Orphan Black: Governed as it Were by Chance review

A fairly gruesome episode of Orphan Black, and one of the best, as well. Here's Marc's review...

Last season, all squirrel crazy clone Helena wanted was a family, well, be careful what you wish for my little Ukrainian nightmare. While many of the other clones are in danger of losing their families, Helena has been forced into one in a profane ceremony that wedded her to head cult loony, Henry.

Romance wise, Sarah has done a good sight better with good old bearded Cal. Cal and his heroic hipster self was the one who rammed Sarah and her kidnapper last week. After pulling Sarah from the wreckage, Cal wants an explanation to why a cop was murdered on his front lawn. Oh brace yourself, bearded one, this one is going to be a lulu. Despite his misgivings, Cal knows how to take care of his family, he is ready to go on the run with his ex and his newfound daughter even though he has no idea what Sarah has brought to his doorstep. I’d probably do the same thing for any version of Tatiana Maslany

Sarah’s family has grown by one, adding to her inner circle of daughter Kira, brother Felix, and maybe, just maybe, the enigmatic Mrs. S., but Helena is experiencing an utter bastardization of the concept of family by being forcibly wedded into the Prometheans. Helena’s situation seems hopeless as she lies on her wedding bed, drugged, violated, and imprisoned, but Art, the super cop and clone guardian angel of Sarah is outside the Promethean facility, taking pictures and scouting the joint. Art has been a fierce protector to Sarah, but will that loyalty extend to Helena as well?

The youngest of the Prometheans, a sour faced ginger girl named Gracie has not taken to Helena at all, referring to the wild haired clone as “It,” and attempting to smother Helena with a pillow. I guess Gracie took all that godless abomination talk very seriously. Helena plays clone possum, and when Gracie turns her back to the Clone Called It, Helena strikes. Gracie didn’t know she was trying to smother a stone cold killer, and now that this side of Helena has reawakened, heaven help the Prometheans.

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Helena is free, decked out in her bridal gown and wild eyed as a rabid raccoon forced to watch a Michael Bay marathon; Helena makes her way to where she and Henry consummated their marriage. What follows is some of the most disturbing imagery not even the most seasoned horror fan could endure without flinching, a montage of medical revulsion and bodily atrocity as the Prometheans surgically violate Helena in every way imaginable. Helena runs, and is spied by Art, but what is left of Helena’s mind after being forced to relive the Mengele-like experiments that were forced upon her?

Helena’s brush with family has gone about as horribly wrong as one can imagine, but Alison, still hung over from her disastrous drunken community theatre performance, still has her family unit, as fragmented as it is, with her tubby hubby as her monitor.  Last week, we got to see Alison plunge off a stage in the worst musical bomb since Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark closed. When Alison awakes in a hospital, she assumes she is at the Dyad Institute. It turns out, like so many beleaguered thespians before her, Alison is in rehab.

Felix is, of course, there for Alison. Ironic that Felix, a drug dealer and a gleeful consumer of narcotics would be the one to care for Alison in rehab, but their bond is strong, even though fabulous Felix has lost a potential Mimosa partner. Now, Alison has to pee in front of people, and when portly monitor and estranged Donnie shows up, he brings more bad news, threatening to deprive Alison of seeing her children if she does not complete rehab. Now, Alison is in danger of losing the very thing that defines her, her family.  

So let’s pause a minute and examine where each clone is in regards to family. Sarah is desperately trying to hold onto her daughter and backing her up is Kira’s newfound father, Cal. Helena has been wedded into a Manson like religious science cult which has been experimenting with her reproductive system, and Alison is locked in rehab, the specter of losing her family haunting her every step. Damn, that’s some fine narrative juggling right there.

One clone doesn’t have a family, but she has issues of her own. Cosima is still watching the diary of Jennifer, the clone who tragically died of a debilitating cellular breakdown. Cosima remotely helps Sarah decipher the photograph Sarah recently found, a photograph with Project: Leda written on the back. The show flexes its brainy muscles by connecting the photograph to the Greek myth of Zeus and Leda, suggesting that the clones are akin to demigods. Cosima is on the Leda mystery, but it seems her lungs are going the same direction as poor Jennifer’s. As much as we love Sarah, Alison, and even Helena, the clone crew would be in big trouble if they lost their resident science nerd, and after what happened to Fitz and Simmons on this week’s Agents of SHIELD, I might not be able to survive something else horrible happening to another adorable scientist.

While Cosima looks into Project Leda, Mrs. S is trying to solve some mysteries of her own. She has somehow developed into one the most fascinating characters on the show. Originally, she was just the mom figure to Sarah, now she is a character with a constantly surprising background, with connections and a history that are keys to the truth of Sarah’s past and a deep passion…a passion she displays when she runs into an ex-lover, a man who happens to be a former human trafficker, a man who originally brought Sarah to Mrs. S. After all this time, we still don’t know what side Mrs. S is on, is she the heart of the conspiracy disguised as the one thing Sarah wants, family, or a true protector fighting to keep her daughter safe?

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The object of Mrs. S’s concern, Sarah, flexes her con woman muscles and sneaks into Rachel’s apartment. Rachel is a bit of a mystery herself. Cosima postulates that Rachel must have been raised to be the perfect cold corporate businesswoman. A child who experienced no love or compassion to make her ideal for big business, but Sarah finds evidence to the contrary, old video footage of Rachel being loved by her parents, the project heads of Leda.

Sarah’s ransacking of Rachel’s digs is interrupted by the head of Dyad security, Daniel, who survived the crash with good old Cal. Daniel knocks Sarah out, again and things get really intense as Maslany displays some of her finest acting chops to date. Daniel is revealed to be both Rachel’s lover and monitor, and ties Sarah up. Maslany’s screams are heart wrenching as Daniel sharpens a straight razor, the look of terror in Sarah’s eyes speaks volumes as Daniel begins to remove her face, the face that is identical to his own lover.

You might think that Daniel is the sickest, most twisted killer Orphan Black has to offer, and you would be wrong. The impromptu facelift is interrupted by a crash, and when Daniel investigates, he is summarily killed. As Sarah looks on in horror, Helena reveals herself, covered in blood. The last time Sarah saw Helena, Sarah shot her sister point blank.

While she is putting on the performance of her life as the terrified Sarah, Maslany simultaneously steals the scene from herself as Helena reveals that the Prometheans took her eggs and she wants them back. Suddenly, Maslany brought Helena from emotionless killer to vulnerable victim begging her sister, the only person she has in the world, a person she trusts in her must vulnerable moment even though Sarah shot her, for help.

That’s why this show rules and that’s why the Emmys are a joke. Tatiana Maslany simply rules the world and is worthy of recognition, and we are lucky to have her.

The last thing we see this week, is Helena’s egg cell splitting as a new member of the clone family has sparked into the world.

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The Good

– Felix referring to the relationship between Cosima and her girlfriend’s relationship as a “transgressive lesbian geek spiral.”

– Helena’s indescribably cool rescue of Sarah.

– Mrs. S’s past. Every piece revealed is utterly mesmerizing.

The Bad

– Forced plastic surgery.

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– Sarah not telling Cal the truth, she’s just leaving the guitar strumming sweet dope open for a bad end.

The Ugly

– Ovary theft

– Pretty much anything the Prometheans do.

– Fugly women shaving their arm pits in rehab. Poor Alison shouldn’t have to endure that, she’s someone’s mother. For now.

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4.5 out of 5