Orphan Black: Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done

Posted on June 16, 2014

Orphan-Black-Season-2-Episode-9-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLOTatiana Maslany in BBC America’s “Orphan Black”


Just as the show threatened to collapse under the weight of its various storylines (as it did last week with the highly botched introduction of Tony), we got just what we didn’t realize we needed with this episode; a couple of fist pump moments for an unlikely duo of characters: Donnie and Helena.

Donnie got to vent all his frustrations and get a little of his mojo back (insofar as he ever even had mojo). It was a really enjoyable scene capped off with the perfectly delivered “Have a shitty day.” We sincerely hope this brings to a close the suburban satire the show’s been indulging in with the Hendrix family, though. They’ve wrung everything out of their family dysfunction they possibly can. It’s time to give Donnie and Alison something to do other than patch up their marriage and occasionally kill people accidentally. We guarantee Angela’s not going to back off harassing them, though. And given just how much time and energy was devoted to dealing with Leakie’s body, we can also pretty much guarantee we haven’t seen the last of it. The prospect of the Hendrixes spending all their story time hiding the dead body in their garage from a snooping Angela does not excite us in the slightest.

And Helena? Well, we probably should feel a little more disturbed by her revenge rape scene, but we keep coming back to something we wrote earlier in the season:

“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.”

Can’t say she didn’t give us what we wanted. But with the destruction of the Prolethian fertility cult, we wonder whether it had a story purpose other than to get Helena pregnant in the most fucked-up manner imaginable. It is destroyed, right? There’s no way Henrik survived that …um… “procedure,” and with Mark and Grace fleeing the coop (with Helena’s full permission to Grace to terminate her pregnancy) and a fire that doesn’t look like it had many survivors (although apparently there’s a deleted scene of Helena freeing the children from the burning compound, according to the creators), they’d pretty much have to create an entire new set of characters to keep that cult running. Then again, if Henrik’s wife survived, the story may just have generated yet another female villain to add to the mix. In fact, the more we think about it, the more we kind of like that idea. She’d make a wonderful counterpoint to Rachel and Marion’s tight skirts and stilettos, while furthering the show’s obsessions with motherhood themes.

Rachel, it seems, has all her considerable evil rooted in the same motivations that drive Sarah, Helena, and Alison: the need for family. Her own concept of family was blown apart and corrupted by forces outside her control and she has spent most of the rest of her life building a wall around herself, gaining power, and underneath it all, yearning for a home life. When Marion coldly and breezily informed her that Sarah was her new “favorite,” and that all of Rachel’s control and sacrifice have not yielded her anything but pain, that’s when she snapped. Another pseudo-parent rejected her and she reacted by stealing the favored sister’s daughter. It’s almost like a fairy tale or parable.

As an aside, we predicted last week that the show was going to offer us a “clone impersonating a clone” scene and not make it as obvious as they had in the past. They nailed it with Rachel impersonating Sarah. On a second viewing, you can see the ways in which they signaled it (the wig was off and her speech was just a little too calm and clipped), but it was a shock the first time we saw her plunge that needle in Felix’s neck.

And while it’s perhaps a bit reductive to have motherhood and fertility issues be the centerpiece of such a feminist genre story, we recall that Lost managed to wring out several highly discussable, highly watched and highly awarded seasons based on an endless series of people with epic daddy issues. Sometimes the best stories revolve around the simplest of concepts. And sometimes writers can find something new to say if the concept has the stench of cliche all over it. We haven’t quite had a moment to convince us that they’ve found a fresh take on psycho-maternity themes, but we can’t say we mind the exploration of them; especially when they go hand in hand with the other major, and we would argue more important and prominent theme of the series: the agency of women and society’s constant need to police and attempt to own their bodies. It’s not a small thing that the major conversations surrounding Kira’s bone marrow came down to the idea of consent and the heartbreaking question Sarah asked Felix: “What kind of mother does this?” Even if the story occasionally gets muddled and goes off in directions that tend to end abruptly, we have to admire how committed and consistent the show is about its central themes




[Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie for BBC AMERICA]

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