Friday, May 16, 2014

RECAP: Orphan Black 2x04 - Sarah Manning's Very Bad Day

You know, I don't think Sarah is having a very good day. For some reason, I get that impression. Maybe it's because this episode picked up only seconds after the last one, and we got to see Sarah waking up in the car of her kidnapper after they were rammed by a truck at very high speeds, causing a crash, making her hit her head, and also kind of sort of killing sunglasses man.

This? This is not a good day.

The truck was driven by Cal, who came after her, it seems. He swears that Kira is safe, and then proceeds to help Sarah out of the wreckage. Sarah is terrified and panicking. She takes a gun, then tries to convince Cal not to go to the cops (kind of hard since there's a dead cop in his driveway), and then proceeds to freak the crap out. The cops aren't onto them. Yet. And Sarah has successfully convinced Cal not to go to them and to give her and Kira time to get away. Man. This is going to be a fun episode, I can tell.

Cal and Sarah drive away from the crime scene and presumably towards Kira. Sarah is apologetic for getting Cal into this, but Cal insists that he's in it now, like it or not. They need to ditch the truck, and Cal wants to know what the hell is going on. Sarah isn't telling. Yet.

Oh hey, we're back with the Proletheans now. Gracie still refers to Helena as a "thing", and Hank insists that she's part of the family now. Helena herself is awake and confused about what happened to her. Who were all those people and why does her hip hurt? It's pretty terrifying to see the Proletheans gaslighting Helena and telling her that those people were just there to say hi, and that her hip hurts because she's still getting better. From her gunshot. In her shoulder. Riiiiight.

Seriously not digging the rapey undertones here, but then, the Proletheans are supposed to be the bad guys. At least I'm not being asked to like them.

Hank tries to convince Helena that her life will be better now with them than it was with Tomas, but Helena isn't buying it. She's a scary chika, and I have little doubt that she'll be up and about and taking care of herself in no time.

Allison, meanwhile, wakes up in an efficiency apartment type thing after her fall last episode. She took a dive off the stage during opening night of her musical, and for some reason she's still in her costume, but now she has a sling on her arm. Also she's puking, because she took enough drugs and booze to kill a horse. She freaks out and demands to see Dr. Leeky, a reasonable assumption, but she's not at the DYAD Institute. She's in rehab.

Aka, Allison's idea of hell.

You know, we haven't seen Allison's kids in a while. Are they okay? Are they dealing with all of this well? Concerned viewers want to know.

Speaking of children who are going to need so much therapy, Sarah and Cal get to where Kira is hiding, and there is a tearful reunion. Kira's fine. She's safe. And Cal has a surprise for them - he has a camper. That's pretty useful, isn't it? Sarah is suspicious, because if the camper is registered to him, then Cal isn't going to be much help, but he insists it's okay. Which is a bit shady, I think. Still. Sarah's made worse choices.

Art is still surveilling the Prolethean ranch commune thing. The Proletheans are aware, for the record, that Art is watching them. Hank doesn't think it's worrisome at all, but his wife does. She's nervous that bringing Helena there could be their downfall. Hank, of course, isn't. Is he worried by anything ever?

Sarah and Cal continue their family roadtrip through rural Canada. Cal demands answers, and Sarah avoids telling him anything actually useful, just letting him think that she pulled a scam on some big corporation and that they're after her. Then Rachel texts sunglasses man's phone, which Sarah stole, and Sarah realizes that if she fakes responses from him, then Rachel won't know that Sarah's not caught for a while. They can get away. I see a plan forming, which isn't a great sign. Sarah's plans do not have a history of working particularly well.

Gracie goes to bring new linens in to the still recovering Helena and decides to act on her intense and meaningful fearhatred for her. She tries to smother Helena with a pillow. Didn't think she had it in her, honestly. Of course, Gracie's not a seasoned killer, and she stops too soon. Helena's not dead. Helena is never dead. But Gracie is! Actually, she's not. Helena just knocked her out, because she's nice like that. And now Helena is getting the hell off this farm.

In her escape, Helena runs through the slaughterhouse and into a room full of scientific equipment. Ah. She starts to remember that she's been there before. On her "wedding" night. It would appear that the Proletheans are super rapey creeps after all. They artificially inseminated her. Well that's just gross and incredibly horrible.

Helena's escape has been noticed, and now she's running off the property. Art happens to not be able to miss the fleeing blonde in a white dress, and figures maybe now is a good time to do something. Something like delaying the search party that runs after Helena. He stalls them, and points out that they can't take their guns with them. Art is a good guy. We like Art.

We cut then to Cosima for the first time this episode. She's watching more depressing footage of Jennifer Fitzgerald dying in a hospital bed. But then she gets a skype call from Sarah. Sarah tells her the whole gruesome tale while Cal and Kira play outside and listen to a police scanner. Kira's all totally fine with her mommy needing to talk to "Aunt Cosima", and Cal is, as usual, super curious. Also he adorably tries to distract Kira from how many laws they are breaking. Nice try, dude, but this is Kira we're talking about. Kid is a walking felony.

Sarah shows Cosima the photo of Project Leda, and Cosima has an idea. It sounds like military speech, and also the name Leda kind of makes sense for them - Leda and the swan, where Leda was raped by Zeus and then gave birth to demigods. Is that what their creators thought they were making? Demigods? Also Cosima notices something no one else has so far (including me) - there's an armed soldier in the background of the picture. What's that all about?

Cosima declares that Sarah needs to take care herself, and she will look into Project Leda. Then she dissolves into a coughing fit. Cosima is definitely getting worse.

Sarah is determined to go back to Toronto and hunt down Mrs. S. She needs answers and Mrs. S is the key to this entire thing. Cal makes Kira some origami to play with, and it is adorable. Cal gives Sarah the police report, and we wonder again why on earth Cal is helping her. Just saying. This is definitely above and beyond the efforts of most guys who find out their scamming ex is in trouble and oh they have a kid together. Have I reminded you yet that Cal found out about Kira literally three days ago at most?

In Toronto (presumably), Mrs. S is alive and well and scaring the crap out of Benjamin (her bagman who helped her get Sarah away from Art a few episodes back). She wants to know if he was involved in the Birdwatcher's trap for her. And she needs new papers, because she's looking for someone. Someone named Carl. And he's here. That can't be good.

I find it a little bit hilarious that this show is so grim a woman in rehab staring at the smoking ruins of her life is the comic relief. And speaking of Allison, she's not really adjusting to rehab. She hates it and she wants Felix to get her out. The only problem is, Allison actually does have a problem. She doesn't remember anything after the afternoon of her show, not even the curtain going up, and there's a strong possibility that she signed herself into rehab on her own. Felix might just have reached the limit of things he's willing to do to enable Allison.

Also, when she asks how she was in the show, Felix responds by telling her that "people got their money's worth". Not helpful. Still, he does convince her to stay in rehab for a week, tell everyone it's a spa, and "come back, fresh as a daisy." It's a whole week without responsibilities, but more important, it's a whole week without Donny monitoring her every move. Then they'll celebrate with brunch and mimosas. Or just brunch. 

Sarah reluctantly leaves Cal and Kira at the camper for the night so that she can go find Mrs. S (and Felix). Kira gives her the origami for good luck, and Sarah says a super awkward goodbye to Cal. He does manage to wangle the name of the corporation out of her though: the DYAD Group. 

Oh sweet. A cut to the bushes, where sunglasses man (Daniel) is emerging from where they left him for dead.

Mrs. S makes her way through the back of a nightclub, presumably in search of Carl, and oh does she find him. Also Carl is hot. Just saying. They have a quick knives drawn standoff, and then greet each other like the old friends they are. Slightly more than friends. And now they're making out. A lot. And um, having sex up against a wall. Man, Mrs. S really is fearless.

Sarah breaks into Mrs. S' house, only to get caught by Felix. Things are still tense, but minor amends are made. Sarah's surprised to hear that Allison is in rehab, but Felix thinks it'll be good. "Help her to get back some of her dignity."

So immediately we cut to a scene of Allison being watched while she pees. I don't give the editors on this show enough credit. That was perfectly timed. Anyway, Allison has to get her pee tested, and also she gets a whole speech about what she can and cannot do in rehab. Then she goes back to her room to find Donny waiting. Allison, for some reason, does not want to talk to him. But she has to. Have fun!

Donny is all nice at first, but when Allison demands he stop spying on her, and points out that she can leave rehab at any time, Donny hits back. If she leaves before her week is up, then Donny is going to take the kids. And she won't get access.

Now, here's the thing. I am totally all for Allison's rights as a mom, and Donny is a terrible person for using their children as bargaining and blackmailing chips, but I do think that maybe it would be best if the kids went to grandma's for a bit. I mean, I love Allison, but she's not really super stable at the moment.

Sarah and Felix go through Mrs. S' stuff, and find a photo of Carl. They also find articles that explain that Carl is actually Carlton, the guy who smuggled Sarah to Mrs. S in the first place. He just did fifteen years for human smuggling - his "pipeline". They also find an article about scientists who died in a laboratory fire. One of them had the last name Duncan, as in Rachel Duncan, the pro-clone. Suspicious. Also it turns out that Mrs. S isn't in that Project Leda photo, but Rachel's parents are. And that means Mrs. S has known the whole time.

Carl and Mrs. S have a post-coital glass of wine and catch up. It turns serious and they discuss why Carl's in Toronto. The network has been compromised. And Mrs. S wants answers about Project Leda and the child she brought in "from the black". Carl and Mrs. S both know about the clones then, and Carl will take Mrs. S as far as Gustav, the "ferryman". From there she's on her own. But Mrs. S is adamant about one thing: Sarah can't keep digging into her own origins. It's not safe for her.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what Sarah's going to do. Just not right now. She's off to go back to Cal and Kira, right after she does some research into Rachel herself. By breaking into Rachel's apartment.

Then they leave the house and the camera lingers for a while on the door to the cellar and you just know this won't end well. It doesn't. The door opens, and surprise! It's a Helena who's been listening in on them for a few hours now. Sarah is not having a good day. I mean, she's not in the house anymore, but still. Not a good day.

Sarah sneaks into the apartment by making the concierge prepare it for "Rachel's" arrival. She does sound exactly like Rachel on the phone, after all. And he even unlocks it for her. She sneaks inside, and proves the old adage that you can't hide in minimalist furniture, before getting down for some serious snooping. Cosima and Felix listen on the phone. Also, I find it funny how literally all of the other clones haaaaate Rachel.

Sarah finds home movies from Rachel's childhood while Cosima reads the stuff she found out about Rachel's parents. Sarah was originally supposed to be their child, until her mother, Amelia, decided to run off with the two babies (Sarah and Helena) - which is how Sarah ended up in the black. Not sure yet how the Duncan's got Rachel, but they were geneticists. It's possible they created the clones.

The snooping reveals a few things. Like how Rachel is very narcissistic, and that she has a boyfriend. Her boyfriend is Daniel. The guy that Sarah didn't actually kill and who Sarah has been pretending to be for the past day or so. He's in the apartment. He catches Sarah because you can't hide in minimalist furniture. Then he knocks her out.

Cal comforts a Kira who knows her mom isn't going to be back tonight. Kira's sweet and all, but she definitely has some creepy moments.

Daniel has Sarah tied up in his shower, in case he has to "clean up" after they talk. Blech. He threatens to kill her. And he legitimately seems like he will do it. Daniel starts to cut up Sarah when he hears music in the apartment. He leaves to take care of it, and we hear a struggle. Daniel goes down, stabbed to the throat. Surprise! It's Helena in a bloody wedding dress. She sees Sarah in the shower. She has a bloody knife. Sarah is freaking terrified. Helena is, as usual, creepy as hell.

Helena isn't here to kill Sarah, though. She needs her help. She doesn't think the Proletheans artificially inseminated her, I was wrong about that. Helena thinks they "took something". Like her eggs.

Cut to the Proletheans, who definitely did just that. Hank's looking through a microscope in his secret lab, and it seems that they have in fact taken one of Helena's eggs and fertilized it. A new life begins. Crap.

End of episode.

You know, I really do love this show. Not just because it's cool and fun and it has ladies doing cool and interesting things while surrounded by other ladies, but because this is a show that is one hundred percent about consent and bodily autonomy. I mean, I know I say that just about every episode, but it hits me each time because it's so rare to see a television show, especially a science fiction show, deal so explicitly with bodily and reproductive rights and how the removal of those rights scars a person.

In this episode alone we saw Sarah dealing with the truth of her past and who she really is, Cosima trying to accept her potential death, Allison having her bodily rights stripped by rehab and her husband, and Helena grappling with the theft of her eggs, the possibility that someone has without her consent used her body to create life, and the simple reality that she was a prisoner and they only wanted her for her body.

That's kind of intense, and it was just in one episode. Damn I'm excited to see the next one.



  1. [This] is a show that is one hundred percent about consent and bodily autonomy. I mean, I know I say that just about every episode, but it hits me each time because it's so rare to see a television show, especially a science fiction show, deal so explicitly with bodily and reproductive rights and how the removal of those rights scars a person.

    This is the deeper reason* I fervently hope the writers never take that suggestion I mentioned a few recaps back, of including a male clone line. All of this, and the albatross of identity that hangs over all the clones... well, the real world resonance is far more female than male. It's certainly a grim resonance, and one I feel a little dirty for being glad of, but I am glad of a show that makes the point. In so many different variations to boot. (Even Rachel, as the clone who attains rank in one of the show's quasi-patriarchies by shitting all over the autonomy of others).

    * The shallower reason is that while Tatiana Maslany can't be the *only* person who could pull off such a complex collection of roles, it's a lot of casting gold to strike twice. (The middle reasons being that another clone line doesn't add anything, and just we need more shows to reject the "we need more dudes" principle).

    [The] Proletheans are supposed to be the bad guys. At least I'm not being asked to like them.

    Unlike Jaime Lannister, ugh? I think another important metric here is whether we're being invited to consider it just desserts for Helena to go through this. I can only go by the first season, but despite Helena having quite literally shown up in my nightmares - and quite perfectly sympathising with Sarah wanting to put a bullet in her - I don't get that impression at all.

    Art is a good guy. We like Art.

    In among all the cool women, cloned or otherwise, I also rather like that the two most prominent good-guy *male* characters are a black man and a gay man. Also (unless something in season 2 has changed this) that the lesbian love has been portrayed as redemptive, with Delphine coming to side with Cosima.

    1. I think it's worth comparing this show to Dollhouse, at least when it comes to how much a concept like this really does rely on actor execution. Tatiana Maslany sells it. As much as I love Dollhouse, that show never really convinced me. Also, I think the issues of bodily autonomy really are better dealt with here, and I agree that a male line of clones would be stupid and useless.

      I definitely don't think this show is trying to make a "she had it coming!" argument, which just makes me so happy. I mean, yes, that was a not at all veiled reference to Game of Thrones. I greatly prefer Orphan Black's way of handling storylines like these.

      This show is just awesome with representation all around. Art is wonderful, so is Felix. Delphine is a love, and even Angie, who annoys me, is still a vital and interesting character. Cal's growing on me, but I do sometimes have trouble telling him apart from Paul...

    2. I agree that a male line of clones would be stupid and useless.

      And fortunately, per the interview you quoted before, something we don't have to worry about. :)

      I definitely don't think this show is trying to make a "she had it coming!" argument, which just makes me so happy.

      Yeah, I couldn't really picture them making out that Helena would deserve it. But it's not quite the same point as the cultists being bad guys, so I'm glad to see both being made.

      [I don't know if you've ever seen a series called Dark Angel - also about genetic experiments, but from a more action-y angle. But a couple of episodes were about a supersoldier implant being tested on death-row criminals, who were regarded by their handler as disposable tools - it was a story I liked a lot, because it took possibly the most easily-excusable group of people to use and treat that way, gave every indication that as individuals they really were that bad, and *still* called it out as wrong]

    3. I love Dark Angel! It was one of the first shows I ever saw (along with Buffy and Farscape) and it just stuck, you know? Plus, I love how the show deals with issues of genetic determinism, humanity, and personal autonomy.