Episode three of Orphan Black‘s sophomore season sees its four key clones (Tatiana Maslany) far apart geographically and evenly divided in regard to how they’re handling their collective situation. Sarah and Alison are trying to remove themselves from the troubles as best they can, but while Sarah has taken a land route Alison is attempting more of an, ahem, liquid escape. Cosima and Helena meanwhile aren’t going anywhere as the young scientist is facing her strange reality head-on while the Shakira-maned Russian is forced into immobility by forces outside her control.
In addition to Art, Daniel and little dead-eyed Kira we also get to spend more time with our favorite religious cult, the creepy-ass Proletheans. But wait, there’s more! Say hello to Sarah’s ex, who steps out of an L.L. Bean catalog and into your hearts when it’s revealed that he’s actually… well, keep reading.
Kira’s father! We all knew she had one — sure the show is science fiction, but even they’re not crazy enough to suggest that people can be grown in test tubes — and it was only a matter of time before we met him. It turns out that Sarah, Felix and Kira’s run to safety from last week had a closer than expected end destination in the form of Cal (Michiel Huisman) and his cabin in the woods. The two parted ways roughly eight years and nine months prior, and it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. Cal’s immediate reaction, to toss them out on their asses, comes to an abrupt halt when he learns that the adorable piece of wood in Sarah’s arms is actually his daughter.
So yes, Sarah has dragged yet another innocent bystander into this mess, but at least this one has a compelling reason to stick around. Coincidentally enough given her history as a manufactured being, apparently Cal used to be in the pollination/fertilization game, but while we were only given one quick line about his past profession you can bet that we’ll be seeing more of these “mini drone pollinators” and how they’re being used to kill people. Not completely unrelated, we can all breathe easy now that Sarah finally got the chance to bring her days-long fornication dry spell to an end. This of course reminds us that Paul is gone, which in turn reminds us that we’re okay with that.
The happily reunited family doesn’t last long of course as Sarah’s barely had time to pull her knickers up before Daniel (Matthew Bennett) arrives to make a claim on the Dyad Institute’s so-called “property.” No one seemed to wonder how exactly he found Cal’s remote cabin, so I’ll go ahead and wonder how exactly did he find Cal’s remote cabin? The implication seems to be that the shop owner pointed him out this way, but I think that’s a bit convenient. Regardless of how he got there though, his arrival results in the episode’s weakest sequence.
Sarah has shown repeatedly that she knows how to handle herself, but here she becomes little more than a flailing ragdoll in Daniel’s one-handed grip. She not only lets herself get taken, but she also lets the local cop get killed. Not cool Sarah. Even worse, the scene ends with the far too ubiquitous “surprise” t-bone crash. Is it another soon-to-be-dead bystander? Did Cal leave Kira alone at the cabin, hop in his truck and catch up to them at the intersection? Or has Mrs. S. returned with a vengeance?
Felix (Jordan Gavaris) meanwhile collected his toys and went home in a huff after coming to the conclusion that Sarah’s nuclear family has no room for a foster brother. Obviously he’s being dramatic, it is Felix after all, but I’ll take his miscalculation if it means he gets to return to Alison’s side where he truly belongs.
Like Sarah, Alison is running away from this clone mess, but she’s doing it by burying herself in the theater and the bottle. Multiple bottles really, but can anyone blame her? She’s still saddled with the guilt of having killed an innocent, albeit annoying, woman who she thought was her monitor only to realize that her shlub of a husband is the actual plant. His lazy “I’m at my best in the morning” come-on can’t be helping matters, so it’s no wonder that the pressure builds to a breaking point while on stage in her weirdly relevant musical. Where does she go from there? Aside from the hospital I mean. I had hoped for a brief moment that Angela’s (Inga Cadranel) see-through undercover attempt would result in her becoming the next target on Alison’s monitor hit-list, but instead the matter-of-fact soccer mom simply dealt with it with a simple and perfectly curt “no.”
I was ready for the expected drawn-out back and forth between the two women as Alison slowly discovers the truth about Angela, but the show instead dealt with it in immediate fashion. That’s another example of the show’s recent and much-appreciated trend of presenting setups we think we’re familiar with only to handle them in more direct ways than expected.
Cosima’s taking the opposite tact and diving head first into her own clone-ness. More accurately, she’s diving intestines first as evidenced by an autopsy she takes part in of another clone she meets only through video. The newly-revealed Jennifer died of the illness that’s now affecting Cosima — she’s not just Cosima’s mirror image, she’s her mirror image from a few months into the future. Maslany’s unsurprisingly stellar throughout the episode, but while most people will probably point to her work as Sarah coming clean to her empty-eyed daughter at the cabin as the ep’s top acting moment I would argue it’s in Cosima’s scenes where she truly delivers. Cosima watches Jennifer’s life and vitality fade away in the videos, and her reaction, both determined and devastated, is fantastic.
And I still say Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) shouldn’t be fully trusted and will probably be disposed of in the coming weeks.
It’s poor Helena though who once again is getting the short end of the stick. The girl just can’t catch a break with God’s followers, and while I wouldn’t be against the show offering up a single person of faith who wasn’t a complete wacko I wouldn’t want to trade away these nutty Proletheans or their sedate yet gloriously disturbed leader Henrik (Peter Outerbridge). Not only are these scenes the most dramatically visceral, but they also represent the core theme of the show.
Sure corporations can toss around patent claims and the like, but this backwards religious group is doing the same thing just with an older paper contract. The bible is all the justification they need to act in ways that they deem proper even as it goes against common sense and decency. It’s their interpretation of the bible that informs not only their view on the sci-fi trope of clones as “soul-less” creatures, but it also shapes their view on the subservience of women, and while it’s being used in the guise of entertainment here the idea of men wielding religion as a weapon is a real-world issue.
Men are the constant threat here due to their physical power but also their authoritarian control. Sure Rachel heads up a company, but she’s acting at the whims of others just as much as the other clones are. And while Helena began life as a killer she quickly and completely become a victim at the hands — and presumably at least one other appendage – of the men in her life. Art (Kevin Hanchard) is casing the farm where Helena’s new abuse is transpiring, but I’d bet stacks and stacks of play money that he won’t be the one busting in to save her. I expect Helena will be left to take care of her own business, and I’m hoping it involves slicing off a far less vestigial “tail.”
Check out our reviews of other episodes of Orphan Black.