Orphan Black season 2 episode 3 review: Mingling Its Own Nature With It

Review Kaci Ferrell 5 May 2014 - 07:15

Tatiana Maslany's ability to play so many different characters on the same show continues to be impressive this week. Here's Kaci's review

This review contains spoilers.

2.3 Mingling Its Own Nature With It

There are a lot of things I want to praise in this week's episode of Orphan Black, but I need to begin first and foremost with a plea for other television writers to start watching this show. There's a lot they can learn from it with respect to pacing and building tension, but the absolute biggest thing I want them to learn from it is how to write female characters.

Those of us who beg for more female representation on TV often say we want "strong" women. This can be interpreted a lot of ways, but most often amounts to physically strong and often stripped of emotion. Orphan Black manages to avoid all those cliches. Look at how diverse the women Tatiana Maslany portrays are: reserved, calculating Cosima; emotional and neurotic Allison; quiet and brutal Helena; desperate and terrified Sarah. These characters are strong women not because they're physically capable (although most of them are capable of badass feats when pushed to their breaking point), but because they're given a great depth of character by both the writers and Maslany. They're strong women because they're strong characters, period, full stop. They're three-dimensional beings with motivations and wants and desires just like any other human being on the planet. That's what makes them compelling to watch. That's why it doesn't matter if they are or aren't physically "strong." The world needs more female characters who are given this kind of depth, same as any male character might be. Other writers, take note.

The plot in this episode is fairly simple compared to most other episodes: Sarah reconnects with Kira's father in a desperate bid for a piece of normality in the hellscape that has become her life, Allison's play finally opens as she grows increasingly paranoid and distant from the rest of Clone Club, the Proleatheans officially welcome Helena into their "family," and Cosima is confronted with the corpse of another dead clone as she tries to piece together what disease is killing them off one by one. Simple enough, but where it shines is the space it gives these characters to breathe.

Allison's spiral is painful to watch because there's really not much anyone could do to stop it. It's not only the isolation that gets to her, although that's a huge part of it. It's the guilt of watching Aynsley die and doing nothing to stop it. It's the fury of being forced to live with and pretend to love a man she knows is her monitor. It's Felix choosing Sarah over her, which stings even though of course he would. It's a confluence of events that leads to her face down in the front row of the audience on opening night of her play, drunk out of her mind. Maslany is great in all her roles, as usual, but she does an amazing job in particular in the quiet moments where Allison is left to her own thoughts.

Meanwhile, Delphine gives Cosima a video diary by another clone who died three days ago of the lung polyps that seem to be infecting all the clones. It's horrifying to watch, especially when Delphine just brings out the poor woman's corpse like doing an autopsy on your own face is totally a normal thing to do on a Tuesday. I like Delphine but really now. I'll be honest with you about the fact that I didn't understand most of what they discover from the autopsy, but I think the gist of it is that it's an unclassified auto-immune disorder and that it appears to begin in the uterus, which is what causes the infertility.

And finally, there is Sarah. She decides that the best place to hide out is the empty cabin of an old mark of hers from her con woman days... one who just happens to be Kira's father. Felix particularly shines in the scenes he shares with Cal and Sarah after this revelation, but decides to leave in order to support Allison instead. (Their friendship is the best thing on this show. There. I said it.)

Cal turns out to be a decent guy who agrees to let Sarah and Kira stay, even lying to a local cop to protect them. He also clearly still carries an attraction to Sarah, as the two of them end up in bed together before long. But if you're entertaining ideas of them building trust and maybe raising Kira together in some kind of happy domestic bliss... this is Orphan Black. Get your head out of the rainbow and back into the gutter where it belongs.

Of course someone shows up to kidnap Kira. Everyone is always trying to kidnap Kira. But Sarah's not letting it happen and she holds him off long enough for Cal to get Kira to safety. So the guy takes Sarah instead. And, just because this show hasn't ruined your happy family fantasies enough, we end with a T-bone collision. That is what we call rubbing salt into a wound.

There were a lot of scenes this week that weren't technically necessary to the plot, but I wouldn't have cut a single one of them. Each allowed our characters to breathe and interact with each other and show us more of who they really are — all things that are necessary from time to time. I really enjoyed it, particularly the continuing precision of Maslany's acting. See you next Saturday, Clone Club!

Read Kaci's review of the previous episode, Governed By Sound Reason And True Religion, here.

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