Monday, May 26, 2014

RECAP: Orphan Black 2x05 - Sestra Love, Meathead, and More

Whoops! Last week totally got away from me (though I did end up getting a lot of very necessary things done, just none of them related to this blog). Hence, I hereby now present you with last week's episode of Orphan Black, recapped. This week's recap will be up on the site on Thursday. Probably. You know. Fingers crossed.

The episode opens on Dr. Leeky. I haven't mentioned this recently (nor do I remember if I have ever at all), but the guy who plays Dr. Leeky also played Pestilence on Supernatural. I mean, I'm sure he's a nice actor, but that did kind of color my understanding of him. Also, I can't help but assume that even though his name is spelled differently the name "Dr. Leeky" for the head of a research institute investigating cloning and the genetic cause of life must be a reference to the Leaky family, the family most credited with discovering fossil evidence of our earliest human/hominid ancestors. They're very interesting. And messy. You should read Born in Africa by Martin Meredith. Just generally.

Okay. Back to the show.

Leeky is in Rachel's apartment as the cleaners are removing blood stains from the walls. The stains, we are to understand, left over from Helena's brutal attack on Daniel and "saving" of Sarah. I mean, one can assume that Sarah isn't particularly saved, but that's the idea anyway.

Rachel doesn't have to look at the devastation in her home, or at Daniel's dead body, but she wants to. Rachel is a deeply frightening woman. Everyone is clear that Helena is the one that did this, but Leeky and Rachel are both unnerved by the fact that Sarah left with Helena, and now the twins are together. Also Paul is back. Not sure what that means.

In her bedroom, Rachel discovers the tape of home movies that Sarah was watching, and we finally see the ice queen crack a little. She's clearly upset that her inner sanctum was violated in this way. Leeky tries to point out that all of this is happening because Rachel was so heavy-handed with the other clones, and she's not in the mood for a lecture. "Trust me, Aldous," she says, "I've only just begun." Well that's terrifying.

Out in the real world (aka, Felix's apartment), Felix is less than thrilled that Helena is crashing for the night. For some reason. I wonder why? Felix refuses to let Helena stay in the apartment, he just doesn't have a lot of say in it. Because Sarah is going to leave Helena with him while she goes to track down Kira and Cal.

Speaking of which, the ever adorable Kira is complaining about her wet socks to a sympathetic Cal. Cal offers her his socks, but no dice, so instead, he grabs some cash and decides to go out and help her buy some fun new socks. Yay! Except for the part where he grabs the cash from what looks like a secret compartment that also contains a gun and a wad of cash and a passport.

Am I the only one who is beginning to suspect that Sarah has terrible taste in men?

Rachel, Paul, and Dr. Leeky all sit down to discuss the new situation, now that Daniel is dead. Rachel needs a new monitor. Just because she's been aware of her clone status her whole life doesn't make her exempt from the program and its restrictions. She needs a new monitor, and she'd like Paul to do it. Paul doesn't really have a choice in it. And he knows that.

Then we get a charming little revelation: Dr. Leeky has made a lot of progress with his stem cell treatments for the weird lung thing all the clones have. He's planning to use it to treat Cosima (which makes sense, since she's pretty much their clone poster child), but Rachel refuses. She demands that he shut it down. Until Sarah "comes to heel", Cosima will have to suffer. What a bitch.

Cosima, meanwhile, is looking into Project Leda, with the help of her kind of nerdy and creepy friend from grad school. It seems that the DYAD Institute was probably a military contractor when they were coming up with the science. I guess her friend is an expert in genetic patents (which is a weirdly specific thing to be an expert in, but whatever). He wants to know why he can't come work with Cosima and Delphine, and Delphine's response (a deadpan, "Because we'd have to kill his family.") is just priceless.

I get the impression that Delphine doesn't really like Scott (the friend). Also, Delphine has discovered the stem cell research that proves that there's a cure for her lungs. Delphine got the research by mistake. It was an email meant for Dr. Leeky. And that's just a bit hinky - he's supposed to share all his research with them, isn't he? Still, Cosima and Delphine are desperate and determined. They'll try anything.

Kira and Sarah have a stinking cute skype conversation to catch back up. Well, it's cute right up until Kira refuses to be called Monkey anymore, and walks off, telling Sarah that she can "talk to Daddy now." Hmmm. She seems awfully comfortable calling Cal Daddy, considering she'd never met him until like a week ago. Are we starting to see the results of Sarah's super inconsistent parenting coming through? I mean, should I remind us all that this kid was actually raised by Mrs. S?

Sarah and Cal have a quick chat - no, she's not quite ready to catch back up with them, yes, Daniel is really dead now though Cal isn't the one who killed him, and no mention of "By the way I was captured and tortured and now I'm hanging out with my psychotic twin sister." Funny thing.

Looks like it's time to hand over the Helena - Felix has a hot date, so he's giving custody of the crazy to Art for a while. Art is understandably cautious about this (Helena did try to shoot him that one time), but he's agreed. Unfortunately, he's agreed with a sidenote of making her wear handcuffs and removing all sharp objects from his apartment. Which makes sense, but is still kind of insulting for Helena. Why do they keep treating her like a child? She's weird, a little crazy, but still perfectly capable of taking care of herself.


At the Prolethean ranch, Mama Prolethean (seriously do not remember her name) and Hank discuss Gracie's refusal to accept Helena while they do vague science things. Because Gracie refused to talk about why Helena attacked her, she's being punished. Her punishment is that her mouth has been sewn shut. I am seriously super glad that I did not grow up in a cult. I mean, for lots of reasons, but mostly right now because that is gross and horrifying and terrible.

I'd like us to take a moment, though, and appreciate this show for giving us not just a really interesting line of clones to love and obsess over, but also compelling and complicated female characters outside of that, whose stories matter and are diverse and reflect the fullness of humanity. That fullness includes people like Gracie and Kira and Mrs. S and Angie and Aynesley and more. Just saying. I really like it.

Also, Gracie's not talking, which means she keeps the sutures. Ewwwww.

Rachel, our lady of stoic coldness, is sitting alone in her apartment or office - they're both so sterile and clean I can't tell them apart - watching her home movies of her childhood, before her parents passed away in the lab accident. Paul lurks in the background. Rachel notes that by watching these videos, Sarah has shown she's trying to learn everything she can about Rachel. Rachel, in turn, is trying to learn everything she can about Sarah. Quid pro quo, except not because they never see each other.

She then goes on to explain the real details of Paul's role as her monitor. He may report to Dr. Leeky, but he works for her. She grew up with Dr. Leeky, yes, but now she outranks him in the corporation, and more importantly, she's not nearly as sentimental about the clone line as he is, despite being one of them herself. Rachel sees the big picture. Also, it seems that Rachel and company are looking into Cal's background. They have strong suspicious that he is Kira's father, and they probably want to take him in for testing or something.

Rachel, kind and loving heart that she is, smears Sarah's involvement with Cal all over Paul's face, and then demands that he make a choice: who is he going to be loyal to? Sarah or Rachel?

Meanwhile, in Art's not particularly spacious apartment, he's trying to interrogate Helena about Maggie Chen and all those murders way back last season. Doesn't Art know that that was last season? No one cares about that anymore. Besides, Helena has no intention of answering his questions. Not even when he feeds her. Nope, she'd much rather stare at the fish and eat horrible terrifying combinations of foods that do not go together at all.

Mark, that one kind of cute Prolethean dude, goes to visit Gracie in her lockup. He's alarmingly blase about her whole mouth being sewn shut thing, but he is concerned. He even brought her some milk and a straw. Awww! Then he kisses her cheek and begs her to confess so that she can come out of confinement and they can be cute together. Yes please. Not sure why I ship them so much, but I totally do.

More of Helena and Art. Helena eats weird terrifying crap and doesn't answer questions. Art is annoyed. Very annoyed. So annoyed. How did his life come to this? You can pretty much hear the thought reverberating through his brain.

Our babe Felix is happy to finally clean out his clone-free loft and have some company over. It's been a while since he didn't have a bunch of morose "sisters" kicking around, and he's excited to get back to the status quo. Sadly, it would seem that crazy law-breaking is the status quo now. Felix and his date are interrupted mid coitus by a bunch of detectives and also Paul. The detectives are there to search the place at Paul's orders. What will they find? A gun. Daniel's gun. The gun used to murder a cop up North.

Well crap beans.

Also, he forces Felix to touch the gun (and scares the crap out of him and us in the process), which means that Felix's prints are now all over a murder weapon. Then Paul calls Sarah and tells her the score: either she turns herself in within 24 hours, or Felix goes down for murder. Also, they want Kira. Because they usually do.

Sarah immediately turns around and calls Art so that he can figure out if this is legit. Are the cops really waiting to take down Felix? While Art is trying to deal with the crisis at hand, his other crisis slips her cuffs and attacks him, leaving him locked up. Off to do who knows what and who knows where. Man I've missed having Helena around. She really livens things up, you know?

Gracie has decided to confess, and she tells her parents the truth: she tried to kill Helena. She didn't think of it as murder, but more as killing a "coyote coming after our chickens." Which, to be fair, isn't a terrible way of viewing Helena. Honestly, I think Gracie's got the better view on this one, especially since now Helena really wants them all dead. Her parents remove the stitches from her mouth (none too kindly either) and give her an ultimatum. Either she brings back Helena so that she can bear the child they've created (using Helena's eggs) or Gracie will have to bear the child herself.

Please bear in mind, these are Gracie's parents. Eurgh.

Cosima and Delphine break into Dr. Leeky's office looking for the super secret stem cell culture that they're not supposed to know about. Aaaaand, Dr. Leeky catches them like right away. It's embarrassing how quickly he finds them. They confess what they're doing - Delphine is livid that he held research back from them - and Dr. Leeky admits that he's not the one withholding treatment. Rachel is. Which is true.

Then he shows them a picture of Drs. Duncan and Duncan (that same photo Sarah has been carrying around), and tells them that when the lab exploded they lost almost all of their original research. Including the original genome from which the clones were made. Which explains why they are so psychotically protective/controlling of the clones - they are the only physical copies left. It also explains why they can't fix the lung thing. They don't know what's causing it, because their roadmap is gone. That's why they need to know what Sarah knows so stinking badly. Dr. Leeky agrees to give Cosima the treatment. Because he's such a nice guy.

Cal and Kira continue their weirdest custody visitation ever with a burnt dinner in the camper and a quick visit from the cops. This is notable pretty much only for how incredibly shady Cal is. He tells the cop he's from Seattle (he isn't), and gives him a fake ID, and then Kira uses her kid charm to talk the guy out of searching their camper. Also, Kira appears to be slightly precognitive. Are we going to talk about that? Because it's getting pretty noticeable. 

Sarah discovers the chained up Art in his apartment, and they both try to figure out where Helena has gone. Lucky for them, she left a clue! Unlucky for them, it's a clue written in Helena speak, which means it's virtually indecipherable.

The clue leads them to some coordinates, and they find the location of Maggie Chen's locker - exactly what Art was looking for, it turns out. But Helena's not there. They find evidence that she's been there. There's a weird little bedroom set up in one part of the storage unit, and it is creepy as hell. Lots of baby dolls taken apart and religious iconography and just the general sort of thing you would expect is in Helena's head. Not nice things.

In there somewhere, they find an empty rifle case, which appears to have contained a sniper rifle until very recently. And a photograph of an old man outside a building that says "Swan Man" on the back. So, someone related to Project Leda. Not just someone even - Dr. Duncan. He didn't die in the lab explosion. Hopefully this information will be valuable enough to trade for Felix's freedom.

It's funny, because I love Felix and I want more of his character on the show, but I also want him to have a nice happy peaceful life. Which would mean that he isn't on the show anymore. Conflicting.

Also Helena is totally going to kill Rachel. Rachel wants to hurt her sestra (Sarah) and wants to hurt the little Kira, who Helena stinking adores. Helena is not going to let that happen. Helena protects her family. Sometimes with high powered riflery.

Across the street, in Rachel's apartment, Rachel is seducing Paul. And by seducing I mean kind of probably raping him. It's really creepy and uncomfortable. Because it's all about the power play, and Paul's just standing there like a ken doll with dead eyes and Rachel is ordering him around and I feel like I need a shower just watching this. Seriously.

I mean, fortunately nothing really explicit happens, but Rachel appears to get off on sticking her hand in Paul's mouth and that is just super weird.

Also, Art and Sarah find Rachel's building and figure out where Helena must be hiding out with the gun. As a sidenote, Helena is talking to herself and cutting the hair on a Barbie doll head so that it matches Rachel. Because Helena.

Sarah bursts in on Helena and begs her not to do it. Not because she particularly likes Rachel or anything, but because she doesn't want Helena to kill anyone. Also, if Helena kills Rachel, then Felix will rot in jail. Helena kind of freaks out a little because Sarah is valuing Felix over her "real" family, and then Sarah bursts out with this huge and touching confession, delivered in front of the sniper rifle. One, she needs Helena to help her find "Swan Man". Two, she was devastated when she thought she'd killed Helena. She had lost a sister, and now she's got her back.

Awwwwwww. Helena puts down the gun, and they stagger out together. "Sestra" and "Meathead". Two peas in a really violent pod. Art pretty much just stands there, baffled.

Cosima gets her stem cell treatment, but we won't know for a while if it worked. In the meantime, Cosima tells Dr. Leeky that the clone club has a proposition for him. 

Dr. Leeky goes to a bar and meets with Sarah. They agree to terms. They might be able to get information on what really happened in the lab explosion. The cost is that Rachel give up her hold over Felix. Rachel outranks Dr. Leeky at the company, but he thinks he could make it work. On a more personal note, Dr. Leeky mentions making sure that Cosima keeps getting the treatment, and this is the first Sarah has heard that Cosima is sick.

Dr. Leeky gives Sarah three days, and she tells him that if anyone follows her, she's going to "sic Helena" on them. As Dr. Leeky notes, it's not an idle threat. Not even a little bit. Interestingly, though, it's one that might have to be carried out. Paul was in the bar, watching them, at Rachel's orders. He will now be following Sarah. I forget, is Paul supposed to be good, evil, what? It's very confusing.

Sarah and Helena buckle into Mrs. S' truck for a road trip to "Cold River" where they can find the "Swan Man". Oh man that's going to be one hell of a ride.

End of episode.

Okay so this episode was really clearly about family and the things we are willing to do to protect ours. I appreciate that the writing on this show is so consistent that we can pick out themes like this, for the record. 

Sarah spent the episode trying to figure out how to deal with her legitimately insane biological sister, while also trying to help out her foster brother, and worrying over her daughter and the father of her child. Rachel, provoked into a bit of a tizzy by Sarah's invasion of privacy, lashes out to protect her memories of her parents. And also to take everything Sarah has ever loved because Rachel is deeply and meaningfully scary.

Helena's motivation is always her family, it's just that her definition of what that is has slid around a bit through the years. Right now, that means protecting Sarah and Kira, whether they like it or not, whatever the cost. It was interesting to see that that does extend to Felix somewhat, and I am curious as to how much it goes out to Cal and Mrs. S. Worth considering.

No Allison this week, which was disappointing.

Cosima's storyline doesn't seem directly to be about family, but it is about a very related subject: trust. Also, it's about her DNA and her origins as a person, so I suppose that counts. The reason they have so many problems with Cosima's health is because they don't know anything about where she came from. It's very Jungian.*

And while she's not a clone, Gracie's motivation this week was and generally is all about her family. She wants to protect them, even when they don't want her to. 

I love that this show emphasizes the social and familial relationships between women, and I love love love how interesting and deep and occasionally crazy all the characters are. Just saying. I also appreciate that while the show has not gone into detail on what was done to Helena (for story reasons, I assume), they do show that she is reeling from it in her own way. This is a show not afraid to show hard stuff, like Rachel raping Paul or Helena being operated on without her consent, and it doesn't flinch away from the aftermath. I'm grateful for that.

I feel like I should elaborate a little bit on this. I'm not glad that they showed Paul's character being raped, but I appreciate it from a narrative standpoint, because it's a storyline rarely used, and even more rarely done right. It remains to be seen how they will handle the aftermath, but I actually trust this show to do a good job. They made it very clear that Paul was not in a position to give clean and clear consent, so I can only assume that this will be dealt with at a later date.

I've never liked seeing a show use rape as a plot point or to demonstrated how evil a character is, but in this case, where we know very little about the situation and nothing graphic was shown, it works. It works because the focus is on Paul. On how Paul feels about the whole thing, rather than it being all about Rachel. That's important.

Next episode is going to be a roadtrip with Helena and Sarah, apparently. Very excited for this mess!

*I don't actually know if it's Jungian specifically, but it's very something.


  1. And while she's not a clone, Gracie's motivation this week was and generally is all about her family.

    Gracie's important too in that she's a non-clone who's story has gone into the bodily violation and reproductive coercion territory. If there was any lingering illusion that this was an abstract musing on bioethics rather than a commentary on the treatment of female bodies in general, Gracie's arc deep-sixes it.

    (Also, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Proletheans only want Helena back so they can take more of her eggs, and mean to use Gracie and others to incubate the babies regardless).

    Am I the only one who is beginning to suspect that Sarah has terrible taste in men?

    No, Cal definitely seems sketchy. I can't help thinking that clones (or the children of clones) would be very tempting targets for industrial espionage. Or maybe Cal represents the chance for "happy ending" - somewhere secure that she can offer a safe life and "be a real Mum" to Kira - which she'll have to turn down in a sacrifice-themed episode for the sake of continuing to help her clone-sisters.

    1. Gracie's arc is really interesting to me precisely because she isn't a clone. Instead, she's this phenomenally unique character. How often do you get a character who's a teenage girl raised in a cult who is supremely principled but also capable of murder and has a crush on a boy and IS SYMPATHETIC?

      I'm just saying. Those are some mad writing and acting skills there.

      I have little doubt that Sarah's relationship with Kira will only continue to deteriorate, because that's pretty much the only thing that can happen. And Kira's not going to be the most understanding child in the world for long. Eventually she will grow up, and even if she gets what's going on, she's still going to hate it because she's human. I'm kind of looking forward to that.

  2. And it could be argued that the safest thing Sarah can do with Kira is let someone else take her somewhere Sarah doesn't know about. I sure don't hope for that, but I do hope Sarah wrestles with whether she should.