This is how good the most recent episode of Orphan Black is — not only did I not miss Helena, but I didn’t even realize she was absent until the episode was over.
If you’ve been following my coverage here you know that the Shakira-maned former assassin’s personality (along with Tatiana Maslany‘s performance obviously) has made her the show’s VIP for the last few episodes, but “Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motions of Things” moves at such a fantastically exhilarating clip that there’s no real time to pause and ponder what’s missing. Even better, for as fast as the episode moves it’s accomplished with a spectacular balance between the dramatic and the comedic.
The ending’s homage to a certain messy car scene from Pulp Fiction doesn’t hurt either.
Alison has been sidelined fora while now as her rehab stay didn’t allow for much interaction with the others, but that distance is quickly eliminated as she finds herself at the center of some of the episode’s best moments. After revealing her culpability in Aynsley’s choking death to Vic she discovers that he’s planning to snitch on her to the eternally annoying Det. DeAngelis in exchange for his own record being expunged. Alison moves quick and brings in Felix and Sarah as reinforcements because she knows full well that she doesn’t have the temperament for prison. “In the shower, if they touch me, I will cut them,” she tells Sarah, and nobody anywhere doubts she’s telling the truth.
Their collective effort to shut him up leads to some great bits of physical comedy with Vic’s unconscious and limp body, and we’re also gifted with something I can never get enough of — Maslany playing Sarah pretending to be Alison. She’s forced by circumstance to role-play while the real Alison and Felix play keep away with Det. DeAngelis, and her interactions with Donnie lead to some wonderfully comedic moments. Of course they also lead to poor Donnie having his mind blown shortly before he returns the favor to Dr. Leekie.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We’re used to the show managing some finely crafted scenes, special effects-wise, of clone interactions, but the shot of Sarah and Alison during this sequence has to take the cake doesn’t it? The two are talking in the room as the camera moves to frame them and the mirror beyond them so we see the two of them, the two of them in the mirror and no sign of the camera. Sure it’s showy, but it’s fantastically so.
Cal and Kira still don’t have a lot to do, but they both get a couplemof nice moments here after he notices his laptop computer camera has been remotely activated. He assumes it’s the Dyad Institute folks, both because he was currently hacking their system and because they’re resourceful bad guys, so he packs up Kira and changes locales. We didn’t get confirmation that the camera activation was actually due to the Dyad folks, but it’s a safe assumption. That said though, if the Dyad techs are that good they’d presumably also be able to track Sarah’s cell phone. And before you say they don’t have her number you know damn well they’d be tracing Cosima’s calls.
Speaking of Cosima’s call, she’s once again in a bit of a tight spot. After a surgery meant to help save her life she discovers that not only is Delphine lying to her again but that she’s also using Kira’s DNA to help Cosima. Understandably pissed, yet again, at the betrayal she boots Delphine from the lab. Her new dilemma though is that to live she needs more of Kira. The little girl’s attempt to help her aunt by yanking out her own tooth is well done, but we’re left with Sarah and her daughter heading back to the city to help Cosima. Hopefully she’s not actually planning to walk the little girl right into Dyad’s offices. And what of Cal now? He’s left behind, but odds are we can expect him to come riding in for a rescue before the season ends.
Mrs. S makes a move towards securing Kira’s safety by dividing and conquering their enemies. She offers Ethan Duncan and all of his presumed-lost research (all 3MB of it on three 5 1/4″ floppy disks anyway) to Dr. Leekie which sets in motion the episode’s second biggest shocker — Rachel has emotions! The former ice queen actually gets misty-eyed reuniting with the father she thought was dead. His revelation to her, one we learned previously, that Leekie was responsible for the lab explosion has the desired effect in severing her ties with the doctor, but the compassion instilled in her by her father leads her to let him live.
Which brings us full circle back to Donnie again. After discovering that he’s been a pawn in a much bigger game — and that he’s destroyed his family in the process — he goes from shlubby turnip to accidental avenger in the brilliantly constructed final scene. It works as a surprise ending obviously, and you can’t help but laugh at Leekie’s bloody demise, but there’s solid drama here too. Leekie was a major player, both as a villain and a scientist, and now he’s gone. And perhaps unexpectedly, I now feel bad for Donnie. I never would have seen that coming.
There were far fewer small annoyances this week than we’ve seen recently, and the ones that did show their face — the convenience of someone walking up just in time to overhear important dialogue not once but twice — are easily forgivable in light of the rest of the episode’s quality. The only real misstep here is one the show’s writers have proven themselves fond of again and again. Surprise! Here’s a new villain! Marian (Michelle Forbes) is now yet another level of mystery and intrigue, something the show already has more than enough of, and we can now look forward to time spent exploring her motivations, actions, etc. as an excuse to avoid revealing the big answers.
Moves like that feel like filler in a show aimed towards solving a singular mystery as there are already enough obstacles and characters to track. From the writers’ point of view it’s perhaps a necessity for a series with an unknown end date to keep tossing in new wrinkles, but it’s an unfortunate necessity all the same. That’s what sunk Lost for many viewers, and while I still love Lost I wouldn’t argue with that opinion. Let’s just hope Orphan Black‘s creators have an exit strategy that comes sooner rather than later.
For now though we’ve got a new threat, someone who clearly outranks Rachel and outranked Leekie. The dead doctor, for his many faults, was actually interested in helping with Cosima’s health problems, but we already know Rachel is less charitable. The question now is where will Marian fall on the issue? Will Sarah and Kira’s tooth delivery be a stop-gap or enough to find the cure? Will Sarah ever tell Cal the truth? Will I ever come to grips with the double standard that I knock Art when he’s a terrible cop and do the same to Angie when she’s a good cop? When are Paul and Mrs. S just going to sleep together already?