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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