5 Things I Loved about 5 Years of Orphan Black

Orphan Black is over. All we have now is stored on the DVR to rewatch endlessly. Sob. I was a huge fan of the show and want to celebrate its time on live TV. Continue reading “5 Things I Loved about 5 Years of Orphan Black”

Orphan Black S4E1: The Collapse of Nature

Orphan Black season 4 episode 1 is “The Collapse of Nature.” It gives us Beth’s (Tatiana Maslany AKA everyone) story as an extended flashback and then brings us back to the present where Sarah is hanging out in Iceland. Continue reading “Orphan Black S4E1: The Collapse of Nature”

Lost Girl S5 E13 Family Portrait

The “Family Portrait” episode (season 5, episode 13) of Lost Girl is all about getting to the truth of Bo’s (Anna Silk) blood-related family and her reliance on her chosen family of friends. Inga Cadranel is back as mama succubus Aife; she’s all over this episode and gives an incredible performance.

There are spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Lost Girl S5 E13 Family Portrait”

Orphan Black: Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done

“Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done” is episode 9 of season 2 of Orphan Black. The stakes are raised to the highest level for Cosima and Kira. Story wires stretched to breaking characterize the episode.

Allison

Lacking a boat, what would Dexter do?
Lacking a boat, what would Dexter do?

Allison (Tatiana Maslany, one of many)  and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) provide some comic relief in a fairly dark episode by deciding to jackhammer up the garage floor and bury Leekie.  Allison turns out to be handy with a jackhammer. Midway through the burial operation, Vic (Michael Mando) arrives talking bullshit about recovery. When Allison chases him off, he goes outside and climbs into a big, black police van.

Vic comes back later and peers into the garage windows. Donnie grabs him and threatens him with Allison’s pistol. Since becoming an accidental murderer who buries bodies in his garage, Donnie has learned how to put a pistol on safety and he’s grown a pair. He takes Vic out to the van where Detective Deangelis (Inga Cadranel) is lurking. He tells them to stop harassing his wife and takes a photo of them together while threatening to get Deangelis fired for her behavior.

When a filthy Allison and Donnie put the finishing touches on the wet concrete in the garage floor, Donnie draws a heart in it. Allison admits, “I’m more attracted to you than I’ve ever been.” Hiding murder victims is a bonding experience for the happy couple who “do it nasty” on the big chest freezer where once Leekie turned to ice.

Helena

Meanwhile back at the Prolethean compound, Henrik (Peter Outerbridge) is shooting fertilized eggs into Helena’s cervix with what looks like the same long metal tube he uses on cows. The nurse who helps with the implant, Alexis, is played by Kathryn Alexandre. This is the first time we’ve seen her face, although Kathryn Alexandre has been working hard on every episode of Orphan Black because she’s Tatiana’s double whenever more than one clone is in a scene. Hello there, Kathryn, love your work.

I received a sign from God about what Dyad did
I received a sign from God

After the fertilization, Alexis takes Helena to the nursery. Helena bonds instantly with one of the children. She listens to Henrik tell a story, after which Alexis tells the children it’s naptime. When the little girl Helena bonded with lingers to feel Helena’s hair, Alexis is cruel to her. Helena shoves Alexis against a door frame and promises to gut her like a fish if she ever does anything like that again. Helena once knew a nun who was mean like that – I’m guessing that particular nun has trouble seeing these days.

Henrik tells Mark (Ari Millen) that he is expected to marry Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) and be a father to the babies she will bear. There’s also a military connection with Mark, who turns out to be AWOL.

We see Gracie, feet in stirrups, with Henrik peering into his own daughter’s vagina and implanting his own babies in her as hymns play in the background. Hymns. Not Gracie’s babies. Henrik and Helena’s babies. Gross in so many ways.

Gracie and Helena bunk in the same room while the eggs are taking hold and Helena learns that Gracie is carrying her babies. Mark comes in and Helena says, “You love her like puppy but you let him make her brood mare.”

Helena and Gracie decide to run away. Henrik stops them. Helena grabs Henrik while Mark and Gracie run. Helena straps Henrik to the same table where she and Gracie just were. Henrik’s feet are bound to the stirrups and his arms are bound to the bed. Helena does something to Henrik with the long metal rod used for inseminations. He doesn’t like it a bit, but Helena gets a good laugh out of it. Funny how men think they can do anything they want with women’s bodies, but when the situation is reversed they scream bloody murder. Then Helena sets the whole compound on fire and takes off.

Cosima

Cosima grows sicker and sicker. She’s wearing an oxygen tube and coughing constantly.

Skyping with the girls
Skyping with the girls

Sarah can see during a Skype call how badly Cosima is doing. She realizes how crucial Kira is to saving Cosima.

In the Dyad lab, Duncan (Andrew Gillies) is there as Scott (Josh Vokey) puts together a bastardized computer system to read the old floppy disks. Duncan has the keys to decrypt the data in his head, and he’s only revealing the keys to the parts of the puzzle they need to help Cosima. He refuses to let them have it all, which is a good thing since nobody at Dyad can be trusted. Cosima watches. And coughs.

Rachel, Delphine, and Sarah

Rachel plays Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) like a master manipulator. She calls her in and makes her interim director in Leekie’s old job. She assures her, “We need to convince Sarah we have no designs beyond that treatment,” and sends her to Mrs. S’s place to once again plead for bone marrow from Kira.

Rachel goes into a dark room where a martini waits. It is a ritual she’s reenacting. She watches old videos of her loving family, her happy childhood. She laughs, she cries, she slaps her own face and mutters.

Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Benjamin (Julian Richings), Felix (Jordan Gavaris), Sarah, and Kira (Skyler Wexler) continue to hang at Mrs. S’s house. Mrs. S knows a clinic, not Dyad, where they could take the bone marrow. They ask Kira if she is willing to do it. She says yes.

Kira at the clinic
Kira at the clinic

All of them head for the clinic. When Delphine returns to Dyad with the bone marrow, she finds Rachel has been using her office. On her computer she sees something about Benjamin and Dyad. Delphine returns to the clinic, calls Sarah out to her car to speak without being overheard, and tells her about Benjamin.

Inside the clinic, Sarah enters and picks up Kira to carry her away. When Felix intervenes, she drugs him and we realize it’s Rachel disguised as Sarah. Seconds later the real Sarah reenters the clinic and Mrs. S snaps to what’s going on. It’s too late. Rachel’s taken Kira.

Delphine confesses
Delphine confesses

Delphine tells Cosima what she’s done, how she was played. At least we now realize where Delphine’s true loyalties lay.

The episode’s final scene explains Rachel’s internal tantrum from the last episode after she found out she was barren by design. It explains her ritualized watching of videos from her own childhood. The scene of her crazy sex life was a mere warmup glimpse into Rachel’s warped mind. Rachel is dangerously wacko.

Kira wakes up in a pink room. Far too pink. Rachel introduces herself and Kira withdraws from her. Rachel is the first clone Kira has been afraid of. Kira is cognizant of things that no one else gets, so her cringing away from Rachel says a lot. Rachel assures Kira that she will grow to like it there, just as Rachel herself did.

What Do We Know?

We ended season 1 with Kira missing. Surely we won’t end season 2 the same way. My fingers are crossed that Kira is rescued from Rachel’s mad clutches and Cosima is on the way to healing before season 2 ends. That wouldn’t leave much tension to pull us into season 3, however. Since I do want a season 3, I must accept the idea of a cliffhanger in the final episode. I just don’t want that cliffhanger to involve Kira or Cosima. How about it, Orphan Black, can you pull that writing feat off for me?

We know for sure that the Proletheans and Project Leda were somehow aware of each other, that Mrs. S was aware of both from the start. We don’t know what the military connection is yet, but there is one. We don’t know who or what the ferryman that Carlton mentioned a few episodes ago is. I’m almost 100% sure that Mrs. S is on Sarah’s side, on Kira’s side. And I’m almost 100% sure that Delphine values Cosima over Dyad.

It’s that almost that worries me.

The Francis Bacon quote for this episode is from The New Organon or True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature

It would be an unsound fancy and self-contradictory to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried.

Orphan Black: Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things

“Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things,” episode 7 of season 2 of Orphan Black, gives us some shocking surprises, some slapstick laughs, and another turn of the screw on the momentous stakes involved for everyone.

As usual, everything revolves around Sarah, but I’ll start with Allison’s story since much of the action in this episode takes place in rehab.

Allison (Tatiana Maslany, one of many) trusts Vic (Michael Mando) with the truth about the scarf in the disposal incident. Not long after this revelation she discovers that he’s trading the info to Det. Deangelis (Inga Cadranel) for his freedom.

Just call his name, Felix will be right there.
Just call his name, Felix will be there.

Allison immediately calls Felix (Jordan Gavaris) for help. He shows up and confronts Vic with Allison. Dear old Vic agrees to do what they want if he can see Sarah first.

Sarah agrees to come help Allison. For the talk with Sarah, Vic carefully sets a book in position. Does it contain a camera?

What was in that tea?
What was in that tea?

Vic wants to atone to Sarah. She instantly says, “I atone you,” and tries to leave, but he persists. He says he wants her back, right before he passes out by diving headfirst into Allison’s name tag art supplies. Felix announces, with the cutest possible grin, that he spiked Vic’s tea.

It’s family day – or as Felix terms it, public flagellation day. Donnie (Kristian Bruun) and the kids are coming. They cannot leave Victor decorating the floor of Allison’s room. What follows next is a sort of Three Stooges interlude with Allison and Felix dragging an inert Vic about looking for a place to hide him. Det. Deangelis is chasing around after them, looking to meet up with Vic.

I'm Sarah. No, I'm Allison. No, I'm Donnie.
I’m Sarah. No, I’m Allison. No, I’m Donnie.

While Allison and Felix haul Vic hither and yon, Sarah has to pretend to be Allison who is pretending to be Donnie in a role playing scene with Donnie. Donnie, as you might guess from the body language, is pretending to be Allison. The whole thing goes badly and Sarah flees to Allison’s room.

Donnie can't believe his eyes.
Donnie can’t believe his eyes.

Donnie follows and discovers Allison and Sarah together. It comes out that Donnie didn’t know what was going on. He didn’t know people were coming into the house in the middle of the night doing strange things to Allison’s sleeping body. He thought he was doing an experiment in “long-term social metrics” for Dr. Leekie. The fact that he’s been a dope for years makes him very angry. I’ll get to the results of that anger later, because a lot happens before then.

Cosima, with Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) in loving attendance, gets stem cells injected into her uterus. Delphine thinks it will put Cosima on the road to recovery.

Let's get you well.
Let’s get you well

Cosima overhears a conversation in the hallways and learns that the stem cells came from Kira’s tooth. She is angry with Delphine, shouts that it’s her decision about using Kira’s cells. Delphine counters that there is no decision, there’s only one way forward and this is it. Cosima tells Dephine to get out of her lab.

Sarah and Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) dig through the heaps of detritus in Ethan Duncan’s house looking for a red box with no label. When they finally find it, Sarah takes off in response to a phone call from Cal. As Mrs. S is leaving with Duncan (Andrew Gillies), she learns that the red box contains 3 floppy disks on which the science they all want so desperately to recover is stored. My memory of floppy disks is that they held kilobytes of data, not megabytes or terabytes. Why only 3?

Cal discovered that his computer was hacked. He leaves it behind and takes Kira to meet Sarah. Sarah will take Kira with her. As Sarah is preparing to leave with Kira, she gets a call from Cosima. We don’t know if Cosima has forgiven Delphine, but she has reached the point in her sickness that she’s willing to ask Sarah for more DNA from Kira. Kira overhears Cal and Sarah arguing about a tooth, and pulls one of her loose teeth herself, offering it to Sarah for Cosima.

Oh my, she's a surprise.
Oh my, she’s a surprise.

Leekie phones a whole new character, Dr. Marion Bowles (Michelle Forbes). She is Rachel’s superior, Leekie’s superior, maybe the boss of the whole operation. She wants the science back, she wants Sarah Manning to stop causing them problems, she wants Rachel handled. She’s wearing the most gorgeous white coat I’ve ever seen.

A new character at the top of the pyramid at this point throws everything into question. Do we really know who the bad guys are, do we know who’s in charge, what the goals are? Is she in charge of the Prolethians, too? Is this pointing to a new direction for season 3 to explore?

Mrs. S takes Duncan to her place. Then she walks right into Dyad and Leekie’s (Matt Frewer) office. She makes a deal for the missing science data and Ethan Duncan that guarantees Kira’s safety. Duncan wants to see Rachel before he cooperates.

Hello, father
Hello, father.

Paul (Dylan Bruce) takes Rachel to Mrs. S’s house to see her father. When Rachel sees her father she tears up. She seems almost human. Almost normal. There was some discussion last week about Rachel’s possible Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If that’s the case, she’s looking at the man who raised her to think she was special, and she reacts with more emotion than we’ve seen from her. 

Rachel goes back to the lab and summons Dr. Leekie. She calls Dr. Bowles in front of Leekie and tells her that the problem is handled. In the battle for supremacy between Rachel and Aldous Leekie, Rachel wins.

Rachel tells Leekie to leave. She says, “Don’t get in your car, don’t go home. You might survive. It’s foolish to spare you but you raised me. Nurture prevails.”

Leekie goes outside the Dyad Institute. He’s on foot. Donnie lurks there waiting for him. Donnie gets Leekie in his car by pointing a gun at him. Donnie accuses Leekie of ruining his marriage and making his wife hate him. He pounds his gun on the steering wheel for emphasis and accidentally kills Leekie right there in the family sedan.

To summarize, Leekie’s kaput, Cal may have gone home, there’s a new boss in town, Kira wants to help, Rachel is ruthless but loves her daddy, Cosima and Delphine had a very big fight, Allison and Donnie had a very big fight, and Donnie created bloody hell in the family car.

The Francis Bacon quote for this episode is from his unfinished utopian vision of the future, “New Atlantis,”

The end of our foundation is the knowledge of causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible.

All images ©BBC America

Orphan Black: To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings

The “To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings” episode of Orphan Black brings Sarah some answers, but everyone is still suspect and no one can be trusted.

Sarah and Helena (Tatiana Maslany squared) are in a pickup on their way to Cold River. Helena refuses to tell Sarah where it is, because she knows Sarah won’t need her if she does. The scenes between Sarah and Helena grow more and more charming as Helena is revealed in greater depth. They spend the night in a tent and Helena asks Sarah about Kira – she wonders if she could have children, too. She says, “I am very good with children.”

Sarah wants to know what the Prolethians took from Helena, but Helena claims she doesn’t know. When they turn out the lantern for the night, we see Paul (Dylan Bruce) lurking in the dark outside their camp.

There’s a hilarious scene of Sarah and Helena driving. “Sugar Sugar” comes on the radio. Helena sings along with enthusiasm. Sugar is her thing, indeed.

What Tatiana Maslany does with Helena in this episode is masterful. Her uninhibited off key singing, her playfulness in the tent, her vulnerability when she asks about babies, her growl of a laugh later in a bar scene, her unbridled sexuality when she’s attracted to a man, her brutality when threatened – Tatiana’s bringing Helena into personhood with so much affection and skill. That Tatiana Maslany can do that with Sarah, Allison and Cosima still floating in her head is just amazing.

Inga Cadranel
Allison is stuck in rehab.

Allison is still in rehab. She’s reluctant to participate in group. The door opens and into group walks Victor (Michael Mando). You remember Victor: Sarah’s former boyfriend who got his finger chopped off for a drug debt and who Allison maced in a parking lot. Yeah, that Victor. He’s all Zen now, full of the wisdom of recovery. When Allison threatens Donnie’s (Kristian Bruun) privates because he failed to bring the kids to visit her, Victor steps in to defuse the argument. Later we learn that Victor is actually in cahoots with Detective DeAngelis (Inga Cadranel). She promised he won’t go to jail for his crimes if he rats on Allison.

Allison, incidentally, can handle a basketball with one arm in a sling.

Take your medicine and don't ask where it came from.
Take your medicine and don’t ask where it came from.

Cosima gets injections from Delphine (Evelyne Brochu). The injections may or may not be helping her. Delphine hired Scott (Josh Vokey) to come to Dyad to do gene sequencing. I haven’t previously mentioned Josh Vokey, who is fabulous as a naive geek, because the character wasn’t central, but he takes a central role in this episode. He reveals that he knows the samples he’s been given are clones, but he doesn’t realize that Cosima is a clone. He figures out that the stem cell injections Cosima is getting came not from a clone but a female relative. Perhaps a daughter. Is that daughter spelled K-I-R-A? We don’t know. Dephine makes Scott swear not to tell Cosima this news.

Sarah and Helena arrive in front of a church. It’s the church in the photo of Ethan Duncan, the Swan Man. Sarah instructs Helena to wait in the truck while she goes inside to investigate. Sarah finds photos of a building. The church deacon (Jane Spidell) tells her it was the Cold River Institute. Cold River is closed and all the records are in the church basement. The deacon also identifies the photo of Ethan Duncan as “Mr. Peckham” and mentions that Maggie Chen was also digging about in the old records. Sarah finds lots of info about the clones, but nothing about Andrew Peckham in the records.

Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) emptied Helena’s locker and took all the contents to Felix’s (Jordan Gavaris) apartment for help digging through it. A phone call from Sarah gets them looking for someone named Peckham, and they give Sarah an address.

Helena, of course, did not wait obediently in the truck while Sarah was doing this. She goes into a bar, starts drinking, almost breaks the finger of an asshole who thinks he can have her just because he wants her, and takes a liking to Jesse (Patrick J. Adams) who is nice to her. Both Paul and the Prolethian errand boy Mark (Ari Millen) watch her every move in the bar.

Helena's boyfriend
Helena’s boyfriend

When Helena and Jesse start kissing, asshole breaks in and wants a turn. Helena beans Mr. Asshole with a pool ball, tosses him on the pool table and climbs on with the intention of poking out his eyes. Helena gets arrested for smashing heads in the bar. In the police station she asks for her boyfriend. She’s told she’s been released and can leave with her sister.

When Helena looks up to see her sister, it’s Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison), hiding her inflamed suture marks from the police with a hand over her mouth. Gracie and Mark tell Helena they have her babies and she agrees to go with them. Mark gives her Jesse’s baseball cap. I think he gives it to her to try to gain her trust, but it has the name of Jesse’s business on it, which may come in handy later.

Sarah leaves Helena to the cops and goes to Peckham’s house. Who opens the door but Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy). Good heavens, is there anything Mrs. S doesn’t know? She’s wearing a Pussy Riot shirt. Someone who wants to hurt Sarah wouldn’t wear a Pussy Riot shirt, would she?

Mrs. S knows all
Mrs. S knows all

Mrs. S is trying to get Andrew Peckham (Andrew Gillies)  out of his hoarder’s horror of a house, off to somewhere to do her mysterious bidding. When Peckham sees Sarah he looks her over with great interest, decides she isn’t Rachel, and asks to be taken to Rachel.

Is it Andrew or is it Ethan?
Is it Andrew or is it Ethan?

He cannot be taken to Rachel, however. He’s been hiding from Dyad for 20 years because Aldous Leekie killed his wife Susan and took over the LEDA project for Dyad.

What was LEDA doing?
What was LEDA about?

Sarah wants to know what Project LEDA was all about. Peckham/Duncan tells her it was a proof of concept experiment to see if they could actually clone a human and because they “wanted girl babies.”

While Sarah and Peckham/Duncan are talking, Siobhan goes outside and confronts Paul. Yes, she knows who Paul is. Everything Mrs. S does in this episode is so momentous, we have to go to commercial immediately after. Her every line of dialog is a bomb dropping. She tells Paul that the hoarder inside in his filthy kitchen talking to Sarah is the only hope that any of the clones have and that Paul better back off and let them go.

Kudos to Kathryn Alexandre and the Faces We Never See

Kathryn Alexandre
Kathryn Alexandre

Kathryn Alexandre is Tatiana Maslany’s acting double. She plays whatever clone is opposite Tatiana in a scene. When we see Helena and Sarah in a scene together in a truck or a tent, we have to remember that it was filmed twice. When we see Sarah in the driver’s seat of the truck, the actor beside her doing Helena is Kathryn Alexandre. They film it again with Tatiana in the passenger seat doing Helena while Kathryn Alexandre sits in the driver’s seat and plays Sarah. In the finished version, we never see Kathryn’s face.

It’s time to acknowledge how important Kathryn Alexandre is to Orphan Black. When we see chemistry, warmth, and closeness between Helena and Sarah, it’s actually something happening with Tatiana and Kathryn. Not just the warm fuzzy scenes, but the fight scenes, the dangerous scenes, the funny scenes. If they have to film it 2 times, 3 times, 4 times, to get all the clones in a scene together, Kathryn is there giving Tatiana a partner to act with and react to.

Much of what we see in Orphan Black is illusion, built from brilliant editing, brilliant makeup and brilliant acting. When we see it as a finished piece it is so perfectly executed it’s hard to remember how it was created. Let’s step back from the illusion and look behind the curtain to praise the hidden people who build the show. Here’s to Kathryn Alexandre and everyone else we don’t see in Orphan Black. You are all awesome!

The quote from Francis Bacon for this episode comes from the 1623 De Augmentis Scientiarum:

For you have but to hound nature in her wanderings, and you will be able when you like to lead and drive her afterwards to the same place again.

Some images from IMDB © Jan Thijs 2013. Some screen shots from BBC America.

Review: Orphan Black “Mingling Its Own Nature With It”

This episode of Orphan Black, “Mingling Its Own Nature With It” starts with Sarah (Tatiana Maslany), Kira (Skyler Wexler), and Felix (Jordan Gavaris) sleeping in the woods in the stolen truck. We see Sarah struggle to find safety for Kira, Allison crack under pressure, Cosima do an autopsy on a new clone, and Helena get married. What an episode!

Whose woods these are I think I know.
Whose woods these are I think I know.

The clones each conducted their own lives without mixing together much in this episode, so I’ll summarize the stories clone by clone.

Sarah

Sarah, Kira, and Felix make the mistake of stealing food from a convenience store in order to feed Kira. This puts a local cop and Rachel’s henchman Daniel (Matthew Bennett) on their trail. Sarah leads Felix to a house in the woods, seemingly empty, where they break in to spend the night. The homeowner shows up and turns out to be Cal (Michiel Huisman), who knows Sarah. Kira, in her prescient way, pegs him immediately with an, “Are you my dad?”

Yes, he is Kira’s dad, and even though Sarah stole $10,000 and his car the last time she was there, Cal lets them stay.

Sarah tries to explain to Kira why she was gone so much, and Kira talks about Mrs. S protecting them and comments that she likes Cal’s beard. Women from Nashville and every other show Michiel Huisman is on fall for his unkempt, bearded look – now even Kira likes it – I guess I should give up wishing he’d get a shave and a haircut.

Felix sees what’s going on and decides there is no place for him there. He leaves to be with Allison at her theater performance.

When the local cop shows up, Sarah is ready to take Kira and go.

Can't you stop running for a minute?
Can’t you stop running for a minute?

Cal says, “Can’t you stop running for a minute?” and the look on Sarah’s face tells a story of wanting to do just that. They end up in bed together. (She must like the beard, too.) Their idyllic morning after is interrupted by the arrival of Daniel who tries to grab Kira, shoots the local cop, and leaves with Sarah driving the car at gunpoint. Kira is with Cal. Daniel making off with Sarah comes at the very end of the episode. The big cliffhanger is that they are t-boned on the road – a hit to the passenger side where Daniel sits – and we don’t know what happens to either of them.

Allison

Allison snipes at Donnie (Kristian Bruun) now that she knows he’s her monitor. The guy will never get any again, I can promise you that. She’s drinking and popping pills. She calls Cosima, but Cosima cannot do much to help her because of her own drama.

Detective Angie Deangelis (Inga Cadranel) simply won’t drop the case, as her partner Art (Kevin Hanchard) keeps telling her to. Angie stalks Allison, trying to befriend her and get information from her. Allison thinks she’s another monitor. Angie admits to being a cop and Allison and tells her to get lost. Detective Deangelis is going to prove to be a wild card in this story, I predict, because she’s relentless in her quest to find out more about Sarah and her former cop friend Beth, and because she’s the mama succubus – oh, wait, wrong show for a succubus.

By the night of the community theater performance of “Blood Ties,” Allison’s spaced out on pills and booze. She can’t remember her lines or sing in tune. (Tatiana Maslany is a pretty good singer if the few notes of real singing we hear are any indication.) Allison falls off the stage at Donnie’s feet and gets taken to the hospital.

Cosima and Jennifer

Cosima follows Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) into Dr. Leekie’s office, where she does a killer imitation of Matt Frewer’s Dr. Leekie by threatening to put an electric eel in a tank so Dr. Leekie will come along and say, “Great Scott! I’ve created life.” A hilarious moment in a very serious episode. The fact that Tatiana Maslany can do a perfect imitation of Matt Frewer reveals something about why she is so masterful at creating so many different women in Orphan Black.

Delphine has other things on her mind. She brought Cosima there to show her videos of another clone, Jennifer Fitzsimmons, teacher and swim coach at Sheldon High, who made a video diary of her illness after polyps were found on her lungs. Delphine says Jennifer was the first clone to show symptoms. When Cosima asks how Jennifer is, Delphine says she died 3 days ago. Cosima is the only clone who knows about Jennifer at this point (unless Rachel does). Cosima watches every video, horrified, seeing Jennifer slowly die of exactly what she herself has.

Delphine and Cosima do an autopsy on Jennifer’s body to try to understand more about the auto-immune disease that apparently killed her. Cosima is partly terrified of cutting into a woman with her face, and partly clear about needing to understand the biology of what’s going on in the clone’s bodies.

Helena

Helena is still in bad shape, but recovered enough to sit up in bed and talk to Gracie Johanssen (Zoé De Grand Maison), Henrik’s (Peter Outerbridge) daughter. Gracie is not with her dad’s program to fertilize and breed Helena. She’s another wild card who may gum up the works later on. Her dad thinks he has Gracie under his control, but he may be in for a surprise.

The ties that bind
The ties that bind

Henrik has Helena dressed in a white wedding dress, even though she lays in bed stupified by drugs, and marries her in a strange ceremony involving tying their hands together with ribbons while talking about God’s will. Then Henrik carries his bride off to begin his fertilization program. Helena is too drugged to fight back. If she ever gets clear headed, Henrik better watch out. At this point, we have no idea what Henrik has in mind as a fertilization technique. We did see him artificially inseminate a cow in the last episode.

The title is another quote from Francis Bacon:

“The human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it”

 Francis Bacon, Sr. quotes (English Lawyer and Philosopher. 1561-1626)

All photos by Steve Wilkie via IMDB

Review: Orphan Black: Nature Under Constraint and Vexed

Season 2 of Orphan Black begins with “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed.” It’s a rip-roaring beginning to the new season. Every moment of the opening show was exciting, dangerous, tense, high-stakes, fast paced drama.

Watch a preview of the first episode.

I’m not going to recap the episode, just offer a few remarks. Spoilers ahead.

Tatiana Maslany has honed her performance to a more focused and nuanced rendition of each of her characters. Each of them is a distinct and unique woman.  She’s sharpened them and made them more themselves. Tatiana Maslany is amazing as these clones, simply amazing.

Tatiana Maslany and Tatiana Maslany
Tatiana Maslany and Tatiana Maslany

The monitors for the clones, particularly Cosima’s monitor Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) and Sarah’s former monitor Paul (Dylan Bruce) are walking double edged swords. Both seem to be cooperating with the enemy while trying to help their clones.

And who is the enemy? Is it Dr. Aldous Leekie (Matt Frewer) and his bioengineering firm? Or is it the clone Rachel Duncan – who gives orders to Dr. Leeki and everyone else? Or is it the religious group of Prolethians behind Helena who may be the ones who stole young Kira (Skyler Wexler) away?

And speaking of Helena, she makes a dramatic entrance in the last few seconds of the episode, trailing blood as she walks into a hospital and announces that her sister shot her. I’m really glad Helena is still around; she is fascinating and feral and vulnerable and terrifying.

Other interesting points in this episode include Sarah giving a measure of trust to Detective Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard), who is trying to help and protect her – maybe. Her decision to be honest with him will have future consequences. Felix (Jordan Gavaris) is still Sarah’s mainstay, even when he’s high and dressed in nothing but chaps. Alison is doing community theater and we see her in a song and dance routine. We don’t see anything of Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) in this episode. Too bad, because she adds a degree of mystery to the plot. Making up for the missing Mrs. S, we do get a lot of Detective Angela Deangelis (Inga Cadranel) as compensation.

A powerful start for season 2. Every moment is electric.

Alison and Her Musical Muse

Enjoy this photo from Orphan Black, which refers to Alison’s community theater performance as well as to Felix’s 4 AM visit to Allison’s place in search of a gun for Sarah.

Recap: Lost Girl, S4, E1 In Memoriam

A truck rolls into a warehouse with Kenzi (Ksenia Solo) hanging on underneath. She creeps out and watches some dudes put a wicker basket full of something (perhaps the Una Mens) in storage. Someone catches her just as Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried)  and Hale (K.C. Collins) come to the rescue. She tries to convince the dude holding on to her as a terrorist that’s she actually Fae by putting on a little fireworks show with sparklers shooting from her hands.

Kenzi gets sparkled
Kenzi gets sparkled

She is released, Dyson and Hale walk her out. Dyson calls her Sparkie and Tinkerbell. Hale says she smells like sunflowers and chardonnay (he’s sweet on her for sure) and reminds her that her fake Fae powers are temporary.

At the clubhouse, Kenzi is wearing Bo’s kimono, talking about thongs. Dyson says the thongs sort of fill the place up, but he doesn’t mention the missing Bo, who should be filling up the place.

It’s as if Bo was never there. She’s completely out of the conversation. Kenzi claims she’s not lonely. Dyson says, “Why would you be lonely with me here?”

dyson and kenzi kissing
Dyson and Kenzi kissing. What?

Dyson deals with the sight of a beautiful woman in Bo’s kimono by launching a memory sub-routine he can’t articulate. He kisses Kenzi-the-stand-in-for-Bo. Kenzi really gets into the kissing when suddenly Dyson remembers his buddy Hale, who been carrying a torch for Kenzi since forever, and stops kissing. Crikey, mate, it isn’t like Hale was grabbing a lot of kisses from Kenzi on his own initiative. I’m all in favor of people kissing Kenzi – in fact I’d like to see Bruce give it a shot and I wouldn’t mind Kenzi getting Hale’s shirt off again (please). But kissing Dyson feels a little too much like sister sabotage, except for the little plot point that she can’t remember her sister-friend Bo even exists.

Dyson asks, “Since when are we – this?”

Aife
Aife’s lost her daughter

A knock at the door. It’s Aife (Inga Cadranel), who needs a private investigator to help her find her daughter. Her daughter named Bo. Dyson and Kenzi look at each other like who’s Bo? Kenzi says, “Kind of a dude’s name, am I right?”

Aife, Dyson and Kenzi go to a restaurant to talk private investigating. Aife reminds Dyson they’ve met before – at Taft’s lab. He remembers being at Taft’s lab and that Aife was there, but not Bo.

Kenzi is trying to wrap her head around the idea that this sexy woman has a 30 year old daughter. Aife says there’s no record of her birth but she’s pretty darn sure she has a daughter and that she would have named her after her own mother. She says she knew as soon as she found this photo that it was her daughter.

The photo of Bo
The photo of Bo

Isn’t that the photo of Bo that Dyson kept in his night stand?

Dyson looks at it and says, “This is a beautiful woman.”

Kenzi grabs it and says, “Yeah, if your into like faces and bodies, whatever.”

Aife pulls down her lower eyelid for some show and tell.

see my eye
See that?

Dyson and Kenzi peer into her eye and see a dark spot. Dyson says, “That’s a requerdo coil (or something phonetically close to that). Hard proof that a Fae has been messing with her memory.”

Aife mentions paying well, so Kenzi agrees to take the case. Dyson’s phone alarm goes off and he gets up to go to the spot where he goes every day in search of Tamsin, who somehow saved him by going all Thelma and Louise and driving her truck off a cliff with Dyson in it. Seems Tamsin hasn’t been seen for months.

Charm the waitress
Charm the waitress

The waitress brings the bill, which Aife gets out of paying by laying some succubus charm on her. Since it’s the exact same waitress that Bo pulled this trick on in episode 1, Kenzi has a moment of dissonance because she recognizes the situation even though she doesn’t remember why. Her reaction is the same as in episode 1: larceny. She wants to be Aife’s manager.

At the Dal, Kenzi and Trick (Rick Howland) are looking at some steam punk gadget that looks like a junior high science project model of the solar system. They talk about the fact that Trick thinks someone is messing with the balance of space and time. He thinks its the Una Mens. Kenzi asks if that would do memory loss. He says no, asks why she’s interested. She says she needs a bead on a local Fae who could cause amnesia. Trick goes into his Fae Rolodex and pulls out the name of Dr. Snook.

Kenzi says, “Speaking of docs, any word on Lauren?” Tamsin she remembers. Lauren she remembers. Apparently only Bo is forgettable. Trick says Lauren abandoned the light Fae. Kenzi mentions the love of Lauren’s life – Nadia – and what the Fae did to her. She says Lauren is the only human ally she has. Trick says there are people looking for her. Kenzi says, “Yeah, I’ve heard that one before, Gramps.”

Who you calling Gramps?
Who you calling Gramps?

Trick looks at her like Gramps? revealing that he doesn’t remember he’s a grandfather, even though the word trips so easily from Kenzi’s lips. She quickly corrects herself by calling him Trickster.

The memory worm
The memory snatcher

At Dr. Snook’s, the doc recognizes immediately that Kenzi and Dyson both have the recumbent coil (or whatever it is called) in their eyes. When Kenzi realizes someone has been extracting her memory her first thought is that she could be famous – a Kardashian – and not even remember it. Dyson asks who could put the memory worm in both humans and Fae. Snook says, “Someone more powerful than Snook.”

At the Dal, Trick says for a memory spell of this magnitude you have to find and shatter the requerdo compass. Trick says rumor is that Angorum (Englerum?), the collector, has the compass. Kenzi, of course, knows that this Angle Worm character is throwing a bash but he keeps all his collectibles under lock and key.

As Kenzi is leaving Trick’s lair, he makes her empty her purse of everything she’s lifted during her visit. When he sees and touches the photo of Bo, his hand shakes and he gets a sort of shock. He says, “Tell me everything you know about your client.”

We move to The Morrigan’s place, but Vex (Paul Amos) is in charge. There’s a wall sized poster of the former Morrigan (Emmanuelle Vaugier) on the wall.

Vex is large and in charge
Vex is large and in charge

Vex wants to go to the same party Kenzi was talking about and he’s obsessing about tickets. Dyson comes in. Dyson also wants to score tickets to the collector’s ball tonight. Insert joke from Vex about Dyson liking balls here. Dyson says that he needs to get back something that’s been lost and if Vex doesn’t help him, he’ll explain that Vex exaggerated the details of young Evony’s demise. Dyson can smell Evony hidden in the back and knows she isn’t really dead as Vex claims. Vex hands over 3 tickets.

Cut to the ball. Dancers, mood lights, Dyson and Hale are there waiting for their girl to arrive. She’s back at the club house worrying about her outfit. And thinking about Lauren. She calls and leaves voice mail for Lauren.

Massimo appears. Kenzi’s angry it took him so long to get there with his vial of spark extract. She wants him to make her temporarily Fae one more time. He only gives her a tiny bit because she still owes him for the first two batches.

Mossimo gets grabby
Massimo gets grabby

Massimo suggest there are other ways to pay if she’s short on cash and gets a little grabby with Kenzi. She pushes him away but begs for more sparkle power and promises his money will be coming.

At the ball, Dyson and Hale spot Kenzi. She looks stunning, which Hale appreciates completely. Dyson only complains that she’s late. Dyson says they gotta do something good to win the prize and get to meet the England Worm dude. Kenzi says she’s seduced plenty of rich guys and will show them her skill set. She drags Hale off to the dance floor.

Cleo wants Dyson to buy her a free drink
Clio wants Dyson to buy her a free drink

Who shows up hitting on Dyson but Mia Kirshner. This is no Mia Kirshner you’ve ever seen before. This Mia is a nymph named Clio. She’s bouncy, perky, smiley, and wants to mix it up with the wolf. She makes the terrible elevator speech blunder of telling him that she’s a nymph. (A nymph who can make puns using the word “faun.”) All Dyson has to hear is nymph and he flashes back to bad memories of other nymphs and too much tequila. Clio says not all nymphs are bad and laughs charmingly.

Dyson’s attention is drawn to the dance floor. Clio thinks Kenzi and Hale’s tango is more pathetic than Dyson’s small talk, but Dyson rushes to the dance floor to rescue the situation.

Love triangle tango
Love triangle tango

The trio produce an awesome tango. Kenzi-the-stand-in-for-Bo takes her love triangle to the dance floor with Dyson and Hale-the-stand-in-for-Lauren twirling her around and doing impressive lifts and tosses as they triangle tango their way to victory.

Mmm, leg.
Mmm, leg.

We’ve seen Ksenia Solo dance before whenever anyone asks where the toothpaste is located, but this is a real Dancing with the Stars production. She has moves, does Ksenia Solo. And legs. I assume you have noticed the Betty Grable legs on our favorite succubus sidekick. Those legs go everywhere a tango can take a leg and into a few spots Dyson and Hale invent on the spot. Look at those legs.

The dance ends and Kenzi is presented with the rose, which means she gets to go into the collector’s private chambers.

The Antiquities Collector
The Antiquities Collector

Kenzi calls out “Engleroom?” and who should appear but George Takei. (Incidentally, IMDB lists George Takei’s character name as “Amphisbaena.” Why everyone pronounces it like some variation of angleworm is not explained.) Turns out our collector is a gigantic snake with a gigantic lispy “s-s-s-s-s” in middle of everything he says.

Vex crashes the party
Vex crashes the party

At the ball, Vex crashes the party looking for the wolf and making dire predictions about the Una Mens. Vex’s fashion choices here run to high heeled shoes and a chest-baring shirt. Clio rushes over to Dyson and offers to show him how to get out of there for a price. He declines and Clio leaves him there to tangle with Vex on his own. Everyone runs from Vex.

Kenzi is struggling to explain to Mr. Giant Snake what her deepest desire is: The Ricardo Montalbán, The Ricky Martin, the compass thingy. Apparently he understands what she’s asking for and says, “That’s it? You’re kind of s-s-s-s-hallow.” They exchange a few fashion tips, and Mr. Giant Snake says, “I thought the little human would wish for her return.” She says, “What?” He tosses her the compass thingy.

Kenzi turns to leave. She says, “You called me human.” He says, “There was something so vulnerable about your tango.” For good measure, he says he plans to swallow her whole.

Dyson and Vex are trading insults. Vex says he knew all along memory was gone. He doesn’t want people to remember that he wasn’t always the all powerful messmer/Morrigan he is now. Hale shows up and joins in the battle by sirening Vex’s ears into submission. This frees up Dyson to rush in and save Kenzi by throwing a giant spear into the giant snake.

Outside the Dal, Trick and Aife meet. She calls him Daddy and goes to hug him.

Meanwhile Dyson and Kenzi are about to align the compass to true north. First Dyson has to tell Kenzi all the things he would say to Bo if he remembered who the hell she was. Instead he says them to Kenzi. Instead of kissing him, which is what he wants, Kenzi admits she is lonely. She says things aren’t right and her heart hurts.

They align the compass to restore everyone’s memory, and all the following things happen at the same time.

Aife pulls out a knife to kill Trick.

Kenzi, Hale, Dyson and Vex all remember Bo and say they are going to find her. Plus they want to find out who did the memory trick to them. Hale wants to talk to Kenzi but she says, “Until she’s back I can’t even breathe.”

The slimy thing in the wicker basket that we saw at the start of the episode starts showing signs of life.

Lauren

The memory bug really got Lauren (Zoie Palmer). Poor Lauren forgot everything – not just Bo. We find her waiting tables wearing the name tag Amber. Not Lauren, not Karen. Nope. The name she uses now is Amber. Since she’s waiting tables, we can assume she also doesn’t remember she’s a brilliant scientist who can toss out words like “sodium chloride” and remembers how to pronounce “formaldehyde” even when she’s in bed with a naked succubus. Lauren also forgot what color her hair is and how to apply makeup. She falls into a chair in amazement and says, “Bo. I remember.” Let’s hope she also remembers the way to the clubhouse and how to restore her hair to its former state.

Bo wakes up
Bo wakes up

Finally we see Bo, who apparently has been making like Sleeping Beauty. She opens her eyes and we see the familiar blue of succubus lust in her eyes.

But where is Tamsin?

Personal Thoughts

  • This was a great way to deal with the problem of the star needing a little more maternity leave time. It was surprising and fun and twisted in interesting ways.
  • It gave Ksenia Solo a chance to be the star while doing the tango. She handled both responsibilities admirably.
  • The episode sets up the Una Mens as the looming evil for future episodes.
  • I like wondering where Tamsin is. A little more suspense never hurt anyone.
  • I like wondering why Lauren didn’t remember the most basic things about her identity as a scientist.
  • I’m getting really tired of wondering who the Wanderer is. Tell us, already.

The Force that is Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black

I remember the speech Jennifer Beals gave in Break a Leg about how a woman has to be both beautiful and as good as Meryl Streep to make it in the movies. (You can catch the speech at the 8:29 minute mark in this video.) It is generally accepted in American culture that Meryl Streep is the greatest actress since the origin of the human race. We don’t even have to discuss it – we’ve seen her prove it time after time.

So when you see a great performance, it’s easy to compare the actress’s talents with Meryl Streep. For example, I remember watching Toni Collette in The United States of Tara and thinking, Why have I never noticed how amazing Toni Collette is – she could rival Meryl Streep.

I’m telling you right now that if Streep was a verb, Tatiana Maslany streeped the hell out of Orphan Black. Here’s the trailer for season 1 of this BBC America series, which started in 2013.

This is the preview for season 2.

Here’s the preview for season 3.

Tatiana Maslany is a young Canadian actress who had quite a few roles before she got this part in Orphan Black, but her career will never be the same after this performance. She is simply electrifying.

Orphan Black is a clone story. A nature vs. nurture story. Maslany plays all the clones. You sometimes see her on the screen in two or three personas at the same time. She’s so good at making them unique that you don’t even get confused about who is who – you willingly accept them all as different women. The central character in this web of clones is Sarah Manning. She’s the criminal you saw in the trailer who steals the purse of her look-alike, moves into her flat, and attempts to live her life long enough to empty her bank account. This scheme drags out into a hellish impersonation as Sarah attempts to be a cop named Beth Childs. In season 1, Maslany played at least 7 different clones.

tatiana maslany
Tatiana Maslany

As Sarah gets pulled further and further into Beth’s life she discovers more women who look just like her. She doesn’t immediately realize they are clones – does she have a twin, is she a triplet? Nor does Sarah grasp the implications of what it all means. As various clones are killed off – one assumes by the person who created them – it becomes clearer what danger they are all in. They begin to work together to solve the mystery of who they are, why they are, and what they can do to protect themselves.

The clones include the wild-haired Helena, Cosima a brainy scientist who is a lesbian and Alison, a soccer mom. The other clones don’t show up as often. Helena is a wild animal on the prowl, dangerous and unpredictable. Cosima is trying to work out the genetics of the clones and why some of them (including her) are suffering from respiratory ailments. Alison is hilarious as the uptight suburban wife with undiscovered depths. They look different, sound different, move differently, carry themselves differently. There’s no mixing them up.

Jordan Gavaris plays Sarah’s foster brother and her best friend and confidant. His quips provide some of the comic relief. He gets deeply involved in the danger and adventure as the story unfolds.

Maria Doyle Kennedy is the mysterious foster mother, Mrs. S, who raised the two foster children. She is also the guardian of Sarah’s young daughter and has the power to keep Sarah from seeing her child. We are never sure if Mrs. S is good guy or a bad guy.

Dylan Bruce is Beth’s boyfriend, and possibly something else. He realizes after finding Sarah in Beth’s apartment and boinking her on the kitchen counter that she isn’t Beth, but he goes along with the whole thing without letting Sarah know he’s on to her. Assorted ex-boyfriends and bad guys fill out the cast. Inga Cadranel, who is Bo’s mother in Lost Girl, plays one of the cops. A favorite of mine, Matt Frewer – Max Headroom himself –  shows up near the end of season 1. I won’t spoil it for you as to what his part in the cloning story is, but he is a key character.

Tatiana Maslany as Helena
Tatiana Maslany as Helena

Seasons 1, 2, and 3 were each 10 episodes in length. Season 4 is in the works now. I started recapping the series in season 2 and have continued since.

Have you seen Orphan Black? Have a favorite clone or a comment on where you think it’s going in season 4?