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.

Orphan Black: Governed As It Were By Chance

The tension sizzles, everyone is sinister, and we don’t know who to trust in “Governed As It Were By Chance,” episode 4 of season 2 of Orphan Black. Everything ahead is a spoiler, but the story is not described in the order in which it happened.

The episode begins at the car wreck. Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) walks away with Cal (Michiel Huisman), leaving Daniel (Matthew Bennett) behind for dead. She hides the wrecked car under some brush with Daniel still inside.

Sarah and Kira in the camper
Sarah and Kira

Cal, for unexplained reasons (which makes him suspicious as hell), has a camper that isn’t registered in his name. Cal, Sarah, and Kira (Skyler Wexler) head off in it. Sarah trusts him, at least for now.

Sarah stops in at Mrs. S’s place. Felix (Jordan Gavaris) just happens to be there. They dig through old photos and scrapbooks and find clues about Susan and Ethan Duncan – as in Rachel Duncan’s parents – who are the people in the Project Leda photo. They also find photos of Carlton, the man who brought Sarah to Siobhan in the beginning. As they leave, the basement door opens and we realize someone has been listening.

Later, Sarah has a Skype conversation with Cosima. She shares her new intel and Cosima promises to investigate. Before Sarah called, Cosima was rewatching the videos of Jennifer’s slow death. She has to break off the call from Sarah quickly to hide her own tubercular-sounding cough and her own declining health.

Sarah and Cal
Sarah and Cal

Sarah wants to go to Rachel’s place. She gets Cal to agree to watch Kira.

Detective Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) is hanging about outside the Prolethean compound taking photos. He cannot see inside, but we see Helena wake up. She remembers vague snatches of the strange wedding. Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) tries to smother her. Helena overpowers her and runs off. She passes through a lab on her way out and remembers something being “taken out of her.” The look of distaste on her face as she recalls being in the lab suggests sensibilities in Helena that we haven’t seen before. Outside, Helena runs past Art Bell. He realizes who she is and delays the men who chase her, allowing her to get a head start.

Felix wants Allison to get her dignity back.
Felix wants Allison to get her dignity back.

Allison’s story is interspersed with these events. She’s in rehab, where Felix tells her she went voluntarily. Allison remembers nothing. She broke her arm when she fell from the stage; she’s a mess. Felix thinks rehab will be good for her and help her get her dignity back. Plus, dear daddy Donnie  (Kristian Bruun) shows up and threatens to take the kids away if she doesn’t stay. Allison will be peeing a cup for a few days while everyone else is in mortal peril.

Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) searches out Carlton. Carlton is played by Roger Cross, who must be the busiest actor in Canada – he’s in absolutely everything. Carlton just got out of jail for human trafficking. Siobhan is very happy to see him. She looks him over with an expression of pure lust, kisses him, unbuttons his shirt, tugs at his belt, and they get it on standing up in a hallway outside the men’s room where she found him. Why, Mrs. S, we hardly knew you.

So happy to see you, Carlton
So happy to see you, Carlton

Later they sit down for a pint and a talk. We learn that Mrs. S was in the know on Project Leda, that she’s known Sarah was a clone from the start. Makes me wonder if Felix is a clone and we just haven’t been told yet. Carlton mentions someone called The Ferryman, who will no doubt be important later.

Gotta love the double helix stickers on Cosima's computer
Gotta love the double helix stickers on Cosima’s computer

Sarah talks to Cosima and Felix, who have news to share. Rachel’s parents were geneticists doing DNA research. Cosima tells Sarah the Greek myth about Leda. The god Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces (or rapes) Leda. According to Greek mythology, Leda bore the half-human, half-gods Helen and the twins Castor and Pollux.

Through some smooth tricks, Sarah gets in Rachel’s empty apartment. She’s watching videos of Rachel with her loving parents when the left-for-dead Daniel walks in. He straps Sarah to the plumbing and is about to cut her throat with a straight razor when Helena comes in and makes a bloody mess of him. He’s really dead this time.

Helena and Sarah
Helena and Sarah

The sight of a not-dead Helena terrifies Sarah more than anything she’s endured up to this point. Helena addresses her as sister, says she followed her there from their mother’s house (meaning Mrs. S’s) and advances toward her.

Love ya, sis. Plus, damn, the editing on this show is brilliant.
Love ya, sis. Plus, damn, the editing on this show is brilliant.

Helena wants not to stab her sister with the huge bloody knife, but to give her a full body hug of hello. Helena is surprising in this episode – smarter than she’s seemed before in ways that show both intelligence and self-awareness. Her willingness to embrace the twin who put a bullet in her just a few days ago is also a surprise.

As the episode ends, we see that Henrik (Peter Outerbridge) took an egg from Helena, which is now fertilized and growing in a Petri dish. Big news: Sarah is not the only fertile clone. I imagine the sperm was Henrik’s, since he pictures himself as the godlike swan in Helena’s story.

The quote from Francis Bacon for this episode:

The spirit of man is in fact a thing variable and full of perturbation, and governed as it were by chance.

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, Governed By Sound Reason and True Religion

Episode 2 of season 2 of Orphan Black, “Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion,” launches a brand new day, to quote the new character Henrik. New plot lines, new characters, and new developments everywhere you look. I’m going to mention a few key points.

Mrs. S definitely knows how to use that gun
Mrs. S definitely knows how to use a gun

One of the more interesting developments in this episode is the expansion of Mrs. S’s (Maria Doyle Kennedy) character. I’ve been eager to learn more about the mysterious Mrs. S, partly because Maria Doyle Kennedy is such a strong actor with a very strong persona and we haven’t seen behind the curtain on her very much. In this episode, we learn she can be a stone-cold killer and that she will do just about anything to protect Kira (Skyler Wexler). It’s also looking a bit like Mrs. S. might be Sarah’s monitor and that she has known about Sarah since her birth.

Skyler Wexler is a terrific choice as Sarah’s daughter. Physically she and Tatiana Maslany look enough alike to be convincing as mother and daughter. Skyler Wexler is as precocious as an actor as Kira is as a character. There’s something special about Kira, we don’t know what yet, but she has an unusual ability to see things and understand things.

The religious group called Prolethians seem in on the clone secret as well. Peter Outerbridge joins the cast as Henrik Johanssen, the leader of the Prolethians. Religious leadership aside, he’s also a stone-cold killer. Helena is snatched from her hospital bed and taken to the farm where the group lives. As she’s recovering from her wounds, we learn that the reason she survived the gunshot is that she is a mirror – all her organs are on the reverse side from that of her twin Sarah. Helena’s heart is on her right side, not her left.

Cosima joins Dyad where she gets her own lab. As she’s setting it up, she meets the clone Rachel for the first time. Rachel wants her to figure out why Sarah is different from the rest of the clones – meaning why Sarah can have children. Rachel seemed surprised to learn that Cosima is a lesbian. Her reaction to catching Cosima and Delphine in a kiss felt a bit off to me. She should have known already because she knows that Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) is Cosima’s monitor and how Delphine managed to get close to Cosima. This is one of the first off moments I’ve noticed in the writing of this series, unless it’s foreshadowing something about the clones that Rachel knows but none of the rest of us know.

Donnie, you shouldn't let your wife near your phone
Donnie, you shouldn’t let your wife near your phone

Allison finds out at Aynsley’s (Natalie Lisinska) funeral that her husband Donnie (Kristian Bruun) has been her monitor all along because she reads his text messages. This means she let Aynsley die a gruesome death by garbage disposal for no reason. Neither of these pieces of information are sitting well with Allison who is popping pills and downing drinks in a paroxysm of guilt. Methinks Donnie better be careful, too – like maybe he shouldn’t wear a scarf in the kitchen.

We learn about a program called Project Leda in this episode, which may be where all the clones originated. Sarah knows about it and apparently so does Mrs. S.

With Project Leda, the Prolethians, and the neolutionists from the Dyad Institute, we have three potential sources of danger for the clones. Are they all bad guys?

Let's get out of town
Let’s get out of town

Much of the episode is about Sarah’s search for Kira. By the end of the episode, Sarah manages to get Kira back, collect Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and make ready to run.

An interesting side note on the title of this episode. According to Entertainment Weekly, the title is a quote from Francis Bacon’s book The New Organon: Or, True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature. The book, written in 1620, is an early reflection on nature, science and religion.