Orphan Black / Screen

Orphan Black Returns to Former Greatness With “Governed As It Were By Chance”

In a show like this Orphan Black, overflowing with sketchy characters, it’s important to separate the ones who absolutely cannot be trusted from the ones who can as well as the ones who float around in shades of grey. Even though speculation abounds that Felix could be Sarah’s monitor, none of that suspicion drips into the show (and I’d be very surprised and not in a good way if he turned out to be at all traitorous) so Sarah’s unquestioning loyalty and trust in Felix makes plenty of sense. Then there’s Mrs. S, a whole different matter as her sketchiness is oft-discussed in fandom circles as well as the show because her motives can never be quite pinned down. Then there’s the Dyad Institute (and Leekie, Rachel and Daniel) who are obviously dangerous and can’t be trusted. Same with the Proletheans. This is a show where clones are spied on by their significant others and their paranoia leads them to watching a once good friend be strangled to death by a garbage disposal. But for a show that seems to relish in making everyone but the clones (well most of the clones) untrustworthy, it decides to cut corners with making us trust Cal. 

Sure Cal is Kira’s father, but it’s not like he’s been in a position to be around and prove himself capable of (1) taking care of a kid or (2) proving himself to not be some kind of spy for someone so I find it difficult to believe that Sarah would leave Kira with him while she goes off to handle business. Whatever their relationship was all those years ago, there’s no reason to trust him so implicitly with the person most precious to her considering she can’t bring herself to tell him about the clones just yet. And with no reason given for Sarah to trust Cal, it just makes the show look lazy (if Cal turns out to be an ally) or it makes Sarah look uncharacteristically shortsighted (if Cal turns out to be an enemy).  And really, how good could this guy be at anything if his plan for stopping Sarah’s kidnapping was to crash into the car she was in and hope she wasn’t seriously injured in the process? And judging by that look he gave Sarah after she told him it was the Dyad Group chasing her, he knows more than he’s letting on. It’s a fairly small gripe for this episode, which distanced Sarah from Cal quite a bit on her hunt for answers on Project Leda, but it’s such a glaring oversight to have the most distrustful clone offering her faith so freely.

Sarah’s hunt for answers on Project Leda led her back to Rachel whose adoptive parents were the geneticists photographed in the photo everyone’s so anxious about. Despite Cosima’s thoughts to the contrary (that Rachel must have raised as an elite, self-aware clone due to her probably unloving parents) home videos proved otherwise: that Rachel was raised by her parents in a fairly loving environment before they died in a lab explosion. For an episode that didn’t show Rachel in the flesh, this episode was big on revealing information about her. Between her parents, her past and Daniel being her boyfriend, “Governed As It Were By Chance” didn’t hold back on throwing intriguing details of the Pro-clone at us.

While Sarah worked on that, Mrs. S was on her own search for answers which took her to the old flame who dropped Sarah on her doorstep in the first place, Carlton (Roger R. Cross). Of all the things I expected Mrs. S to get up this season, blowing away two old friends and having wall sex with some dude were not on my list, but I’m not complaining. I’m actually more upset we aren’t seeing more of Mrs. S as she tries to keep Sarah from diving headfirst into a complex pile of crap with her own investigations. Petition to have Mrs. S replace all the stupid happenings on that stupid farm.

I’m all for fleshing out antagonists, but I don’t really need the same scenes over and over again of Henrik preaching his creepy, rapey gospel while his daughter calls Helena an “it”. Thankfully this episode was kind of light on all that as Helena realized what kind of danger she was in, first with her suspicion of Henrik and his wife and then with Gracie trying to kill her. Helena back in action as a formidable foe suits both her and the show better than watching creepy religious farmers steal her eggs and talk about her like a brood mare though her fleeing from the farm means that we’re going to have to suffer Henrik and his buddies any glimpses of her to offset how boring/awful they are.

But Helena’s reunion with Sarah, killing Daniel and stopping his torture, was the kind of fun and inspired stuff that made Orphan Black so much fun to begin with. It was also a another great performance from Tatiana Maslany who played Sarah’s terror at seeing a bloody, knife-wielding Helena approach, and Helena’s own creepiness reached its peak with her her languid leaning against a sobbing Sarah. Since the clones have been separated this season, Helena and Sarah ending up together again is kind of brilliant considering the last time they saw one another, and the shot of Helena embracing her (with that knife still in her hand no less) was one of the most disturbing shots we’ve gotten between the two of them, perfect for their disturbing relationship.

I’ve found Orphan Black works best when you have no idea what’s going to happen next, and that’s where we’re at now. How are Sarah and Helena going to interact now? What about when Rachel returns to her apartment and finds it trashed and her lover dead? What’s Mrs. S going to find when she gets hooked up with the Ferryman? I don’t know, but I do know that “Governed As It Were By Chance” is the closest we’ve gotten to last season’s glory (aside from that wonky Cal/Sarah nonsense), which makes me a million times more optimistic about the show’s ability to turn out a season on par with the first.

Stray Observations

  • I didn’t forget about Alison, but her story was largely removed from the grander scheme of the episode as she awoke from her disastrous performance in a rehab facility. As Felix pointed out, rehab could end up being better for her than she knows, since she really does need to be away from Donnie and her substance abuse problem is the worst we’ve seen of the clones, excluding Beth. But just so we don’t forget that Donnie is a terrible person, he reminded Alison that she could end up losing her kids. And of course the thought of Alison being cut off from her children by her monitor is a new kind of nightmare.
  • Important: Zeus raped Leda. They didn’t “get it on”. He raped her. It would be nice if we would all stop pretending otherwise. Particularly for Orphan Black which has been alluding to the idea of the Helena being raped by the Proletheans before revealing they stole her eggs, this was a giant misstep.
  • I guess Paul will be back next week, but do we really need him? If these Paul-free episodes have proved anything, it’s that Paul (and Dylan Bruce’s perpetually wooden delivery) isn’t necessary to anything.
  • Sarah’s so much fun when she’s pretending to be other clones.
  • I assume Gracie isn’t dead because I’d think her parents would be more broken up about it. But why wouldn’t Helena have killed her?

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