The Hummingbird Project, now available on Netflix, showcases the need for speed on Wall Street. Mere milliseconds can make the difference between profit and loss in a high speed world where algorithms and machines make all the buying and selling decisions.Continue reading “Review: The Hummingbird Project”
“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 (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.
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.
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 grows sicker and sicker. She’s wearing an oxygen tube and coughing constantly.
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.
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 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.
“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.
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?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.