Orphan Black / Screen

Orphan Black‘s “Governed By Sound Reason and True Religion” Is Half-Good

Sarah and Kira were reunited mighty fast in a development that kind effectively undoes a lot of the happenings of the finale. Finales are, naturally, supposed to be enticing for the second season, but it’s a pet peeve when the developments used in them are undone when the show returns. The show did it with Helena being alive (which on its own isn’t bad at all) and did it again with Kira not having been abducted by Proletheans after all but having been taken away by Mrs. S to “confuse the issue” and keep Kira out of harm’s way.

The saving grace of this otherwise annoying development is that it added some layers to Mrs. S, a character whose secretive nature has been the source of much wondering if her role in Sarah’s life has been another relationship manufactured by the Dyad Institute. Mrs. S’s past is still murky by the episode’s end though her intentions are clearer. Despite the ethical confounding of her snatching Kira and leaving Sarah to freak out over her daughter’s apparent kidnapping, Mrs. S does care about them, even if she is hiding things about Project Leda. Since we met her she’s taken a lot of pride in her role as good guardian for the children in her care first with Sarah and Felix and now with Kira. When she pointed out that Sarah’s dangerous reality wasn’t conducive to keeping Kira safe and was piss poor in comparison to Mrs. S’s “bulletproof” childrearing, she was right. But…she was also wrong since her plan to escape with Kira to London blew up in her face.

The Proletheans have quite the reach since they managed to (quite coincidentally, I’m sure) draw in Mrs. S’s old friend and her son (the Birdwatchers) who planned on eventually handing Sarah and Kira over to this new scientifically inclined Prolethean sect. After Sarah confronted Mrs. S about Amelia’s warning and Project Leda, and got nothing out of it, she and Kira agreed that Mrs. S’s secrets may be to their detriment. Their escape was nearly thwarted by the traitorous mother-son duo Mrs. S intervened and even allowed Sarah to leave with her daughter realizing that her ways of protecting Kira may not be as foolproof as she originally thought despite her ability to pin a woman’s hands to a table with various pointy objects, shoot her son and then return to the table to kill said woman.

Things were a little less hectic in suburbia where Alison realized that Donnie’s actually her monitor. It was a surprise, and a relief, that this was cleared up so soon, but the whiplash of it right after Alison’s gotten comfortable with having her life back and signing that contract with the Dyad, is probably going to send her on a spiral especially without Felix there to rein her in. After confirming that she’d watched Aynsley die for no reason, Alison turned to Felix for help but came up empty-handed as Felix took off with Sarah and Kira for lands unknown. It feels strange to have them leaving so easily, with everything so unresolved with Cosima and Alison. Granted, all Sarah knows is that Cosima’s diving headfirst into things with the Dyad, that Proletheans and Rachel are both interested in Kira, and that Alison signed the Dyad’s contract. As far as Sarah’s concerned all she can do now is protect Kira and herself which means putting a lot of distance between them and the people after them. It’s Felix’s quick brushing off of Alison that feels cold since their relationship has been a lot of fun in the show’s run, and Felix is the only person who knows the depth of Alison’s problems so his quickness to disengage and tell her to “play possum” with her monitor husband was a huge blow to their friendship.

It’s outside of Alison and Sarah that “Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion” struggled. Granted Helena’s storyline is mainly concerned with the Prolethean sect, this one more science-friendly and led by Henrik (Nikita‘s Peter Outerbridge), and she’s not really doing anything right now but still. The focus on these creepy people isn’t necessarily warranted since Orphan Black did fine with keeping their villains mostly shrouded in mystery in the first season, allowing them to be explored as the season progressed, and Henrik and his cult-y family aren’t exactly interesting. In fact they’re kind of gross since Henrik wanted Helena there in the hopes that she’d be able to have children like Sarah. I’d much rather watch other clones do things than white guys in barns talking about raping a woman in the hopes of her conceiving a child.  But that’s just me.

And Cosima. Oh, Cosima. She’s on an even worse trajectory than Helena, who’s actually looking at a terrible time with the Proletheans. Cosima’s storyline is just confusing and also boring. It’s only the second episode of the season, but I’m already lost on what Cosima’s plans are. She’s always been the clone more trusting of authority, more willing to take chances and rely on calm and rational discussion over insta-suspicion, but that doesn’t make her stupid. She’s curious, particularly about herself and the other clones, but Orphan Black is becoming progressively murky with outlining exactly what Cosima wants and expects from the Dyad. How far does her trust of them go?

A lot of this confusion can be traced to her and Delphine, a relationship that’s also foggy. One minute I’m convinced Delphine has Cosima’s best interests at heart and the next I’m not so sure because Delphine’s awfully enthusiastic about Cosima allying with the Dyad. I don’t get the feeling Orphan Black is trying to make Delphine deliberately sinister. Rather, it feels like an oversight. The show’s struggled with showing the monitor-clone relationships to be as invasive and abusive as they are, and Delphine and Cosima’s present relationship, in which both seem to have forgotten that Delphine was once Cosima’s monitor, isn’t as fun to watch when it seems like the show is glossing over important facets of their relationship even though Cosima and Delphine has gotten far more focus than any of Cosima’s other relationships, especially with the clones.

And that’s another thing about this episode: It was a relatively light one for Tatiana Maslany who didn’t have to share as much screentime with herself this week aside from a scene with Cosima and Rachel (the only high-point in Cosima’s otherwise snore-inducing storyline). The relationships between the clones felt very…nonexistent. When we first saw Cosima she was fielding suspicions from Leekie about working with Sarah in last week’s episode to get into the Dyad and kick the crap out of Rachel, and she agreed with them regarding Sarah’s behavior, saying she and Alison never trusted Sarah. And though that’s obviously not true, I’m not totally convinced about Cosima’s feelings on Sarah since the two do little aside from argue, never having the moments that Sarah and Alison did of bonding and understanding. Perhaps that’s Cosima’s problem, with her character often being so separate from her sister clones which ended up making her scene with Rachel so much fun. Orphan Black works best when it’s pulling all its different clones together so hopefully next week will allow for some of that instead of spreading them all apart.

Stray Observations

  • Kira’s a special child. We know that even without Mrs. S telling us, but why do special kids have to be synonymous with creepy? Granted, I don’t like kids, and I rarely like them on television, but Kira veers to the creepy end of the spectrum more often than not, and I don’t think that’s the vibe I’m supposed to be getting.
  • Helena’s survival may not be because of that good ole’ clone magic after all since Henrik explains that the bullet missed Helena’s heart because her organs are reversed in her body, putting her heart on the other side of her chest.
  • Alison: “I killed Aynsley.”
    Felix: “No, no, darling. No…well…”
  • If Donnie’s been Alison’s monitor since he like, met her why is he suddenly so bad at it?
  • And maybe there’s a chance Alison will turn to Cosima for help now that Felix is gone. That would be really nice, and it could also open up some doors for some conflict between Cosima and Delphine about the whole monitor thing.
  • No Paul this week. Hallelujah.

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