Tuesday, May 6, 2014

RECAP: Orphan Black 2x02 - The Return of Mrs. S (and Her Gun)

Oh Orphan Black. I love you, but sometimes you do seem to enjoy adding a bit of soap opera to your science fiction thriller, don't you? Like, it's not really a bad thing, per se, just an observation. Just when the story seems like it's getting a bit too normal or logical or structured, you pop in to go "Whee! How about nope!" and flounce off again.

Just a thought.

So last week's episode (we're catching up - slowly, but we're getting there) saw each of the clones progressing down their already set path, either towards the DYAD Institute and a further understanding of who they are (Rachel and Cosima) or into a hellhole of guilt and fear (Allison, just generally) or deeper and deeper into the bowels of a crazy religious cult (Helena) or adrift and away from society (Sarah). I find it interesting that nothing has really changed, when you get down to it, for these characters. They're all roughly where they started off now. The only difference is that they now know who and what they are, and the stakes have gotten a lot higher.

But I think it's really good writing to note that seriously, they're all just in different versions of their original circumstances. And it raises a lot of cool questions about how much of who we are and what we do is influenced by our pasts. This show would seem to suggest it's a lot.

Anyway. The episode starts off with Helena in the hospital, picking up where we left off in the season premier. She's fading in and out of consciousness while the doctors wonder how the hell she's still alive. She was shot in the heart at point blank range. How? Also apparently her pockets are full of candy and sugar packets and the doctors are terrified by the giant angel wing scars on her back. As well they should be, because those scars are gnarly.

Then cut to Sarah and Art and Felix strategizing about where the Proletheans (weird freaky church group that raised Helena to murder people) are holding Kira (Sarah's daughter). Suddenly, a cell phone rings, Felix answers, and it's Kira herself. Clever kiddo! She snagged the hotel phone and called her mom. But the kidnapper hangs up the phone immediately, of course, but Art's with the police. He can trace the call. Obviously they run off to find Kira - though not before Sarah and Felix share a touching moment about how she needs him to be her hope.


And then we're on to Allison's mess of a life. She's sitting at Aynsley's funeral, dressed up as Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's, and she's clearly stewing in a bubbling pot of guilt and suspicion. She's positive everyone knows what she did. They don't. Actually, people are pretty sympathetic to Allison, because Aynsley was her best friend after all. A woman from her community theater group, Sarah, even goes so far as to hug Allison and apologize for being so hard on her.

All of this is nice, but then Allison goes through her husband Donny's phone like the suspicious wife she is, and she finds it full of weird texts. Ones that say stuff like, "Placate her" and "Keep her there." Not suspicious at all, nooooo...

Cut to a weird and disturbing scene of religious fanatics artificially inseminating a cow. Not going to think too hard about the symbolism of that one. Then they decide to steal Helena out of the hospital. Weirdos.

Cosima and Delphine flat out lie to Dr. Leeky, explaining how they totally weren't in on the whole Sarah storming the castle thing, and that Cosima is still a very worthwhile investment and should definitely be given a lab, so that she and Delphine can "science" together.

Sure. Science. That's what they're calling it these days.

Art and Sarah get to the motel where Kira was held, but it's totally empty. Worse, Daniel (from the DYAD Institute) is there too. They have got to find Kira before the Institute does. Proletheans are bad, but mad scientists? Not really better. Art buys Sarah some time by arresting Daniel. Which is probably a bad move politically, but very satisfying to watch.

Sarah creeps around the back of the motel, finds a car she thinks might have held Kira, and then promptly gets kidnapped by the guy who played Death in Supernatural. Sarah being Sarah, though, she fights back - until she meets the person who ordered her kidnapping. 

Her foster mother. Mrs. S.

Sarah is so totally done with this crap. It turns out that Kira was never kidnapped by the Proletheans at all. Mrs. S had her kidnapped by her own people, for Kira's safety, and then moved her to a more secure location when she called Sarah. She's now going to take Sarah to Kira now, but it's a bit of a hike.

I kind of love Mrs. S. She's terrifying as all get out, clearly hiding massive secrets, but she does manage to get the job done, doesn't she? And I never doubted for a second that she was doing this all to protect Kira, weird as her actions might be.

Dr. Leeky and Delphine show Cosima her new lab space, and she is less than impressed (also kind of bitchy, which I enjoyed). Quick scene.

Allison and her new bud Sarah practice their increasingly weird community musical by singing a song about cleaning up after a murder. She understandably freaks the hell out, and everyone assumes it's grief over Aynsley. Which it is. Kind of. Murder grief? Also her director is weird and creepy, and Felix shows up as always to save the day. I love his relationship with Allison. One of the best parts of the show.

They discuss whether or not Donny really is her monitor. She signed a contract with the DYAD Institute saying no more monitoring, but she kind of doubts they're keeping their word. Also she confesses to Felix about murdering Aynsley. And he helps her come up with a plan of how to prove that Donny really is Allison's monitor.

As a sidenote, why the hell did they recruit Donny as a monitor? Donny. He's terrible. I mean, Delphine? Loves science, hot as hell, perfect monitor. Paul? Ex-military, blackmailed, super intense, also hot as hell, perfect monitor. Donny? Donny. Just...why?

Sarah and Mrs. S hike up to a house in the middle of nowhere - the same place they hid out when they came from the UK. They've met back up with the Birdwatchers, Mrs. S' old network of pseudo-anarchists and social revolutionaries. And there's Kira! All safe and sound and lovely. Touching reunion and all that.

Art and Angela (his partner) discuss the case, and Art tells Angela to drop it. He's about to be suspended for the crap he pulled with Daniel, and he doesn't want Angela wrapped up in it. Also she found Helena in the hospital, and even though Art tells her not to look into it (she's not in the know about Clone Club, nor is she likely to be since no one trusts her) Angela goes straight there to interview the Jane Doe.

Who has been kidnapped/released by that Prolethean dude.

The Proletheans are freaked out by the arrival of Helena, an abomination, and Tomas, who comes from a very different sect than theirs. No one really gets along. The head of this Prolethean community is surprisingly fond of science, for a religious whacko, as it turns out. Also, Helena was saved because of a "miracle". She's a mirror image twin - her heart is on the right side of her chest, instead of the left, which is how she lived through getting shot in the chest. Interesting. Not sure what the relevance is, but still. Interesting.

Sarah, Mrs. S, and Kira have a lovely walk around the safehouse and reminisce about the good old days. You know, the fun times they all had on the lam and fighting amongst themselves.

Allison and Felix conspire to freak out Donny by faking a telephone conversation where she acts agitated and mentions a "Sarah" a lot. Donny follows her to the graveyard, calls Dr. Leeky, and watches as she meets with...Sarah. From her community theater group. Dr. Leeky yells at Donny, Allison spots him spying on her, and nothing is particularly good or happy, though it is a little funny.

Mrs. S reveals to Sarah what her plan is: to fly to London with Kira and investigate what really happened with Project Leda all those years ago. Also to reestablish her old connections. Sarah is pretty miffed that Mrs. S wants to take her daughter out of country and wasn't even going to tell her. She retaliates by showing Mrs. S the photo she has that proves that Mrs. S was part of Project Leda. She denies it. But...yeah, she's probably lying.

At dinner, things come to a head. The Birdwatchers left there are acting super sketchy, and Sarah isn't about to let her daughter out of her sight again. Tense.

Cosima and Delphine do "science" in the new lab. They get ready to customize it to Cosima's specifications. Then they get interrupted by Rachel, the pro-clone, who is terrible and annoying. Well, Cosima thinks she is, anyway. They then proceed to awkwardly discuss Cosima's degenerative lung disease, and kind of piss all over each other. Marking intellectual territory, and all that. Still, it's good to be reminded of Cosima's very vested interest in their biology.

Also, Rachel really wants to know one thing: why is Sarah different? Why was Sarah able to have a child? It's the big question, isn't it?

Back at the super friendly and fun family dinner, Sarah and Kira escape upstairs and plot about running away before Mrs. S can do whatever it is she's planning. Meanwhile, Mrs. S suspects that something is up with the Birdwatchers. They're acting weird. Suspicious. Not good.

Sarah and Kira sneak out and steal one of the trucks. But the Birdwatchers try to stop them. Big fight. Inside, Mrs. S discovers that they've sold out to the Proletheans for money. Lots of money. She reacts...ungraciously. With a lot of knives. And then a gun. Sarah and Kira drive away, and Mrs. S lets them. But then she has to find out something important. Did the Birdwatchers know about Project Leda?

Which, you know, confirms that Mrs. S did and was a part of it. Dangit, who is this woman? And what on earth does she want, aside from Kira's safety? Since we definitely know she wants that.

Sarah and Kira pick up Felix just as he gets a call from Allison. She's a wreck, terrified of what she might do now that she knows Donny is her monitor. And Felix really can't help her. He has to go. Now. They're running away, and Allison is left on her own.

And then, back with the Proletheans for one last scene of creepiness. The head Prolethean farmer guy (I really need to find out their names, huh?) brings Tomas into his cattle barn. Then has him shot through the back of the head with a boltgun (the kind they use to slaughter animals). "It's a brand new day." A day apparently full of both science and religion, as well as some very murky motives, it would seem.

Like I said, this episode has everyone back where they started, only with much higher stakes. Sarah and Felix are on the run again, living as outlaws, only this time they have Kira with them. Mrs. S is the not really trusted kind of antagonist maybe helper that she's always been (though now with more gunshots and stabbings). Allison is trapped in her suburban life, deeply paranoid and terrified she's going to get her children hurt, and also that she might murder her husband. Which is a fair fear for her. 

Cosima is in a lab, looking into her own biology and trying to hide her ulterior motives and secret communication with the other clones from her bosses. And Helena is trapped in the hands of crazy religious fundamentalists who clearly are going to try to use her to further their cause, and possibly do dubious things to her body.

Maybe it's just because I'm in the middle of researching a paper on bodily autonomy, but I feel like this show deals with that issue a lot. Helena has lacked bodily autonomy her whole life, and Beth and Allison have both had medical exams done on them in the middle of the night without their consent. They also married or had long term relationships with men who were there for ulterior motives, making pretty much all of that sex deeply dubious and just this side of rape if not actually rape. 

Oh, and Cosima has to deal with her own body being used as a bargaining chip against her. The only character with significant bodily autonomy in the show is Sarah, and that autonomy is exactly why she is so feared and beloved by the other characters. It's her secret weapon, the fact that her body is hers alone.

Just something to think about.

Dang this show is good. 

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