Orphan Black, S2, episode 1 review: Nature under constraint and vexed

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Spoilers ahead for season 2 episode 1. Read my summary of Season 1 first.

Season 2, episode 1 of Orphan Black opens pretty much at the end of last season – it’s the night Kira and Mrs S. have gone missing, and Sarah is running through the streets looking for them.

In other words, it’s a dark and stormy night and it’s about to get worse for Sarah.

No-one is available to help her – Cosima and Alison’s phones are out of order, Felix isn’t answering and when she calls Paul for help, she gets Rachel. She informs Sarah that if she gives herself up, she’ll get Kira, and on the heels of that revelation, two guys come into a diner where Sarah is sitting. It’s easy to assume Rachel has sent them because they know exactly who she is.

Sarah escapes, leaving two dead bodies in her wake, and sets about trying to find Felix. He’s in a club, high and happily sorting out his five-way in backless chaps when she interrupts. She tells Felix that Helena is dead and together they realise that Alison and Cosima’s phones have been disconnected and hers is probably being tracked. Paul calls and by this time, Sarah knows that he’s working with Rachel, but she needs him too much to cut all contact.

Then we check in on Cosima and Alison.

Cosima is a soft touch, smitten still with Delphine even as she knows that Delphine is working for Leeki and DYAD. Cosima is, I think, weirdly coming to terms with being sick and fighting the only way she knows how – through science. She seems to trust Delphine to keep her secret from DYAD, unless this is an elaborate double cross on her part. Delphine, however, doesn’t keep her word and tells Leeki that Cosima is sick, even going so far as to provide a blood sample. The thing is, she seems to be doing it because she’s worried for Cosima.

Alison, of course, if you’ll recall was in charge of weapons last season and Sarah sends Felix to her to collect an unregistered gun, and she easily arranges for that. The lesson from this? Don’t mess with soccer moms in red minivans. Watching Alison buy said gun from the customer service rep, Ramone, at the econo+mart is hilarious!

Sarah, while waiting for her gun, uses Paul to try and get more information about what Rachel has in store. He, perhaps too easily, tells her that Rachel is getting on a plane with Kira the next day, even as Sarah knows she’s probably being tracked via her phone. Sarah is increasingly desperate, taking every chance she can to get information. He also mentions an event being held that night, one where Rachel will be present. Rachel is trying her best to force Sarah’s hand in a situation that she controls, but Sarah is too frantic to see that.

After an entire season of Art being on the periphery of the show, he is pretty much smack dab in the middle of everything in this one. It’s probably a good thing, given Sarah is way out of her depth, and Art, to remain on the show, needed to be more useful than he was last season. He finds Alison in this episode, increasingly confused at what he’s seeing. And at the same time, captures Sarah on her way to meet Alison to get the gun – her leverage.

Angie seems to have taken on the role of disbelieving annoyance, and I sincerely hope she is phased out because it makes no sense for everyone, but one insignificant character on the show, to know what’s going on.

Sarah knows they can’t arrest her and asks them to check out the diner and the cowboy that found her there at the beginning of the episode. That shooting has already been taken over by the Feds, and Sarah convinces Art to let her go.

Sarah makes it back to Felix’s, where she, Cosima and Felix try to brainstorm a way to get Kira back without a gun. Sarah is willing to give herself up to go with Kira on the plane, but Alison saves them at the last minute, by… delivering her gun, with Ramone, hidden in a bouqet of flowers, in true Alison style.

The scene with the three clones, even with Alison only present on Skype, is as it was in season 1 mesmerising. They are all distinct personalities, and figures and I’d forgotten just how distracting it can be wanting to keep an eye on all three, even when only two are having a conversation.

But, by the end of this scene, they finally have a plan.

Sarah calls Rachel and manages to distract her minions by sending them to capture Alison, without Alison knowing. Alison loses it, using her pepper spray and rape whistle thinking she’s being attacked. She actually does quite well, hinting at just how formidable she can be despite the soccer mom façade she so desperately wants to keep. I wonder if we’ll learn more about her history this season?

Daniel, let’s call him the head minion, realises he’s been sent to capture Alison, who has already signed a contract with Rachel and Leekie. It’s just enough time for Sarah to infiltrate the party as Cosima.

And so begins the other type of scene that makes this show and Maslany fascinating to watch – she’s Sarah, pretending to be Cosima and she manages to walk a fine line between being Cosima just enough and Sarah pretending for viewers to realise who she is.

Just as Delphine realises as much at the party too. Leekie remains oblivious. And, for all Delphine betrayed Cosima’s trust, she does help Sarah find Rachel.

Sarah finally confronts Rachel, who admits she lied to her about Kira to get Sarah to come to her. Rachel hints that there’s someone else in play who wants the clones, but further conversation is interrupted by Paul, and Sarah knocks her out in frustration. Paul lets her go, saying he’ll figure out something to tell Rachel.

Finally, poor Art gets to contribute something of worth to the storyline, and highlighting why the detour to the diner with Sarah was needed in the episode – Sarah admits someone else took Kira, and Art knows who because the dead cowboy from the diner has been identified – he’s a Prolethan, a religious extremist and as Sarah says, ‘Helena’s people’.

And three guesses who is in the next scene? Helena of course, telling the hospital staff that her sister shot her. The episode isn’t done with you just yet, because after that? Someone is shown filming Kira.

What I’m not sure about is whether having Helena back is a good thing or not. She’s chaotic, psychotic and uncontrollable, and her religious extremism stuck out during the first season because we knew so little about her and the clones in general. If the first season was about exploring science’s role in creating the clones, this season seems to be set to go the other way and bring religion into it more strongly.

Helena has the chance to be a “Paul”, a helper with the Proletheans, who happens to have a soft spot for Kira. But, she’s such a wild card and that can’t be good for anyone.

 

 

 

 

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