Orphan Black season 2 episode 9 review: Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done

Review Kaci Ferrell 15 Jun 2014 - 15:45

Consent is a theme in this week's highly disturbing episode of Orphan Black. Here's Kaci's review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.9 Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done

This week's episode of Orphan Black is probably one of the most chilling things I've ever witnessed, balanced out by the absolute perfection that is Mr and Mrs Hendrix's Dark Comedy Hour. That's what I'm calling it, and if the writers want to create a spin-off that's nothing but Donnie and Allison getting into wacky, deeply disturbing hijinks, I will be there with bells on. They can even have the name, royalty free.

Let's start with Helena. She allows Henrik to inseminate her with the embryos that he fathered, demonstrating just how little she understands about the process by asking what a cervix is and showing only a rudimentary understanding once it's been explained to her. Her ignorance of the matter would, at the very least, make any consent she gives to this procedure highly suspect, which is important given two other scenes in this episode, which we'll get to later.

Despite the fact that he should be satisfied with himself after this, Henrik is not yet done — he's also decided that, and this is a direct quote, "It's time for Gracie to bear fruit," which is just about the creepiest thing I'd ever heard a father say about his daughter. And yet somehow, the episode was not yet done showing me how creepy Henrik is. Because, despite having this conversation with Mark and seeming to want Mark to marry Gracie and have babies with her, we soon find Gracie in the implantation room having the same procedure done on her that Helena had. I wanted so badly to believe that this was all just because the Proletheans don't believe in sex, or something like that, and so IVF would be the only way they'd accept reproduction. I really wanted to believe that because the alternative seemed far too horrifying. But no.

Rather than implant Gracie with embryos belonging to her and Mark, Henrik decided to knock his own daughter up with embryos that he fathered, and against her consent at that. As Helena quickly notes, women at the Prolethean compound seem to be nothing more than brood mares in Henrik's eyes. That is, his "mission" is so important that impregnating people that don't particularly want to be pregnant with embryos they didn't have any hand in creating is worth the degradation it causes those people. Never trust anyone who believes that what they're doing is worth other people's sacrifices. That's some advice from me to you.

And so Helena finally sees the Proletheans for who they are and decides to run with Gracie in tow. Unfortunately, Henrik is hanging around like the creepster he is and he knocks Helena out before locking Gracie up. It's Mark to the rescue, who loves Gracie more than he believes in Henrik's religion, and he rightly calls Henrik out on how horrifying it is that he implanted his own daughter with embryos he fathered. It gives Helena time to get Henrik in a choke hold, and she advises Mark and Gracie to run. They don't need to be told twice.

Henrik awakes, locked into the same stirrups he's used on Helena and Gracie, and begs Helena to let him go. In light of the fact that neither Helena nor Gracie could consent to what he did to them, this scene becomes even more disturbing as Helena "replicates" the procedures he performed on them. Call it what you want, but I'm here to tell you flat-out that it's a rape scene. When someone says "don't violate my body" and you do it anyway, that is rape, and that's exactly what happens here. I'm sure in Helena's mind it was justified, but keep it in perspective because it directly contradicts the earlier scene between Helena and Gracie and one yet to come between Sarah and Kira.

With that accomplished, Helena sets the farm on fire and heads off in search of Sarah, presumably still pregnant with Henrik's child. In light of what happened between them, I'll be interested to see if she decides to continue the pregnancy, especially since she seemed okay with the idea of Gracie terminating.

Meanwhile, Sarah is dealing with consent issues of her own. Namely, Kira's consent to harvest some of her bone marrow in the hopes of helping Cosima. It's this scene that makes Helena's rape of Henrik disturb me so much: the writers clearly know about consent and the right to control one's own body. That much is clear given how much importance is placed on sitting Kira down, explaining the details of the procedure to her in language she can understand, and only moving forward with the plan once Kira gives an unqualified "yes." In a way, Kira is an unintended "saviour sibling" to Cosima. (Saviour siblings, for those who don't know, are children conceived, usually via IVF in order to select only the most genetically compatible embryos, solely to serve as donors to their older, sick sibling. They have taken their parents to court on multiple occasions to gain the right to say "no" to these medical procedures being done on them against their will and have, almost to a person, won. Again: consent is a really important theme in this episode, particularly Kira's.)

Mrs S is able to arrange for Kira to have the procedure done securely, but it just wouldn't be Orphan Black if Rachel weren't around to mess things up. She purposefully baits Delphine into thinking that Mrs S's friend is secretly working for Dyad, and because Delphine really is trying to do this thing ethically and compassionately, she calls Sarah out of the doctor's building in order to privately warn her. Rachel swoops in, dressed as Sarah, and proceeds to drug Felix (karma for him drugging Vic?) before absconding with Kira right out from under their noses. Considering how powerful Dyad is, it's actually quite impressive that they managed to keep the poor girl safe for this long.

And, of course, there's Allison and Donnie, who spend the episode trying to hide Leekie's body under their garage floor after deciding that dumping him in a lake isn't the best plan, mostly because they don't own a boat. These two are a comedy duo on par with the greats.

Unfortunately, Vic shows up to be creepy in their general direction yet again, and this time Donnie is having none of it. He pulls a gun on Vic and threatens to shoot him, despite Vic revealing that Angie is in a van right outside waiting on him. He's actually sort of terrifying, which is a bizarre thing to say about Donnie Hendrix but apparently murder did wonders for his self-esteem. ("You were bluffing?" "I learn from my mistakes, Allison." I may have actually gotten chills.)

He then proceeds to follow Vic back to the van, where he threatens Angie quite convincingly before cheerfully taking a photo for evidence and strutting back to the garage to draw a heart in the new concrete. And, as I predicted last week, their adventures have drawn them closer together than ever; Allison proclaims that she's never been more attracted to him than at that moment, and she and Donnie proceed to have sex on the freezer they temporarily stored Leekie's body in.

Let's focus on the Hendrix's newly happy marriage and their comical escapades, rather than Kira's kidnapping and Helena's adventures in non-consent. Much more cheerful and much more likely to ease the tension until next week's finale.

Read Kaci's review of the previous episode, Variable And Full Of Peturbation, here.

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This isn't the first time the show's raped a man, either. By fraud, Sarah with Paul (he was consenting, but to someone else entirely), and by coercion, Rachel with Paul (it was clear that "no" was not an option). They seem to think rape is okay if it's a man getting raped. Rah, girl power, rape them right back. It isn't okay and it isn't empowering. It's just rape.

If Helena's attack on Henerik was rape, then it is equally clear that both Helena and Gracie were raped as well. Gracie wasn't able to refuse and Helena very clearly had no more idea what was happening than the inseminated cow did in an earlier episode.

Its an interesting ethical problem we're given here. Donnie can commit murder and hide the body, and that's alright. In fact we can laugh at it and treat it as a joke. Surely murder is no more acceptable than rape is. But no-one seems to blink at its inclusion in practically every TV drama.

Donnie did not actually murder him, it was in all technical respects manslaughter as the gun went off by accident.

I appreciate where you are coming from but as a man if a girl has sex with us, and she is pretending to be another girl, we don't care....cause we are still having sex.

Well...all I can do is give you my personal opinion on why murder on TV doesn't bother me, but rape scenes do. Here in the US, in 2012 our rate of murder was 4.7 per 100,000 people. Which, it's important to note, is higher than virtually every other developed country. Comparatively, 1 in 5 women have been raped, which doesn't account for 1) male victims and 2) those that keep it a secret.

Basically...almost everyone knows someone who has been raped. I have, my mother has, almost all of my female relatives have.

But knowing someone who was murdered is far more rare.

So, if I had to guess as to why rape scenes are so much more upsetting to us than murder scenes...it's because rape scenes tend to hit home more.

That's a guess, and I could be entirely off the mark, but it certainly makes sense to me.

You're right about Paul. It definitely bothers me that they've created this awful double standard where women's consent is so important (which is correct! consent is ALWAYS important) but men's isn't (false! ALWAYS IMPORTANT).

That may be true for you, but I can promise you that's not a universal sentiment. True consent is informed, and "consent" given under false pretenses is not consent at all. No one, regardless of gender, should ever do that to someone.

I didn’t see Henrik’s demise as rape. More
like revenge, torture and murder. Not saying this is the right thing to do in
real life, but it’s in character for Helena and totally plausible in the
context of the show.

I
also saw it as victim empowerment and in all honesty, it was satisfying to
watch this jerk get what he deserved (he did).

Sarah doing Paul under false pretenses was
more a rape then what Henrik endured.

Kira’s bone marrow retrieval was much worse
for me. I’m a dad and my daughter is a little bit older than Kira and there’s
no way in hell I would ever ask her to do that, much less have the procedure
done against her will, unless it’s specifically for her. I like Cosima, in fact
she’s my favorite clone. But they need to let her go to build more drama for
when Rachel inevitably gets sick, motivating Ethan to work against the clock to
save his daughter’s life, or so I speculate.

I would also be all for the “Donnie and
Allison go to town” show. 8)

That's basically never going to happen in real life though. There have been rare cases, with identical twins, but I mean RARE. Realistically, you're going to know it isn't the same girl. It's very easy to say you'd be fine with it when you know it's just a fantasy. And I think you're also forgetting potential diseases.

And why is it always Paul? What's up with that? I don't particularly care about him, but it's weird how he got singled out as the show's Guy It's Okay To Rape.

All I can tell you is that I'm a rape victim, my mother is a rape victim, and so are her brother and sisters. Every single one of us, as well as most other survivors I know, do not believe that such a situation empowers us. All it does is put forth the idea that there are certain circumstances in which someone "deserves" to be raped. I reject that outright.

And yes, it was rape. If someone says "don't violate my body" and you do it anyway, that is rape. It doesn't matter who's on the receiving end of it, or who's on the perpetrating end. It's rape.

Kira consented to donate her bone marrow. It definitely was hard to watch, I agree, but I personally really liked that Sarah let the decision lie with her, rather than trying to decide for her. Saviour siblings in situations like hers have gone to court time and time again to gain the right to decide for themselves whether or not they want to make donations to their sick family member.

The more I think about it, the more I think they're not even aware that it is rape. Which is just...disturbing because they seem to understand consent when it comes to the other characters, just apparently not with him. I really hope someone brings it to their attention and they re-evaluate before next season.

I've been on the receiving end of male-on-male rape, and I don't consider what is basically a medical procedure to be exactly the same as rape. I've had so many internal examinations because of that rape that I've lost count, and doctors have been uniformly useless at explaining what they're doing. Sure I consent but I never have any real idea what I'm consenting to. And one highly respected surgeon managed to get the same response from me that Henrik gave Helena.

I think from an outside perspective that it is absolutely rape. But from Helena's perspective it's just an eye for an eye and she probably sees little to nothing wrong with it because he did it first.

I thought the show made clear that what Rachel did to Paul was wrong, as opposed to Sarah and Paul. I'm not sure we're ever supposed to approve of what Helena does. Keep in mind that Donnie, Paul and perhaps other monitors have allowed Dyad to probe women without their consent. In Paul's case, he was also coerced into a relationship with Beth. Sarah had sex with Cal and perhaps other men that she planned to defraud.

This is basically everything to which I'm objecting in the show. Minimizing the rape of men, while simultaneously justifying it with "what's sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose" - no it isn't, what's wrong is wrong - and, apparently, also confusing Sarah's rape by fraud of Paul with her conning Cal, which is not remotely the same thing.

Paul thought he was having sex with Beth. He consented to sex with Beth. He did not consent to sex with Sarah, or with her unknown-to-him sexual history. It's rape.

What Sarah did to Cal was deeply wrong, but in a very different way. She stole from him; she didn't rape him. Cal did consent to sex with Sarah.

I don't expect these characters to be moral paragons. I do expect better from the show than to present the crimes by the women as acts of which we are supposed to approve.

Kaci, Mustard, Scott and any victim who
read my post, I apologize if it offended or upset you.

That being said, we are talking about the
actions and motivations of fictional characters on a TV show. Further more,
rape implies a sexual action. I really don’t think Helena was having non-consensual
sex with Henrik. Looked more like torture to me.

Sarah raped Paul though, not sure about
Rachel; only Paul knows. Heck, maybe Paul knew it wasn’t Beth from the start.
At this point the character is so secretive it’s difficult to understand his
motivations.

Don't worry, you didn't offend me. I think it's an important conversation to have, and I'm happy to have it. Not to mention that I love when TV, movies, or books give us a chance to analyze serious issues through their lens. I do have to disagree though.

Rape is almost always not about sex. Rape is about power. If you're ever around a group of male gamers, listen to the way they talk to each other: "Oh man that guy just raped you so hard!" They don't mean "That guy just had so many sexual urges towards you that he couldn't contain himself and so did something to you against your will." They mean "man, that guy just dominated you!"

So when Helena did what she did to Henrik, it wasn't about sex. It was about showing him that she had turned the tables; that now she had the power to do to him whatever she wanted against his will. When Rachel had sex with Paul and it was clear that him saying 'no' to her wasn't an option, that wasn't an exercise of her sexual desire (she may have been attracted to him, I'm not going to speculate on that, but certainly any desire she might've had for him was second on her motivations list); it was about showing him that she was the boss and could make him do what she wanted and use him how she wanted.

Rape is almost always about power, and involves a violation of one's body against their will. So I would absolutely class what happened to Henrik as rape.

I raised an eyebrow at finding out that Alison is a Dexter fan, that was unexpected but when I think about it we've been seeing soccer mum's darkside coming out so why not

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