Lamar/Peggy/Tandy storyline was awful and I was glad when they dropped it halfway down the season. I just wish that we could see more scenes with Chris Carmack engaging in gay sex.
            And Liam is SUPER HOT.

    • camdiggidy

      Cal is SUCH A STEP UP from Paul.

      • Man Dala

        Agree. A love or sex scene with Paul should have as soundtrack the song by Royksopp featuring Robyn “The Girl And The Robot”.

  • isapaiva

    Great recap guys, I especially liked your mention of how rare it is to see a female anti-hero, in a way, that really is the most feminist thing in this quite feminist story: to have a main character that is not the best mother, nor the best friend, but who we are still drawn to and cheer for.

    Leaving aside any pretense of intelligent commentary: God that Michiel Huisman looked hot! He’s obviously good looking in Game of Thrones, but didn’t really do anything for me, but in that lumberjack style I literraly had to make an effort to close my mouth and stop drooling.

  • heybethpdx

    The scene where Felix realizes Sarah doesn’t need him and doesn’t mind if he leaves was really sad – and a part of me was appreciating Jordan Gavaris’ acting chops & hoping our theory from last week (Felix clones!) comes true!

    Poor Alison – she’s a wreck and I just love her. Did anyone notice the rack of costumes backstage, with “Aynsley” crossed out and “Alison” written in? Hilarious! So cold!

    • Twigg

      One of the other actresses was wearing Aynsley’s blue striped shirt as well.

      • heybethpdx

        I missed that! I guess I’ll have to watch for a third time. This is not a problem.

    • TropiCarla

      That stricken “Aynsley” made me snort with laughter. Really? No one had a fresh scrap of paper to make a new sign for Alison? smh

  • Deborah Cardillo

    I’ve been a quiet BK for some time, but the first paragraph of this post has compelled me to say something. I really resent the idea that a female-led show must be “catering” to women. Are shows that are male-led somehow catering to men? No one ever claims that. The implication of this is that male-led shows are for everyone, but female-led shows are somehow only for women. This show is simply a good show, and I know many men who enjoy it. Male or female led shows are either good or bad, well-written or not, and calling out a show that has a female main character as being for women, only perpetuates the idea that these shows are only meant for women and that the male lead is the only universal lead.

    • Why did you put the word “catering” in quotes when we never used it and means something entirely different from what we said? You have completely misunderstood that first paragraph. It was celebrating the show for NOT assuming that the default hero is male.

      • Deborah Cardillo

        My mistake. I misread “courting” as “catering.” My apologies for that.
        And I understood that you were celebrating the female lead, my protest was just that this sort approach can do a disservice to a show, set it apart as directed only at women. There’s been a big debate in Hollywood about female-led adventure movies and how men don’t want to see them and how male leads are the only universal lead. Rapidly being disproven, but still holding on desperately in the minds of producers. Perhaps I’ve been too steeped in debates about that elsewhere.

  • ShaoLinKitten

    I’m so glad that networks are finally realizing that women want to see gritty shows with action and adventure. Orphan Black has the sci fi side covered. Vikings, for all its battle scenes, is 100% geared to a female audience. Orange is the New Black has the crime drama covered. I am loving it.

    Did anyone find it odd how fast Cal forgave Sarah? She robbed him, ditched him, never told him he had a daughter. Yet one look at her in those leather pants and all is forgotten. Hmmmm. Either not very credible, or he is working an angle.

    • Rottenwood

      Hey, if you’re living alone in the woods for God knows how long and Tatiana Maslany pops in wearing leather pants, well, it can make a man set common sense to the wayside.

  • banga

    I’m so excited that you’re covering Orphan Black I finally broke down and created a Disqus account.

    • heybethpdx

      Me too!!!!

  • ShaoLinKitten

    Thinking more about Cal and bees… bees reproduce via parthenogenesis. This is actually a type of cloning. From wikipedia: “Depending on the mechanism involved in restoring the diploid number of chromosomes, parthenogenetic offspring may have anywhere between all and half of the mother’s alleles. The offspring having all of the mother’s genetic material are called full clones and those having only half are called half clones. Full clones are usually formed without meiosis. If meiosis occurs, the offspring will get only a fraction of the mother’s alleles.” This seems like it will be important.

    • TropiCarla

      Nice intel!

    • DeebaCee

      I figured there had to be some sort of bee reproduction tie-in there, but I was too lazy to investigate (Thanks for wikipediaing!). I thought Cal’s acceptance of Sarah and his new found fatherhood was just too convenient. This sets up some deeper, potentially ulterior motive for him (though it makes me afraid for Kira now that he’s the one watching her).

      • CPT_Doom

        It’s also interesting that Daniel appeared to know exactly where to go – both to find the safehouse of Mrs. S’ “friends” and to Cal’s location. DYAD clearly has more information about both Mrs. S and Sarah than we know about (that, or they’ve put some kind of tracking device on Sarah).

      • jayKayEss

        O god I never considered that! And all the monitors so far have had some sort of romantic connection with their clone.

  • Jeremy Thomas Porta

    This makes me want to watch this. I’ve heard very little about it except that it involves clones. Adding to my must watch list.

  • mmebam

    I don’t know how I feel about precocious Kira. One could definitely make the argument that this is the first time we are really seeing her spending any real time with Sarah and talking on screen in any significant capacity. But the eerily on point one-liners just didn’t feel organic.

    • AnaRoW

      I mentioned this on another site: I don’t think her character is very well written. It’s common for writers to underwrite children’s roles but if Kira’s going to be important to the story, they need to develop her a little more so she comes off more like a kid than a cardboard character.

      • mmebam

        I mean, she is important to the story. She is the ultimate plot device and character developer.

        (I know what you mean, and I agree.)

      • heybethpdx

        I agree completely. Also, we keep hearing that she is special, amazing, different – Mrs. S. has made that point at least couple of times – but I haven’t seen anything in her interactions with people that seems to illustrate it very well. Obviously there was the amazing healing from the car accident to move the theory along some, but I hope we get a bit more in the next few episodes that better show us what the show-runners are trying to say. Is she just a somewhat insightful, or is she advanced in some unusual way?

  • stephbellard

    I love that Felix keeps coming up with names for Sarah’s hot lovers. Big Farm Biceps should be the new Big Dick Paul.

  • M_E_S

    Anyone else think that one Prolethian guy looks an awful lot like Felix? Could he possibly be Felix’s twin, completing the Leda myth?

    I may or may not have become obsessed with my theory…

    • heybethpdx

      I think that’s a pretty big stretch, but I love the theory :-). I think IF we get Felix clones, it won’t be subtle.

  • tiny_bookbot

    I love that this show is looking at–in so many ways–what really makes us human, and we get to see Sarah struggling toward a particularly idealistic formulation of it: she’s been so selfish for so long, partly out of her own hurt and partly out of just being a jerk, that she’s only now figuring out how to be good to the people she loves. And being good to one person (Kira) means failing another (Felix). Being human is so damn hard.

    At the same time, there’s Alison, who’s sacrificed a piece of her humanity by letting Aynesley die, and Cosima, who’s interrogating the scientific definition of one’s humanness, and Helena, who has no real grasp of her own humanity even as other people try to take away what shreds are there. And all this while being a million-mile-an-hour plot machine of a show. I just dig every second of it.

  • Lenora Dody

    I’m interested to see what happens with the suspicious daughter in the cult. Love this show and keep recommending it to people!

    • Twigg

      I hope she helps Helena escape. Her motive would be because she doesn’t like her but Helena needs to get out of there,

      • heybethpdx

        I think Grace (the daughter) is going to be forced to marry the younger man, since he keeps making eyes at her. If so, that may help her feel some empathy for Helena. I could also see Helena blackmailing Grace into taking her along on an escape. And let’s face it – if Helena gets her strength back, she would be a formidable helper in a getaway!

        • Haquelle

          I could be oh so wrong but I think I saw a clip, either on tv or from the OB tumblr, of Grace attempting to suffocate Helena with a pillow. So if that holds true I anticipate Helena to react as she does, violently.

  • Inspector_Gidget

    Feminist LOST, eh? Well, women on the island couldn’t conceive either. Crossover!

  • Rottenwood

    It definitely tugged at the old heart a bit to see Felix shifting his primary allegiance from Sarah to Alison. It makes perfect sense in the narrative, though, and it’s great that the writers saw how dynamite the Felix/Alison dynamic is and are going to really mine it for T.V. gold.

  • MartyBellerMask

    I don’t watch this show, but you had me at “naked Michiel Huisman.”

  • FancyPhilly

    Normally when I get into a show I still let it simmer a day or two before actually watching it. This show is not like that at all. I crave it and as soon as I can watch it I devour it. No show has done this to me since Season 1 of Lost. As a Canadian I am also really proud of it. As anyone who grew up in Canada knows Canadian-produced TV shows were a joke. All of them except The Littlest Hobo.

    Anyway, love that you guys are recapping this. Thanks!

  • Nels P. Highberg

    We laughed so hard when Cal showed up at the cabin because the actor just left the show Nashville because his character, Liam, had to go to Canada for work.

  • Lattis

    I loved the deliciously macabre play that Allison was acting in and the way it kept mirroring the death of Lindsay (or whatever the name of the neighbor was that Allison thought was her handler and watched die). “We dedicate this performance to Lindsay and know she is here with us.” hahaha Beautifully creepy.

    Tatiana Maslany is such a pleasure to watch.

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  • Seriously.

    I realized last night that the end of Ep. 1 in this season, which shows Kira being creepily photographed, was actually for her passport photo which Daniel Rosen, the Dyad lawyer, steals from the safe house in this episode.

    I love how subtle this show is–how it assumes that its viewers are intelligent and curious.

    • Richard Winters