Well if nothing else, this episode answered the question of whether Alison and Donnie have a future. They’re clearly made for each other, seeing as how they tend to (semi)accidentally murder people. When we got over our initial shock – and the short burst of laughter that followed it – we turned to each and said something along the lines of “YAY! Now he and Alison are totally going to get each other!” Can this marriage be saved! Yes! With only a few corpses in its wake!
This was a welcome episode, because the story was starting to spin out of control as of last week. We can’t actually claim that it’s not still spinning out of control, but there was more of that sense – that to be fair, we also got from last week’s episode – that the circle is closing and things are starting to come together. Even better, we got an episode with a fairly light tone that almost felt like the show re-energizing itself in the wake of some fairly dark and harsh scenes in the past few weeks. Granted, it ended with someone getting their head blown off – but in a funny way.
R.I.P., Dr. Aldous Leakie/Leakey/Leekie/Leeky/Leekey – however the hell you spell it. While we can’t say we were overjoyed at the idea of yet another hidden player behind the scenes being introduced this episode, at least they had the sense to get rid of some dead weight before they brought her in. Matt Frewer is a fun genre actor with a long resume behind him, but more and more, it didn’t feel like he fit the tone of the rest of the series. Dr. Leekie (let’s go with that one for now) is a fairly dangerous man who’s done some fairly dark deeds, but it was always difficult to see him as any real threat. He just comes off too goofy. This may get us in trouble for saying it, but one of the things we like about season 2 is that the show has slowly pivoted away from some of the goofier, SyFy channel elements from season one, like the clubbing neolutionists and the guy with the tail. Removing Dr. Leakey and inserting the brand new Marion, played by the always welcome Michelle Forbes, feels like the show trading up. Sorry if that seems harsh. We like Matt Frewer, but we’ll take Michelle Forbes over him any day of the week. Besides, Marion has great taste in outerwear and accessories, and we’ll always be up for that.
In addition, it feels like this was the episode when Tatiana Maslany finally got a handle on Rachel. We couldn’t help but notice that this occurred in an episode that didn’t feature Helena at all. As much as we love that crazy Ukrainian, she does tend to suck all the air out of the story, as well as the energy out of some of the other characters Maslany has to play. It was great to see some real clone interaction again after too much time keeping them all apart. We hope the creators have realized that the show suffers when you keep the clones apart. Watching Maslany play off herself is one of the great pleasures of the show. Watching all the other characters play off different versions of Maslany is the second great pleasure of the show. Who knew Vic and Alison would have that much chemistry. Of course is should be apparent by now that Maslany has chemistry with every single one of her co-stars, depending on which character she’s playing; Sarah and Mrs. S., Sarah and Felix, Sarah and Cal, Alison and Felix, Alison and Vic, Cosima and Delphine, Cosima and Dr. Leakey – these have all been electric pairings, in various ways.
Oh, and another thing: Is it us, or is Sarah getting much better at mimicking Alison? She slipped right into the pursed lips and the tightly held body language and the clipped “Mm-hms.” We wonder if this isn’t deliberate. We suspect there’s going to come a point in the story where Sarah will have to mimic one of her clone-sisters - and we the audience are not going to know it’s her. She’s never really fooled the audience before, and since it’s a show that likes its twists and turns – not to mention shock moments like the one that ended this episode – we suspect at some point, we’re going to get the rug pulled out from under us. Besides, it just makes sense that she’s getting better at it. She’s a natural con artist and thief – and she’s had some practice getting Alison down.
Anyway, Rachel. Here’s her deal, as far as we’re concerned: You take the emotional control of Alison, the scientific brilliance of Cosima, the sociopathy of Helena and the quick-thinking savviness of Sarah; distill it into one person and who do you get? Rachel, the Uber Clone. We wonder if Project Leda was attempting to promote certain qualities and elements in the clones and that Rachel, because she’s been the most closely monitored under the best laboratory conditions, is the sum total of all those elements we see in the other clones. Her line to Aldous when she decided to spare him, “Nurture prevails,” hints at this idea; that the show is not only asking questions about female agency and control over their own bodies (Which, by the way: Go, Cosima, for that rousing “IT’S MY BODY! I’M THE SCIENCE!” moment that was long overdue), but also, quite naturally, diving deep on the whole nature vs. nurture debate. Each of the clones is very different from each other, but with Rachel, you can see what qualities they probably all share under the surface. In other words, the show is coming down on both sides of the debate. The clones all share traits with each other (however subtly that’s portrayed), but the differences in their upbringings have rendered vast differences in their personalities. This is never more clear than any scene with Siobhan and Sarah. We don’t think it’s a coincidence that the actresses look alike and are largely styled almost exactly the same. Siobhan has shaped Sarah like any mother would, whether they have that biological connection or not. They are, whether either of them can admit it, completely mother and daughter in every way, summed up in that minor fist-pump of a moment, when Siobhan presented some options to Sarah as to how to deal with Rachel and Dr. Leekie: “Let’s blow up their shit.” “All right. I’ll set it up.” It may not work on a Hallmark card, but that was a mother and daughter connecting on a fairly deep level.
Should we point out that the story picked up for us considerably in an episode that didn’t feature one moment of Helena or the creepy Prolethians? Maybe that storyline’s not working out as well as the creators hoped.
[Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA]
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