Orphan Black: Knowledge Of Causes, And Secret Motion Of Things

Posted on June 01, 2014

Orphan-Black-Season-2-Episode-7-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOTatiana Maslany and Tatiana Mashlany in BBC America’s “Orphan Black”


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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  • tiny_bookbot

    “Tell me your hands have not been soaking in gruesomely fecund jelly!” Marian Bowles/Michelle Forbes, you are a winner.

    Kristian Bruun hit it out of the park last night. Donnie’s impression of Alison? And then the way you can just see all the feelings washing across his faith when he realizes how he was used and what he did to Alison? So good, even before he manages to Pulp Fiction that sad sucker Leekie.

    Spring your wife from rehab, Donnie! She’ll know exactly how to get blood out of upholstery.

    • LuLusLemons

      Donnie has sexy thighs (see episode 1 of this season, the Allison hiding Felix in the craft dungeon scene). I am glad they are not wasted.

  • PinkyK

    Wasn’t Leeky Leekie Leaky (whatever) “Max Hedroom” at some point around 1984?

    • Qitkat

      Yes, and I think that his comedic turn on that show has reverberated in our minds, those of us who remember him, so always found it hard not to think of that character, in all of Dr. Leekie’s episodes.

      • Grumpy Girl

        Yes! I didn’t realize it was Matt Frewer (vision issue), and when Cosima imitated him that one time it all clicked for me.

  • Shoelover1512

    I love Helena but the fish cult is dragging the story down.

    So as far as Cosima goes, we know it was Kira’s tooth they used and that it will help Cosima, but is it a cure? Or is it a never ending treatment that she’ll constantly need?

  • banga

    I posted this over at the AV club, and was met with a bit of derision, but you all are more detail-oriented, so here goes:

    Have you all noticed a recurring tree motif? Mrs. S wore a tree necklace during the first season, Kira’s room had a giant tree mural on the wall of her bedroom at Mrs. S’s, and Mrs. Johanssen had a tree design on her sweater when her husband was unveiling the zygote. The tree was the same “Tree of Life” type tree in all instances.

    Say it’s is the tree of life — what is the connection between those three female characters?

    Maybe that will tie the Prolethian story in somehow.

    • tiny_bookbot

      I don’t know that the tree is some kind of clue as much as it is a visual representation of the themes–Darwin uses tree metaphors to describe evolution (we still talk about different “branches”) as well as being a symbol of interconnectedness of all creation or a link to the divine in various religious faiths.

      Mrs. S is pretty clearly not a Prolethian, and Bonnie Johanssen seems pretty clearly to be a true believer, so I’d hesitate to call it a connection. As an image, it’s worth contrasting against, say, the hydroponic plants in Leekie’s office, and how Dyad chooses to exert human domination over nature, whereas other players in the story prioritize how nature is not contingent upon humanity. The show creators are pretty thoughtful but they don’t seem to want to craft a Lost-like mythology that underlies all the visual motifs.

  • lexilexi

    After a few episodes, this show lost me. I just couldn’t sustain any interest, and still can’t even after reading the recaps.

    • pmichaelt

      As members of #CloneClub we obviously feel differently but I appreciate the quiet, respectful way in which you stated your opinion. Wish there were more like you on the web.

  • LuLusLemons

    Psychic Kira is becoming too much of a plot device. Would love a scene with her and some other kids, maybe Allison’s kids (getting jealous about sharing uncle Felix?).

    Also, loved the lack of flowers on Donnie’s name tag…and the Vic gloves. Vic should have known: you reject Allison’s crafts / affection at your own peril. *Aynsley tried to get rid of Allison’s gift, and see where it got her.

    • Qitkat

      I like this idea of Kira interacting with Alison’s kids, or any kids, so we can see if she acts more normally child-like around them. She’s a bit spooky and prescient for one so young, perhaps they are trying for “old soul” with her.

      This episode was one heck of a trip with Donnie!

    • Grumpy Girl

      So agree on the Kira matter in particular. I really need to see her being kid-like more, to make the psychic stuff more believable. She is becoming, as you named it, a plot device, rather than a person. Of course, at our house she is also a drinking game (take a drink every time someone yells “Kira”)…

    • lvogt

      I didn’t notice anything psychic about Kira here. She just overheard the conversation and acted accordingly.

    • Violina23

      I feel like they don’t know what to do with Kira…. She’s important to the story, both in terms of the fertility of the clones, and a medical connection to the illness, but it’s kinda hard to have Sarah running around getting into trouble with a kid in tow…

  • stephbellard

    I’ll go even further than T-Lo and say I’ve never enjoyed Helena, and I wish they would just kill her off once and for all. I get that her connection to Sarah was integral at one point, but now it’s become rather silly how many times she’s been shot or captured, and not only manages to survive/escape, but manages to be in all the right places at all right the times. It’s stupid. Also, I’ll admit I have a low tolerance for the Crazy-Lady-Whose-Entire-Unpredictability-Can-Be-Explained-By-Her-Craziness character type (see: EVERY Lars von Trier film). Rachel is a more interesting quasi-villain clone than Helena and unlike Helena, she hasn’t you know, KILLED a bunch of clones (a fact people seem to be gliding over in an attempt to redeem Helena).

    Also, like T-Lo, I find Sarah/Mrs. S a FAR more interesting and satisfying relationship to explore than Sarah/Helena. Nurture wins indeed.

    • Anton

      I don’t see anyone trying to redeem Helena, she’s just a fascinating character (and Maslany is clearly having so much fun with her). I am quite ok with unrealistic plotlines, because all of this stuff is a bit unrealistic (why so many clones in one city among other things). It’s a story, not reality.
      Also, Lars von Trier is great.

      • Anita Karenin

        They aren’t all in one city: Sarah was in London for most of her life (seems to have moved with Mrs. S), Helena seems to have been abducted (or something) from Ukraine, Katja was German, Cosima often travels away from the city. only 3 who seem to have had established lives there are Beth and Allison. and they were probably groomed by their monitors to wind up in the same place/on the tracks they were on, no?

      • lvogt

        Well, it took 29 years before Beth was contacted by Katja and actively started looking for others and found Alison in the suburbs and Cosima in Minneapolis. It’s a bigger stretch that she hadn’t found Sarah since she was in the criminal justice system already.

        I’d love to see stories about how Katja figured out what was going on in Europe when Helena was killing the clones in Austria, France and Italy.

        • Barb Davey

          And, honestly, wouldn’t Beth’s fingerprints be in the system, too, since she’s a cop? I keep wondering why their prints didn’t get flagged at some point already.

  • Lattis

    Well blow me down, I never thought I’d cheer for Donny.

    I love the dark humor in this show: the hand knit gloves with the helpful missing finger, the final and immensely satisfying demise of Leeky-Leakie (my husband just calls him Rick Scott).

    • banga

      I though glitter bomb Vic was pretty funny too.

      • marlie

        That was freaking hilarious.

    • PinkyK

      OMG – Rick Scott! Now THAT’S funny!

    • veriance

      we refer to him as Max Headroom, but we’re old 😉

  • crash1212

    I must admit I laughed for longer than was seemly after the Donny hit. I commented to my cat through the laughter that Donny finally did something right, if by mistake! I know…that’s awful. I love Helena, she might be my favorite clone, but the Prolethian story line is CREEPY. I wonder if the progeny that might come to fruition will be Kira-like in their healing powers? I love this show and these reviews.

    • I found Donnie’s hit hilarious too – couldn’t stop laughing! I initially loved the spiked tea/glitterbomb/elf attack on Vic, but Donnie’s trajectory this week ended up surpassing that and then some!

      I was so happy to see that (a) Donnie was completely confused when he saw Allison and Sarah, (b) Donnie was completely clueless as to why he was reporting on Allison, (c) that Allison still loved Donnie, and (d) that Donnie accidentally killed Leekie! Bahahahahaha – they are truly meant for each other!

    • NinjaCate

      I literally just a minute ago finished watching the episode and when poor Donnie shot Leekie I screamed “OMG OMG OMG OMG!” but with a huge smile on my face. I didn’t expect that at all, but I’m not mad Leekie’s gone. That said, I’ve never really given any credence to Donnie’s acting, but in this one episode he managed to get me on his side, and impress me. The episode was rather fun.

    • Violina23

      We were laughing too 🙂

    • kimmeister

      What did your cat have to say about it?

  • QJ321

    Since Donnie seemed shocked that Alison was being subjected to medical tests, it made me wonder if Alison has or had a second monitor. Maybe Alison was right about Aynsley all along.

    • ShaoLinKitten

      I thought the same thing.

    • Rottenwood

      It’s that creepy woman from the theater group that’s always following her around. She’s too jolly to be normal!

      • Violina23

        She reminds me of Patrice from HIMYM. I’m waiting for Alison to just scream “NOBODY ASKED YOU, SARAH!”

      • marlie

        I think there’s something a little too familiar and “make me you new bestie, pleeeeeaaaase!!!” about her. I think she’s a monitor, too.

        • Barb Davey

          Sadly, there really are people like her.

    • Barb Davey

      Where was Donnie during all this testing? I can’t figure out how he would not know unless they drugged both of them – especially since he thought it was a social experiment rather than medical.

  • ShaoLinKitten

    I really hope that Cosima and Delphine are finally through too. Delphine seems to care about Cosima, but treats her like a lab animal. Cosima deserves better, as the nicest and sanest of the clones. The scene with the speculum eerily recalled what was done to Helena, which makes me suspect that more secrets are being kept from Cosima than she even knows.

    • marlie

      Right. And how many times does she really think that she can go behind Cosima’s back and/or lie to her and have Cosima forgive her? I would find it really hard to believe if they got back together again.

  • deedeegee

    Love the show and TLo! I only came on to say the more I watch her, the more I think Tatiana Maslany resembles Giulietta Masina. This is the only site I read religiously where I think commenters would know who I’m talking about.

    • isabel

      For a moment, I thought they were relatives.

  • Rottenwood

    I love how well this show does farce and light comedy, given how dark it normally is. It reminds me a bit of Buffy, a show that managed to hold that balance for about 5 years before the wheels came off.

    I’d like the Prolethians more if we saw them move against Dyad now and then. As it stands, they just seem like discount villains when compared to the Institute. A three-way brawl would be way more fun.

  • JP

    Totally agree on all counts. I also wonder if they finally got the Rachel wig right? It didn’t scream “bad wig” as loudly as it has in other eps.

    I loved the bit where Vic went down in the glitter, with Felix’s sheepish, “I may have spiked his tea.” *g*

    • aesteve212

      Her wig is the wiggiest! Didn’t seem much better, but I agree that we did get a better sense of her as a person so now the wig doesn’t bother me as much.

      Michael Mando hit that table HARD. But then later Felix seemed to be carrying a dummy. I really hope the fall was a dummy too. The glitter bomb was lovely though!

      • cfm

        It was a stunt double and he actually broke his nose because they used a real table instead of a break away table! Ouch!

  • Alanna

    “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.”

    At first, I was convinced that the scene with Sarah retrieving Kira was actually Rachel in disguise. That last shot of her staring straight ahead in the driver’s seat looked SO much like Rachel in a wig (which, yes, is pretty funny given that it’s Tatiana Maslany either way.) I can easily buy a scenario where Rachel would impersonate Sarah to get hold of Kira, especially if those baby teeth are the cure for a disease that Rachel might now or eventually have. BUT… when I rewatched the scene, I changed my mind. Too much of the dialogue between her and Cal relied upon things that Rachel wouldn’t know, along with her calling Kira “monkey”. Then again, Rachel’s smart and has the resources to find out that type of info. So, I have no idea. If it does turn out to be a disguise trick next week, then I look forward to where it might go!

  • Violina23

    OK, Forgive me if I’m dense, but the fact that I didn’t have a chance to re-watch season 1 before season 2 started has left me very confused from episode to episode… I feel like I’ve lost track of a lot of the characters’ motivations:

    – I get that Dr. Leekie murdered Rachel’s mother in a pseudo-Machiavellian fashion, but what is his goal again? Is he just trying to create these super-clones that can be grown in artificial wombs to make a fortune? Is it as simple as greed? (To contrast to Duncan Sr. who just wanted a child, I think?)
    – Rachel — just a power-hungry sociopath, trying to make a fortune and using Dr. Leekie as a means?
    – The Prolethians — at first my husband and I thought they were anti-cloning for ethical/religious reasons, but then they started extracting embryos from Helena. So what exactly is their deal? Besides being super creepy. How did they fit in with the original experiments in the 70’s?

    I think the person I have the least amount of questions about is Alison because she seems just as clueless as I am. And she’s friggin’ hilarious.

    • Alana

      I’m lost, now, too–and I am watching the episodes in order. I have no idea who is doing what towhom, let alone why.

    • BBCAmerican

      None of us know. The ultimate motivations for all these forces and factions are probably the biggest mysteries in the show, and I would not expect to learn them by the end of this season. Further down the rabbit hole we go into a rumored-but-not-yet-confirmed renewal for a third season!

    • Barb Davey

      When he “married” Helena – did you notice the pregnant women behind him, or did it just look like they were pregnant but they really weren’t and I don’t know what I’m talking about…. *sigh*

  • Lenora Dody

    I can see your point about Helena but the show wouldn’t be as much fun without our seestra! I think the Prolethians could still be a good part of the story as a contrast to Dyad. The clones also seem to be different levels of self control, with Rachel as the most controlled and Helena completely out of control. Towards the end of the episode I had the feeling that Leakey would die but the Donnie twist was a good one. I like how Alison and Donnie the doofus have the most “normal” family but they are stacking up bodies as fast as anyone else!

  • kimmeister

    I absolutely noticed how much better Sarah was at impersonating Allison too. It was so good that no one even questioned why she was dressed differently or had wavy hair.

  • mmebam

    I had been suspicious that Kira was a plot device since the first episode. They haven’t done much to assuage those suspicions…

  • lvogt

    As an hommage to “Mad Style”: I noticed, among other things, that Bowles and Leekie were wearing matching outfits of sorts, black with white coats. Perhaps that signaled some commonality. Is she neolutionist too? But while she is obviously powerful and in charge here… conspicuously unlike the meticulously coiffed and controlled Rachel, Marian’s hair was a mess. Does the coat and the hair mean she knows how to dress the part but isn’t particularly vain. Michelle Forbes is always a compelling presence.

    While you may think that they may think that Helena and the Prolethians (Didn’t they have a big hit in the 80s?) isn’t working out, I think there is something key involving that crowd coming up.

    I also think that, like Donny, many (not all) of the characters seem worse than they may actually be because their motivations are secretive and at cross purposes to each other. Our anti-heroines are no paragons of virtue. Each of them, except Cosima, have killed or tried to kill someone.

    • marlie

      I also though that Marian’s white coat was supposed to reference a lab coat, but I’m still not sure why or what that means. Or it could mean nothing, but I look at everything through a Mad Men lens now.

  • GeoDiva

    Marion’s coat was amazing….So glad to have Michelle Forbes in the Clone Club. She makes everything better!

    • Grumpy Girl

      ANd she looks so much like the clones, too . . .

  • carnush

    Sarah as Allison role playing with Donnie was by far my favorite scene of the season so far. Brilliant performance by Maslany.

  • Pat Moyle Leighton

    please tell me someone else laughed when Helena said “I am good with children.” I love this character.

  • marlie

    I actually watched this episode twice, first by myself and then with the bf (shhh… don’t tell him). I admit that I paid a little extra attention to Sarah-being-Alison the second time around because I thought it was so interesting how Sarah interpreted Alison, and how she came across as sort of trying to mask her British accent (and Maslany doesn’t have one, normally). It was just really good acting on her part. The part with Donnie and Leekie cracked me the hell up, I have to admit. And I actually felt bad for him and Alison. I’m guessing that he’s going to be the newest member of the “Clone Club”; and with Leekie’s death, no one knows that he’s figured out why he’s monitoring Alison, so maybe he’ll become a sort of double agent? Hopefully better than Paul, if that’s where it’s going.

  • Nicoclaws

    I think Sarah was not perfectly on point being Allison at first, that’s why she resorted to the “mmh mmh”, which was the easiest way to play Allison. The fact that she grew into the role rapidly and that we can believe it show how much good the acting and the writing are.

  • j_am

    Just wanted to say thank you for these recaps, TLo – I love this show, and reading your perspective is really fun and enlightening!

  • lvogt

    I haven’t noticed anyone point out the striking similarity in the way scenes were staged between Cosima’s procedure and that of Helena. Obviously, the tone was decidedly darker for Helena as she was not a willing participant. Seems that each of the warring factions are all up in the clone’s business. I am hoping we will see the results of these procedures connected by season’s end.